This section is from the book "Karpuradistotram. Karpuradi Stotra Tantrik Texts", by Arthur Avalon (Sir John Woodroffe). Also available from Amazon: The Serpent Power: The Secrets of Tantric and Shaktic Yoga.
Again the Veda says 'All this is verily Brahman.' Despite this Mahavakya, various distinctions are made, such as those of caste, Adhikara of men and women and so forth. So a male Brahmana may say Vaidik Mantras but not Brahmana women. Distinction was again made between objects as between the water of the Ganges and a well. All such distinctions are wholly opposed to the Spirit of the Great Word (Mahavakya). The Tantrashastra says that the supreme Brahman is both subtle and gross. In dependence on the truth of this Mahavakya Tantrik
Sadhakas purify wine which is 'not to be taken and drunk' according to Veda. Considering it to be as holy as nectar, they offer it into the mouth of Kulakundalini who is Consciousness itself (Chitsvarupini). Again, in accordance with Veda, the Tantra holds food to be sacred and knowing that food is Brahman ordains the offering of it to Mahadeva. This offered food is Mahaprasada and very holy and rare even for Devas, and whether it be brought by a Chandala, or even fallen from the mouth of a dog. The Vedas and Smriti say that the Chandala and other low castes are untouchable. On touching them one must bathe, do Aghamarshana and so forth. But the Tantra Shastra says that even a Chandala, who has a knowledge of Kula doctrine and Brahman, is superior to a Brahmana who does not know Brahman. The Tantra Shastra again says that during the Chakra all castes are equal. Since all are children of the one Mother of the World, no distinctions should be made at the time of worshipping Her. It is on this Tantrik authority that no caste distinctions are observed in the matter of eating and so forth in the Virajakshetra of Shri Shri Vimala Devi. The Veda again prohibits the performance of Yajna or worship after the taking of food. Tantra Shastra however says that one should not worship Kalika whilst suffering from hunger or thirst otherwise She becomes angry. That is since Shiva and Jiva are really one it is futile to worship the Paramatma saving ' I offer Naivedya' when the Jiva, who is one with It, is in want of food and drink. Smriti again, which explains Veda ordains that the Shalagrama stone which represents Narayana should not be touched or worshipped by any but Brahmanas. On the other hand, the Tantra Shastra ordains that the Vanalinga representation of the Brahman may be touched and worshipped not only by Brahmanas but by Shudras, Chandalas and women. In fact the Karmakanda of Veda contains many such ordinances opposed to Brahman-knowledge. For this reason Bhagavan Shrikrishna has said in the Gita that the Vedas are concerned with objects constituted of the three Gunas (Trigunavishaya) and bids Arjuna to free himself of the
Gunas. He says the Veda contains the Karmakanda but that he who seeks the Brahman-state above the Gunas should abandon the Karmakanda and perform Sadhana according to Shastra by which Liberation is gained. In spite however of differences in worship and practice both Veda and Tantra Shastras are one in holding that there can be no Liberation without Tattvajnana. In the Nirvana Tantra Shiva says 'Oh Devi, there is no Liberation without Tattvajnana.' According to Veda, a Sadhaka, in order to become fit for Nirvana, must have first accomplished the fourfold Sadhana. He must have acquired the faith that Brahman is alone everlasting, and have no desire for happiness either on earth or in heaven. He must possess the six virtues, Shama, Dama and so forth, and must long for Liberation. He then discusses (Vichara) and ponders on the Mahavakya 'That thou art' (Tat tvam asi), and thus realizing the unity of Paramatma and Jivatma, attains the knowledge ' He I am' (So'ham).
In Tantrik Upasana the Jnanakanda is mingled with the Karmakanda. The Agama teaches the ignorant Pashu, steeped in dualism, Virabhava Sadhana in which dualism and non-dualism are mingled. It thus endeavours to raise them to the divine state of Jivanmuktas, the state of pure Monism. Manu says 'Know dualists to be Pashus. Non-dualists are Brahma-nas.' Rudrayamala says that Virabhava is revealed for the development of Jnana. After perfecting Jnana and attainment of Brahmasiddhi, the Sadhaka becomes Devata in a pure state of Sattva. The Vedanta and philosophic Shastras are replete with instructions and arguments touching non-dualism. But they do not indicate the path by which one can be in actual practice non-dualistic. For this reason we see Vedantic Pandits deeming it unclean to touch a low caste man such as a Shudra. They also observe endless distinctions as to what should or should not be eaten, and what should and should not be offered to Devata. Tantra Shastra however says that non-dualistic Bhava (Bhavadvaita) should be accompanied by non-dualistic action (Kriyadvaita). The Yogavashishtha Ramayana says that to the Muni who realizes non-dualism (Advaita) in Bhava, in Kriya, and in objects (Dravya) in all these three matters the world, seems but a dream.
According to the instruction of Tantra Shastra the Sadhaka rises in the early hours of the morning, and sitting on his bed, meditates as follows: 'I am the Devi and none other. I am that Brahman who knows not grief. I am a form of Being-Con-sciouaness-Bliss, Whose true nature is eternal Liberation.' Again at noon sitting at worship he does Bhutashuddhi, and therein merging the 24 Tattvas beginning with earth in Paramatma and thinking of the Paramatma and Jivatma as one he meditates: - 'He I am.' Gandharva Tantra says that, after due obeisance to the Guru, the wise Sadhaka should think ' He I am' and thus unite Jivatma and Paramatma. In all Sthula Dhyana of Mahavidyas, forming part of daily worship, Tantra Shastra everywhere enjoins meditation on the Mahadevi as not different from, but one with, the Sadhaka's Atma. The Kali Tantra says that, after meditating as enjoined, the Sadhaka should worship the Devi as Atma. 'He I am' (So'ham). Kubjika Tantra says that the Sadhaka should think of his Atma as one with Her. Nila Tantra in the Dhyana of Tara says that meditation should be done on one's own Atma as one with the Saviour-goddess (Tarini). In Gandharva Tantra Mahadevi says, as regards the Dhyana of Tripurasundarl, that the Man who meditates on the unattached, attributeless, and pure Atma which is Tripura as one with, and not different from, his own Atma becomes himself Her (Tanmaya). One should become Her by ever thinking 'She I am' (Sa'ham). Again in the Kalikulasarvasva Shiva says that whoever meditates on the Guru and recites the Hymn of the spouse of Shiva and thinks of Kalika's Atma as one with his own Atma is Shri Sadashiva. Similarly Kularnava Tantra says 'The body is the temple of Devata and the Jiva is Deva Sadashiva.' Let the Sadhaka give up his ignorance as the offering (Nirmalya, which is thrown away) and worship with the thought and feeling 'He I am.' It is not only at times of worship and so forth that the Sadbaka is enjoined to meditate on Her who is Paramatma as one with his own Atma. Shiva teaches that our thought and feeling should be non-dualistic in all that we do, in eating, in walking and so forth. Hence in the Gandharva Tantra Shiva says 'I am both the Deva and the food offered to Him, the flower and perfume and all else. I am the Deva. There is none other than Me. It is I who worship the Deva and I am also Deva of Devas.' Again it is ordained that at the time of taking Karana (wine) and the rest they should be offered to the Fire of Consciousness in one's own heart, uttering the Mantra, and thinking that Kula-Kundalini extends to the tip of his tongue, let the Sadhaka say: 'The liquid shines. I am the Light. I am Brahman. She I am. I offer Ahuti to my own Self Svaha.' He who does Sadhana of the Mahavidya in Virachara with such Advaitabhava attains by Her Grace to Divyabhava, and with the thought ' I am Brahman' becomes liberated whilst living, and on death is one with Mahadevt. In the Devigita Shri Shri Devi says ' He becomes Myself because both are one.' Again the Mahanirvana Tantra enjoins a similar non-dualistic feeling in the Mantra to be said when taking the Dravya (wine). 'The ladle is Brahman, the offering is Brahman, the fire is Brahman, the offering is made by Brahman and to Brahman he goes who places all his actions in Brahman.'