Material Journey

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

People understand Shiva and Shakti in the form of a god and goddess. In yoga the Shiva tattwa is the symbol of higher consciousness and the Shakti tattwa is the expression of life. The Shiva tattwa is the conscious element and the Shakti tattwa is the power of action. They are also known as Purusha and Prakriti, or Brahma and Maya. The search for the Shiva tattwa is a truth of life. One may not understand the name, yet the search in life is indeed for the Shiva tattwa.

The word tantra is a combination of two words: tanoti and trayati. 'Tan' and 'tra' together make 'tantra'. The meaning of tanoti is 'evolution of consciousness', and the meaning of trayati is 'liberation of energy, Shakti'. Therefore, the meaning of tantra is the process, the system that brings about the evolution of consciousness and the liberation of energy.

Principle of transformers

In kundalini yoga the abode of Shiva and Shakti is Brahmarandhra, the location of the thousand-petalled lotus, sahasrara. Here, the Shiva and Shakti tattwas reside together. When in the Shiva tattwa the thought arises, Ekoham Bahushyama– "I am one and I wish to express myself as many," then Shakti is activated to give this sankalpa concrete form. When Shakti is activated, she is separated from Shiva. In the course of this separation from Shiva, various tattwas arise and as a result a body is acquired. This primal energy, Paramshakti, is trapped in the material body.

At the place where hydroelectric power is being generated the voltage is high, 11,000 Kilo Volt amperes. It cannot be put to use for ordinary requirements in fields, homes and industries. Through a transformer this energy is converted from 11,000 to 440. Through another transformer 440 is converted to 220, and again a transformer converts 220 to 110. In this way as the energy passes through each transformer, the power is modulated to conform to certain limits. When this energy enters one's house, it can be used to run fans, the fridge and TV. It is now suitable for home use. If the same energy were to enter one's house in the 11,000 KVA form, it would destroy the house.

This is the principle of the chakras in kundalini yoga. The primal energy is in its highest potency. Its modification is seen when, passing through several transformers, the same energy is made suitable for use in one's life.

The first transformer is ajna chakra. When the primal energy comes to ajna chakra, its form is that of the mind, then lower down at the throat is the second transformer, vishuddhi chakra. Here it takes the form of akasha tattwa, the space element. In the heart is anahata chakra, where the energy is transformed from akasha tattwa to vayu tattwa, the air element. In manipura chakra behind the navel, the form of energy is agni tattwa, the fire element. When Shakti is in swadhisthana chakra, she is in the form of jala tattwa, the water element. In mooladhara chakra, Shakti's form of energy is matter, prithvi tattwa.

The expression of life is in the material state. The energy that has reached the material tattwa, and has given birth to matter, goes to sleep in matter and does not move any further.

This is the evolution of life: development from the supreme energy to the material condition. At this point one becomes aware of life and the experience of life. These transformers in the human body give birth to particular behaviours.

Mooladhara chakra

According to the yoga shastras, in mooladhara chakra one searches for stability in life. The sense of insecurity arises, so one wishes to move away from this insecurity to stability. Fear arises, and with freedom from fear one wishes for peace.

In relation to the material state, the negative, tamasic actions that one engages in have a relationship with mooladhara chakra. Whatever feeling of insecurity one experiences in life, concerning family, property, one's dear ones, society, or circumstances, is within oneself. It is the experience of mooladhara in life.

The mental state that one derives from each transformer is guided by the chakra into a certain mode. The connection of prithvi tattwa is with the feeling of insecurity and the lack of steadiness.

When the shakti is awakened in mooladhara, the positive expression of prithvi tattwa is the end of the sense of insecurity in one's life. One has become victorious over that mental state. The mind, by becoming free of a bondage, by becoming free of a certain state and negative experience, achieves a positive experience, one in which insecurity and fear is absent.

The mind

Kundalini has been awakened when the energy reaches swadhisthana. Swadhisthana is the expression of the unconscious mind, symbolized by the water element.

People who swim in the ocean know that the light of the sun is only on the upper surface of the ocean. As one descends into the depths, the light of the sun will become dimmer and dimmer, until finally, at the bottom there is total darkness. There is no boundary line which defines the specific areas of light, dimness and complete darkness. A diver can tell from his own experience how far the light of the sun penetrates into the water. At what depth the light becomes dim, when darkness begins, only the diver knows.

The mind is conscious and subconscious, yet there is a definite boundary which indicates that this much is conscious, this much is subconscious, and this much is unconscious. Consciousness is where the light of intelligence reaches. As long as the light of intelligence is present one remains conscious, aware; one tries to know oneself and others, one remains engaged in the world through the light of intelligence.

If intelligence is absent, consciousness is absent, and one has no knowledge of what one is doing. So this condition of inertia, where there is no movement, no action, no progress, is the state of the mind in ordinary life, for only as far as the light of intelligence penetrates, one has the experience of knowledge. Where the light of intelligence does not reach, one has the experience of dullness and there is no knowledge.

Consciousness is that state of the mind which shines by the luminosity of intelligence. When one shines a torch in a dark room, only one portion is lit up, the whole room is not lit up. The beam does cast a light in the rest of the room to a small extent, yet the light of the torch remains confined within a limited area. Wherever the light of the torch falls is the scope of one's intelligence. Where there is darkness, one cannot see anything until the light of the torch shines there. In the same way, the intelligence of one's life lights up only one area of the mind. That area is called consciousness.

Where there is intelligence there is knowledge, but where intelligence begins to be obscured, one cannot maintain contact with clarity, and there is confusion and doubt: "What I thought, is it right? What I wanted, is it wrong? What I have done, is it appropriate, What I wish to do, is it inappropriate?"

This kind of mental conflict arises in the mind when the light of intelligence does not reach there. With the light of intelligence there is no mental conflict in a person's life. This state is called subconscious, for the light of intelligence becomes dim. That area of the mind where the light of intelligence does not reach at all is called unconscious.

In whose light?

There is another state called the super conscious, or turiya state. What is the form of the turiya state? Here is a story: Maharshi Yajnavalkya asks Gargi, "In whose light does a man do his work?" Gargi replies that a man does his work in the light of the sun. Yajnavalkya asks again, "When the light of the sun is absent, then how does a man do his work?" Gargi replies, then the man can do his work under the light of the moon.

Yajnavalkya continues, "If the light of the moon is also absent, then how?" Gargi argues, then man can live his life in the light of the stars. "What if the stars are not there, under whose light will he perform his actions and live his life?" Finally Gargi says that if there is darkness everywhere, and no light outside, at that time man can discharge his duties only through the light of the soul, the self or atman.

The luminosity of the atman can neither be found in the sun, the moon or the stars. In the same way, in the conscious state is the light of the sun, in the subconscious state is the light of the moon, in the unconscious state is the light of the stars, and in the turiya state is the light of the soul. This is the message of the Upanishads and the dialogue between Yajnavalkya and Gargi.

A gift of God

This light is accessible only to human beings and not to other creatures. Animals do not have intelligence. The consciousness that is attained and experienced by means of intelligence is obtained only by humans. This intelligence is a quality, a faculty given by God only to human beings, and not to any other creature.

Through intelligence one is able to make one's own decisions, reconcile with and confront one's circumstances, and fulfil one's karmas of life. If intelligence is not used the animal quality or instinct comes alive, and the individual becomes like an animal. Intelligence is the medium to obtain knowledge with which one is able to move ahead.

Swadhisthana chakra

In swadhisthana chakra there is a lack of intelligence, as it is the domain of unconsciousness. What is in the unconscious?

Kabir Das explained spiritual truths in a symbolic manner. He used to say that in this mud pot are the seven seas. This body contains seven seas, within which are jewels and diamonds. These seven seas are swadhisthana chakra. There are hidden jewels in the seven seas, hidden in the unconscious.

According to yoga, the unconscious mind is the place where the basic instincts take birth. Hunger, sleep, fear and the sexual drive take root and germinate in the unconscious, then grow and gather strength. The instinct of hunger, sleep, fear and sex is the basic nature, and its place is in swadhisthana chakra. The desires, the state of separation and isolation from the world at the time of sleep, and the situations causing fear are hidden in the unconscious. That is the reason why it has not been possible for any psychologist or sage to understand or resolve the problems created by the instincts.

According to yoga, karmas are also hidden in the unconscious. When these karmas are expressed, they make or break one's life. These are the karmas of prarabdha, which come from one's past. In this life one is reaping the fruits of past karmas. The results of karma and the birth of instinct are in swadhisthana chakra. When the upward-moving energy comes to swadhisthana chakra and passes through it, one is freed from these instincts, and one is released from the bondage of karmas and enters manipura chakra.

Manipura chakra

Manipura chakra is the domain of fire, the centre of the rajasic quality. Rajoguna decides one's action.

Sattwaguna, rajoguna and tamoguna are the qualities of the mind. According to Samkhya, tamoguna means inertia, rajoguna means action, and sattwaguna means luminosity. Luminosity or the nature of light is sattwaguna. The state of activity is rajoguna, and the state of immobility is tamoguna.

Here is an example: A potter wants to make a vessel. So he takes clay. The clay has no shape, no form. Using the clay as a basis the potter can create any form. This formless clay is like sattwaguna. When the potter takes the clay and prepares it with water and kneads it for the task of molding an object, then the condition that prevails is of rajoguna, the nature of activity. When the image is ready and a form has been expressed, then the state which the clay has acquired is tamoguna, the state of form and inertness.

Everyone is of the nature of tamoguna, as everyone has a form, an identity, a name, attributes and qualities. When name, form and attributes are present, it is tamoguna. When form and name are together it is rajoguna. When attribute is alone without form or name, it is sattwaguna.

The field of agni tattwa, manipura chakra, is believed to be the centre of rajoguna, whose nature is action. When through spiritual effort the kundalini shakti is brought above manipura chakra, then one rises above the gunas, and establishes oneself in sattwaguna.

Anahata chakra

When the energy reaches anahata chakra, one experiences universal empathy towards all. This empathy expresses the gentle emotions of the heart, such as love and compassion. There is a connection with the tender and soft emotions. People's emotions are always hard, their nature is never soft. Only when this nature recognizes the goodness in others does it become soft. As long as one cannot recognize the goodness of another person, one can never be soft towards that person, one will always remain distant and unable to connect. The attainment of tenderness and the cessation of harshness are the consequence of the awakening of anahata chakra or the vayu tattwa.

Vishuddhi chakra

Vishuddhi is the domain in which everything becomes pure. When kundalini shakti reaches vishuddhi chakra no form of impurity, no flaw or defect remains in the expressions, thoughts and karmas of life. When the karmas of one's life are fulfilled and purified in the right manner, when the pure karmas help others to progress and evolve, when one is able to relate to others, then love and compassion emanate spontaneously from a one's expressions and behaviour.

Such a person is loved by all. The person, who has harsh emotions, is not liked by anybody. Whatever distortions arise in one's mind are ended in vishuddhi chakra and only a state of purity, balance, peace and harmony remains.

Ajna chakra

In ajna chakra one comes in contact with one's inner self, the antaratma. That inner self is called guru tattwa. The inner self is not the individual soul, jivatma, but the guru tattwa. Ajna chakra is the reflection of the guru tattwa and the door between the material and the spiritual world. One side of ajna chakra is the world and the other side is Ishwara, the Divine. Ajna chakra is the abode of the guru tattwa.

With the guru tattwa darkness never enters one's life. Darkness is dispelled, which means that there is no place for ignorance and lack of wisdom in one's life. Only fullness is experienced, and through the experience of fullness one attains sahasrara.

In sahasrara, Shiva and Shakti are once again united. Therefore, the material journey is from the top down, and the spiritual journey takes one from the bottom back to the top.

—19 September 2014, Tyagaraj Sports Stadium, Delhi, India