Dialogue Ireland Logo Resources Services Information about Dialogue Ireland
A to Z index

The Serpent Power and the New Adam - Johannes Aagaard

Religion and Occultism in Tantric and Shakti Traditions

By dr. Johannes Aagaard for the Seminar in Chiang Mai February 17-18 2003, arranged by SEANET

Table of Contents:
1 The Serpent Power and the New Adam

1.2 Cosmology and Theology

1.3 Cosmos and Chaos

1.3 Dualism and Trinity
2 Historical observations

2.2 A Necessary Hypothesis

2.3 Occultism within

2.4 The Erotic and Sexual Alternatives
3. Kula Kundalini and Shakti Kundalini

3.2 Rajah Yoga, Hatha Yoga and Tantrification

3.3 Two Occult Masters and their Consequences
4. The Alternative Way – The Christ Way
A Suggested Bibliography

1 The Serpent Power and the New Adam

The theme given to me is first and foremost connected with Buddhism in some of its Tantric forms. The key concept is given with the formula „The Serpent Power“ and „the Tantric Traditions“. By including „the New Adam“ in the theme it is indicated that what is given is not just history of some forms of Tantrism or Tantric traditions, but the presentation is given in a theological and Christian perspective.

For the person well versed in the Bible it is clear that the Serpent Power indicates the power of the serpent from Genesis 3.

By using the term „The New Adam“ it is indicated a theological dimension since the New Adam first refers (in Luke 3) to Jesus as „the son of Adam, son of God“, but the relation between the first Adam, by whom sin entered the world, and Jesus Christ, by whom eternal life entered the world, is the point of the Pauline „Adam Christ“-argument in Romans 5,12-21.

The Serpent Power is not a dominant theme in the Bible, but is an essential expression of the evil one at work against the New Adam, for instance in the Apocalypse 12 and 20.

The anti-power is not identical with the Old Adam, for he is an expression of mankind, not of the Anti-Christ or Devil or Satan, as is the Serpent Power. The Old Adam is certainly a problematic reality but is not demonised.
1.2 Cosmology and Theology

It is an ongoing discussion if theology is part of cosmology or if the opposite is true. In fact they relate to one another, but of course theology is about God, and cosmology is about the cosmos/universe/world.

It is possible that the question is wrong, and then of course any answer is wrong too. Cosmology writes the obvious context of the theological text. Then, of course, there is an inter-relation between cosmology and theology. Maybe theology is best understood as one of more possible dimensions of cosmology, but not in itself as cosmology.

Normally, we find cosmologies in Occult settings! That is simply a fact, and that fact is probably the reason why theology is often taking place in opposition to a number of cosmologies, which are more or less Occult or Animistic or Spiritualist.

We must admit that theology cannot identify itself with cosmology. It is worth trying to test this proposition critically, and this can best be done by making an experiment:

Can one succeed in describing cosmos as an acceptable context for a theology which has its own mission? The many new cosmologies have given us a lot of material, and a large number of modern people seem to find this cosmological trend significant. Can this tendency be taken care of in a theologically responsible way? That is our starting point.
1.3 Cosmos and Chaos

Cosmos means (in Greek) a piece of jewellery, but also order, and indicates something extremely beautifully ordered. The opposite of Cosmos is Chaos, which means ugliness, disorder and dissolution.

When we try to give an outline of a theologically responsible cosmology, we present an independent experiment in understanding cosmos by means of the material of living spirituality and with Christian theology as the norm and the goal.

This is, however, not the only cosmological possibility. Scientific cosmology is presented as an option by scholars in natural sciences. It is a descriptive understanding, dealing with the given facts. Theology is open to such scientific attempts in cosmology, but theology is not only descriptive. It also relates to that which not yet exists. Theology as a whole deals with the future as a 'virtual reality' which is „in becoming“, and theology is an attempt to give guidance to and norms for not only the present but also from the future of God as the Truth who „was and is and becomes“. Theology is consequently not only descriptive but also fundamentally normative. Therefore theology is both dogmatic and ethic theology.

In order to construct a theologically sound cosmology, it is important to understand the opposite thing which is the Occult and syncretistic cosmology that is prevalent in Modernism. In fact, Modernism is historically by nature largely the result of Occult cosmologies. The theologically sound cosmology can use some element from Occult, syncretistic cosmology, as it is proved by the Bible itself, but the obvious use of such elements from syncretistic movements has to be countered by clear-cut theological guidelines, whereby the centre is marked off from the periphery.

All cosmograms or 'psycho-cosmograms' may look somewhat like the old Gnostic or Theosophical cosmograms which does not prove that this is what they are. It may be possible to argue by means of the false cosmologies in order to make the true cosmologies understood. It may be that the theologically sound cosmogram is communicated by denying the false cosmograms from within their own self-understanding. That is at any rate the intention of this experiment before you.

It is a surprising fact that modernist attempts towards cosmology - in their reductionism in relation to Christian orthodoxy – still tend to end up in Occultism and Gnosticism. The way this combination works is found already in New Testament texts, in which gnosis is seen as an alternative to true epignosis. The same alternative is seen when libertinism comes up as a conclusion of love (Agape). The operative alternatives often look like the real thing, but without the inner Trinitarian identity.
1.3 Dualism and Trinity

Many religious systems operate as dualistic models, which have one concept of man and quite another concept of God or divinity. These two concepts function as poles, having an area of tension in between.

Such dualistic models are also operative in some forms of Christian theology, but a genuine Christian model is not dualistic, but Trinitarian. Christ and Spirit are somehow constituting the second and the third part. In classical Christian theology Christ is confessed as part of a Trinitarian project for salvation.

But where did man go in this concept? Man himself is also Trinitarian as „body, soul and spirit“. In Christianity the relation between God and man is thus the correspondence between two Trinitarian interpretations of both God and man! That double Trinitarian model is rather complex, because two times three are combined with one another. Thus Christian theology or anthropology or pneumatology are in fact experiments, seemingly complicated for minds that prefer simple, dualistic models.
2 Historical observations

The terms Hinduism and Buddhism are created in modern times by the West. In their own regions a mix of what became Hinduism and Buddhism respectively lived in a sort of co-existence that is itself „like the museum in Nepal“ where the lack of space and the isolation from the world never allowed the two traditions to separate totally from each other.

The specificity of the rather different traditions were blurred by a common interest in not differentiating. In principle there is no God and no caste-system in Buddhism, but both god or gods were parts of the „practice“ whereby cast-ridden traditions functioned and continued to function. That blurred the distinctive difference between Buddhism and Hinduism in especially Nepal – but also elsewhere.

The Brahmanical tradition from which both Buddhism and Hinduism arose, created a numerous mix of priests and monks (later in Hinduism than in Buddhism), and the clashes between both traditions were found in the often syncretistic practices..

The Sanatha dharma, i.e. the old order of life, is the classical term for the various old traditions that developed into a multitude of Hindu and Buddhist sects and sectors… The tradition of Brahmanism with brahmins and monks created a rich variety of communities and traditions.

But one important and decisive factor from outside must be mentioned: The Islamic invasion. It started in a small scale during the 8th and 9th centuries when the Moslems pushed towards the East and crossed the river of Indus which made them call the area in front of them „Hindustan“.

They considered the enormous area ahead of them as populated by heathens. The earlier Christian penetration normally was rather peaceful and undramatic, but the Moslems' arrival created a new and dramatic situation.

The Moslems saw the Buddhists and Hindus as enemies. These two expressions of idolatry were simply considered blasphemous and had to be done away with. So temples and viharas were ruined and torn down, and mosques were often built on top of the ruined Hindu and Buddhist places of worship. Along the Ganges a lot of centres for Buddhist and Hindu studies were found and put to fire. They were burning for many months, and invaluable libraries were annihilated.
2.2 A Necessary Hypothesis

Especially Buddhist centres and Buddhist monks were targets for the Moslem aggression. The local Buddhists were often Tantric Buddhists with a lot of icons of various Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and deities and Occult spirits. They were plundered. And the monks were expelled or killed.

A large exodus to the Northern and Eastern region consequently took place. The refugees fled into the forests and up into the mountains and found alternative sites in what is now known as Kashmir, Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim and Nepal and even China. In these frontier regions they got an influence which have been included in the „Northern Buddhism“ known as Mahayana and not least Tantrayana.

I admit that this exodus is a theory that still is without historical foundation. Little proof exists for this hypothesis. But it is a necessary theory without which one can hardly give an explanation for the fact that loads of age-old manuscripts were brought back from Tibet and the frontier states to India. Many texts were lost in India, probably burned together with the centres, and then some of them after 1947 turned up again with the refugees from the North! How did they come the southern way in the 20th century unless they came northwards earlier? And as they must have escaped the Moslem pyromaniacs, they also must have come northwards by refugees who had access to the secret libraries of Tantric texts and had saved the treasures from the Moslem persecution as they in the middle of the 20th century saved them from the Chinese persecution.
2.3 Occultism within

A ghost is passing through the world in the form of occultisation. This is not the same as occultism, because the term occultisation indicates an active, self-promoting disease that can be compared to cancer. Therefore, outwardly it may look as quite innocent Occult religiosity, but it is deadly.

Occultisation has a number of forms, because it is hiding within the „bodies“ which it takes over as its outward forms and covers.

There is an old version - or rather there are a large number of old Hindu versions - of occultisation. And Hinduism can be seen as the womb of such occultisations and arise as a sort of arch-occultism. First and foremost it is seen in the special tantrification that has developed both within Hindu and Buddhist movements. Tantra is occultisation both as Hindu and Buddhist Tantra.

A general observation in this connection could be that this Tantric occultisation in a surprising way is combined with modernisation, whereby the classical traditions are dissolved and have lost their ability to resist.

Secularisation is implied in modernisation. A striking example of this combination is the „Visva Hindu Parishad“ (VHP), the Hindu World Mission, which is spreading modernisation and secularisation, bound up with occultisation.

First of all this combination is seen and found by the way in which nationalism and anti-Christian propaganda is combined. But its essential and lasting result is the overall atheistic belief-systems: God is out. God is the looser. God is dethroned, and Hindu dharma is taking over, being offered to people who may confess what ever they like without consequences. If only they confess the Sanatha Dharma...

The Buddhist analogies to Visva Hindu Parishad are many, but normally not as aggressive as VHP. They prefer softer ways and means, but with a similar agenda, not least because God already is out. There is no god and cannot be a god in Buddhism, old or new - theravada, mahayana or vajrayana.

However, we must go back to the relations between Islam and the Hindu-Buddhist Tantric coalition against Islam. Mutual influence of course can be found, but first of all conflicts and contrasts. The invaders were not assimilated and did not want to become assimilated. Their god-concentration (Allah only) and their rejection of all gods as idols made the alternative clear. The negation of Allah was understood as a negation of God or an affirmation of gods (in plural) or no-god at all. The contrast was absolute and inevitable.

The front resulted in Moslem harassment and rejection of all signs of ‘idolatry’. The opposite and defensive attitude of Buddhists and Hindus was appeasement or escape. Most probably refugees in many thousands „emigrated“, i.e. the survivors went into the forests or up into the mountains or into the wilderness – or abroad whatever that meant, but not least to the frontier states to the North of India.

The refugees exercised at any rate a strong pressure on the neighbouring states and their princes, and it seems that the refugees managed to some extent at any rate to resettle in these “frontier states“.

The result was a sort of mixed religious civilisations – Hindu and Buddhist – as we clearly see the example in Nepal today. But the result was also a militarization of the monks, both Hindu and Buddhist. We even see the result today. During the great Kumbha Melas it is obvious that both Hindu and Buddhist warrior-monks spearhead their respective armies. The fact is that Buddhist monks are not fully and really allowed into the Melas, because of mutual distrust, but the two parties deal with the tense relationship with rather careful means, and the same thing happens all over the world. But it is not always so peaceful. Recently, the Buddhist patriarch of Thailand blocked the arrangement of a Visva Hindu conference in Bangkok with not very friendly arguments.


Historically, Buddhist monks have been there centuries before Hindu monks. Buddhism was in fact itself an order of monks. Hindu monks are not just „holy men“, i.e. individual seekers for salvation or liberation. Such individuals have been there all the time. Buddha himself (500 years before Christ) had monks with him. But Hindu monks are found only a few centuries after Christ, i.e. later than Christian monks. According to traditions the great Shanka-acharya founded „the Order of the Ochre Robe“, a huge Hindu organisation, now with more than one million monastic members (divided in a number of subdivisions) and active all over India and world-wide.

Before the real monks came into existence yogis, who performed yoga, have been there, and the yogis have now become the most important part of Hinduism. Nowadays they offer a lot of different yoga-systems world-wide, but most important is Rajah Yoga (The Kingly Yoga) and Hatha Yoga which is also called Kundalini Yoga.

The Rajah Yoga was systematised as Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, possibly from the beginning of Christianity, but more probably some centuries later than that. But Hatha Yoga, however, is much later! The development of Hatha Yoga can be understood only from the confrontation between Moslems and Hindus as just described about one thousand years after Christ. This time-table can be questioned, however, for Hatha yoga of course has older roots, and in some ways it related intimately to Rajah Yoga. But is in fact quite different from it.

Rajah Yoga is soul-yoga (Atman/Purusha Yoga) and god-Yoga, even if the element of divinity is microscopic. Hatha Yoga is without any God or divinity but knows about gods and powers. And Hatha Yoga is body-yoga which aims at transforming the bodies into immortal divinities... And that is the point where Hatha and Kundalini join forces, for Kundalini is simply part of the „know how“ of Hatha Yoga. The Kundalini is, however, not god, but is a religious idiom and teaches how to transform the mortal body to divinity.

It is a possible theory that the Kundalini and thereby the Serpent Power „wriggled into“ Buddhism when the masses of refugees settled in Nepal, in Kashmir, in Bhutan, in Himalaya and in other frontier areas. Serpent worship is found all over these areas, and snakes and serpents are held in great respect and are worshipped as divinities.

A conclusion must be that occultisation in general is at work as a dominant factor in the transformation of religions into Occult systems which they only in parts already were from the beginning.

We do not know with certainty what Buddhism and Hinduism in fact were before the escape from the Muslims and before their re-settlements in the frontier areas. Buddhism and Hinduism were already tantrified and thus (in our definition) occultified when they were dominant in the Ganges area and in similar sites before the arrival of the Moslems.

When the hordes of refugees came back to India in 1947 on account of the Chinese persecutions in the frontier states and in Tibet, as mentioned already, they brought with them stacks of manuscripts from the libraries which they saved from the Muslims many hundred of years earlier, stacks that now were saved from the Chinese Red Army. Partly it was the same texts plus some similar texts composed in the in-between period. Research (not least in the West) will gradually find out about that.

Islam of course is resistant to the occultisation that changes God into secular religion. But in fact the Moslem emphasis on Jihad has come to mean a similar Nationalist secularisation and modernisation, based also on occultisation. The way in which Islam is abused by many Moslem terror-organisations for Jihad proves the case. Original Moslem trends towards humanism and individuality seem to be swallowed up by a fanaticism which is obviously based on Nationalist occultism (with US as the great Satan and Jewry as the demonic followers).

But we have to admit some similar trends within fundamentalist Christian groups. Without overstating the issue, one may see in radical fundamentalism (i.e. „The Word of Life/Faith“ from Scandinavia) expressions of a wealth-ideology that can be compared to the Moslem Jihad-zealots: Right or wrong, my religion!“ And it is easy to register similarities between Kundalini Occultism and Prosperity Theologies. We have a number of evident analogies.

The key to the system is analogy, and analogy is the dominant linguistic model in both Hindu and Buddhist Tantric yoga and homologisation. The syncretistic mood from the 4th and 5th and 6th century in Asia – India and China – created a proliferation of mystic imaginations by which also the religious iconography exploded into a complexity that comes close to a modern computer-plan diversity, most obvious in the Tantric forms of Mahayana. We shall return to this topic later.
2.4 The Erotic and Sexual Alternatives

The computer-plans, however, always have a focus that adds the clues of the complexity. The key is the bodhicitta, which means both the power of Bodhi and the power of semen, both religious power and sexual power.

The dominant difficulty in interpreting the complexity is the fact that it rarely indicates which of the basic, dual meanings are to be taken seriously. The subtle or yogic power of bodhi or the gross force of semen. The language about these complexities therefore end up as a twilight-language, as twisted language, as double-talk, or - with the established term – as “intentional language”! This term simply means that there is another and deeper or higher meaning behind the codes. The texts are elaborately worked out in series of analogous digits that conceal the intention from the non-initiated persons. In that sense the signs and codes and figures and digits are twilight-language or intentional language. The meaning is obviously to push the initiates into a series of paradoxes that generate a setting and mentality for a transformation of the new disciples.

In a lot of ways Tantric yoga – Hindu and Buddhist – operates as deconstruction in the modern way of that word! The world and the cosmos and the normal concepts and sense perceptions are not accepted as they are. The so-called reality is made unreal (maya) or disclosed as unreal. Yoga is the deconstruction after the experience of disillusion, and the alternative reality, this is what the discussion is all about.

The deconstruction of the world, as maya, is a transformation „from the unreal to the real“ by which, however, is meant a transformation into an alternative sense of the cosmos, in which Occult powers in the guise of thousands of deities and demons and spirits are called for and worshipped.

The „intentional language“ therefore in fact becomes a magical language by which the words themselves are the creative forces that produce an alternative world. That is what is in fact meant by the term religion! Only in this sense Hindu and Buddhist realities can be called „religious“ phenomena.

Deconstruction in this way is the same as apotheosis. The factual world is dissolved, and in this disillusionment another fictive world comes into existence in order to be worshipped in such a way that the worship itself stands forth as the creative process, the homologisation.

The secret is that this analogical fantasy is erotic and often sexual. The whole panorama of erotic signs and codes stand forth in the imagination of icons. The Hindu and Buddhist iconography within the Maha-yana and the Mantra-yana and the Tantra-yana (all yanas are part of the same transport to Tushita which means the heavenly refuge in Paradise) represent a flight or evasion from the suffering and disillusionment of this world to the heavenly Tushita. The iconography transfigures the world of maya into this alternative world.

The integration or fusion between Buddha-dharma and Hindu-dharma seems primarily to have coincided with the development of the movement of Yoga-chara and its first expressions through Mâdhyamika and its great Yogachara-philosophers such as Asanga and Vasubandhu. They became 'canonical' authorities in nearly all sorts of Buddhisms. Mâdhyamika (one of the major consequences of the Buddhist Mahasanghikas) was first and foremost formed by „the second Buddha“, called Nâgârjuna (150 AD) who is regarded as the founder of – and formative expression of – the Mâdhyamika schools (from the extreme Zen-Buddhism to Tibetan Buddhism). These schools became so important because in a timely way they were the expression of a universal Buddhism. In Mâdhyamika and Yogachara the foundation was laid for a Northern Buddhism, but in fact even for an international Buddhism.

Some very important, but not well-known, basic texts for this „Buddhism of a new era“, must be mentioned. They will not, however, be drawn into the analysis, because they are too complicated for this purpose:

Guhya-samaja, of which the Buddha himself is seen as „the author“, and in which the 5 Dhyani-Buddhas and their „New Era Icons“ are given reality. In this book the 5 Kulas (or Kulashas) are promulgated as expressions of the 5 Skandhas. This text is called the beginning of the Mantra-yana, since mantras are used as important expressions of Occult Buddhist technology and seeming to have been at the centre in both Hindu and Buddhist Tantra in this formative and fertile first Mahayana period.

Another important Buddhist Tantra from this period (the firstt Christian centuries) is Hevajra-tantra.

Finally, we must not forget the very Occult Kala-chakra, a somewhat later text.
3. Kula Kundalini and Shakti Kundalini


It is now becoming generally accepted that Tantra is dominant in both modern Buddhism and in modern Hinduism in a large number of different versions. But still it is not generally accepted that it is the Shakti Tantra that is prevalent and decisive. And it is normally not registered that the Shakti form of Tantrism is bound up with a more or less massive Kundalini Yoga, often in the form of Kaula Shaktism. So in the indexes you often have to look for Kaula Shakti or Kula Shakti to find the most important information. A „Pandora's box“ opens when you find the entrance to the secret knowledge.

Shakti, of course, is female, and so is Kaula Shakti. But there are various perspectives on „female“. Thus Kundalini is found in different versions, but naturally as female: Mother Kundalini, Virgin Kundalini, Prostitute Kundalini, Witch Kundalini are just a few of the most popular Kundalini forms of Shakti. They all can be experienced as the Shakti, and they all express the general „Bhakti of Shakti“.

Is Kundalini as a form of Shakti divine or human? Does it represent Atman or Brahman? Purusha or Prakriti? Shiva or Shakti? Of course Kundalini represents Shakti, she is Shakti! She is, however, also Shiva and Purusha and Brahman. The reason is that the traditional dualism somehow has evaporated. But still in Shaktism there is no God the almighty nor god nor divinity as Rudolf Otto's concept of „the entirely other one“. There is no „other one“! There is only oneness! That is why this trend fuse so elegantly with atheistic Buddhism, even if it stems from Hinduism.

But it could be an important signal that when Brahman is lost, Param-atman comes in as a substitute. Why? The answer seems to be that Param-atman Shakti, Kundalini and Kaula Kundalini functions in order to (or as means to) evade the God-issue. In Brahman, in Purusha, in Shiva etc. there is still a „smell of God“, but even that is evaporating with Shaktism in all its variations. The reason must be tantrification in its effective forms as Shaktism, as Kundalini Tantra, as Kaula Shakti.

But the important addition has to be made that this transformation away from the divine to the human has some special characteristics:

„Human“ does no longer get its meaning from divine, because the divine has gone. So “human” is a very unclear concept.

„Human“ by necessity tries to become divine, tries to transcend itself, tries to find its meta-size or meta-calibre. This tendency is found in our modern cultures in the West when prefixes as trans- and meta- are added to secularised realities to give also them „a smell of the divine“. Do we find the same tendency in the prefix of para- in front of atman? Is this an indication of an aspiration to go beyond while remaining within?
3.2 Rajah Yoga, Hatha Yoga and Tantrification

The fact that the sounds of “Tantra, Mantra and Yantra” rhyme with one another could be important, for all three words are ancient of origin. We shall not deal with the yantras in this presentation, but again we have to look at mantras, for they are decisive for the tantrification, especially in the form of Shaktism.

Tantrification can be compared to petrifaction or fossilisation, because the external forms are often kept, but all processes of life stop and become stony.

It can be uphold that there is no Tantra, but a lot of different results of tantrification. And the instruments for this process are not least the mantras. By mantra-japa life is tantrified and becomes ‘stony’. By mantra-japa rituals are changed from worship into magic manipulation. By mantra-japa the devotees learn to take and steal the powers from the gods. By mantra-japa the believers try to go divine by going out of their mind. By mantra-japa they get control of one another and of people in general.

Mantras were used already during classical Brahmanical worship and is still used during the morning fires in the homes. But the Tantric mantras are first of all instruments for gaining power, both in personal relationships (for love-making for instance) and in social and political relations, for controlling and overcoming. The study of mantras has become a science in itself, and manuals for mantra-japa are numerous. But these manuals do not agree with each other! As in Western Occult astrology the contradictions and denials of the mantras prove the illusory essence of the project. But even as illusions and self-contradictory fantasies these Occult ways of thinking take effect!

Siddhis have to be understood in connection with mantras and yantras, but what Siddha Yoga as such implies is both a complex and an unclear question. Already in Rajah Yoga we observe siddhis as supernatural feats. In fact, what Rajah Yoga implies is contained in the concept of siddhi: supernatural powers and abilities. In the Yoga sutras of Patanjali a vision is given that makes the Rajah yogi the King of the universe with all sorts of supernatural abilities, as already mentioned. The Rajah yogi is strong as an elephant and flies as a bird. He is invincible as a superman and can make himself invisible, when needed.

In recent time Transcendental Meditation (TM) has revived these pretensions and offer such fantasies and phantasms as means for their business-minded program for progress. Also modern drug-business hold on to these promising perspectives that – if they were realised – would make the front-pages of the newspapers look quite different from the daily news of today.

Hatha Yoga entered the scene much later, at any rate some centuries later, but it legitimised itself by a conscious attempt to create a united block with Rajah Yoga, thereby mixing all Yogas into one Occult front. It is probably important that this seems to have been happening coinciding with the active Occult revival in especially the frontier-states.

The predominant characteristics of the medieval Hatha Yoga were its emphasis on the divine Guru. Gurus are old as Hinduism and older than Buddhism, but they changed their nature from being spiritual guides and teachers to become divine masters beyond all human limitation. By yogic influence, especially by means of Hatha Yoga, gurus went beyond the gods and changed gods into means for the guru-powers. The old gurus were Gnostic teachers; the new gurus were Occult masters.
3.3 Two Occult Masters and their Consequences

Especially two fantastic masters were behind the double movement of nathas and siddhas, masters who took upon themselves to „take the kingdom by force“, i.e. not to meditate themselves to salvation, but to take their salvation 'by storm'. This is my own description of Matsyendra-nath with his Sahaja-yana and Gorakh-nath with his Hatha Yoga. They laid the foundation of a fantastic religiosity on the roof of the world, i.e. the frontier states.

From the same setting 84 Siddhas came forth with their often grotesque behaviour and their turning religiosity upside down. The Kulas or Kaulas seem to belong to the same religious environment. And most probably important parts of the Vajra-yana iconography relate to this stormy period when the Siddhas in the 'dress up' from the mountains went ahead and demonstrated what it meant to be Siddhas: Drinking, adulterating, lying, blas-pheming, eating human flesh etc. Some of these men seem to have been very talented, but others were just provoking without any serious message.

Behind both Gorakh-nath and Matsyendra-nath a first '-nath' seems to have been operating, but he may be a sort of affirmative 'forefather': He was called Adi-nath, meaning „the original nath“. He is supernatural and out of time. Whereas the nature of Gorakh-nath seems to be well-described in an understandable way, the reality of Matsyendra-naty is quite dubious. But these two men seem at any rate to have existed, and they created a sort of ‘Janus-faced’ movement, together promoting a revival movement, first in the frontier states and later all over India and very influential, even world-wide. The fact that drugs and alcohol are parts of the presentation of these peculiar 'saints' should not be forgotten, like the fact that their notorious sexual behaviour is extravagant, even seen from our modern times.

It is important to note the suffix -nath and -nathis in both Gorakh-nath and Matsyendra-nath and for that matter also in Adi-nath. The syncretism between those two schools characterises the “order of the nathis” who make their presence much felt on the Kumbha-melas. These monks are both Buddhists and Hindus – or rather neither Buddhists nor Hindus - but represent the Kaulas and the Yogini Kaulas from for instance Kamarupa in Assam that is probably the hottest of all the Shaktistic centres.

To find the link from this weird Occultism to the many orders of Buddhism is not easy and is perhaps not a realistic possibility.
4. The Alternative Way – The Christ Way

The New Adam is offered as an alternative to the Old Adam who in Genesis 3 gave in to the Serpent Power. In the setting of what the Serpent Power has come to mean, the New Adam means Jesus Christ who had cast out the Great Dragon and the Serpent by means of Michael and his angels. That is the short story of the Apocalypse. That Great Dragon is called (Apoc. 12,9) the Old Serpent, and is also called the Devil and Satan, and his angels were cast out with him. Thus the Serpent Power is the same power as the Great Dragon, the deceiver, and is the apocalyptic alternative to Jesus Christ.

The great war went on and goes on against the Satan and his army that was cast out of Heaven onto Earth. This Occult power is not a problem in Heaven any more, but it has become the decisive problem on Earth. That is why the church prays: „Your will be done on Earth as in Heaven“.

The blunt conclusion (v. 12) is that the devil has come down to Earth having great wrath, „because he knows that he only has a short time.“ In reality the time of evil is already out! That is the perspective of the whole New Testament. The Dragon is fighting a lost war, but goes on fighting against the remnant of the seed of the woman, i.e. „the faithful who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Christ“ (v. 17).

In our contemporary theological way of talking it could be interpreted like this: There is a cosmic spiritual war going on. It started in Heavens, but the Dragon or the Serpent and their angels, i.e. their messengers, could not stand the might of Michael and his messengers. Finally, they were cast out of Heavens and arrived as a defeated army on our world. That is the situation of the church today in this world up against the already defeated army of Occult powers.

The messengers of Michael is fighting a war that has already been won! The messengers of the church with Christ as the winning lord and master know that the time is short for the loosing, demonic and satanic forces of the Evil One. Their time is short, and the short time is in „the time of the church“ and its missionaries!

To use the well-known metaphor from World War II: Victory Day (V-day) is not yet a reality, but D-day as the day of invasion is already having its way and promises the full victory, „for the devils has just a short time!“

That theological vision has been an operative reality in 2000 years. The witness of the disciples has been communicated to the defeated army of the Occult powers that are headed by the Old Dragon, the Old Serpent. They are part of the defeat.

The vision of this war as a spiritual battle against evil Occultism stands with the same urgency after 2000 years. The war is on, but the war is already decided. The New Adam has come into power: Christ is risen!

Different interpretations are possible in relation to the theme of this presentations which is The Serpent Power and The New Adam. If we take the Serpent Power to include that part of Tantrism that we name Shaktism, and when we take the Kundalini-ideology as a pointer towards the general Shakti-emphasis that is registered world-wide as a growing trend within both Hinduism and Buddhism (and even in parts of modernist Christianity), then we have made a limitation in the perspective that makes some generalisations and conclusions possible and necessary:

The Serpent Power is a key to the fully naturalistic realisation of religiosity whereby faith in God is eliminated. There is no God but Shakti who is the guru!

This 'creed' makes it clear that the Christian faith and the Shakti-religion stand against one another as Yahweh stood against Baal in the days of Elias (1. Kg. 17). And as Paul saw „the powers and principalities“ as the beaten army of the evil forces, and the church of Christ as the army of the victor. But Christ is not really like a victorious general! Christ is the suffering servant, not at least when he is victorious.
A Suggested Bibliography

Bannerjee, Akshaya Kumar: Philosophy of Goraknath with Goraksha Vacana-Sanghraha, Gorakhpur 1961.

Bhagwandas, Mohanlal: Comparative and Critical Study of Mantrasast, Ahmebad 1944.

Bharati, Agehananda: The Tantric Tradition, Bombay 1976.

Briggs, George Weston: Goraknath and the Kanaphata Yogis, Calcutta 1938.

Kloetzli, Randolph: Buddhist Cosmology, Delhi 1961.

Eliade, Mircea: Yoga. Immortality and Freedom, Princeton 1969.

Olesen, Bjarne Wernicke: Devi og Saktismen, Aarhus 2002 (in manuscript).