Panchamakara, also known as the Five Ms, is a Tantric term referring to the five substances used in a Tantric practice.
Interpretations of the Panchamakaras
Arthur Avalon (Sir John Woodroffe)
There are, as already stated, three classes of men: Pashu, Vira and Divya. The operation of the Guna which produce these types affect, on the gross material plane, the animal tendencies; manifesting in the three chief physical functions: eating and drinking, whereby the Annamayakosha is maintained; and sexual intercourse, by which it is reproduced. These functions are the subject of the Panchatattva or Panchamakara ("five Ms"), as they are vulgarly called--viz.: Madya (wine), Mangsa (meat), Matsya (fish), Mudra (parched grain), and Maithuna. In ordinary parlance, Mudra means ritual gestures or positions of the body in worship and Hatha Yoga but as one of the five elements it is parched cereal and is defined as 'Bhrishta-danya dikang yadyad chavya-niyam prachaks-hate, sa mudra kathita devi sarvves-hang naganam-dini'. The Tantras speak of the five elements as Panchatattva, Kuladravya, Kulatattva and certain of the elements have esoteric names, such as Karanavari or Tirtha-vari, for wine, the fifth element being usually called Lata-sadhana (Sadhana with woman or Shakti). The five elements, moreover have various meanings, according as they form part of the Tamasika (Pashvachara), Rajasika (Virachara) or Divya or Sattvika sadhanas respectively.
Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar
According to the spiritual leader Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar, also named Shrii Shrii Anandamurti, the five M's have dual meanings, one crude and one subtle.
- Madya - crude meaning: wine; allegorical or subtle meaning: the divine nectar amrita.
- Mamsa - crude meaning: meat; allegorical or subtle meaning: control of speech.
- Matsya - crude meaning: fish; allegorical or subtle meaning: the ida and pingala nadi, which are controlled through pranayama.
- Mudra - crude meaning: the use of certain foods; allegorical or subtle meaning: spiritual company (satsang) and avoiding negative company.
- Maithuna -crude meaning: sexual self-restraint; allegorical or subtle meaning: to raise the kulakundalini and unite it with Paramashiva, the nucleus consciousness at sahasrara cakra (pineal gland). According to Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar, the purpose of the Five M's is dual—1) for people to practice yoga sadhana (meditation) while in the "midst of crude enjoyments" and then gradually reduce the consumption of wine, meat, fish, etc. and also to not overindulge in sexual activities, and 2) after reducing the allurement of these activities, then engage in the subtle practices of Tantra meditation.
The Panchamakaras have deep Esoteric meanings in the Dakshinachara or Right-handed path of Tantra.
- Madya means the heavenly Amrit that drips from the glands in brain onto the tip of tongue when it touches the interiors in Khechari Mudra.
- Mamsa means swallowing the tongue (eating meat). It symbolizes the Khechari Mudra in which the tongue is swallowed back simulating eating meat.
- Matsya (twin fish) is the activation of Ida and Pingala Nadis in the backbone. They are like 8-shaped structure intertwining like two fish.
- Mudra is the different gestures the hands and body take when the Kundalini is activated and pass up through the central channel.
- Anandamurti, Shrii Shrii (1993). Discourses on Tantra. Ananda Marga.
- Anandamurti, Shrii Shrii (1985). Namah Shiváya Shántáya. Ananda Press.
- Avalon, Arthur (Sir John Woodroffe). Mahanirvana Tantra. online text
- Rawson, Philip (1978). The Art of Tantra. Thames & Hudson Ltd.