Let us delve deeper into the symbolic representation of the Svadhisthana Chakra.
Last week, we touched upon the significance of two of the objects that the four-armed Vishnu holds in his hands — the shankha or conch shell and the Sudarshan chakra or discus. Let us now take up the objects in the remaining two hands — the gada or mace and the padma or lotus.
Vishnu is often depicted in the yoganindra position with a lotus growing out of his navel, which is why he is also called Padmanabh or lotus-navelled. The lotus represents the fruit of yoganindra.
The poet S.T. Coleridge wrote:
“What if you slept
And what if
In your sleep
And what if
In your dream
You went to heaven
And there plucked a strange and beautiful flower
And what if
When you awoke
You had that flower in your hand
Ah, what then?”
A day will come when these words will become true for the one who has mastered the art of yoganindra and made it part of his daily living.
The lotus, even though it rises from mud, is a symbol of divine beauty and purity. The unfolding petals signify the expansion of consciousness, releasing the energy of creativity or Brahma.
The lotus also symbolizes the divinities of potency (shakyata) and wealth, as depicted by Lakshmi.
“One who performs his duty without attachment, surrendering the results to the Supreme Lord, is unaffected by sinful action as the lotus is untouched by water.” - Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 5, Verse 10)
This verse compares the yogi to the lotus. Just as the lotus remains unsullied though floating in muddy waters, so the yogi lives untouched even as he is immersed in the sensual world of maya, the muddy waters of samsar.
The lotus is a symbol of purity of body, speech and mind. While rooted in the water, its flowers blossom on long stalks, as if floating above the muddy waters of attachment and desire. The lotus also symbolizes the state of vairagya or detachment, as water easily slides off the petals of the lotus flower.
Moreover, the lotus, in both Egyptian and Indian cultures, symbolizes the union of the four elements: earth, air, fire, and water. Its roots are in the earth, it grows in and by means of water, its leaves are nourished by air, and it blooms through the power of the Sun's fire. Therefore, the lotus is a symbol of perfection of the fourfold order of the natural world.
The growth of a new lotus flower directly from the earthbound original — what science calls inflorescent proliferation — may be interpreted as a symbol of transcendence as found in Indian philosophy: the spiritual emergence of a higher world directly from our physical manifestation. It may also be interpreted, as in Egypt, as the exaltation of the essence quality of the lotus.
In the process of ripening, the corn of the lotus bursts open and showers pollen, reflecting the overflow of energy. The lotus symbolizes pausan or nourishment. The opening of the lotus is symbolic of human beings receiving nourishment from all four directions. Knowledge itself comes from all directions, which only the guru can absorb and has a responsibility to return.
In fact, one of the ways to reduce anger is to eat red lotus pollen mixed with honey.
Pollen is light. In sand paintings, the artist sprinkles pollen over the painting to make it shine. Similarly, the disciple asks the guru to line his path with specks of light so he can see the way.
In the Gospel According to Matthew, pollen is an emblem of peace, happiness and prosperity. It is the symbol of fructification, vivification, continuity of life and safety. Its quality is enlivening.
Just as the corn sprinkles pollen to give birth to new plants, similarly, the guru has the responsibility of sharing his knowledge, to sow the pollen so the seeds of knowledge and understanding can grow in the minds of his students and future generations. Every time he thinks, talks or acts, he does so in radiance, in a state of wisdom, in perfect harmony.
Pollen is continuity and the powerful life force that connects and animates everything. While reciting a mantra, keeping a little pollen in the mouth connects to this force.
The fourth object that Vishnu holds is the mace or Gada. The Sanskrit root of the word Gada is ‘to phrase’. In Hindi, we learn gadya, that is prose. Thus, the deeper meaning is to stupefy someone with words and prose. This reflects that on the opening of the higher qualities of the Svadhisthana chakra, one is endowed with the power to use words to bring happiness and joy to someone.
The name of Vishnu’s mace is Kaumodaki. It is one of the oldest and strongest of weapons and symbolizes both strength and power. The Sanskrit root of the word Kaumodaki means joy and pleasure. The joy is so great that in that moment, the mind stops working. The word kaumod also comes from kumud, the blue water lotus. The blue lotus symbolizes freedom from attachments. Blue lotus tea has psychotic properties.
Now let us look at the shakti or power of the chakra called Rakini, who sits on the other side of the Bija वं vaṃ in the visual representation of the Svadhisthana chakra.
Rakini is of the color of a blue lotus and her beauty is enhanced by her raised four arms. Each of them holds various weapons — a trident, a lotus, a drum and the vajra or lightning.
We have seen the shakti Rakini as a consciously created afferent impulse to pause the negative manifestations and emotions of the Svadhisthana chakra, the main being desire or kama. In one of her hands, she holds the three-pronged spear called the Trishul. This shows that by rising above the negative qualities of the Svadhisthana, we can awaken the power to balance the three main nadis — ida, pingala and Sushumna. We have already seen the symbology of the lotus.
In another hand, she holds a small drum called the damru. It represents the rhythm of creation. Here we see that with shakti comes rhythm, balance and harmony in the body and mind.
In her fourth hand, Rakini holds a bolt of lightning or an axe. As we rise in consciousness on the spiritual path, we experience consciousness as sudden flashes of illumination — in understanding, in perception and in experience. With the opening of this shakti of the Svadhisthana chakra, there is an illumination of consciousness. All lightning is followed by a loud clap of thunder. Sound is the quality of the ether or Akash tattva. So, with the illumination in consciousness, there is an experience of dissolving into the inner sky.
Lightning also has a negative meaning. A person can be struck down by lightning. This striking down is represented by the axe.
We have seen that the element of the Svadhisthana chakra is water, which represents emotions. We may have a strong positive emotion to rise in consciousness and work for it, but we are full of memory patterns of negative emotions. As we make a conscious effort to rise and the lower nature keeps pulling us down, there is a struggle between the two, like two rain clouds clashing and giving rise to lightning.
Next time, we will explore how the sex act can be used to awaken the positive qualities of the Svadhisthana chakra.