The common notion about the Tantras is generally a disparaging one and it is also suggested that they are not very ancient in origin. It is no wonder that it should be so, after a series of invasions, changes of government and inflow of various religions which chequered the pages of the History of the Indian Empire since the period of our good old days, when, it is admitted, on all hands, portions of almost all our shastras have been destroyed more or less and some of them irretrievable lost.
Be that as it may, the Tantras date their origin contemporaneously with that of the Upanishads as it evident that the Upanishads deal with the Gnanakanda of the Vedas and the Tantras deal with their Karmakanda. And the existence of the Tantras from the days of yore is also evidenced by the fact that it has been referred to in many leading ancient Shastras. One of the Upanishads reproduce the identical Sutra of Satchakra Veda, which forms the fundamental principle of Tantric religion, the substance of which is as follows:-
There are one hundred and one nerves within a human frame amongst which Shusumna, which enters into the cortical centers, conditions the mental operations as to the liberation of the soul and others help to perform secular duties.
The seventh sloka of the Prasnopanishads bears out the same fact. Besides these there are copious instances of references to the Tantras in Narad Pancharattra, Skandapuranam, Mahabharatam, Devi Bhagavatam, Agastia Samhita, Vishnupuranam, Agnipuranam, Markandayapuranam, &c.
That the very ancient Rishis such as Narada, Kapila, Gautama, Sanatkumara, Dattareya, &c., were Tantrika is evident from the following books, viz., Narad Pancharatra, Kapila Pancharatra, Gautamatantra, Sanatkumar Tantra, Dattatreya Samhita.
The religion propounded by the Tantras is not the subject matter of rhetoric or of barren argument of a theory but it is that which requires Sadhana or carrying out of its dictum which being reduced into practice, the efficacy is immediately felt. The Tantras recognize energy or Adya Shakti as supreme. The creation, the preservation and the destruction are consummated by the force of this Energy. If this Supreme Energy is propitiated, earthly and spiritual good is inevitable. Because she is from the beginning, she is the Universal Mother, she is represented naked in the terrific-beatific figure of the goddess Kali. It is impossible that she will feel ashamed to stand naked before us. She, with one hand, terrifies the wicked, administers justice and with the other gives comfort and consolation to those who hanker after it. The fact that she is supreme is represented by her standing over the corpse-like human being. She wears the garland of human heads, because she will in no wise cast out those that will worship Her in spirit and in truth. Even she will value them and consider them as worthy of being worn as a necklace. What a significant fact it is! We, sinners, have this opportunity to have our resting place, even, in the bosom of our Mother. The Motherhood of God is never more emphasized than what is done in the Tantras. It is sweet, so enchanting that the very name ‘Mother’ brings tears to the eyes of every Bhakta. The fatherhood of God is greatly emphasized by the Christian religion, while the Motherhood of God was long, long ago accepted as the best method of attaining salvation.