The VAAMACHARIs sacrifice animals to attain Tantric Powers, which are different from that of Yogic Powers. The Tantric Powers can attained within short time, but have certain deadly consequences. If the TANTRIKs fail to complete the rituals in the prescribed manner, death is assured.

During RAMAYANA period we will come across Indrajit, the elder son of Ravana. Indrajit used to follow VAAMACHARA, and the following quotations corroborate this.

Seeing Ravana, lamenting the death of Ravana's sons and brothers, Indrajit promises to destroy Rama and Lakshmana. He sets out, for the battle, accompanied by his army. After reaching the battle-field, Indrajit performed a sacrificial ritual there, duly making an oblation to the fire.

ततस्तु हुतभोक्तारं हुतभुक्सदृशप्रभः || जुहुवे राक्षसश्रेष्ठो मन्त्रवद्विधिवत्तदा | (Yuddha Kanda 73 Sarga 22 sloka)

Then, that foremost of demons, having a radiance equal to that of fire, with excellent sacrificial incantations, performed a sacrifice, as per rules, making an oblation to the fire.

स तत्राग्निं समास्तीर्य शरपत्रैः सतोमरैः || छागस्य सर्वकृष्णस्य गलं जग्राह जीवतः | (Yuddha Kanda 73 Sarga 24 sloka)

Duly spreading fire with reeds (in the form of other weapons) accompanied by lances there, Indrajit elapsed the neck of a live goat of dark hue (for offering it to the fire as an oblation).

सकृदेव समिद्धस्य विधूमस्य महार्चिषः || बभूवुस्तानि लिङ्गानि विजयं यान्यदर्शयन् | (Yuddha Kanda 73 Sarga 25 sloka)

From the great fire of flames, set ablaze by that offering having been thrown into it acting at once without smoke, appeared such signs as had beckoned victory (of the past).

Thereafter, Indrajit became invisible to all and attacked Sri Rama, Lakshmana and all the Vanaras and created havoc.

His ghastly death is an indicator of consequences of following the VAAMACHARA.

Placing an illusory live image of Seetha in his chariot, Indrajit along with his army enters the battle-field. Hanuma with his army of monkeys march in front to face Indrajit in battle. While Hanuma and his army are watching, Indrajit pulls Seetha by her hair and unsheathed his sword. Indrajit kills the illusory living image of Seetha, with his sharp sword.

Hanuma, with his army, approaches Rama and informs him that Indrajit has killed Seetha. Rama faints away, upon hearing that news.

Telling Rama the secret of conjuring trick practiced by Indrajit in killing an illusory image of Seetha, Vibhishana assures him of Seetha being still alive and urges him to send Lakshmana with an army to the sanctuary of Nikumbhila.

तेन वीरेण तपसा वरदानात्स्वयंभुवः | अस्त्रं ब्रह्मशिरः प्राप्तं कामगाश्च तुरंगमाः ||

"By his penance, Indrajit obtained a weapon called Brahmashira, by way of a gift from Brahma and also horses, which are coursing at his will."

स एष सह सैन्येन प्राप्तः किल निकुम्भिलाम् | यद्युत्तिष्ठेत्कृतं कर्म हतान्सर्वांश्च विद्धि नः ||

"That Indrajit, as such along with his army, is reported to have reached Nikumbhila. If he comes forth after completing his sacrificial act, know that all of us as killed."

निकुम्भिलामसंप्राप्तमहुताग्निं च यो रिपुः | त्वामातायिनं हन्यादिन्द्रशत्रो स ते वधः || वरो दत्तो महाबाहो सर्वलोकेश्वरेण वै | इत्येवं विहितो राजन्वधस्तस्यैष धीमतः ||

(Yuddha Kanda 85 Sarga 12 - 15 slokaS)

"A boon was given by Brahma to that intelligent demon as follows: "O Indrajit! That enemy of yours, who strikes while you are marching with your bow drawn, and while you have not arrived at Nikumbhila, or even while you have not offered oblations to the sacred fire, will prove to be the cause of your killing."

In the end, when Lakshmana forced Indrajit to abandon the sacrificial act at Nikumbhila with discharge of his arrows, before completion of the sacrifice, Indrajit was eliminated by Lakshmana.

  • 1
    Tantras are a category of Agamas, specifically Shaiva and Shakta Agamas, and Vamachara refers to a certain sort of practice that some people who follow Shaiva and Shakta Agamas do. But Agamas in general, whether Vaishnava, Shaiva, or Shakta, weren't very popular at that time. (Pancharatra Agamas were passed down among the early solar dynasty kings, but that was a rare exception.) I doubt Indrajit was doing an animal sacrifice to Kali, for instance, although there are stories in later regional versions of the Ramayna where Mahiravana does that sort of thing. Commented Oct 17, 2015 at 7:54
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    I think a more likely explanation is that Indrajit wasn't following Agamas, but rather the Asuri Kalpa, the art of doing magic associated with the Atharvana Veda. Animal sacrifice is a well-known part of Vedic Yagnas, whether those Yagnas are done to gods (as good people do) or to evil spirits (as wicked people do). Commented Oct 17, 2015 at 7:58
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    Tantra is not equal to Vamachara..Vamachara is only but a portion of Tantra..And Tantras or Agamas are ancient scriptures, they existed since Krita Yuga..
    – Rickross
    Commented Mar 18, 2017 at 5:06

2 Answers 2


Vamachara is not a synonym to tantra but one of the achara of tantra.

"Tanyate, vistaryate jñanam anena iti Tantram." According to this derivation of the word Tantra from the root "Tan" "to spread," it is defined as the Shastra, by which knowledge (Jñana) is spread. Mark the word Jñana. It is here we find that variety which is so puzzling to those who have not gone to the root of the religious life of India. The end is substantially one. The means to that end necessarily vary according to knowledge, capacity, and temperament. But here again we may analyze the means into two main divisions, namely, Vaidik and Tantrik, to which may be added a third or the mixed (Mishra). The one body of Hinduism reveals as it were, a double framework represented by the Vaidik and Tantrik Acharas, which have in certain instances been mingled.

According to the Kularnava and Jñanadipa Tantras there are seven Acaras of which the first four, Veda, Vaishnava, Shaiva and Dakshina belong to Pashvacara; then comes Vama, followed by Siddhanta, in which gradual approach is made to Kaulacara the reputed highest. Elsewhere six and nine Acaras are spoken of and different kinds of Bhavas, Sabhava, Vibhava and Dehabhava and so forth which are referred to in Bhavacudamani.

The Pañcatattva are either real (Pratyaksha. "Idealizing" statements to the contrary are, when not due to ignorance, false), substitutional (Anukalpa) or esoteric (Divyatattva). As regards the second, even a vegetarian would not object to "meat" which is in fact ginger, nor the abstainer to "wine" which is coconut water in a bell-metal vessel. As for the Esoteric Tattva they are not material articles or practices, but the symbols for Yogic processes. Again some notions and practices are more moderate and others extreme.

Thus we find in this Pañcatattva Ritual a counterpart to the Vaidik usage of wine and animal food. As regards wine, we have the partaking of Soma; meat was offered in Mamsashtaka Shraddha; fish in the Ashtakashraddha and Pretashraddha

Vamacara means literally "left" way, not "left-handed" in the English sense which means what is bad. As the name is given to these Sadhakas by themselves it is not likely that they would adopt a title which condemns them. What they mean is that this Acara is the opposite of Dakshinacara. Philosophically it is more monistic. It is said that even in the highest Siddhi of a Dakshinacari "there is always some One above him"; but the fruit of Vamacara and its subsequent and highest stages is that the Sadhaka "becomes the Emperor Himself". The Bhava differs, and the power of its method compared with Dakshinacara is said to be that between milk and wine.

Kauladharma is in no wise sectarian but on the contrary claims to be the head of all sects. It is said

"at heart a Shakta, outwardly a. Shaiva, in gatherings a Vaishnava (who are wont to gather together for worship in praise of Hari) in thus many a guise the Kaulas wander on earth."

Antah-shaktah bahih-shaivah sabhayam vaishnava matah Nana-rupadharah Kaulah vicaranti mahitale.

A rudimentary form of Shakta beliefs and practices can presumably be traced to the ruins of the pre-Vedic Harappa civilization. The earlier Vedic tribes, whose material cultures and social institutions have been revealed in the Rig Veda, appear to have disliked the conception of the Female Principle owing to their patriarchal bias, but [even] they had to incorporate some female deities into their pantheon.

Shaktism and Agama worship in Devi Bhagvatam:

  1. Thus the Durgâ Devî became very widely celebrated in this world. O king! Thus in different countries, the devotion began to increase towards the Goddess.

  2. The Devî Bhagavatî Bhavânî became in every way an object to be worshipped and adored by all people and everywhere in Bhâratavarsa.

  3. The people began to recite slowly, meditate, and chant hymns as advocated by the Âgamas constantly and became deeply attached to the S’akti worship and began to be looked upon with the highest honour by others.

  4. O king! From that time all the people used to worship, perform Homa ceremony and sacrifice duly in honour of the Devî in every Navarâtri (for the first nine days of the bright half in the months of Âs’vin and Chaitra).

There was a revival of the pre-Vedic Mother Goddess cult in the post- Rigvedic age, probably due to the initiation of the Vedic tribes into the agricultural way of life and agricultural rituals; and since then, the Female Principle never ceased to be an important cult of the people. It was so deep-rooted in the Indian mind that even in sectarian religions like Vaishnavism, Shaivism, etc, the Female Principle had to be given a prominent position. Even the basically atheistic systems like Buddhism and Jainism could not avoid this popular influence. Later Buddhism is, in fact, nothing but a disguised Tantric cult of the Female Principle.

Each of the ten personalities of the Divine Mother in Tantra had been formulated based on certain concepts and realizations of the Vedic seers. Also, for certain deities, in addition to prescribing the Tantric Mantras, the Tantric Seers prescribed Vedic verses for worship. Some of the examples cited by Shankaranarayan are

In the Rig Veda, Agni is shown as having the power of carrying the spiritual aspirant across all tribulations while Aditi (Divine Mother) is said to  afford shelter as a ship.   In Tantra, these functions are built into the conception of **Tara**.

The Vedic symbolism of “primordial darkness covered by darkness” gave rise to the concept of **Dhumavati** (Divine Smoke Screen) in Tantra.

The Rig Vedic primal seed of mind, Desire (Kama) was amplified as **Kamakala**, the concept of **Tripurasundari**.

The all-pervasive indivisible infinity of the Divine Mother, Aditi, was used to build the concept of **Bhuvaneshwari** (she who pervades the worlds).

The mounting aspiration concentrated at the base of things, flaming forth as Agni became the principle of **Tripura Bhairavi**.

Kapali Sastry notes that in the Vedas, Agni is the seer who finds the way, who burns the dross and cleanses the seeker of all sin and impurity, carries him through all obstacles, like a boat over the seas. In the Shakta Tantra, this same Deity came to be worshipped as Durga, the indomitable, the protectrix who carries the devotee safe across the sea of misery, the ocean of birth and death. More importantly, he found that in one place the exact Mantra addressed to Agni in the Vedas had been applied in Tantra to Durga

The Vedic theory of Vak posits a Universe created by sound (cosmic vibrations) and it says that this Sound exists at four levels, from the subtle to the gross, in the Universe (see blog post Vedic Vak : four levels of sound). In his book Sidelights on Tantra, Kapali Sastry discloses how Tantra incorporated the Vedic theory of Vak and adapted it for practical purposes. Tantra correlated the four levels of Vak to the four subtle centers (Chakras) in the human subtle body (Para to the Muladhara Chakra; Pashyanti Vak to the Manipura Chakra in the navel; Madhyama to the heart; Vaikhari to the throat). In the Vedas, the beginning of creation is signified by the symbol of the “Bull that Roars” (Rig Veda 4.58.2). In Tantra, this concept is represented by the Adya Spanda (i.e. primal vibration). The original Word (AUM – primal root sound) of the Veda was further developed by Tantra into the theory of seed sounds (bija-aksara) which was then applied to the practice of Mantras.

There is also a connection between the Upanishadic Vidyas and the Tantric Goddesses. In his book Ten Great Cosmic Powers, Shankaranarayanan credits Sri Vashishtha Ganapati Muni, disciple of Ramana Maharshi, with revealing how the ten Personalities of the Divine Mother can be traced to the Vidyas in the Upanishads.

Tantra in Upanishad vidya:

Kali ---- Prana Vidya

Tara -----Akshara Vidya Brihadaranyaka Upanishad III. 8

Tripura Sundari ---- Vaishwanara Vidya

Bhuvaneshwari -----Parovariyasi Vidya of the Chandogya Upanishad 1.9.

Tripura Bhairavi -----Shandilya Vidya of Chandogya III.14

Chinnamasta ----Jyotirvidya of Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

Dhumavati -----Dhuma Vidya of Chandogya Upanishad

Bagalamukhi ----Indra Yoni Vidya of Taittiriya Upanishad

Matangi ----Udgitha Vidya

Kamalatmika Madhu Vidya of Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

Kulluka Bhatta, the celebrated commentator on Manu, says that Shruti is of two kinds, Vaidik and Tantrik.

Vaidiki tantrums caviar dvividha shrutih kirtita

What is there in the great Devi Sukta of the Rigveda (Mandala X, Sukta 125) which the Shakta Tantra does not teach? The Rishi of this revelation was a woman, the daughter of Rishi Ambhrina. It was fitting that a woman should proclaim the Divine Motherhood. Her Hymn says: "I am the Sovereign Queen the Treasury of all treasures; the chief of all objects of worship whose all-pervading Self all Devatas manifest; whose birthplace is in the midst of the causal waters; who breathing forth gives form to all created worlds and yet extends beyond them, so vast am I in greatness." (The full Hymn is translated in the French Edition of A. and E. Avalon's Hymns to the Goddess, Bossard, Paris.)

From the above points, we can see that shaktism was present since time immemorial and tantric practices are indeed part of ancient Indian tradition. Vamachara is a stage of tantra worship hence it is also a part of ancient agama based worship.

  • None will understand all this..:) ur efforts are going all in vain..
    – Rickross
    Commented Mar 18, 2017 at 5:08
  • @Rickross has your efforts rewarded so far ? :) Commented Mar 18, 2017 at 7:33
  • @RakeshJoshi I don't work this much hard :)..You see, some portions of ur answer are redundant..They were not needed to prove that tantras are ancient..See my answer BTW..
    – Rickross
    Commented Mar 19, 2017 at 6:11
  • @Rickross This is a FAR BETTER answer than that... Commented Mar 19, 2017 at 7:56
  • ok ..:)...rakesh Joshi.. & thats y i have upvoted it
    – Rickross
    Commented Mar 19, 2017 at 8:02

The first misconception you have is that Tantra is equal to Vamachara which is not the case.Vamachara is only a part of Tantra.A Tanrik may not be Vamachari but still be a Tantrik.

Tantra is basically the mass of Agamas and Nigamas.Of which those Tantras which prescribe the use of the Panchamakara in Sadhana is called the Vamachara.

As per Shakta Agamas, like Kularnava Tantra and others ,Tantrik Upasanas fall primarily into the following seven paths (called Acharas):

Vedachara,Vaishnavachara,Shaivachara,Dakshinachara,Vaamachara,Siddhantachara & Kaulachara.And,according to Kularnava , the highest among these paths is Kaulachara and next best is the Siddhantachara & so on.

Of these seven, followers of both Kaula & Siddhanta may follow the practices of Vamachara but yet they are different from one another.Vamachara sadhana is the sadhana of Panchatatva or Panchamakara.

Various definitions of Vamachara are given .Few among them are as follows:

Kaundilya,while commenting on Pasupata Kalpa Sutra,says:

Vama means Sreshta (best).Hence the achara(conduct) that is followed by the best Sadhaka is Vamachara.

Again, another definition is that

Vama means Viparita or opposite.Vamachara defies the mainstream idea of Dharma which says mukti is obtained by subduing the senses. Vamchara prescribes just the opposite of this very idea.

Yet another saying is that

there was a great Yogi called Vama.The achara that he propogated is Vaamachara.

There are further deep Yogic interpretations of Vamachara found in several Tantra Texts, but its not worthwhile to give them here on seeing the context of the present question.

Now,coming to your main question.

Tantra is not a recent phenomenon.Tantras or Agamas existed since Krita Yuga. We can easily prove that using the case of Sri Vidya ,which is known as Tantraraja,or the king of all Tantras.

Sri Vidya can be of two types 1)Vaidika or 2) Kaulika.

In Krita Yuga Lord Hayagriva gave Sri Vidya to Agastya Mahamuni.This Sri Vidya was Vaidkika i.e no practices of Panchamakara were involved.

Again,in Treta Yuga,Lord Dattatreya gave it to Parashurama who complied the Parashurama Kalpa Sutra.This involved Vamachara or Kaulachara.So,Vamachara Tantra existed in Treta.Where as Vaidika Tantras existed since Krita.

Quoting from this page:

The Srividya or Shodasi Vidya was 1st taught in Satya Yuga by Lord Hayagriva to Agastya and his wife Lopamudra. This is as per the Vaidic-achara or Vedic tradition. Again in Treta yuga it was given to Lord Parashurama by Dattatreya who was the combined incarnation of Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswara and considered the greatest incarnation. Lord Parashurama gave it to his disciples and it is called Parashurama Kalpa Suktam. This is as per the Kaulava-achara or Kaulava tradition.

Similarly,quoting from Daksha-Vamachara Nirnaya(kamakoti.org):

Dakshinachara is the method taught by Sri Hayagriva in Hayashirsha Samhita, Daskhinamurti Samhita, parts of Vasistha, Shuka Samhitas and various Smrti/Purana/Itihasas. Vamachara was taught by Sri Ananda Bhairava, through various Tantras, summarized in Parasurama Kalpasutra. Though some of the mantras used in both these paths are same/similar, differences are many [Guru Parampara, Patra Sthapana, Patra Samkhya, differences in dravya used, its purpose and presence/absence of shuddhi/shapoddhara, anga devata parikalpana etc.]

Also,it may be relevant to note here, that there is a misconception that no Vaishnava schools follow the leftist path.This is wrong.

From Adhikara Bheda (Kamakoti.org) :

It is a misconception that Vamachara is not practiced among the Vaishnavas. The ten chief classes of Vaishanavas are: Vaikhanasa, Radhavallabha, Gaukulesha, Vrindavani, Pancharatra, Viravaishnava, Ramanandi, Harivyasi, Nimbarka and Bhagavata. Among these, Gaukulesha, Vrindavani etc are leftist paths. Shiavas again are classified into Sapta Pashupatas – Shikhi, Mundi, Jati, Dwidandi, Tridandi, Ekadandi and Virashaiva, where some are leftist paths.

So,although Vamachara Tantra is mostly seen as equivalent to Shaktism but in truth it is not so.Even the Shaivas and Vaishnavas (can or)do follow the leftist path.


However, i need to add,regarding Kaulachara,that it can be both with or without Vamachara practices,as per the following verse from Pranatoshini(Samayachara Tantram) :

AdrASushkaVibhAgena DvidhAcharm Punah Srunu | AdrAchArasthu Vigneyo MakAraih Panchavijuktoh | MakArpancharahitah SushkAcharah Prakirtithaha| Kalou Visheshatah Devi AdrAchArah Phalapradah|


Kaulachara is of two kinds-Wet(Adra) and Dry(Sushka).When it is practiced with Panchamakara it is called wet and otherwise its called dry.In Kali Yuga,O Devi,the Adrachara is the one which is more fruitful.

  • the answer is more of description of various achara and there is rarely any proof which show its very ancient sect which is the moot question. Commented Mar 19, 2017 at 7:54
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    @RakeshJoshi No that part is additional to point out that vamchara and tantra are not synonymous which OP is assuming in the start..see his question title..also by using the Sri Vidya example i proved that Tantra is ancient..
    – Rickross
    Commented Mar 19, 2017 at 8:01
  • What is the proof that it was taught to durvasa etc. ? if it was during vedic era then can you can cite examples from vedas , mbh , ramayana to show that... Commented Mar 19, 2017 at 8:36
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    I just dont understand why timing of some vidya or scripture is so omportant. Befor Newton, gravitation law did exist. Similarly some scriptures or Vidyas are revealed to some rishis at some points of time and they write it down in the language of that time. Judging the origin of a scripture or Vidya by the time it was first written down is a western cocept. To Indians, 'the taste of the pudding is in eating'.
    – user17294
    Commented Jan 20, 2019 at 4:57
  • 1
    I agree but this is the only way we can show some proofs that will be acceptable to others @ParthaBanerjee
    – Rickross
    Commented Jan 20, 2019 at 5:11

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