"The word Tantra is derived from the root tan (meaning, to spread or propagate) ...The etymological interpretations point to the fact that Tantra was a general term for any system serving as the guiding principle of any work and that the use of the word in a strictly religious sense was a later growth. In the religious sense Tantra first came to mean 'the scripture by which knowledge is spread'. In the next stage it was defined as a class of texts 'which promulgates profound matters concerning Tattva (theory, which later came to mean 'pure knowledge') and Mantra (practical means, which later came to denote 'mystic sound')' and was therefore looked upon as a technical branch of spiritual knowledge. Thus Tantra came to mean the essentials of any religious system and, subsequently, special doctrines and rituals found only in certain forms of various religious systems."
~ N.N. Bhattacharyya; History of The Tantric Religion
What Tantra Actually Means
Nowadays the term Tantra has become synonymous with SEX
Its original meanings have been perverted and obscured by Western commercialism
For as everyone is acutely aware, sex sells
And the popularity of books like the Kama Sutra
Actually makes matters worse by oversimplifying them
Belittling a once-sacred practice
Down to a series of dirty pictures.
Tantra is not so much a Religion in itself
As it is the basic substratum of many Religions
These include Sufism, Jainism, Hinduism and Buddhism
Really, it pertains to a way of approaching things
Especially those things which are normally forbidden
While defusing their destructive energy with creative drive
A true Tantrika doesn't resist desire
But instead transmutes it skillfully as an expedient force!
Image: Shri Yantra, the highest expression of Tantra.