Question: "What is Tantra / Tantrism / Tantric religion?"
Answer: Tantra, also called Tantrism or Tantric religion, is an umbrella concept within Hinduism. Yoga, mantras, the construction of mandalas, visualization, and many other Hindu practices are all part of the larger whole, which is Tantra. To a follower of Hinduism, Tantra is simply an attempt to connect to the divine, to achieve a higher state of consciousness, and to channel divine energy through the human body. Tanta uses rituals to integrate the body, soul, spirit, emotions, will, and mind into a perfect union. It seeks to enlighten both the spiritual and physical aspects of a person.
Hindu scholar David Gordon White defined Tantra this way: “Tantra is that Asian body of beliefs and practices which, working from the principle that the universe we experience is nothing other than the concrete manifestation of the divine energy of the godhead that creates and maintains that universe, seeks to ritually appropriate and channel that energy, within the human microcosm, in creative and emancipatory ways” (Tantra in Practice, Princeton University Press, 2000, p. 9).
There are some key differences between Tantric religion/Tantrism and biblical Christianity. Tantra teaches the existence of chakras and kundalini energy, which are unbiblical concepts, and it promotes yoga and occult rituals, which no Christian should be involved in. Tantra promises to emancipate humanity, but Jesus said only the truth will set us free (John 8:32). Tantra’s concept of divine energy is impersonal and can be manipulated for one’s own purposes; the Bible teaches that God is personal and cannot be manipulated at all (Psalm 59:8).
In Hinduism there is no set of laws or traditions followed by every Hindu, and there is no religious authority or any authoritative holy books. A Hindu can choose his own path to the divine, be it pantheistic, monotheistic, atheistic, or humanist. For this reason, any comprehensive definition of Tantra or Tantric religion is difficult to achieve. Christianity, on the other hand, is the opposite. There is one holy book—the Bible—that is the absolute truth and authority. There is one God, and one way to God—salvation through Jesus Christ (John 14:6).
A person who trusts Jesus for eternal salvation is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who teaches, guides, and sanctifies the believer (John 15:26; Hebrews 10:14). The Holy Spirit is a Person and abides with men in a personal way (John 14:26). In contrast, Tantra’s concept of the divine in men is an impersonal, non-salvific force that can be accessed (or not) by various rituals, sacrifices, sex rites, and various other methods. The connection to the impersonal divine, in Tantric religion, is laid on man’s shoulders. If he or she wishes to connect to the divine, he or she must work at it.
Tantra offers no sure, absolute guarantee of success. Tantrists strive to connect to the divine, but there is no way to know for sure that they are connected or that the connection will be maintained. Tantra’s divine power ebbs and flows and is as impersonal and uncaring as the ocean tide. Jesus Christ’s power is absolute and unchanging, and He offers to save all those who call on Him for salvation (Romans 10:13).