Monday, June 8, 2015

Five bodies, chakra-s, nADI-s, kunDalini and brahmaDaNDa in sanAtana dharma

|| Hari OM ||

|| ShrI guru sharaNam ||

Note: This article is an extraction of longer article, 'Hindu Dharma - the most organized, integrated spiritual and practical way of life'. The below title is the 13th title. To maintain similarity, here too we are starting the article with number 13 and not 1. The links of full article are:

13. Five bodies in sanAtana dharma

According to SD, we not only have physical body, but we have five bodies. In yogic life, they too are nourished along with physical body. Other 4 subtle bodies are of great importance. Bodies are called as kosha-s.

13.1. Subtle bodies

Five bodies (kosha-s are) annamaya kosha, prANamaya kosha, manomaya kosha, viGYAnamaya kosha and Anandamaya kosha.

  1. annamaya kosha - Physical gross body
  2. prANamaya kosha - Energy body or aura or bioplasmic body. This body is the bridge between annamaya kosha and manomaya kosha.
  3. manomaya kosha - mental body. Some modern energy based techniques have split manomaya kosha into astral body and mental body. Astral body is emotional body, handling emotions and mental body handles thoughts.
  4. viGYAnamaya kosha - Causal body. viGYAnamaya kosha has all the impressions of past lives. It is said that ego is situated in this body. While other bodies have their own life, this body does not die until the ignorance of duality and sense of individuality is destroyed. In other words until one attains moksha, this body is not destroyed.
  5. Anandamaya kosha - buddhi body or body of Bliss. Anandamaya kosha is the body of intuition. A person living in this body i.e conscious of this body lives in intuitions. There is no need to think before doing anything. Mind is so pure that it can tap into cosmic mind or universal consciousness.

Similarly, the five kosha-s are classified into three bodies.

  1. sthuLa sharira - physical gross body
  2. sukshma sharira - subtle body (energy body and manomaya kosha)
  3. kAraNa sharira - causal body (viGYAnamaya kosha and Anandamaya kosha)

‘kAraNa’ means ‘cause’. This body is identified with antakaraNa and it’s four sub-divisions, mana (mind), buddhi (intellect), ahaMkAra (ego, sense of individuality) and chitta (memory or recitation power). This body does not die until moksha.

Each body has it’s own chakra-s. Not much is being said about chakra-s in higher bodies like manomaya kosha, etc. However Our shAstra-s say that we have seven major chakra-s. In gItA BG 5.13 it is said ‘navadvAra’ ‘नवद्वार’ meaning nine doors. bhAgavat purANa (canto 4, chapters 25-29) also describes city of nine gates. There is also description of nine doors in Guru Granth Sahib. There is also the mention of tenth door. A great yogi, a mahAsiddha, guru gorakshanAtha has described that there are nine chakra-s. If we take these doors in physical body then they are - 2 eyes, 2 ears, 2 nostrils, 1 mouth, 1 anus, 1 genital. However, if we take literally take it beyond physical body, then we can count on nine chakra-s.    

13.2. chakra-s

Seven chakra-s are
  1. mUlAdhAra chakra - root chakra or base chakra or basic chakra
  2. svAdhiSthAna chakra - sacral chakra
  3. manipura chakra - navel chakra
  4. anAhata chakra - heart chakra
  5. vishuddhi chakra - throat chakra
  6. AGYA chakra - 3rd eye, chakra of will power (sometimes spelled as ajna chakra)
  7. sahasrAra chakra - crown chakra

guru gorakshanAth in siddha siddhAnta paddhati mentions two more chakra-s:

8. tAlu chakra - Palette chakra (from where nectar flows)
9. AkAsha chakra - Inverted crown chakra (one chakra faces upwards and another (sahasrAra downwards)

For detailed explanation about chakra-s please visit here

Since only nine are described does not mean that chakra-s are limited to just nine in number. Some texts mentions number of chakra-s to be 10, 12 or even 13. Traditionally only seven are given importance and are considered as ‘major chakra-s’. Others are considered as minor chakra-s. Each body part like eyes, ears, glands like thymus gland, pancreas, etc have their own energy counterpart and a minor chakra. There are chakra-s in palm, sole (foot) and in fingers, but their size is smaller than major one. Since this science is very complicated and one needs to practice any kind of energy based meditative technique in presence of a master yogi, many things are kept private.

13.3. kuNDAlini, nADI-s and brahmaDanDa

kuNDalini shakti, nADI-s and brahmaDANDa are of great importance to yogi-s. yoga is very practical and meditative approach or control and master the mind and other subtle bodies so as to rise above them and unite with Siva (brahman). Lets discuss them in brief.

For better understanding, a picture will be helpful.


13.3.1. kuNDalini shakti

yogi-s texts and yoga upanishads talks of kuNDalini shakti. It is located near the base of spine. Some say it is in the form of inverted triangle. yogi-s, specially those following tantra-s (energy based techniques) activate kuNDalini shakti and rise her until she touches sahasrahAra chakra (crown chakra).  Of course, prior to activating and raising kunDalini prANamaya kosha and chakra-s are needed to be cleansed. Hence this process must be practised under the guidance of a master yogi.

kuNDalini shakti is highly revered. She is not just a shakti, but a devi. Yogi-s reverse her as mother, Adi shakti. She is associated with uMA, or pArvatI devI, the spiritual consort of bhagavAn Siva. Siva is situated at the crown. Hence a yogis process is to merge or unite shakti with Siva. Merging of Siva and shakti results in enlightenment.

13.3.2. nADI-s

According to uttara gItA and Siva gItA, we have 72000 nADI-s. jIvAtmA or soul which resides in heart (chakra) spreads the consciousness through 72000 nADI-s. Since prANamaya kosha (energy body) is connected with annamaya kosha (energy body), jIva becomes aware of physical body through them.

Out of 72000, 3 are considered as most important. They are iDA, pingalA and suShumNA nADI. iDA and pigalA are located in the center of energy body in the spine and start from kuNDAlini shakti, they touch sahasrahAra chakra and end in two nostrils. They end in center of each side of nose. suShumNA goes straight to sahasrahAra chakra. iDA and pingalA either spiral suShumNA or go parallel with suShumNA or are in the form of a bow i.e. curved bulging in center and converging at the two ends. Three different shapes of iDA and pingalA are found in yoga upanishad-s. They are related to the mental make-up of a person. It does not matter which form you see, seeing, feeling and experiencing them indicates a certain level of spiritual development. Such visions are taken as signs of spiritual progress.

iDA is related to moon, it cold in nature i.e. energy passing through iDA feels cool, while pingalA is related to sun and is warm in nature i.e. energy passing has warm feeling. These nADI-s are also connected with left and right side of brain and eyes.

As we are aware, only one nostril and hence only one nADI is open at a time. In order to activate kunDAlini, one must activate both IDA and pingalA so that kunDAlini may pass through both of them. Hence before starting meditation or any yogic kriyA (process), yogI-s make sure that they are breathing both nostrils. They do so by doing prANAyama and repeating some breathing patterns along with postures. When kunDAlini flows through suShumNA, the life force, which flows through all the 72000 nADI-s is pulled back and flows through suShumNA. The result is that a yogI does not feel his physical body. As the prANa is gradually pulled out of these nADI-s, a yogI feels the his / her body parts are getting paralyzed or become dysfunct and lifeless. You have no power to move them. Later even their existence cease to exist. As kuNDalini rises through each chakra through suShumNA and touches sahasrAra, mind is completely absorbed in this blissful state of enlightenment. kuNDalini has seven layers and it is said that each layer has 7 sub-layers (sources needed to confirm).

As a result of kuNDalini touching sahasrAra, consciousness rises high and merges into cosmic consciousness and yogI is completely unaware of his / her body. Since AtmA (Atman) is the source of all and it empowers the body to function, when AtmA, the consciousness, leaves the body, breathing and so heartbeat stops. This breathless, pulseless state is the ultimate state of enlightenment.

During this process of ascension of kuNDalini and consciousness, a yogI undergoes divine experiences that indicate his spiritual development. These divine experiences are better kept within the circles of advanced yogI-s.

13.3.3. brahmaDaNDa / meruDaNDa

When kuNDAlini is fully activated and reaches sahasrahAra, most yogi-s see the whole spine as a tube of bright light. This passage is called as brahmaDaNDa or meruDaNDa. Though physical spine is not straight, it is curved, yogi-s see only energy counterpart of spine. Generally energy counterpart found in energy body (prANamaya kosha) has similar shape as that of physical organ. However in case of passage of kuNDalini, which is said to rise through spine, I have not heard of any yogi having the vision of spine as having curved shape. It looks like a tube light filled with brilliant white light. As said earlier, these visions are taken as signs of spiritual progress. Hence difference in shape, form, colour, shade, type of energy are not taken too seriously.

13.4. Gauging spiritual progress

As a yogi or any spiritual aspirant progresses in spirituality, his / her prANamaya kosha it’s chakra-s and other subtle bodies also expand in size.  The spiritual progress of a person is gauged by the activation of chakra-s, their size and the type of energy one has. As sattva guNa increases, the energies become very subtle and soft. Advanced meditator has a constant feeling of bliss and peace. Since bodies develop, subsequent change in nature is seen in yogi which a yogi himself may not be aware of as the change is so natural and smooth than one hardly recognizes when and how one has changed. One can only notice the ‘change’ but not the way in which he has changed. sAttvika (divine, spiritual) qualities like calmness, peace, feeling of bliss (happiness), humility are reflected on a yogi-s face, his actions, his deeds and form his body language. Similarly, not being aware of body conscious is also reflected in eyes as seen in case of Sri Ramana Maharshi.

ramana maharshi bust

14. Why are there different mantra-s for different people?

One gets fruits (of actions) in proportion to the strength of bhakti (devotion) and samarpaNa (surrender). What matters is the intention behind chanting God's name.

Each mantra is a vibration (as sound has vibrations). Our subtle bodies, chakras and our mind, chitta, etc also has vibrations. We have a definite personality.

When one's basic nature tunes with the character of any form of Lord, one finds it easy to surrender to him and chant his name. The mantra is so formulated that it’s vibrations will also tune into the vibrations of subtle bodies and chakras and cleanse them.

Just like we have a liking for some food and dislike of other food does not mean that what you like is the best food and rest is not. We can say that certain type of food is suitable to us. In the same way certain vibrations attract you. Have you noticed that when you are standing near a stranger, at times you feel that you are not comfortable in his/ her presence. Sometimes, we become friends in the very first meeting. It’s all due to vibrations. If the vibrations are not of similar frequency, then you might not feel comfortable with him / her. Your thoughts might not align with him / her.

In the same way, a certain mantra is more effective on one person and lesser effect on another.

OM mamo bhagavate vAsudevAya is considered as bIja (beej) mantra (corrections welcome) and so it is powerful than a purANika mantra like ShrI kRuShNa sharaNam mama. But some get more joy in chanting krishna's mantra than vasudeva's. It is because the vibrations of these mantra tune with our vibrations of our subtle bodies and chakra-s

In the same way, some experience great joy in chanting 'ShrI rAma, jaya rAma jaya jaya rAma' while 'OM ShrI rAma chandrAya namaH' is considered as more potent as it corrects one with heart. It is bija mantra.

OM increases potency of any mantra and hence most mantra-s have OM in the beginning. Some also prefer to close or end any mantra by chanting OM, but kRShNa’s mantra (ShrI kRuShNa sharaNam mama) does not have OM in it (atleast not the present version, which is chanted by most).

So it all depends what suits you.

But bIja mantras are technically more potent than other mantras or puranic mantras.

|| Hari OM ||

|| ShrI guru sharaNam ||

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