Five years ago in the tribal tracts of Jharkhand, I was on assignment to check out the condition of the primitive Asura tribe deep in the jungle. After work, I noticed a non-tribal, sitting on a chair and enjoying the natural beauty of the place. A clerk at the local rural bank, he let on that he was a tantrik. He looked so normal, that I asked to hear his story.
"I roamed everywhere, including cremation grounds for several years. Then my guru ordered me to become a normal householder and bear children. I got a job and settled down here," said the tantrik, adding, "I am in tantra but also a grihasth. Being a householder was a divine order for me and had to be obeyed."
As the conversation blossomed, I asked him about the negatives associated with tantra - skeleton worship, liquor, sexual rituals and such. "There are several schools of tantra. The one I follow is the worship of the female power in the form of Durga," he said. "I am her child, she is my mother. I cry before her. I dance with ecstasy and laugh with her. She advises me, helps me and my disciples out with problems," said the 40-year old.
He answered my spiritual queries with such simplicity and humbleness that I was overcome. "A son may become wayward but a mother never abandons him. You just have to ask the divine mother with a true and pure heart and she will fulfil what you ask for," he reasoned.
What led to a true and pure heart? "Concentration and meditation," replied the tantrik. "When a heart is cleansed after years of struggle, it never yearns for worldly goods and physical pleasure. Whatever you ask the mother, is for your disciples and your surroundings, never for yourself."
So what was tantra then? "Intensity of devotion, which makes one closer to the Goddess. Extreme penance and detachment. Following divine directions and using the powers bestowed by the mother for others' welfare," he summed up.