The āgamas and the tantras—a special class of religious literature dealing with the different aspects of Śaivism and Śāktāism—have the unique distinction of integrating the non-Vedic local religious cults into the general framework of Vedic Hinduism.

The Yāmalas, belonging to the Śaivā-gama group, have, in all probability, derived their name from the fact of their dealing with both Śiva and Śakti (Yamala = twin, couple) in their works. Out of the eight Yāmalas known to exist, the Brahmayāmala, occupies a very important place. According to one version it is said to consist of 22,100 ślokas or verses.

Īśvara propitiated Lord Śrīkaṇṭha, got this knowledge from him and then communicated the same to his spouse, Pārvatī or Devī.

The work describes the process of creation from Sadāśiva through his Parāśakti (supreme energy).

It also traces the origin of the three srotas or currents of tāntric traditions. They are Dakṣiṇa, Vāma and Madhyama. The Dakṣiṇa-srota is characterised by sattva and hence is called ‘śuddha’. The Vāma-srota has predominance of rajas and hence is ‘miśra’. The last, the Madhyama-srota, is dominated by tamas and so, is described as ‘aśeṣa-mala-rañjita’ (fully coloured by impurity).

Some of the gods and sages who promulgated this knowledge of Śiva are: Īśvara, Mahādevī, Brahmā, Viṣṇu, Uśanas, Bṛhaspati, Sanatkumāra and Lakulīśa.

The earliest manuscript of the Brahmayāmala available now is preserved in Nepal and has been assigned the date A. D. 1052. According to it, the eight Yāmalas were communicated by eight Bhairavas such as Svacchanda, Krodha and others. These Yāmalas indicate great developments in the tāntric sādhanās.

See also ĀGAMAS and TANTRAS.