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Panchamakara Form of Worship in Tantrism – Symbolic Meaning of Wine – Meat – Fish – Coin – Sex



Tantra describes five elements, known as panchamakara, for sadhana. The five elements have symbolic meaning in Tantism. The five elements are:
  1. madya, wine;
  2. mamsa, meat;
  3. matsya, fish;
  4. mudra, silver coin; and
  5. maithuna, sexual union.

These five categories have different meanings for different classes of worshippers but in all cases it is important to understand that what one is required to offer is the principle or essence, not the article itself.

It is impossible to think that Shiva would have advised people to have all five experiences and assured them illumination. Many people enjoy these things. Are they illumined? People don’t need to practice tantric rituals to have sex and enjoy wine. Some people with animal nature want to spiritualize their self-indulgence, and Westerners sometimes portray tantric rituals in this way.

The panchamakara should be understood from a spiritual perspective.

Symbolic Meaning of Wine – Meat – Fish – Coin – Sex in Tantric Worship

Madya (Wine)  When we meditate, sweet nectar flows from the brahmarandhra chakra. This is called ‘Madya’ (wine). A spiritual seeker thinks of that nectar and is intoxicated.

Mamsa (meat) That means great taste on your tongue. A true tantric aspirant should have full control over her or his tongue; a real tantric is passive and practices silence.

Matsya (fish)  The tantras refer to the jiva, the individual self. The ida and pingala — the two nerve channels on either side of the spinal cord are like the rivers Ganga and Yamuna, and the jiva, like a fish, plays in these channels as the tantric practitioner breathes in and out. The control of this breath and focusing on that power and putting that power through the shushumna channel, is called matsya.

Mudra (silver coin) — refers to meditation on the guru in the sahasrara the place of Shiva in the seventh chakra , which is compared to, melted silver.

Maithuna (sexual union)  it can be understood in this way: Air represents the male and space represents the female. When air enters into space meaning that when we breathe, air enters into the space of our hearts and a yogi attains kumbhaka the mind stops and one attains illumination. This is maithuna or union.


Sourcearticle titled What Is Tantra? Swami Chetanananda ( Head of the Vedanta Society of St Louis.)