The topic of Kundalini yoga is part of Tantras. So, the subject tends to be very technical and abstract. Entire Kundlaini theory is a documentation of real practical experiences by our Great Masters. Even today, we can verify its validity by practicing under a Sadguru.
Before we move further, it is important to understand our psychic anatomy and the chakras(wheels). To sustain our interest in reading, we will explore them in simple terms, avoiding greater depth. Paying attention is important and rewarding, i.e. we would grasp the process of Kundalini Yoga easily as we move on.
In addition to our physical body, we also have a psychic body. The psychic body has 72,000 subtle energy channels called nadis. The life force prana flows as currents in these nadis to keep the body alive.
Among the several nadis, three of them are important, viz., ida, pingala and sushumna. Ida is also called lunar nadi and it is connected to left nostril. Pingala is known as solar nadi and it is connected to right nostril. The nature of ida and pingala is cold and warm respectively. Sushumna is the channel used by mother Kundalini during yoga.
Psychic Chakras or Lotuses
The chakra (wheel) is a major node or meeting point of nadis. It is also called padma or lotus or plexus. There are seven major lotuses in our psychic body. They are located in different regions from the base of the spine to crown of the head.
Going up from the base of spine, first five lotuses represent five gross elements viz. earth(prithvi), water(ap), fire(tejas), air(vayu) and space(akashah). Sixth chakra relates to the mind and Spiritual Teacher. The last, but not the least, is the abode of the Ultimate Reality(Shiva).
As you can observe, the nature of chakras changes from gross to more and more subtle as we move up from the base of the spine to the crown of the head. In other words, Earth->Water->Fire->Air->Space. The elements are in the order of more condensed to more diffused. Also, each chakra has a seed letter corresponding to the element the chakra represents. e.g. the element of the Muladhara is Earth. The seed letter for the Earth is Lam. Seed letter Lam is the sound form of the Earth element.
Each chakra has its own power Goddess(Shakti) that guards the chakra. Also, every chakra is ruled by its presiding deity. For example, for muladhara chakra, power Goddess is Dakini. The presiding deity is Lord Ganesha.
Each of first six lotuses have different number of petals. On each petal the lotus, a Sanskrit letter is written as a seed letter. The total number of these letters add to 50, the number of letters in the Sanskrit alphabet.You may ask:
What is the significance of number of petals?
Remember: each chakra is a junction of major nadis. The cross-over points of nadis look like petals. We can see these chakras and corresponding number of petals in deep meditation. The last lotus, seventh one has one thousand petals and hence it is called sahasrara (thousand petal lotus). The lotuses are power nodes; so, they have a particular color, geometrical form, animal and so on. We are not going into further details.
Let us explore each lotus in somewhat detail now.
- Muladhara: Means root support. First chakra. Located in the base of the spine. Red colored lotus with 4 petals. Element: Earth. Seed letter: Lam. Goddess: Dakini. Deity: Lord Ganesha, Lord Brahma. Animal: Divine elephant, Airavata. Sanskrit Letters: Vam, sham, Sham, sam.
- Swadhistana: Means self-seated. Located at the front side of the pubic bone. Orange colored lotus with 6 petals. Element: Water. Seed letter: Vam. Goddess: Rakini. Deity: Lord Vishnu. Animal: Crocodile. Sanskrit Letters: Bam, Bham, Mam, Yam, Ram, Lam.
- Manipura: Means filled with jewels. Location: navel. It is also called Solar Plexus chakra. Yellow colored 10 petalled lotus. Element: Fire. Seed letter: Ram. Goddess:Lakini. Deity: Lord Rudra. Animal: Ram. Sanskrit Letters: Dam, Dham, Nam, tham, Tham, dam, dham, nam, pam, pham.
- Anahata: Meaning unstruck sound. Present at the chest region. This lotus is green in color. It has 12 petals. Element: Air. Seed letter:Yam. Goddess: Kakini. Deity: Lord Ishana Rudra. Animal: Black antelope. Sanskrit Letters: kam, kham, gam, gham, knam, cham, Cham, jam, Jham, nam, tam, Tam.
- Vishuddhi: Means highly purified. It is located at the throat region. It is a pale blue lotus with 16 petals. Element: space. Seed letter: Ham. Goddess: Shakini. Deity: Five-faced Lord Shiva. Animal: Elephant. Sanskrit Letters: am, aam, im, Im, um, oom, rm, rroom, lrim, lrIm, em, aim, om, aum, am, ah.
- Ajna: meaning command. Located between the eye brows. This location is called third eye. So, the chakr is also called third eye chakra. Violet colored lotus with 2 petals. Element: mind. Seed letter: Om. Goddess: Hakini. Deity: Lord Ardhanareeshwara. It also represents Guru. Sanskrit Letters: ha, ksha.
- Sahasrara: means thousand petalled. It is also called crown chakra. Location: crown of the head. Abode of the Ultimate Reality or supreme consciousness known as Lord Shiva.
Further Reading: For a detailed treatise on chakras you may refer to the book on Kundalini and Kundalini Yoga, The Serpent Power written by a great personality Shri Jnana Vriksha Roopa( Sir John Wood Roffe). He also wrote with his pen name, Arthur Avalon(We call: Artha Avalokan). Shri Jnana Vriksha Roopa cleared the cobwebs and dust accumulated on the understanding of our Indian Tantras.
We have a very high regard for Shri Vriksha Roopa. We recognize his works that throw light on our Great Tantric Scriptures which enrich our knowledge even today. Although, he was British by birth, in all other aspects(his thinking style, philosophy, respect for our Scriptures and Great Masters etc.), he was more than 100% Indian. To appreciate and adore his depth of knowledge and contribution to clarify understanding of our Tantras, we have called him Shri Jnana Vriksha Roopa(Iconic Tree of Knowledge). That says it all!
That is all for now! Let us continue our discussion in the next post.
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