Tantra Paintings are a study of the analogy between the physical body (microcosm) and the universe (macrocosm). The philosophy behind these paintings is same as that of the Tantric philosophy– meditation and disciplined bodily behavior can equip you with the power to control the outer world.
Tantra, Mantra and Mandala
Tantra is an esoteric pagan tradition in Hinduism, which includes extensive use of the mantra or symbolic speech and mandala, symbolic diagrams, to attain enlightenment. The mother goddess or Shakti is of vital importance in the tradition of Tantra. Hindu Tantric rituals include things like meditation on cremation grounds and corpses, ritualistic use of wine, meat and sexual intercourse. These worldly means will help in unifying the soul with the supreme power.
Hindu Tantra divides the practices in three grades corresponding to the three classes of devotees: the animal devotee, or the devotee in whom the guna, or quality, of tamas (darkness) predominates; the heroic devotee, those in whom the guna of rajas (activity) predominates; and the divine devotee, those in whom sattva (goodness) predominates. The object of these seemingly morbid rituals is to ignite kundalini energy, which is identified with Shakti, and merge with the Supreme power.
The Imagery in Tantra Paintings
Tantric paintings abound in abstract, multivalent and oblique images. They are layered and sometimes mind bogglingly complex. They seem to have been deliberately pushed to a transgressive limit. The obscurity of these paintings can be attributed on them being meditations on paintings. When a Tantra painting is worshipped it becomes the symbolic representation of the deity and it abounds in energy. Every such painting is the dwelling place of the deity who is being represented.
The ritual of Tantric Painting
The process of painting is a ritual in itself. They are to be accompanied with meditation and chartings of mantra. The mantras help in invoking the deity in the paintings. This ritual is called Pranaprathistha. Through meditation and worship these paintings slowly begin to gather energy and power. Black, red, green and gold are the auspicious colors of Tantra Paintings.
A mandala is to be found in many Tantric Paintings. It is a symbolic geometric pattern, which is a metaphysical or symbolical representation of the cosmos, a microcosm of the universe from the human perspective. The center of the Mandala can be used as the focal point of meditation. In fact the complex but symmetric web of structures around the center draws ones eyes towards the focal point.
Tantra Paintings are actually the visual elements for meditation, which is used to invoke and manifest the Supreme Power and consciousness. These paintings command a minimum amount of respect and small offerings of flowers and incense add to the spiritual aura of these paintings.