Kalacakra Tantra and Cult of Yogini by Niraj Kumar, Member Trustee, I-ternity Foundation
The damage to Nalanda Tradition by Tibetan Lamarchy in past few decades is irreparable. Once they realized the immense appeal value of Kalacakra Tantra, they started holding empowerment ceremonies on days and by methods without any authoritative textual or lineage method basis.
What has been served on palate of western audience as a wrathful Kalacakra-led masculine Tantra system( garbed under unexplained non-dual tantra) turns out to be a celebration of feminine spirituality.
Yes, Kalacakra Tantra has its climax in celebrating he power of feminine. There are 12 hierarchy of female deities starting from Vishwamata to Duti corresponding to 12 chains of Pratitya Samuttapada(Dependent Co-origination).
Yogini Tantra visualized by the composer is unparalleled. Generally in India, there was cult of 64 Yoginis. This was a gradual progression from 5 box-system(koshthaka कोष्ठक ) of old Tantras like Guhyasamaja. The central box would correspond to the Buddha and 4 noxes in the cardinal directions corresponded to 4 Noble Truth. Yhe concept of 5 Dhyani Buddhas developed from this schemata. Thereafter, 9 square mandalas were popularized.It was a 3 x 3 schemata. fusing three-aspects(body, speech , mind) doctrine with 3 gunas( गुण sattva, rajas, tamas). The squaring gave new way to incorporate greater number of deities and minimize the conflict between different lineages based upon primacy of different Buddhas.
5 x 5 schemata( 25) could contain all 25 tattvas(तत्त्व ) of Samkhya system. This was further expanded b addition of 4( ~ 4 Noble Truth) at a time. Thus, 29; 33 and 37 box mandalas were propagated. This can be seen in Tabo and Alchi, Sumda Chun monastery in Ladakh.Till this time, these were Yoga tantras, dominated by male Buddhas.
Saptamatrika( 7 mother Goddess) of Vedic tradition was elevated as 8 Mother doctrine sometimes in 7-8th century. Feminine is derived by mathematically squaring in later tantras. Thus, 8 x 8 schemata of 64 Yoginis evolved that later spread like a wildfire. Most of the Yogini Temples in South Asia has 64 yogini structure .
Kalacakra provides comple details of 9 x9 Yogini system of 81 Yoginis. Sri Matottara Tantra does refer to 81 Yogini system., but the Kalacakra Tantra is quite elaborate on this aspect. 81 in Sanskrit is termed "eka-ashiti' (80+1).(एकाशिति) .Tantraloka of Abhinavagupta briefly deals with ekashiti steps of Goddess by numeralizing the phonemes.
I have encapsulated the Kalacakra tantra's 81 Yogini schemata in a single table. This is for the first time that the same has been unravelled with clarity else even 11th century Vimalprabha Tika has missed the gems in every important segment of the text.
Overall, among 722 deities in Kalacakra mandala, there are only 51 male deities and 565 female deities, remaining being the elemental deities. The mandala is celebration of feminine spirituality in variegated colours. Goddesses are sublime, some are protectors. Some are adept in art and craft. Some are single, some are couple.Some have sublime fire, some have wrathful fire. Some fuels the world with energy, some annihilate the world into ashes. Goddesses are of all colours--green, blue, white, yellow, red. And the Highest being the Great World mother who has been given a unique numerical identity- 384.
Such a playful world of feminine spirituality ought to be expanded. If another tier is added, the table of 593 Goddesses can be built. This feminine Godscape can incorporate feminine deities from world across.
A truly Global Yogini Mandala will be an advancement of human thinking! (Niraj, 24.7.2019), Member Trustee, I-ternity Foundation ( Image 1: My Formulation of 81-Pada Vishwamata of Kalacakra; Image 2: source: Sutra Journal, Laura Amazonne; Image 3: tumblr)