Last week, we examined how the chakras are minor brains that have multiple connections running through our body-brain system. We saw that in the physical body they are connected to the endocrine glands and certain nerve plexuses, which reveal their location. We also saw that each chakra has an inner sphere — connected to our essence and the karma the soul has to pass through for its growth — and the outer sphere, which is connected to our actions in daily life or how we execute our karma.
The chakras are part of the subtle brain system, which in yoga is called the manas. The manas is the analytical laboratory of the body-brain system. At one end, it carries the impression from the sense organs to the inner instruments of decoding and decision, which are the buddhi and the ahamkara. At the other end, it carries the decision of the buddhi to the organs of action. The Buddhi is the discriminative faculty that takes the decision. It gives it to the ahankara which passes it to the organs of action through the manas. But, in mechanical man, the Buddhi stops working and the ahamkara takes the decision based on past memory patterns.
An impression is made up of the five elements. The five lower chakras analyze the proportion of each element. So when an impression comes in, the muladhara chakra will decode the prithvi tattva or the earth element in the impression. The swadhishthana will decode the water element, the manipura the fire, the anahata the wind and the vishuddhi the air or ether element.
Let us try to understand this in a simple way. Suppose you are feeling low and run-down, and a friend’s kind words of support make you feel better. Your friend’s words come in as an impression. The feeling of support is the earth element present in his words. This impression, heavily loaded with the positive earth element, is analyzed by the muladhara chakra and presented to the inner intelligence which decodes it as support. Say someone is sarcastically praising you out of jealousy. Your manipura chakra will analyze the impression and identify it to be loaded with the fire element of criticism. Also, the vishuddhi chakra will analyze the sky element of cunningness. Finally, your intelligence will decode the impression accordingly.
Each impression has all the five elements in different ratios. We take in thirty-thousand impressions every second which the chakras analyze ceaselessly.
Let us take each chakra at a time. The muladhara is located in the pelvic plexus, specifically the perineum as identified by my teacher Tavariaji. It controls the hips, the coccygeal vertebra, anus, bladder, rectum and other body parts. The importance of pelvic exercises is related to the muladhara chakra and doing them can cure conditions like bladder infections or urine incontinence.
Many times this area is blocked and the physical symptom of this is constipation. We must work on ourselves to release old painful memories we may be holding on to.
The main negative emotion of muladhara is greed (lobha). The more we are identified with greed, the more we block this basic earth chakra. It is psychologically related to security and safety. When blocked, we feel unloved, unappreciated and insecure. We can offset this by bringing in an emotion of gratitude and sharing.
Many times we have a feeling of being unwanted. If during a pregnancy, a feeling exists of not wanting the child, then the child could be born with a blocked muladhara.
Let us delve deeper. The Indian scriptures divide the Absolute or Shiva into two parts — Shiva and Shakti. Shiva is the unmoving or seeing aspect, and Shakti is the ever-moving creative aspect. In yoga, Shakti is also called Kundalini. The science of sound calls Shiva, Sabda or the Eternal Word. And it divides Shakti into fifty-two aspects of creation called the Varnas, which are the letters of the original Sabda. These are the fifty-two sounds that are different aspects of the original word.
The chakras are storehouses of sound. That is, each one is the holding ground or playground for different sounds. Sound is the energy of the sky element or akasha, and we see it manifesting as fifty-two letters of the Sanskrit alphabet. These sounds arrange themselves in the chakras. The Kundalini energy lies locked within the letters in the chakras. Mantras have the power to unlock this energy from the letters.
Each letter has been placed in the chakra with an 'anuswara' that is 'm'. The humming sound. If a practitioner wants to take the letter or word back to its source, he says the letter or word with the 'm' humming sound, clearing the passage to take it back.
Each letter, in being an aspect of the Absolute, is a Goddess. And because they reside in the chakras, the chakras are known as Dev Nagri. Can you see that all the Matajis we worship are forms of sound energy that convey an aspect of God? Each letter is a particular Goddess which manifests as sound.
It must be understood that these are primordial sounds which have a natural progression from subtle to gross. But they have not been arranged in the chakras in their natural progression. They have been arranged in the sequence in which they progress in the human mouth. I will go into more detail in the future when we study the science of mantras in depth.
The etymology of Sanskrit words is tonal rather than semantic. The tone creates a vibration which makes the five elements take a pattern and this pattern affects the soul in different ways. In effect, the tone creates a pattern of energy. These patterns are like packets or quanta of energy. So, just by saying the word in a certain way, we affect the subtle energy around us to create a pattern which evokes an emotional state in us. For example, for the sound of ‘क (ka)’, I may say “Cut it out” in a harsh tone and that will bring about a negative emotion or I could say, “Cut it out” in a pleasant manner, joining with laughter with the other and that will bring about a positive emotion. To repeat, the tone creates the pattern of energy. The literal meaning is secondary to the phonetic meaning. The picture or emotion we see or feel is subjective but there is a basic pattern of energy which is common.
Each chakra has a certain number of spokes, which are created by the continuous sound vibrations of each letter residing in the chakra. For example, the muladhara has four letters and their vibrations create four spokes. These sounds are humming away in the chakras every moment but we have not trained ourselves to hear these internal sounds.
Each chakra has a seed sound or bija. This is the vibration of the element residing in and associated with that chakra. Thus, the bija mantras are the sounds of the elements vibrating in the chakra.
Even though in books the chakras are represented as wheels of light, they are actually gradations and aspects of sound.
We continue next week.