Tantra which refers to the esoteric practices and traditions of Hinduism usually in Shaktism involves taboo activities of meat eating, alcohol consumption and sex. All these activities are perceived to be disliked by most Hindus. However, most Tantra practitioners see it as another way to realise God. Even Ramakrishna Paramahamsa was known to have practiced it. So how are such practices justified? To find the answer of this question, I tried to look up on the Internet and found an article regarding the topic. However, I was still unsatisfied.
As explained in this answer, Tantra is quite a deep subject and is meant to be kept as top secret too. Neither i will be able to explain to you its secrets nor you will be able to grasp what is being said in its entirety but still here are few inputs from my side.
Why use panchamakara in sadhana and how is it justified?
It is justified because it is prescribed in the scriptures. That is reason enough. For example, if someone asks how are animal sacrifices justified? then the answer is simple- They are allowed in the scriptures, that's why. Similarly here.
The scriptures that prescribe them in sadhana, prescribe them for attaining moksha.
Panchatattvamidam Devi NirvAnamuktihethave.
The use of panchatattva is for nirvana mukti or moksha. (hetu means reason)
NirvAna Tantra, Patala 9.
YathA Toyam Toyamadhye Liyathe Parameswari |
Tathaiva TattvasevAyAm Liyathe ParamAtmani ||
Just as water dissolves (or disappears) into water, likewise by the use of panchatattva the sadhaka merges into paramatma.
The basic principle behind using pancha tattva in sadhana is this:
AnAndam Brahmano Rupam Taccha Dehe VibhAvayeth |
Tasya AbhibyAnjakAh PanchamakArAdya PrakirtithAhA ||
Ananda or bliss is the very form of Brahman. And it is located in our body. And the panchamakaras are nothing but its external manifestations.
Gandharva Tantram, Chapter 27, Verses 36-37.
Who are allowed to do panchatattva sadhana?
As i have told in this answer, there are three kinds of Tantra sadhakas: Pashu (or the animal or one who is in bondage), Vira (the heroic) & Divya (or the divine).
And among these, only the last two types of sadhakas are allowed to do panchamakara sadhana. For the Pashus this sadhana is prohibited.
Madyam MAmsam TathA Matsyam MudrAmaithunamevacha |
IdamAcharanam Devi Pasorna Divyvirayoh ||
The use of pancha tattva is strictly prohibited for the pashus.
Yogini Tantram, Patala 9.
MakArapanchakairdevim NArchayeth Pashusannidhou |
Puja using panchamakara is prohibited in the presence of Pashus.
KaulAvali Nirnaya, Patala 5.
In short, its not for the common man who is still discriminating and is deluded in dualities. Even for the Yogis though the path is extremely difficult to tread upon.
The features of the Vira and Divya bhava sadhakas are described in many Tantras in details. In brief they are:
They are Vishuddha chitta (of clean conscience), Jitendriya (won over senses), Nirvikara (unaffected), Advaitaparayan (free from discriminations (good-bad, holy-unholy etc) and all kinds of dualities) and Brahmanistha (mind fixed on the Brahman, the ultimate reality). Only sadhakas having these features are fit to perform sadhana of panchamakara and not the ordinary Pashu sadhakas.
What is the real purpose behind using the panchamakaras and how to use them in sadhana?
In Tantra terminology this is called the VAsana. VAsana is the real purpose behind using the five objects in sadhana.
The scriptures are somewhat vague on this point. So, i think the message is quite clear. The real purpose of the five objects and how to utilize them in sadhana is something that should be learned from the Guru.
If some devotee starts using the five objects without knowing their vasanas then that is sure to bring about his downfall.
Sri Guroh KulashAstrebhyah Samyag Vigyaya VAsanAm |
PanchamudrA Nishavetha ChAnyathA Patito Bhaveth ||
Only after knowing the Vasana (or purpose) from Sri Guru and Kula Shastras, the devotee should indulge in panchamakara. Otherwise, downfall is inevitable.
KulArnava Tantram, Chapter 5, Verse 91.
Level of difficulty
As already mentioned above, this sadhana is not suited for the ordinary sadhakas. Also, as you can see from my other answer that is already linked , that only in the last three stages of sadhana, a devotee is allowed to use the five objects and not before that.
But how much difficult in truth is this sadhana ?
Nisargadurgamah Kaula Sugam Iva BhAtasou |
This path is nisarga durgama or extremely difficult to follow.
Gandharva Tantram 40|30.
Kaula Dharmah Paramgahano YoginAmpyagamyaha |
The Kaula path is full of great difficulties. It is difficult to follow even for the Yogis.
KaulAvalinirnaya, Patala 5.
The Kularnava Tantram is even more explicit on this.
KripAnadhArAgamanAth VyAghrakathAvalamvanath |
BhujangadhArnAnnunamashakyam Kulavartanam ||
Walking upon the sharp edges of swords, embracing a tiger, wearing snakes on ones body; Following the Kula patha is far more difficult than doing all these aforementioned acts.
KulArnava Tantram, Chapter 2, Verse 123.
Deeper and actual meanings of the panchamakaras
The following are the real meanings of some of the the five objects. Obviously this will only be known to the most advanced level sadhakas.
AmulAdhAramabrahmarandhram Gatva Punah Punah|
ChicchandrakundalishaktisAmrasya Sukhodayoh ||
VyompankajanisyandasudhApAnarato Narah |
SudhapAnmidam Proktamitare MadyapAyinaha ||
[The Kundalini Shakti of the devotee] travels again and again from the mulAdhara to the brahmarandhra (in sahasrara). There the the shakti unites with Chitchandra or Parashiva. The amrita (nectar) like bliss flows out of the sahasrara as a result of this union. One who drinks this amrita, flowing out of the vyompankaja, is the real madyapAyi as prescribed in scriptures. Those who do otherwise are just mere drinkers of wine.
PunyApunyapashum HatvA GyAnakhargena Yogavith |
Pare Layam Nayecchittham PalAshi Sa Nigadyathe ||
The Yogi-sadhaka kills the animal (pashu) , which is of the form of punyapunya (merit and demerit), using the sword which is of the form of knowledge (Gyanakharga), and dissolves his chitta in paratattva (Shiva), This is the real meat eating.
ManasA Chendriyaganam SamyamyAtmAni YojAyeth |
MatsyAshi Sa Bhaveddevi SheshAh Syuh PrAnihimsakAh ||
The sadhaka controls his senses with his mind and dissolves it into the self (atma). One who does that is the only real matsyAshi , others are just mere killers of beings.
Ya Asthe Maithunam Tath SyAdapare StreenishevakAh ||
The union of Parashakti and Paramatma or Parashiva (in sashrara) is the real maithuna. One who is capable of remaining engrossed (in samadhi) in that bliss (that arises out of that union) is the real maithunakari. Others are just doing ordinary sexual congress.
KulArnava Tantra, Chapter 5 verses.
Use of substitutes (like ginger etc for meat) is also prescribed in the scriptures.
In short, i don't think people of our times (with minds filled with lust and without having any control over the senses), are mentally and physically well equipped to follow this path.
And, i have read too, that this path is already kind of extinct hundreds of years ago in India due to lack of Sath Gurus and Sath Shishyas.