Saturday, September 29, 2012

Manipura Chakra


Manipura Chakra


This chakra is also known as the Navel Center: it is the food center where we derive our physical energy, beauty, lustre and vitality.

Location : Navel region
Number of petals : Ten
Element : Fire
Colour : Red
Presiding Deity : Surya or Sun
Quality of Nature (Guna) : Rajas, Activity
Seed Syllable : Rang
Sense organs : Eyes and feet
Taste : Bitter
Benefit due to Concentration : Knowledge of the internal function of physical body, better health and physical beauty
Name of Fire : Vaishwanara (digestive fire)
Vrritis (Tendencies) : Shyness, Hatred, Fear, Sleepiness, Sorrow, Idleness, Beauty, Memory, Prosperity and Vitality
Loka (Plane of Existance) : Suva
Vital breath : Samana (helps in digestion and assimilation)
Glands : Liver, Spleen and Pancreas
Virtue : Uparati (urdhvarati-upward journey / evolution)
Zodiac : Aries and Libra
Ruling Planet : Mars

The Manipura chakra or the navel centre is located behind the navel in the spine of human body. Manipura in Sanskrit means jewel centre. The presiding deity is Surya, the sun. The sun is the ultimate source of all activities and the primary cause of life on this planet. Just as the moon shines reflecting the sun's light and has a strong influence on the mind, also food which is directly affected by sunlight, has a strong influence on the mind. This chakra is otherwise referred to as the food centre.

People chant mantras like Gayatri to attract the divine illumination of the sun. By concentrating on this centre and experiencing our inner source of energy, we can also obtain divine illumination for the body and mind.

The two sense organs controlled by this centre are the eyes and the feet. Since we are born our eyes are constantly active in sensory perception. Even as children human beings immediately become attached to names and forms and smile only at familiar faces, but burst into tears when confronted with a stranger. As grown ups, all human beings mistakenly tend to make judgements based solely on appearance, always seeking out only what pleases the eye.

The beauty industry thrives on this tendency, luring us to spend small fortunes on products that will make us more attractive in the eyes of others. Today the fashion industry, the fitness industry, the entertainment industry and tourist industry and almost every consumer based market in the world, depends on our slavery to the sense of sight. If, instead of being attached to names and forms, we are able to see the beauty of God in everything, all these multi-million dollar industries, as well as their dire by-products such as eating disorders and depression, would disappear overnight.

It has been scientifically observed that the eyes of a restless person or mentally depressed person move very quickly and blink frequently. In the desperate urge to drink more and more stimuli, we become confused and mentally anxious. The eyes of those who meditate blink less. They have a detached look. By gradually controlling the mind through meditation and deep breathing, we are able to gain detachment from the sights which surround us, thereby avoiding sensory overload.

By focusing on the navel centre during meditation we can gain control over our restlessness and direct our vision inward to the immense inner splendor and start understanding the profound spiritual truths one may find within. Then, when we do look at the world again, we are able to perceive the magnificence of God's creation, see the essential inner beauty in all those who surround us and appreciate even the situations that confront us. We soon learn to love our surroundings without becoming excessively attached, so that we may enjoy the world without being enslaved by the world.

Our feet lead us towards many different directions. The urge to move here and there, never being able to sit still, is purely a physical reflection of the mind's inability to focus and remain calm and still in one place. People travel all over the globe on the mistaken assumption that travelling thousands of miles will somehow make them happier.

Some people cannot last in one job for very long, they need change, excitement, diversity and are soon bored with their current environment. They drift from job to job, from town to town, continually seeking an elusive fulfillment. On a more basic level, we may have noticed how many people are simply unable to sit still. Their legs are moving even they sit on chair, they tap their feet or always shake their legs in nervous need for motion. Meditation enhances the ability to sit still on one position for an extended period of time. When the mind is tranquil, so is the body.

Meditating on the Manipura develops our ability to remain tranquil and peaceful, to direct our every movement for a useful purpose. Rather than looking here and there to seek satisfaction, yet finding it nowhere, by meditating in the Manipura chakra, we are able to progress thanks to the concentration and energy one can gain from this centre.

Food and Temptation

There is a story in the Hindu epic, the Ramayana, which illustrates the immense power food has on the mind and how food can lead man to temptation. This story proves that the old adage 'the way to a man's heart is through his stomach' to be true.

There was once a great sage called Vibhandaka, who underwent strict austerities and engaged himself in deep meditation in order to achieve realization. One day, tempted by the beauty of a celestial nymph, he lost his concentration and self-control and ran after her. They had a child, whom he named Rushyasrunga. Having learned from the bitter experience that hidden desires may cause spiritual downfalls, he decided to raise his son far away from attractions of the world. Rushyasrunga grew up in the forests under strict guidance of his father. He was always engaged in meditation, study and other spiritual practices and therefore was brought up totally unaware of life's luxuries, delicious food, alcohol or beautiful women.

Meanwhile, in a nearby kingdom, there was a severe drought, so the distressed king consulted his advisors who predicted that there would be rain if the young saint Rushyasrunga, who possessed great spiritual wealth and purity, entered the kingdom. However on one knew how to tempt him and take him away from the strict supervision of his father. The problem was solved when a beautiful courtesan named Jarata offered to undertake the task. She asked the king for a luxurious boat lavishly equipped with a great variety of delicious foods and beautiful damsels dressed in their finest clothes and jewellery. Docking at a distance, she waited or Rushyasrunga's father to leave and then approached the young saint. The stunningly beautiful women fed him delicacies he had never tasted before and returned each day, bringing him new and tasty dishes to tempt his palate. Having eaten rich food, the young man developed body consciousness and then attachment to this body. One day, the courtesan invited hi, on their boat and, once he was aboard,they set the sail for the kingdom. The moment Rushyasrunga set foot on the ground, rain came pouring down, ending the terrible drought. The king asked the young saint's forgiveness for the ruse and offered him his daughter in marriage.

The old sage accepted the inevitable, realizing once again that, however far we may run from temptation, unless we cultivate inner strength, we cannot resist the lure of the senses. Food is one of the strongest of these lures, tempting us like the bait tempts the fish, while it dangerous hides the iron hook.

We Eat Food and Food Eats Us

Both eyes and the feet are controlled by the Manipura chakra, which is the digestive centre. Therefore the food we eat has a specific effect on our tranquility as, though the majority is excreted and some parts nourish the body., the subtle part influences the mind. If, for example, we eat a lot of meat or yogurt, our mind will be dull and lethargic, since most of our energy is used in digesting their heavy protein content. On the other hand, if we drink too much coffee or other caffeine-filled drinks, our mind will become nervous and agitated.

Not only the type of food we eat influences our mind, but also the way it is cooked. This is why, in ancient times, sages used to warn seekers that one had to take care of cleanliness of the pots and dishes, the freshness of the ingredients and, at the same time particularly that the emotions of those who cooked the food seeped into the food itself and that the consumer could be affected by the cook's thoughts and feelings of anger, sadness or joy. In this age o fast food and dining out, such careful approach is next to impossible as, although many more people are turning to vegetarianism for the fear of contamination as well as the influx of hormones released by frightened animals at the time of their death, eating out is still an integral pat of today's modern man's life. Even if one is a pure vegetarian, one must also be careful about the quality and the quantity of the food one eats. The way people earn money, how they use it and their general lifestyle have a strong impact on the mind, so one should also be cautious where and from whom the food is being bought and where one is taking food.

The Deluded Saint

There was a wandering monk who absolutely had no attachment for belongings and, as he was always traveling, he always accepted indiscriminately the hospitality of those who invited him. Once he stayed from two consecutive days in a very rich man's house. On the second day, at midnight, he was awakened by the jingling sound of a bell. On waking up and investigating he found that it came from small bell attached to the neck of a cow which was in the yard. He thought it would be nice to have that bell to use in his worship. The thought became so overpowering that he went out into the yard, stole the bell and, after having hidden it in his bag, sat down to meditate. His mind so agitated and restless that at first he could not concentrate, but as he tried harder, he became focused and realized what he had done. He was ashamed and surprised for having stooped to sealing, therefore he tried to understand how it could have happened. As he searched for an answer that could possibly explain this unprecedented, strange behaviour of his, it became apparent to him that it might have been due to the effect of the food he had eaten. He returned the bell to it's place next morning, as he was leaving, he called the host aside and asked him by what means he earned his money. The rich man remained silent for sometime, but then confessed that his means to acquire money were not honest or respectable. From that day onwards, the monk resolved to give up eating food in strangers'

Food and mind are casually connected. Food can make the mind calm and tranquil or restless and agitated. Food is not only a means to nourish the body, but it may also promote calmness of mind and inner peace. When I say food eats us, I ma referring to the various diseases caused by wrong food consumption, contaminated food, unwholesome foods or overeating, which in turn eat away our health. While some foods cause cancer, others caused high cholesterol and heart attacks. Everyday, the list of unhealthy foods becomes longer. It is advisable to take simple and wholesome food and to offer it to God before we eat. The tradition of praying before meals does not limit itself to simply thanking God for the food He has provided; but it also entails offering our food to God asking Him to accept it, thus making it safe for consumption, assimilation and for an overall benefit to our health.

The Fire of Illumination and Elimination

Fire has two qualities. It is a source of illumination and it provides light to others, it burns resulting in heat and energy, but it can also eliminate and destroy things. The navel center is symbolically the place of food and drink. One may obtain brilliance of mind and body from the digestive fire and, at the same time, through the process of combustion and digestion, one eliminates waste matter from the body. In Hinduism, the digestive fire is considered extremely sacred, and the Bhagavad Gita (15/14) states that God Himself burns as the fire in the navel centre, so what we eat is nothing more than an offering to Him. F we ca neat is nothing more than an offering to Him. If we eat in that spirit, accepting food as a gift from God, choosing healthy and nutritious food, prepared in a clean and tranquil environment, and offering it back to the Giver, then we can come to no harm. By developing the navel centre, we can enjoy the food we eat and its effect on us will be wholly beneficial.

The Creative Knot

The Muladhara, Swadhisthana nad Manipura chakras together make up what is called the brahmagrahthi or the creative knot, as all creative activities are accelerated through these three chakras. This knot, on the other hand, is also a barrier for one's spiritual evolution, so one has to penetrate or cut this knot in order to evolve and go higher spiritually. To do this one needs four things: a strong desire, firm determination, immense patience, and sustained self-effort. It our desire for spiritual evolution is strong enough, then nothing can stop us.

If we analyze a day's activity we may realize how much time we spend on each chakra. We need to strive for balance in the chakras, neither ignoring them completely nor spending inordinate amounts of time on any single one.

While trying to evolve, we sometimes come across failure. At this point, many people loose their patience and decide that whatever method they are trying is not for them, so proceed seeking method they are trying is not for them, so proceed seeking and trying other different techniques. This is a typical disease of the modern mind. We should have the patience to persevere in our efforts and, eventually, we will be successful. Keeping the ultimate goal in sight is extremely, we will be successful. Keeping the ultimate goal in sight is extremely important and determines the benefits we gain from our endeavours in spiritual evolution.

The Inner Pilgrimage

People go on vacation to striking seaside resorts or to secluded mountain resorts spending exaggerate amounts of money, take time off from work and leave their homes, in the hope to be able to relax and enjoy themselves, but then, eventually, ens up by indulging only in strenuous activities like mountain climbing, water skiing or hiking with activities they left. Even on weekends, people fill their itineraries with activities to enjoy themselves and, the next day Monday morning, they return to work dog-tired, only just able to function.

In India, until recently, people used to take time off for pilgrimages rather than holidays. Even nowadays, including people who cannot afford it, save money and take time off only to go and visit holy shrines like Tirupati, Puri or Kedarnath in the Himalayas. In India shrines and temples are usually either close to the sea, on riverbanks or high up some far away mountain top. A trip to places like Kedarnath or Amarnath, on the highest Himalayan peaks, is quite a strenuous one and it involves a lot of climbing, but at the end of the climb, pilgrims are rewarded and re-energized by the vision of the temple Deity and the holy vibrations of the sacred place.

So, whether one calls it a holiday or a pilgrimage, the process is the same, but the result is entirely poles apart. While tourists come home tired after having spent tons of money to enjoy an instant thrill that quickly fades away, pilgrims return to their homes with rejuvenated vigor, a peaceful mind and the satisfaction of having their goal.

Only if the goal is fixed will we progress on the path of liberation. The spiritual path is a continuous journey to which we can stick to only if we have a fixed purpose, immense patience and unrelenting effort. After having conquered the three lower centres, we have to strive more, as we need some further concentration in order to penetrate the knot and proceed upwards. In meditation, when we fix our attention and go from the Muladhara to the Swadhisthana and then to the Manipura all three to the Anahata Chakra or heart centre. While concentrating in these centres, one experiences spiritual energy and the unfolding play of divine consciousness.

Source: The Universe Within - The Journey Through The Chakras, Pages: 44-55, Chapter 3

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