My understanding of Indian spiritual history is that there have been two streams, Vedic
and Tantric. Most of what we associate with religious ritual, prayers, mythology, and
philosophy is Vedic. Vedic literature begins with its first text, the RigVeda scriptures,
perhaps dating from 5,000 BC in oral form, during the time of Shiva. It represents the
dawn of human civilization, with nature gods (Indra -earth, Vayu -air, Agni - fire, etc.)
whose power and wrath needed to be appeased by Vedic priests. With no mention of
mantras, asanas, or meditation, appeasement took the form of blood offerings, horse
sacrifice, and fire rituals. It was mainly magical/mythical in nature, with the archetype being the priest. To its discredit, it seemed to have been steeped in religious dogma, especially against women and the lower castes.
In contrast, Tantra was much less influenced by the dogmas and superstitions of the
Vedas. When one goes beyond the Vedic prayers and rituals, and into yogic practices,
for example, that is all Tantra, the archetype being the yogi. "Tantra predates all of the world's existing religions and provides the esoteric basis on which many of these religions were later based. A few thousand years after its creation, Tantra was wedded with the philosophy of Vedanta by the (Vedic) Aryans to form the system of yoga which is popular today." ("Kundalini Tantra "Swami Satyananda Saraswati)........