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The Sahajiyas were a Tantric Vaisnava group that flourished in Bengal, Assam & Orrisa between the 16th-19th centuries. The Sahajiyas believed that Krishna represented the divine aspect in every man, and Radha, the divine aspect of every woman. They also held that in order to obtain the freedom of spontaneity, practitioners should worship women (the ideal Sahajiya guru was a woman) and pursue ‘adulterous’ relationships as part of their spiritual practice.

Sahajiya practices were devised in order to help devotees attain the Sahaja state of liberation. These sadhanas – much to the horror of orthodox Vaisnavas – included ritual sexual intercourse and pursuing adulterous relationships. According to Glen A. Hayes, there were three stages of Sahajiya practice. Beginners (pravata) used the common Bengali Vaisnava devotions – singing, dancing, and chanting praises to Krishna, accompanied by the practice of divinising the body and identity as one of Krishna’s followers. The second and third stages (sadhaka and siddha) – related to the use of the more obviously tantrically-inspired erotic practices.

Further, drawing on the many dalliances of Krishna for inspiration, for the Sahajiyas, the ideal female partner for the male devotee was a woman denoted as parakiya – belonging to another. Such risky, forbidden liasions were said to heighten the passions of love.

The Sahajiyas developed an extensive sexual alchemy around bodily fluids, and also had a unique model of the subtle body that differed markedly from most Saivite and Sakta Tantric transmissions.

Further Reading:
Glen A. Hayes: The Necklace of Immortality: A Seventeenth Century Vaisnava Sahajiya Text, in Tantra in Practice, David G. White (ed), Princeton University Press, 2000.