pancha makara
   In Hindu TANTRISM of the “left-handed” sort, the pancha makara or “Five M’s” (SANSKRIT words that begin with that letter), sometimes called the “five forbidden things (pancha tattva),” are the elements in a special esoteric ceremony. They are mamsa (meat, usually beef), matsya (fish), madya (wine), mudra (parched grain), and mai-thuna (sexual intercourse.) These five elements are meant to involve the participants (there may be one or more pairs in a tantric ritual circle) in forbidden actions that aid in realizing the divin-ity of mundane existence. By taking “forbidden” elements, they are confronted with the fact that even those things beyond the pale in human terms partake in the truth of the divinity, usually charac-terized as the goddess.
   Beef is forbidden to all caste Hindus. It is highly polluting, and eating it is condemned by society. Fish is also not taken by most BRAHMINS and is believed to have aphrodisiac qualities. Parched grain also is known to stimulate sexual appetite and therefore is not considered desirable. Alcohol is probably the foremost of Brahmini-cal prohibitions. In the DHARMASHASTRA of MANU drinking liquor is equated with killing a Brahmin. Sexuality outside marriage is looked upon as a negative thing. The female sexual partner in tant-ric sexuality is preferably of very low caste and not the male partner’s wife.
   Further reading: Agehananda Bharati, The Tantric Tradition (New York: Grove Press, 1975); N. N. Bhat-tacharyya, History of the Tantric Religion: A Historical, Ritualistic and Philosophical Study (Delhi: Manohar, 1982); Sanjukta Gupta, Dirk Jan Hoens, and Teun Gou-driaan, Hindu Tantrism (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1979).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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