The elements of Tantra are found in the Atharvaveda and, in a lesser degree, in the Rgveda. These relate to the mundane life of the people, and reflect their aspirations for material well-being. We see, in them, how people wanted to have long life, keep off diseases and thwart the activities of ghosts, supposed to cause harm to them. Magic, both beneficial to themselves and harmful to their enemies, figures prominently.
In course of time, side by side with the elitist works, Tantras having a populist appeal came to be composed. It seems that Tantras arose as a protest against the traditional scriptures which insisted on self-mortification and austerities, etc. as means to the attainment of emancipation of the soul from the bondage of rebirths. In doing so, they prescribed rituals which were denied to women and the Sudras who were in the lowest rung of the social ladder.