This is part VIII of tantra series. Let us now understand the significance of these five ‘M’ karas or pancha (five) makaras. The first is madhu or wine. It is also called as ‘madhya’. The wine in fact refers to the ambrosia that starts dripping into the throat while doing kundalini meditation. Next is ‘mangai’ the woman. In fact mangai means the goddess to whom the prayers are offered. The third is ‘mamsa’ the raw meat. As a matter of fact the mamsa refers to a person who has controlled his speech. Only yogis can control their speech. The fourth is ‘matsya’ or fish. The two subtle nerves in the body are known as ida and pingala. They are also known as the river ‘Ganga’ and the river ’Yamuna’ the two famous rivers in India. The ‘matsya’ is a stage in kundalini meditation wherein the breath is totally under the practitioner’s control. The final of the five makaras is ‘mithuna’. Mithuna is considered as very important in tantric rituals. It is the recitation of various attributes to the God. These are the explanations given in the ancient tantric scriptures in alliance with Vedas. But over a period of time, the interpretation of these makaras has undergone ridiculous changes that made everybody frown upon the tantric rituals.

Matsya or fish is supposed to wash away the evils of attachments and paves the way for liberation. Eating mamsa is supposed to give auspiciousness and joy. It is also said that only wise men are allowed to drink (madhu). It causes freeing of mind that remains afflicted with desires and attachments. Mithuna is the co-habitation with a woman and this is treated as the cosmic union of Shiva and Shakthi. Mangai means the Goddess Kali or any of her forms. The intended interpretation of the five makaras is as follows: A man gets married (mithuna) and leads a happy life (mamsa). Though they co-exist they always worship the Goddess or Shakthi (mangai) who is responsible for all the activities of the universe. By invoking Her, She shows the way to reach Shiva, the Supreme. In order to invoke Her and to go to Shiva the couple has to keep away from the worldly pleasures and attachments (matsya). To discard pleasures and attachments, one needs to have a controlled mind (madhu or mudra). Only these five makaras paves for the way for emancipation. A question may arise, why a woman or a man is needed to pursue the path of spirituality.

The primary intent of marriage is procreation. Shakthi holds innumerable souls in her hiranya garbha and to abide by the law of karma these souls have to suffer or enjoy by rebirths in some form or other depending upon their karmas. Therefore, the procreation is the act of God to implement the law of karma. The act of procreation is considered as the most sacred act, as one of the acts of God, the creation takes place. That is why the institution of marriage is considered as sacred Again, women are considered as they are blessed with motherhood. That is why Shakthi is called the Supreme Mother or Sri Mata of the Divine mother. The difference between the human mother and the Divine Mother lies in one simple fact that the former seeks the latter and the latter uses the former for Her act of creation. Experiencing the motherhood of Shakthi is one of the important aspects of tantra sastras. Tantric rituals attach great importance and reverence to women. (to be continued)

Further Readings:

Introduction to Tantra Sastra

Tantric Initiation

The Second Initiation

The Tantric Fire

Tantra and Five Elements