The sixth century saw the emergence of a Buddhist movement known as Tantra, Vajrayana (“The Vehicle of the Thunderbolt”), or Mantrayana (“The Vehicle of Sacred Chants”). Buddhist Tantra was based on a radical extension of the doctrine of Emptiness.
The Tantric tradition argued that if everything is empty, there is no practical difference between the serenity of the Buddha and destructive feelings, such as anger or passion, and there is no difference between the sexes. These conclusions produced strikingly new ways of representing and thinking about the Buddha. The Buddha was depicted as a wrathful deity and as the intimate union of male and female. The Tantric approach to Emptiness also produced strikingly new forms of ritual and meditation and unconventional images of the lifestyle of a Buddhist saint.