This chakra is also known as the sexual centre: situated in the spine, behind the genital organs, it is ruled by water and has a strong hold over our emotions and passions. This centre often demands a good part of time and energy.
|Location||: Sacral region|
|Number of petals||: Six|
|Presiding Deity||: Durga|
|Quality of Nature (Guna)||: Rajas (Activity)|
|Seed syllable||: Vam|
|Sense organs||: Tongue and genitals|
|Benefits due to Concentration||: Control over water element and Fulfilment of material desires.|
|Name of the Fire||: Grihapati agni (household fire)|
|Vritis (Tendencies)||: Doubt, Disobedience, Cruelty, Destructive desire, Illusive pleasure and Involvement|
|Loka (Plane of Existence)||: Bhuva|
|Vital breath||: Apana (helps for excretion and ejaculation)|
|Virtue||: Dama (Conrol of Senses)|
|Zodiac||: Pisces and Virgo|
|Ruling Planet||: Jupiter|
The Swadhisthana chakra is located in the spine in the sacral region behind the genital organs. Swadhisthana in Sanskrit means the place where the mind is established for a long time. After the Muladhara, this is the centre, which demands most of our time and energy. The water element predominates in this region and it is subtler than the earth element. While earth has a shape, size and independent existence, water needs a container and takes the shape of the container. In each chakra, there is a symbol. In the Swadhisthana the symbol is of two triangles like those found in the Jewish Star of David. One triangle represents the female aspect and the other represents the male aspect. In Hinduism, God or the Absolute divides into male and female aspects, then we have creation. Shakti, the female aspect, is a must for creation and therefore the presiding deity of the second centre is Durga which is another name of Shakti.
Sex and Food
The two sense organs ruled by this centre are the tongue and the genitals. Moderation in eating and in sexual activity, avoiding the pitfalls of gluttony and sexual overindulgence, is one of the prime requisites in attaining lasting peace and tranquillity. This is not to say that unless one lives the austere life of a monk, subsisting on roots and tubers and practising strict celibacy, one cannot attain realization. In fact, the overly zealous practice of austerities can be as much of a handicap as overindulgence in sensual pleasures. Those who eat too much, as well as those who continually fast,cannot progress spiritually. The life of Buddha is a perfect example.
Prince Gautama left behind all his worldly possessions and pleasures in the pursuit of truth. He gave up his kingdom, his family and the luxurious life he knew. With the great determination he decided to sit and meditate until he achieved self-knowledge, declaring: "I will sit here. Let the body dry up. Let my skin, flesh, and bones be destroyed. I will be self-realized" (Buddha Charita)
He sat for forty days without food or drink, but when later on he related what he had experienced during those forty days to his disciple, Ananda he also specified: "I was so weak, I was hardly able to move my limbs. When I touched my stomach, I could feel my backbone. My scalp was so dry that the hair was falling off. My eyes has receded deep inside my skull and those who saw me thought that I was a ghost" (Buddha Charita of Ashvaghosh)
After this experience Gautama Buddha realized the folly of this extreme measures, since he had discovered he could not concentrate in such physical agony. He accepted the food offered by Sujata, a noble lady of a nearby village and slowly came back to normal. Buddhism, therefore, advocates the middle way, which avoids all sorts of extremes, in order to gain self-knowledge.
Not Enough Salt
For meditation and spiritual progress, we need moderation in food as well as in sexual enjoyment. Spiritual seekers must be able to control the mind and make it listen to new instructions. A small example: if there is a little less salt in the food, instead of over reacting, we need to instruct the mind to accept it.
Ten years ago I visited a Shiva temple near Cuttack in Orissa. After the worship, when the pundits presented me with the consecrated offering on a banana leaf, they asked the brahmacharis to bring me some salt. I objected that I did not need any extra salt. The pundit replied that the food did not contain any salt at all. When I asked why, he explained that the king who had constructed the temple centuries ago had arranged for all provisions and supplies for the temple, but left out any provision for salt. Since that time, in the temple, it had become a tradition to cook all the offerings without any salt. After I heard the story, I answered: "If Lord Shiva Himself has been accepting the food offered here for centuries without salt, I can surely manage for one day without it."
It is essential to have some control over the tongue. One way of practising control over the tongue is to give up our favourite food for a while. If we are addicted to sweets, we should try giving up sweets for a certain period of time. If we have a strong habit of drinking coffee or tea, we might try foregoing it for a few days. In this way we can gradually gain control over the tongue.
The Seduction of Taste
In our search for pleasure, we go on abusing the seven centers, which have been given to us for our own personal growth and realization. The digestive fire burns within us to turn nutritious healthy food into fuel for the body, and yet in our craving for taste, we dump unwholesome, greasy, unhealthy chemical laden food and beverages in our bodies, If we think about it, the taste sensation hardly lasts a few seconds, the first two or three bites are all we actually taste and, after that, we might as well be eating tasteless cardboard. Yet we go on eating automatically, pouring food down our throats unaware of its taste. There are lessons in all we do and everything we experience, so we should try and understand what we are to learn from this particular one. Life is full of illusion; web of illusion is sheer light, delicate and feeble, it sparkles with a thousand rays of enticement and promises. It pulls us in so many different ways, luring us with its ephemeral quality, intangible yet palpable, promising so much yet giving so little.
Knowing What We Want
It is so rare that we stop and ask: "What is it that I want? What is it really that I am looking for?" Instead we lunge at the nearest promise of happiness, whether it is food or sex or marriage or business and, when that promise is broken or unfulfilled, we still refuse to examine ourselves, but blame the circumstances, blame the situation or our partners, unwilling to look within and perceive what it is we really and truly want. We all want uninterrupted happiness, that unending bliss which cannot be found without, but within. The sooner we learn to permanent joy of the soul, the sooner we will reach our goal and fulfill the desire that has driven us on from the day were born until the moment that, exhausted, we give up this weary body. So be moderate in enjoyment, as without this resolve, spiritual progress is very difficult.
There is a beautiful story in the Mahabharata about a king called Yayati who had married Devayani, the daughter of a Brahmin Sage called Shikra. Devayani brought with her as a maidservant a princess called Sharmishtha. In the course of time, King Yayati fell in love with his wife's beautiful maidservant and, eventually, even had children from her. Devayani's father, became enraged with Yayati's conduct and cursed him with premature old age. Yayati's mind, however, still longed for sensual pleasures and was unhappy to have an old body, so he begged his father-in-law to forgive him and withdraw his curse. The father-in-law relented, saying that if any of Yayati's sons would be willing to take the curse upon himself, then Yayati could regain his lost youth. The story goes that one of the sons of Sarmishtha, called Puru, agreed to this and the king could have his youth back which he used to continue his sense enjoyment. When he finally did reach a ripe old age with an ample of eventful life behind him, Yayati uttered a truth, which he had discovered through his life-long experience. As, despite all his sense indulgement, passion was still burning undimmed within him, he dies giving this following advice to his sons and grandsons: "Children, do not believe that by indulging in sense pleasures, you can extinguish the fire of passion. In reality yielding to a desire is like adding fuel to the fire. The more you indulge, the brighter it burns." Sexual desire is like smoldering fire and this fire burns out of control, life becomes miserable. We need to use this fire in regulated way, by disciplining the mind step by step. The sexual centre's passion and energy can be channeled toward the higher centres, where creativity and philosophy will emerge.