A Yogini, in some contexts, is the sacred feminine force made incarnate, as an aspect of Parvati, and revered in yogini temples of India as the Eight Matrikas or the Sixty-four Yoginis.
“Sixty and four are the instruments of enjoyments that tempt the individual soul (jiva). Sixty and four are the divisions (kalas) within jiva; Sixty and four are the chambers of jiva’s chakras; Sixty and four; where Shiva-Shakti reside.“Thirumandiram V. 1418
An examination of the ancient Tantric tradition reveals a particular sanctity assigned to the number eight. The eight mother faculties (tatvas) of the manifested universe, the eight directions with four cardinal and four intermediate points (digbandahs), the eight miraculous yogic powers (ashta siddhis), eight “limbs” of Yoga (ashtanga), eight forms of the Divine Mother (ashta matrikas) are just a few examples. Following the Aryan migration into the Dravidian Indus region, the number eight, sacred to the Dravidians, was merged with the numbers 100 and 1000, sacred to the Aryans. Thus, they formed the sacred numbers 108 and 1008, which have come down to us from those ancient times.
The square of eight, or sixty-four, occupies an even more profound position in the field of Tantra which, from the point of view of the Kaula Marg practitioner, identifies both the sixty-four Yoginis and the sixty-four tantric kriyas. Although the Yogini tradition of early medieval times also produced temples featuring forty-two and eighty-one Yoginis, the bulk of tantric temples have venerated sixty-four yoginis. A representation of the sixty-four Yoginis is found on the ancient Khechari Yantra. Each of its sixty-four petals represent one of these ancient feminine deities of Tantra, the Yoginis. Within this yantra is also obscured the sacred geometry of Kriya Babaji, the reviver of Kriya Tantra Yoga for this age. Babaji’s yantra is a bindu, centered in a triangle, and encompassed by a square, surrounded by a circle. This sacred geometry has often been associated with the root chakra. Within the Khechari Yantra, Babaji’s triangle is shrouded within, and as a portion of, the hexagram star. There can be no doubt that the Khechari Yantra is rich with mystic symbolism. Its very name, transcribed from the mystical mudra of tongues tip, suggests its esoteric importance as unbounded space itself. (Kha=space).
The sixty-four practical techniques (kriyas) of trance and transformation correspond with the Yogini energies within nature, all of which interact together to produce spiritual growth when the appropriate catalyst is available. Their purpose is to pull souls out of illusion. This is precisely the significance of both the sixty-four hexagrams seen in the Taoist tradition as well as the sixty-four yoginis of the Shakti Tantric tradition. The Tantric literature itself is said to be composed of sixty-four spiritual books, also referred to as Tantras. In this sense, the word tantra conveys the meaning of “canonical manuscripts”. The sixty-four sacred texts of Kaula Tantra are enumerated in classical texts such as the Vamakeshvara-tantra.
The millennia old Khechari Yantra(pictured to the left), described in the Mantotara Tantra, with its 64 petals, is associated with both the 64 Yoginis and the 64 Tantric Kriyas.
Similar references in classical literature includes the sixty-four yogic induced paranormal powers (siddhis), the sixty-four divisions of the arts (kalas), and, within the ancient Saiva Siddhanta tradition, the sixty-four saints (nayanars). There are also sixty-four forms of Bhairava, sixty-four tantric mudras, as well as sixty-four siddhas, beyond even the 18 Maha Siddhas, which are more commonly celebrated, and so on.
This sacred number is intimately associated with power and life itself. In the Indian classic, Mahabharata, Lord Krishna fired sixty-four arrows and in a separate skirmish, Bhishma’s armor was pierced sixty-four times. The Aitereya Brahmana speaks of the sixty-fourth and final step into the heavenly world.
Most importantly, the sixty-four Yoginis are understood within Babaji’s Kaula Marg tradition of Kriya Tantra Yoga as fundamental emanations of Maha Kali. Each of them rules over different aspects of creation, has a very distinct personality, and offers a doorway into undifferentiated awareness. Thus, it is eventually understood that the number sixty-four has a profound association with the classical path of Kriya Tantra Yoga, the tantric literature of India, and the mystical experiences of sunyata and other forms of samadhi.
The Peerless Avatar Kriya Babaji is at the headwaters of all Kriya Tantra and Yoga traditions the world over.