Gorakh and Osho re-discover the essence of Tantra

· Long Read Culture

Swami Ganga introduces visitors at the temples of Khajuraho.


After Ganga met Osho, around 1962, he became his guide during Osho’s many visits to Khajuraho. By luck, chance or destiny, while still a teenager, Ganga found himself in the hands of one of the greatest Tantra masters ever born.

Osho proceeded to offer Ganga a powerful transmission on the nature of Khajuraho, including its original intent, its esoteric history and each aspect of the symbolism of these magnificent temples. Ananda Sarita, a renowned Tantra Master, says she can “really feel Osho’s presence in Ganga’s words and gestures, as he lovingly shares his experiences of being with the Master and receiving his wisdom.”

Later, when Ganga had become a disciple of Osho and was living in the commune, Osho asked him to return to Khajuraho and sing Osho’s song. He has been doing that ever since. He runs an aesthetic, clean and loving hotel where people can relax into his nurturing ambiance. In the premises of the hotel he runs Parimal Osho Meditation Center, offering his wisdom to groups of seekers who come from all over the world.

The text below is an edited transcription of a recording of one of Ganga’s talks during a tour given to a group of sannyasins from the Netherlands in 2016.

Guru Gorakhnath

Guru GorakhnathIt is said that Gorakh was born in Northern India, in a place which is now known as Gorakhpur, on the border with Nepal. When he was nine years old he went to the mountains in Nepal, about 150 km from Kathmandu. This is where he started his work and within three years he became enlightened.

After enlightenment he started travelling around Nepal. The members of the monarchy during that time, the 8th century, became disciples of Gorakh. When the king became a disciple the whole country followed. They offered Gorakh to build a temple in the mountains. He is supposed to be the most important Master of Nepal. If you mention this name in Nepal, everybody knows about him. There are still people worshipping him.

After conveying his message in Nepal he left and started travelling to India where he passed through the Khajuraho area. At that time there was a monarchy there, known as the Chandelas. They were ruling the whole of central India, an area with a radius of maybe 2000 km. Gorakh created a hut on the bank of a river, a little river, and started to live there. Slowly, slowly the news reached to the kings. One of the kings went to see him. He was so touched that he just bowed down to his feet. There was something very magnetic about his presence. The king became his disciple and slowly, slowly more people gathered around Gorakh.

Yogini templeThen one day the king asked, “What can I do for you?” Gorakh replied, “You have money, you can make something good then.” The king agreed, and Gorakh said, “Build a temple.” At that time Gorakh had about two hundred people around him. The king gave the money to build this temple, the Yogini temple. That was the first initiative which was taken, inspired by Gorakh. It took them eleven years to build the Yogini temple.

Slowly, slowly the news about Gorakh spread through Central India and more people gathered around him. It is said he had three thousand and two hundred disciples. All these disciples were living on the banks on both sides of the river. There were thousands of huts for the disciples of the Master. And Gorakh was shifted from the bank of the river, farther up, about half a kilometre away. Many more people came, so he was shifted back up more, to a bigger place. A second temple was built there, the Bija Mandal. Nothing is left of it. It was a huge structure, but one day lightning destroyed it. In my lifetime I have seen millions of pieces lying all around there. Some of them are very big pieces.

Gorakh became very popular and big experiments started in the Yogini temple. And whatever these people had been experimenting, slowly slowly they started expressing whatever visions they had in these temples, whatever they saw in the meditations they re-created on the walls of the temples. These temples were not made by ordinary people.

Many of his disciples were artists. These temples were created by artists, by his own people. They were not created for the sake of the money. It was an inner expression of artists. It makes a big difference whether you are on the path of a seeker or on the path of the world. In the world people work for money, but on the path of the seeker they work for the inner growth.

Khajuraho statuesWhatever they had learned, or experienced through meditation, was created on these walls. That is why it is not imagination. If someone does not have an experience of bliss or of ecstasy, how can they create that in stone? Whatever there is inside of you comes out on a piece of paper, comes out in stone, comes out in the form of a painting. So this is an inner creation, an inner expression. That is why, when you see the expression of these beautiful figures – their eyes, their lips, their faces – they are full of grace, full of ecstasy. This makes these temples different from the rest of the temples in this country. It is not borrowed: it is not an imitation. It is a firsthand experience of a seeker which has been transformed into the form of a statue. This is the beauty of these temples.

After Gorakh became popular, he started travelling again. He went around the country, even up to North India, to Assam, Sikkim, even Bhutan. He travelled much. Here in Khajuraho Gorakh brought Tantra to life. In the end he settled down here again.

For the Hindus Gorakh is supposed to be an incarnation of Shiva. If this man had not been there we would not have known Tantra at all. Tantra started with Shiva and Shakti. There was a dark period when Tantra was not known. When Gorakh came, he revealed the mystery of this path again. And when Gorakh left, again there was a dark period of one thousand years.

Then Osho came and he revived Tantra for the whole world. Before Osho, Tantra was black magic, rituals. It became the path of meditation again – it had really been the path of meditation from the start. The journey of Tantra, I always say, started from Shiva and Shakti, it came to Gorakh, from Gorakh to Osho and from Osho to us.

The essence of Tantra

I remember, sometime in the seventies, there was a big conference on Tantra in England. Two people were very important in the organization of this international conference. The first was someone very close to Osho, he used to see him very often. Dr Ajit Mukherjee from India was a professor of religion at Oxford University. He had written many books on Tantra. He wrote about whatever was known about Tantra at that time. He wrote about the rituals, the black magic involved.

Together with an Englishman, Philip Rawson, they organized this conference. There were hundreds of participants from all over the world. The main object of the conference were the paintings about Tantra. They were exhibited. The real essence of Tantra was not conveyed.

Vigyan Bhairav TantraIt is only through Osho that the real essence of Tantra has been brought to the world. In that conference, meditations were not even discussed, or talked about much. Rituals dominated. Mantras and yantras dominated, not meditations. But Osho made the path of meditation, as far as Tantra is concerned. And it truly is a path of meditation. All those 112 techniques of meditation, which came from Shiva to Parvati, were not talked about. It is Osho who talked about them in Vigyan Bhairav Tantra, The Book of Secrets.

I have been involved in this path from the very beginning, so I know many important writers, people who have been on this path, and I live in such a place, which is a pilgrimage for a Tantrika. I have had the opportunity to meet writers of Tantra, and mystics of Tantra. But the depth of this path which Osho conveyed to the world, nobody has ever done that.

Gorakh never said why he had chosen Khajuraho, but this place must have clicked with him, that is why this became the centre of Tantra in the world. And it was a most important place also for Osho. That is why he visited this place hundreds and hundreds of times. In Glimpses of a Golden Childhood he says that he would sometimes be absent from home for a week, so his parents used to telephone all the relatives. Remember, he might have gone to see some of his relatives. And when all the relatives said he was not with them, then the family knew for sure, he must be in Khajuraho. So now you can imagine how many times he has been to Khajuraho.

And he always used to say to me, that if an ashram will happen in this life, sometime, it will be a living Khajuraho. These are his own words. Osho did so many experimentations in his life that he has created a living Khajuraho in the Pune Ashram.

What is meant by Tantra? The temples carry the essence of Tantra. They don’t belong to any tradition. By chance it was born in Hinduism. Shiva is supposed to be a Hindu god. In Tantra there is nothing like an ‘ism’, but to convey a message… we have to use this word ‘tantrism’. ‘Ism’ is a limit. It’s a boundary. It has the smell of a sect… -ism. Tantra is universal, the whole life is Tantra. The whole life is vibrating with Tantra. You must have heard what Osho used to say about this word Tantra, he defines it beautifully. He says there is a verb in Sanskrit, which is known as tan. Tan means to expand. A sitar and guitars, they all have strings. We call these strings tantris. When you put your finger on a wire, the vibration, the sound, goes on expanding.

‘Tantra’ came out of this word. It is an expansion of energy. You have to expand the energy so much that it merges with the cosmic energy. You and the cosmos become one. It is the science of dropping your drop into the ocean of the cosmos. It is the path of merging into the whole. It is the path of totality, unity. Hindus call that state ‘hermaphrodite’, you are half man as well as half woman.

Hermaphrodite. What they call in China yin and yang. It is the path of yin and yang. And this is very scientific, for these are two polarities, like minus and plus, like electricity. When you take the negative wire and the positive wire the current starts running in a circle. It creates a circuit of energy. It is the same with man and woman. Gorakh has devised many techniques how this unity can happen between two opposites, between two polarities, between man and woman. For these polarities the techniques are created. There are the 112 techniques for the real transformation of duality.

The legend of Shiva and Shakti

There is a legend behind the book Vigyan Bhairav Tantra, but to understand that legend one must have a little background. Who is Shiva and who is Shakti? It is said that Shiva lived in the mountains of the Himalayas, on the highest peak of the Himalayas. It is known as the Gourishankar. That is supposed to be his house. Shiva and Shakti, or Parvati, as she is also called, have been dwelling in the mountains.

Once Parvati asked… She is the one who attracts, she is the one who provokes. She is the one who invites. She is the one who is active, the female. She provoked him, invited Shiva. The question was a provocation. The question was an invitation. She asked about the seed. Shiva looked at her with a smile and said, “A beautiful question you have asked, but this is not the right place to answer. You have to come with me.” And it is said, in this legend, that Shiva and Parvati started descending from the highest peak.

Parvati and ShivaShiva is generally depicted with a cobra around his neck. Five things are always with him. The first is the trident. The second is the cobra. The third is the crescent moon around his third eye. The fourth is a bull that he rides – that is his transport on which he has been riding to and fro. That is his Rolls.

Shiva is the symbol of cosmic symphony. The whole cosmos is with in him. The cobra is a reptile, the bull is an mammal, the moon is the sky. The long hair is the symbol of the mountains, trees and the Ganga, a symbol of fluidity and the inner sound. The left part of his body is the inner woman. When all these attributes are attuned and flow on the same frequency then the inner symphony is born and this state of the being is the eternal cosmic orgasm of Tantra.

So they started descending and the first thing that Shiva dropped from his neck was the cobra. The cobra is a symbol of time. Time means death. That’s why Hindus call it kal… For a cobra kal, kala… like Kali. Have you heard the name Kali? It comes from kala. Cutting the head, cutting death. Taking you beyond death. Taking you beyond time, it recreates you again. It makes you reborn again. She wears a garland of skulls. Death, time, tomorrow, yesterday – she wants to take you back into the present, to this moment.

The first thing that Shiva dropped was the cobra, because such a question cannot be answered in time. It can only be answered in eternity, where time ceases and only the now remains.

Hindus have named that peak of the mountain, Naga Parbat. Nag means cobra. The name is still there, it is one of the peaks of the Himalayas: Nag Parbat.

And they continued walking down.

The second thing he left behind was the trident. The trident symbolizes this: from one point he creates and from another point he protects and from another point he transforms. This represents the trinity – creation, protection and transformation or destruction – because in each destruction creation is hidden. It is what the scientists mean when they say that you cannot destroy matter. At the most you can transform matter into energy. And the same energy can be transformed again into matter. Matter will change its form.

They have been doing experiments in Switzerland, at CERN, with the collider. Dissecting the smallest, smallest part of the atom. In this experiment in Switzerland they discovered the smallest part of an atom which cannot be divided any more. And the scientists even said: we can call it God… we can call it divine. This cannot be killed, this cannot be destroyed. This cannot be dissected. It cannot be analysed any more. It can be ‘perfect’. This is the smallest possible part of an atom.

This is the third aspect of the trident. Creation, protection, transformation. Hindus have three important gods; Brahma, the one who creates, Vishnu, the one who protects, and Shiva, the one who transforms. These are the divinities. He left these divinities behind because the answer can only be given in deep silence. No movement is needed, it is a secret. That is why Osho gave it the title, The Book of the Secrets. It cannot be given in the presence of others.

And slowly slowly Shiva and Shakti descended from the mountains. There is one mountain which is known as Trishul Parbat, the Trident Mountain.

And then he left the bull. The bull is a symbol of deep penetration.

If we enter into something in our life we have to involve ourselves one hundred percent. We have to enter into the depth of it. Ninety nine percent will not work. A hundred percent. This involvement, this depth is also a movement, and in silence there is no movement at all. So this bull was also dropped.

The fourth aspect, the moon. The moon is a symbol of coolness. It makes you calm, calm and serene. The moon is an object. Because of the moon you have become calm. Even this object, to make you serene, to make you blissful, is not needed. No tools are needed, no meditations are needed. He left this also. They gave this name to that mountain: Chandra Parbat. Chandra means moon. The name of the mountain is still this today.

And the last thing, the fifth attribute of Shiva is damru, which means the drum. It is the symbol of sound. It means movement or creation; for creation movement is needed – the two are needed. Otherwise you cannot create sound from a drum: you have to bang the drum to get a sound out of it. The theory of Big Bang means the whole creation emerged from sound. We call it nada. So, this drum was also dropped on a hill we call it Damru Parvat.

The secret science of Tantra can be delivered only in deep silence, in the deep coolness of the moon. When every thing has become still. In a state of ardhanariswara. It means no duality, only oneness, when one finds his own partner in his own body, like a hermaphrodite. Then the supreme vision of Tantra starts showering on you.

As they descend, slowly, slowly, they reached a cave. This cave is in the mountains, in the Himalayas, and is the most important for people in this country. Last year 4 million people visited it. And I don’t think that all these 4 million people knew where they were going. They went because it is tradition: everybody goes, so I like to go. And the place is known as Amarnath, the most important shrine for Hindus in India. A highly visited place; it is open just for two, three months. Amar means immortal. Once you are in the cave, you become immortal. Death ceases for you. You cannot die. That is the state of Buddha.

The book, Vigyan Bhairav Tantra, was born in this cave. They are the songs of immortality. Once you have found that these 112 methods of meditation enter into you, you become immortal. Then there is no coming back to this world. You may come out of compassion, to help, as others are coming to help the world. The song of immortality, the Song of Mahamudra, happened in this cave. It is said in the legend that when Parvati and Shiva were sharing, one pair of pigeons was listening and they became immortal. People see that sometimes; they see the couple in this cave. They became immortal.

The Song of Mahamudra was given by Shiva in this cave. I have been to the cave once. In those days it was still undisturbed. It is said that when the 112 sutras were asked by Parvati and Shiva gave her the technique, the method, they did the techniques together in deep embrace. And the flame started from their bodies. It took the shape of the linga, the phallic symbol. This is the eternal flame, in the form of the linga. Shiva and Parvati melted, frozen completely, and transformed into ice. This cave has a linga of ice.

It’s a natural formation, nobody made it. Inside the cave this form is about 5 meters high. They were frozen, Shiva and Parvati; this was the ultimate melting. The song was delivered, the love song. The duality between Shiva and Parvati disappeared, became one.

When they became one, creation stopped. Everything stopped. Everywhere deep silence. No movement. Movement finished. And for creation you need movement. Without action, without movement, you cannot create, you cannot create a child without movement. Animals have to move, birds have to move, plants have to move, a seed has to move from the fruit to become another tree, another plant. This whole movement stopped, it ceased completely. All the gods and goddesses were shaken. Darkness. They went to Amarnath, to this cave. All the gods and goddesses started praying to Shiva and Shakti, “Come out of the union!”

It is said that Shiva and Parvati slowly melted and the world started moving again. The sun started rising, the moon started rising, everything, the winds started blowing. All the elements of this cosmos began functioning. Again life started. And now you can imagine how beautiful. It conveyed the song of immortality.

I don’t know whether Hindus know that this place is unique because it has the fragrance of Tantra.

To be continued…

Transcription, editing and organizing by Srajan

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