Tantric Buddhism is a tradition that focuses on mystical practices and concepts as a path to enlightenment. Because Tantric Buddhism is typically associated with the Vajrayana sects of Tibetan Buddhism, it is also often called Vajrayana, but it is not limited to the Tibetan tradition.
Tantric Buddhism strays so far from the roots of Buddhism that some do not consider it Buddhism at all. In fact, it has gained little acceptance in southeast Asia. Tantra, in general, has its origins in India and in Shaivism, which is the Hindu faith that worships Shiva, who is believed to be the first yogi.
Tantra Buddhism first appeared in India about the same time as Hindu Tantra, about the 6th century, and flourished until about the 11th century.
In the Tantric tradition, deities are not spirits to be worshiped, but instead represent the yogi’s own inner nature. Sometimes called Deity yoga, Tantric Buddhism provides a path to enlightenment through identity with Tantric deities. With the guidance of a guru, the yogi uses rituals, meditation, visualization through mandalas and other practices to realize him/herself as a deity and, therefore, as enlightenment manifested. At this level, dualities do not exist and the yogi discovers that what appears to be opposite principles are, in fact, one.