It is ironic that India has a beautiful, sacred tradition—Tantra—which affirms, celebrates, and worships women’s sexuality. Yet most Indian women are indoctrinated with taboos. They are treated and live with sexual shame, guilt, repression, and fear of rape and sexual violence in their daily lives.
As an Indian-American immigrant, I’m no stranger to the shame, suppression, and taboos bias that surrounded my sexuality. But I’ve also experienced the heights of bliss, ecstasy, and sacredness that sexuality vaulted me to. When I discovered Tantric texts, which affirmed and celebrated my desire, pleasure, and sexuality, and the scientific precision of their practices, I realized how misguided and damaging the messages are that South Asian women receive.
As a culture, we have lost touch with an exquisite, feminine tradition that reveres women’s sexuality. The patriarchy suppresses and controls women’s sexual pleasure and empowerment through religion, social morality, the fetish for purity, and mythic “good/pure girl” models held out to women such as Sita and Draupadi.
Tantra the primary matriarchal tradition in 3000 B.C., during the Indus Valley Civilization. A woman’s fertile ability to create life and give birth were revered as a magical, sacred power. Their sexual pleasure and desires were perceived as essential expressions of the Goddess. But somewhere along the centuries, due to invasions and animal husbandry, the poles of power shifted towards patriarchy. A religious divide grew between Vedic and Tantric tradition and priests came into power. Socially, the caste system dethroned and marginalized the earth-based feminine tradition. As Tantra and its practices went underground, so did the power and sexuality of women.
But we are in a time of Feminine Awakening. And, as South Asian women, we can look to our own feminine traditions to heal, reclaim, and rewrite sexual scripts that we have been told are absolute truths. Tantra affirms and celebrates women’s sexuality in the following three ways.
1) A woman’s body is a temple
According to Tantra, a woman is a sacred embodiment of the Goddess. Her limbs, organs, and cells pulsate with her sacredness. When a woman truly owns and claims all of herself—her vagina, sexuality, and desire—only then can she feel authentic, powerful, and whole.
As a woman, you can learn to regard, love, and treat your body as sacred. You may need to transform limiting beliefs about your body, vagina, and sexuality. You might need to heal shame, fear, repression, or abuse. But as your body opens to pleasure, desire, and ecstasy, you will come to love your body as holy ground, and bloom to your feminine innocence and beauty.
2) Tantra as a Science
In Tantra, a woman who is not sexually empowered is still a girl. Only when a woman experiences and embodies her full red-blooded desires and sexuality does she come into her authentic feminine power.
Tantra is a great practice for if you want to surpass the indoctrinated “good, pure girl” syndrome. As a science, it teaches you how to connect with your body’s energy and wisdom through breath and embodiment practices to help you become comfortable with, accept, and enjoy your body. Most practices can be done solo. As you become more embodied, you feel deliciously energized, have a swing to your step, feel confident, happy, and real.
3) Divine Energy
In Tantra, everything is sacred including a woman’s body and her sexuality. Tantra perceives a woman’s sexuality as the natural expression of Divine Feminine energy, Shakti. A woman’s sexuality is as vital as her breath, her laugh, and her soul.
When a woman doesn’t feel, express, or enjoy her sexuality, she is cut off from her full potential, creativity, and sacredness. As a woman opens up to and enjoys her sexuality, she develops a magnetic vibrant presence, and is liberated from internal conflicts of guilt, shame, and fear in every aspect of her life. And as she loves herself, her body, and her sexuality, she can live an inspired, joyful, and creative life.