Kamakala Yantra ? Real Truth About Kamakala Yantra

January 4, 2024by medhaavi0

The sculptures of Khajuraho most certainly have drawn inspiration from the Tantra tradition of using “Sandhya-Bhasha”, an “Intentional Language” capable of bearing multiple significances based on how the reader interprets it. For example, the ascent of vital Kundalini/Prana energy through the body of a yogi is compared with the dance of a washer woman in the text Saktisangama Tantra. The text deals with (Shat-Chakra-Bhedna) which is the entrance of six chakras in the subtle body. Expressions like “with the washer woman on his neck, the yogi passes the night in great bliss” do seem a bit puzzling if taken literally, but when seen in the light of Sandhya-Bhasha, the washerwoman is the anthropomorphised Kundalini Energy that vitalises as well as cleanses. Thus the text actually says “with the vital energy ascending the fifth chakra (Vishudha Chakra) in the neck, the yogi passes the night in great bliss”.


Scholars like Devangana Desai who have worked extensively on Indian Architecture its basis in scriptures tend to approach the sculptures more traditionally. The Agama Shastras provide an association of these sculptures with Tantric Yantras (Sacred Geometrical Patterns) that are supposedly endowed with supernatural/magical powers. One such being the Kamalala Yantra, that often has raised brows in the more western interpretations Khajuraho’s temple art.

The Yantras also find their place in the “Shilpa Sastra”, an ancient treatise on traditional Indian architecture. According to the text, such yantras as a matter of principle must be present in the architecture of the temples (one such yantra being the Kamakala Yantra). The text states that the Kamakala yantra is indispensable in Shakti-Sadhna, and therefore it must be present in temples dedicated to the worship of Shiva and Shakti. The text in the context of the Yantra and the magical powers that embody it states, “the evil spirits would run away at the very sight of this yantra, and the monument then will stand forever”.

Additionally, the text instructs to keep the yantra a secret – “it must not be shown to everyone; the yantra is utterly secret; to keep it hidden from the profane, a love couple (Kamabandha) must be drawn on its lines”.

Therefore, it appears that the structures of the couples that appear on the junction walls of Khajuraho served multiple purposes at the same time.

• They were meant to be magico-defensive, protecting the monument, especially the junction which is supposedly the most vulnerable part of the temple.

• They concealed tantric yantras, like Kamakala Yantra, these had a special significance for the initiates of tantric cults.

• They were meant to act as decoys to the profane, the ordinary men or the uninitiated.

• They were representative of a hidden philosophic symbolism, which only the advanced practitioners could comprehend.

In addition to the above, Sandhya-Bhasha employed to decode or reveal the meanings behind the structures of Khajuraho consists of other recurring themes and components like the three important Nadis or Subtle Veins of Kundalini Yoga as Ida, Pingala and Sushumna.

• Ida (Associated with Left Nostril, Chandra (moon), Apana, Nada, Prakriti, Tamas (one of the three gunas), Ganga).

• Pingala (Associated with Right Nostril, Surya (Sun), Rajas (one of the three gunas), Purusha, Prana, Tongue (Rasana), Yamuna).

• Sushumna (Associated with Avadhuti, Female Ascetic, Nairatama, Samasana (remation ground)).

As the above mentioned homologies would suggest, the Kamakala represents the Yogic-Philosophic symbolism of the unification of the two opposite breaths or subtle veins: the Ida and the Pingala in the middle path of Sushumna, or for that matter the unification of the opposite Surya and Chandra, or Prakriti and Purusha et al. It was said that through the unification of antipodal tendencies, such as those mentioned above, one could transcend the phenomenal world to reach the realms of beyond.

Thus the Tantric Philosophy with its secret doctrines, often expressed through equally secret language, rules much of what meets eye and beyond undisputedly was applied to the temples, and this finds acknowledgement in the scriptures that afford us enough evidence to substantiate this claim beyond any reasonable doubt. Along with the scriptural evidence already cited, it becomes reasonably plain that the erotic figures that appear in great profusion on the walls of the Khajuraho Temples do invest in them a profound philosophical significance. The sculptors of Khajuraho created a masterpiece, diverse and versatile, as to meaning in which it could be fixed, and yet elegant, provocative and teasingly mysterious. Deceptive always to the naïve, but rich in meaning to the eligible, the art of Khajuraho is truly a celebration of the communion of the gross and subtle, of the soul and the super soul, and of the spiritual and the sensual. And despite exhibiting them were not merely a catalogue of human desire.

Mithunas [carved erotic temple images] already existed before the Christian era, apparently unrelated to the yantras [mystical diagrams], but they are very few in number compared to the 10th and 11th centuries AD [when many tantric temples were built in the Orissan style].

A real importance is given to them with the appearance of tantrism in Hinduism from the sixth century. The latter places desire, the pursuit of pleasure (kama) at the origin of everything, in a way rejecting Vedism and thus opposing Brahmanism, which is more focused on self-denial and avoidance of pleasure. Kama [love/desire/passion/pleasure] is therefore for the tantrikas (practitioners of tantrism) a legitimate goal of life…

This was implemented through sexualized rituals, with a centrality of sexual fluids. Also, the semen mixed with female secretions (rajas) would give a nectar of immortality (amrita) and is sometimes ingested by the followers to refocus their cakras, which would be linked to the act of fellatio (vajroli mudra)…

But the mithunas in all this? As Ramacandra, the great temple architect of that time, tells us very well, these are representations of sexual acts hiding in truth a much deeper message: a yantra or mystical diagram known as the Kamakala that was literally hidden under the erotic painting. It is as much about the revelation of a truth as a visual support for meditation, often associated with a mantra which is the vocal support.

First used in Hinduism, this yantra then passed into Buddhism and other Asian religions. Composed exclusively of geometric shapes, it is reminiscent of mandalas (ritual diagrams filled with symbols of Hinduism and also widely used as supports for meditation in Buddhism).

Each of the Kamakala’s component forms and each of its points are associated with concepts and deities known to the initiate. The mediation of the latter consists in seizing the force, the energy by looking at the yantra, often hidden by a more banal representation so that the uninitiated do not perceive its content.

However, let’s come back to our Lakśmana temple in Kanjuraho. The mithunas that take place there therefore hide a particular yantra, the Kamakala yantra:

Kamakala yantra

What is the meaning of this diagram? We would not know the answer, as the uninitiated, if an architect of the 11th century Oriśa, Ramacandra, had not revealed it in an architectural manual intended for tantrikas: the Silpa Prakasa, which has been translated into English by Alice Boner and Sadasiva Rath Sarma in their book Silpa Prakasa: Medieval Orissan Sanskrit Text on Temple Architecture.

Here is the extract from the Silpa Prakasa relating to the Kamakala yantra, i.e. verses 2. 498 – 539:

498. In this context [of the ornamentation of the exterior walls of the temple], understand the reasons for the panels of erotic carvings (kamabandhas). I will explain them according to the popular tradition among sculptors (silpavidya).

499. Kama is the roof of the existence of the world. Everything that is born comes out of kama. It is also through kama that the original substance and all beings will finally disappear.

500. Without [the passionate union] of Śiva and Śakti, creation would be nothing but a fabrication. Nothing from life to death happens without the action of kama (kamakriya).

501. Śiva is the manifestation of the great linga, the essential form of Śakti is the yoni. Through their interaction, the whole world came into existence, this is called the action of kama.

502. Canonical erotic art (kamakala vidya) is a vast subject in ancient writings (Agamas). As it is written: “a place devoid of erotic imagery is a place to be avoided”.

503. Certain places are considered inferior, and always to be avoided, by the Tantric authorities (kaulaçara), as if they were the lair of Death or impenetrable darkness.

504. Without [the first] scholarly rite of offering and worship (puja) in the Kamakala Yantra, all Goddess worship (Śaktipuja) or Tantric practice (sadhana) is as futile as bathing an elephant.

505. When this yantra is consecrated, this building can be considered as a Tantric Temple (viramandira). Here all obstacles, fears, et cetera… are sure to be destroyed.

506. At the mere sight of this yantra all sorts of ghosts, demons and other hideous creatures are sure to flee away.

507. Listen, and I will carefully expose his secrets. [But remember,] this yantra should never be disclosed to anyone who is not a Tantra practitioner.

508. The base of this tantric figure (virabhumi) must be quadrilateral, either square or rectangular. Through the total area of this quadrilateral domain, two lines should be drawn.

509. One vertical and the other horizontal, these lines must intersect at the “precious house” [at the central point]. Starting from this precious point, the diagonals should be drawn to the corners, thus dividing the entire figure into triangular yonis.

510. Extending vertically from the lowest baseline of the yantra realm, a thin linga should be created, with a rounded top like a gemstone extending above the center point.

511. Above this precious pinnacle, the true essence of kamabindu [the point of love] is marked by a bulbous drop, the drop (bindu) which bestows all supernatural powers.

512. After that, the sixteen matrikas [sixteen “little mothers”, mother-goddesses helping Śakti in her battles) are consigned with the same number of triangular yonis, ensuring that each is in fascinating contact with the linga.

513. These sixteen facets (kalas) are all formally conceived as yonis, only by virtue of linear convergence with the linga, thus becoming [a complete group of sixteen] facets.

514. How, then, is the segmented domain distributed so as to constitute the fifteen [these are sixteen] principal orifices which are joined to the linga?

515. By what means will these triangular figures be considered as representing yonis, of which the whole of this yantra is made up?

516. In the upper half, two oblique lines should connect the central upper bindu [point] to [that of] the end of the central horizontal line. In the same way, draw lines from the bottom center to the corner diagonals.

517. [The two side triangles of the upper part are further subdivided horizontally:] Kamesi is the first Śakti [she is assigned to the upper right triangle], Bhagamalika is the second [below her], Nityaklinna is the third [to the upper left triangle], and the fourth is Bherunda [below her].

518. [Below] the group of three domains on the left, Mahavajre Svan is assigned to the bottom triangle, Śivadutika is beside her [on the right of the linga].

519. Beside her, in the other area of the left corner, is the citśakti [spiritual energy] Vahnivasini, joined with fascinating lines.

520. To his left, and related to the terminal part of the precious top (maniksetra) of the linga is placed the goddess Vajreśvari.

521. Above, on the right is Tvarita, the unshakeable essence of the facets (kalatmika) of Śakti, and opposite [her], on the left is Kulasundari.

522. In this order are the magnificent estates occupied on the sides. In the great yantra of the altar-vulva (bhaga-pitha) only six others remain to be enumerated.

523. Against the right edge of the linga is Śakti Kllapataka, opposite her is the charming and supple Jvalamalini.

524. Vijaya, the constant Companion [is at upper left], Kamaleśvari extends below her at the precious end of the linga.

525. At her right side, the divine Tripurasundari is placed [and above her], opposed to Vijaya [is Bhairavi], the constant love of Bhairava, darling of the helpless.

526. These are the sixteen Śaktis, the goddesses who are the real essences of Love (kamakalatmika), together constituting the domain of the yantra. Around its outer periphery a protective ring of [eight] yoginis [is invoked].

527. Nirbhara at top center point, Rahaśyaka at top left corner, Kulotkirna at center left side, Atirahaśya at bottom corner.

528. At the lowest central square Sampradaya, at the next corner Guptatarahgika, Guptayogini in the center of the right side, and Nigarbha in the upper right.

529. These are the Yoginis of the peripheral realm, as opposed to the faceted Realm of Love. [Finally], the Supreme Śakti, the great goddess of the Facets of Love [or the Art of Love], Paraśakti Maha-Kamaleśvari [is visible] in the central drop.

533-534. Just below her, from the precious end [of the linga of the yantra] appears Śiva, the lord of Kamakala, his complexion somewhat dark, deeply still in a pose of seated yoga, almighty, [nevertheless] constantly absorbed through his sexual intercourse with Kamakaleśvari, straddling the cakra ajna, always delighted to drink his sexual fluids (rajahpanaratah).

535. Wearing the costume of the ascetic, [he is] the yogin Kamaleśvara, lord presiding over the great Kamakala Yantra, the dark Sankara.

536. This very secret yantra is the best way to protect any place. He is a helper of perceptible power, and manifestly the [best] provider of all attainments (siddhis).

537. In all the best temples of Śakti and Śiva this yantra must certainly be deployed, then their glory will remain unchanging, like the mountains.

538. [But] this very secret of secret yantras is not to be seen by anyone. This is the reason why these erotic images [must hide] the alignments of the yantra.

539. The common view among tantrikas is that erotic images should adorn the highest panels on the pilasters of the outer wall of the temple. These panels of erotic sculptures must be placed in such a way as to amaze the general public.




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