Tantrika a Sanskrit term denoting a follower of the Tantras, as contrasted with a follower of the Vedas (vaidika). It can also be taken to refer more generally to any individual belonging to the broad religious movement of tantricism. The paradigm of the Tantrika is a solitary figure who transgresses the caste restrictions and ritual injunctions of Hindu or Buddhist orthodoxy in order to realize the non-duality of worldly existence (sangsara) and liberation (moksa/nirvana), and achieve the state of liberation in this life (jivanmukti).

According to standard tropes, the Tantrika is found associating with prostitutes and other low-caste and untouchable persons, meditating on a corpse in a cremation-ground in the moonlight, or even consuming human flesh. The Tantrika represents a deliberate reversal of the Hindu or Buddhist ideal: he employs the 'five m's' (pavchamakara) of meat, fish, wine, parched grain, and sexual intercourse, which are an inversion of the 'five products of cow' (pavchagavya) used by Brahmans in rituals of purification; or he engages (if only metaphorically) in killing, lying, stealing, and sexual intercourse (Hevajra Tantra II.iii.29), the four most serious offenses in the Buddhist monastic code (Vinaya). As a result of his ritual practices, the Tantrika acquires not only liberation, but also magical powers (siddhi) such as clairvoyance and the ability to fly or turn base metals into gold. Illustrations of the Tantrika are found in literary depictions of the Buddhist Matrasiddhas and the Saivite Kapalikas who, as their name suggests, carry cups or staves (khatvanga) made out of human skulls [Robert A Yelle]