Ayurveda and Vedanta: Chakras and Energy Healing
Ayurveda and Vedanta: Chakras and Energy Healing
In the ancient Indian historical records called Puranas we find the following text:
ekah svayam san jagatah sisrikshaya
dvitiyayatmann adhi yogamayaya
srijasy adah pasi punar grasishyase
yathorna nabhir bhagavan sva shaktibhih
– Srimad Bhagavatam 3.21.19
“O Lord, you are one without a second, desiring to create, you create, maintain and dissolve the creation by winding up your energies. The diffusion of these energies are under the control of your secondary energy, viz., yogamaya (linking energy), just as a spider creates a cobweb by its own energy and again winds it up.”
The great Yoga teacher Manu is the speaker here, explaining creation to another great Yoga practitioner, Kardama Muni. The Yoga path of ancient India clearly observed the creation to be nothing but a variety of transformation of energies, primary and secondary.
This word dvitiya refers to matter in the cosmos, and to the body in the individual. Matter is the secondary manifestation of spirit, for matter is produced from spirit. It is for this reason that the body is known as secondary energy. Even though the body is visible with seven coverings, viz., from skin to marrow, it is a conglomeration of different energies of matter both subtle and gross. These energies are the higher controlling factors of the functions of all bodily mechanism both physical and psychic. This control is activated from certain energy centers, which are known as Chakras.
The prime mover, which is the consciousness (the primary factor of energy) functions as follows:
(1) It utilizes the interaction of the three modes of nature of matter (viz., sattva – goodness, rajas – passion, and tamas – ignorance –
the secondary factor of energy)
te vyakta suksma gunatmakah
– Patanjali Yoga-sutras 4.13
(2) via the medium of the five kinds of life airs (prana, apana, samana, vyana and udana)
(3) and finally, it makes the mechanism of the subtle body (identity, intelligence and mind) and the gross body (made up of the perceiving and working senses) work.
Thus it is consciousness which is the irreducible de facto reality out of which and by whose potency mind and matter proceed. The perceivable reality as mind and matter is merely an external transformation in the dvitiya, or secondary level of voltage of energy.
Yoga shastra confirms this:
pravrittibhede prayojakam cittamekamanekesam
– Patanjali Yoga-sutras 4.5
Consciousness and unconsciousness are spun in harmony in the phenomenal world. In the human species of life, this harmony is in full blossom. That makes the human body as the most evolved mechanism of matter.
The cerebrospinal system with 72,000 fine nerves is the power supply system for this complex factory of the human body, and the main switch boards are converged in Chakras, the six psychic centers.
To visualize this from the technical point of view:
1) The human body is bestowed with the sensory radar system (the mind) that receives and transmits radiant energy frequencies through the towers of sense organs (ears, eyes, nose, tongue, and skin) [“matra sparshas tu kaunteya…”, Gita 2.14]
2) The spinal chord is the “in – out” canal to the central bio-computer of the human factory administration.
3) The Chakras are six interactive psychic spheres, controlled by an electro conductive “genetic” programme.
4) In alignment with the glandular system (nadis) by the network of five kinds of life airs, there exists a body of “light” (“jyotisham”, Taittiriya Upanisad) within in the spinal column.
5) This psychic body of illumination has a vibrating infra structure that consists of a meta-physical field of electro-magnetic power-lines of force, anchored through the “six Chakras”.
6) The ultra frequency points of this system have their monitor-screens set up in the palms, soles, solar plexus and crown.
7) Thus the controlling mechanism of DNA is only seemingly physical, the “boss” is behind the curtain, expressing presence through the “control centers”, viz., the Chakras.
8) The human body is an electro magnetic battery system powered by consciousness, with a well aligned infra-structure consisting of a metabolic cellular system (the physical, gross body) accompanied by a psycho-sensory electro-magnetic circuit board (psychic, subtle body).
“The Tantra and Yoga scriptures of the ancient Indian Hindu tradition have very detailed and scientific knowledge about the Chakras.” (Sir John Woodroffe – “Shakti and Shakta”, page 25)
Following the Vedic tradition of India, the Tantra conceives of creation in terms of several planes of existence, from the Plane of Bliss at the summit to the Plane of Physical Matter below; each plane to fit a manifestation of its own psychological Principle. Since both the body of universe and the body of individual (especially in the case of the fully evolved human form) have the same ingredients, one can see the physical body of humans as a mini reproduction of the universe. The only difference is that the matter is of varied multi-dimensional potencies when it manifests as the universal body. The various grades of fully evolved human species have in the designs of their bodies limitations to deal with various dimensions of matter, fitting to where they are situated. In the meantime, the consciousness of the individual has the same potential within all of these bodies. By the process of detachment through meditation, even in a lower dimensional body one can achieve the perfection of dealing with higher dimensions. This is how a martial art master becomes a higher human being with apparently superhuman powers.
The ancient Tantra scriptures define these higher states of consciousness:
“There are in the being of man certain ‘nodii’ (not to be mistaken with the ayurvedic ‘nadi’) which are so to say centers connecting him with the universal planes of existence; and when properly tapped they open up in one’s being their respective planes and the powers that are characteristic of the principles governing those planes. These are called Centres or Chakras in the Indian Yogic system” (page 433, in “Shakti and Shakta” by Sir John Woodroffe)
The cerebral control room, Sahasrara is sometimes seen as the seventh Chakra.
Apart from these main energy centers there are many branch transformers within the body, totally numbering 108, known as marma sthaanas (secret centers of energy). The traditional martial arts schools like Kalari of Kerala and Silambu of Tamil Nadu teach about these energy centers in their anatomy training.
Certain commentaries on Tantra and Yoga see the number of Chakras in sets of 12 and 18, 36 and 72, or 54 and 108 depending upon which area of psychic control they are trying to explain.
Table of Chakras
Mahat (Three Gunas)
Chakras – Bija Mantras
Muladhara – vam, sham, Sham, sam
Svadhisthana – bam, bham, mam, yam, ram, lam
Manipuraka – Dam, Dham, Nam, tam, tham, dam, dham, nam, pam, pham
Anahata – kam, kham, gam, gham, Nam, cam, cham, jam, jham, Nyam, Tam, Tham
Visudhhi – am, aam, im, iim, um, uum, rim, reem, lri, lreem, em, aim, om, aum, am, aham
Ajna – ham, ksham
The chakras are visualized as flowers with different numbers of petals:
1) Muladhara – 4 petals
2) Svadhistana – 6 petals
3) Manipuraka – 10 petals
4) Anahata – 12 petals
5) Vishuddhi – 16 petals
6) Ajna – 2 petals
The life airs of the body flow through certain channels known as “nadis”. The term nadi comes from the root word “nad” which means movement. These are different from nerves, veins or any other pathways which are known to medical sciences. It is the number of configuration of these nadis that makes the petals of the Chakra-flowers.
Each of the petals is manifested from a syllable of sound, called “varna” representing the superior control (adhi-daiva) or the deity at that Chakra. These varnas are fifty in total, and they are the seed-letters (bija-aksharas) of all that is there in Mantra or Speech. (Refer table above.)
“The sound that a particular bija akshara represents is the sound-body of that controlling deity of the Chakra.” (M.P. Pundit, “Lights on Tantra”, page 15)
The different paraphernalia that is associated with the worship of these adhi-daiva deities are also manifested by the nature (especially the ingredients of worship that come from the plant kingdom) from the same seed-letters. Because of this, the syllables that form the name of the ingredient are invariably the same as the seed-syllables which are the sound form of the particular deity of the Chakra.
Varna also means color, it is the author’s personal experience in the research of Pancaratric Upasana that the colors of the Chakras and the colors of the ingredients of worship also tally.
The root word of the term Yoga is “yuj” meaning, “to link”. Realization of one’s constitutional nature through Yoga and Tantra brings release from the captivity of one’s lower nature. The lower nature spans from aquatic to animalistic, (“Jatyantaraparinama prakrityapurat” – Patanjali Yoga-sutras 4.2) and it causes conditioning of consciousness, limiting one’s perceiving power through the secondary energy, viz., material. In these computer chip days of mechanistic life, it is a boon to utilize this ancient technology to establish peace and harmony within us, which can subsequently make us accomplish peace and harmony in the world around us.
The Yoga scriptures advise us to transcend the lower platform of existence by unifying it with the primary platform. This will actually save us from external distractions and conflicts, and help us to explore all our latent potentials. With this harmonization of primary and secondary energies, much can transpire in Yoga practice. The following is a small list of some of the beneficial results:
a) Purification and cleansing of the various physical layers.
b) Cleansing of old, subconscious stress, impressions, and mental states.
c) Balancing of excessive, deficient or improper use of energies.
d) Proper utilization of inherent habits and practices, etc.
e) Help in expressing ourselves better in every function, from digestion, to dreams, up to physical and mental health. Better power for digestion, calm and peaceful sleep, and a disease-free body with an agitation-free mind.
“Sadhana (practice of yoga) opens up the six centers of the subtle nervous system and by the opening one escapes from the limitations of the surface consciousness bound to the gross body and great ranges of experiences proper to the subliminal self, mental, vital subtle physical are shown to the sadhaka (yoga practitioner).” (Sri Aurobindo – “Letters”, First Series, Page 226)
These results can be accomplished in different degrees of intensity, and there are much more than one method prescribed in the ancient practice of Yoga. One such prescribed method is healing with herbs.
janmaushadhi mantra tapah samadhijah siddhayah
– Patanjali Yoga-sutras 4.1
“Either by birth, by the use of herbs, by sound vibration or by absorption one can attain perfection (in yoga).”
Healing again does not mean curing a virus, bacteria or unwanted growth. Healing actually means to harmonize our potential energies.
tasmin sati svasaprashvashayor gati vicchedah pranayamah
brahyabhyantara stambhavrittih desha kala sankhyabhih pariddrishtho
– Patanjali Yoga-sutras 2.49-50
“One must practice control of the breath by stopping the motions of inhalation and exhalation. The breath may be stopped externally, or internally, or in mid motion, and regulated according to place, time and a fixed number of moments, so that the stoppage is either protracted or brief.”
By proper and simple regulation of breath, (known as prana yama – breath regulation) if one could engage the olfactory sense by treatment with the smell from different parts of plants, like roots, barks, branches, flowers, fruits, peels and seeds, one could attain the same result of healing that is accomplished through the complex systems of yoga practice. (Refer to our explanation on the petals and seed letters of the Chakras.) Among these, flowers are considered as the most essential energy harmonizers.
Hard to believe? Well, let’s analyze the power of flowers from a different angle of Vedic view namely “Upasana Yoga”, or the linking process by worship. (From the discussion between Agastya and his disciples, found in Skanda Purana Upakhyana, Pushpa-khanda):
When the moon planet enters in the eighth house in one’s birth constellation, it is known as Chandra ashtama according to Vedic astrology. This occurs for two and a quarter of days every month for a person. It is a real trial period where one becomes intolerant, too sensuous, jealous, and suffers low resistance in the physic and psychic.
There are three kinds of Chandra ashtamas namely Sadhaka, Maitra, and Parama Maitra.
1) Sadhaka Chandra ashtama: considered as a dangerously bad period of time, in which one may even die. The Rishis of yore have prescribed that if one worships with a garland of small grass tied with Chemparuthi and Jasmine flowers he can counteract the negative influence. With the protection from these flowers one could even transform the influence into an extreme auspicious one for sex and fame, financial prudence and clearance of debts.
2) Maitra Chandra ashtama: causes one to make wrong decisions, contracts and agreements, and physical failure of organs may occur. It brings infamy and unaccomplishment. The Rishis prescribed worship with a garland of Champangi, Shenpaga and Tulasi as the solution.
3) Parama Maitra Chandra ashtama: causes a misconceptions about one’s own capacity of output, and over-confidence that results in big failures. Worship with Maruvu Malli and Tavanam flowers is prescribed to counteract the negative influence and attain success.
In the Puranas there is specifications of suitable flowers for different days of the week:
1) Monday: Lilly and Jasmine (for family union)
2) Tuesday: Arali, Champangi (for safety, protection from accidents)
3) Wednesday: Pavizha malli (for memory power)
4) Thursday: Chamandhi (for success in finance)
5) Friday: Ramabhana (Picchi) white and red (for conception)
They also provide specifications according to the constellations:
Aswini – Sunflower (for success in business)
Mrgasira – Drumstick flower (for purchase of vehicles)
Hastha – Thazhamboo flower (for purchase of gold and courting date)
Anusha – Mangoe flower (for dealing with iron or steel, printing, machines, ships)
Thiruvonam – Pavizhamali flower – (for travel, going abroad)
Avittam – Agaththi flower – (for a safe journey, and to escape from accidents)
Poosam – Chamandhi flower – (for medical treatment/surgery)
Punarpoosam – same as for Poosam
In general, uses of the flowers are classified as follows:
Neem flower for freedom from loans; Magizham flower for freedom from black magic; Shenbagam for good food; Arali for buying property; white lotus for shortage of garments; Asoka for matrimony in this way the list goes on.
The scientific basis for these traditions is the touch and smell of the flowers (apart from the adhidaivika – supernatural influence coming from the worship) that harmonize the Chakras, which have been imbalanced due to the influence of the moon planet.
As the Chakras have their connections with the five great elements of matter, the association of flowers through the sense power of smell (the earth element) combined with touch (the air element) and sight (the fire element) bring into effect a wonderful tally of the trial balance of one’s energy account.
In the Ayurveda it is said:
vayu agni bhumy abguna padavat tad sadbhyo rasebhyah prabhavat ca tasya
– Caraka-samhita 4.2.4
The semen that passes into the ovary is constituted of equal parts of air, fire, water and earth. The ether becomes mixed with it in the ovary. The semen is the product of six kinds of fluids (rasas).
Thus the fetus of the body is a veritable combination of the five elements. And the world that it perceives is a display of the sense objects, which are the subtle form of these five elements.
The analytical study of the elements and the sense objects is known as Sankhya in the ancient books. There we find in the Puranas (Srimad Bhagavatam 3.26.48-49):
bhumer guna vishesho artho
yasya sa ghrana ucyate
“The sense, whose object of perception is odor, the distinctive characteristic of earth is smell.”
parasya drishyate dharmo
ato vishesho bhavanam
“Since the cause exists in its effect as well, the characteristics of the former are observed in the latter. Thus the peculiarities of all the elements exist in the earth alone.”
Sound is the cause of ether, ether is the cause of air, air is the cause of fire, fire is the cause of water, and water is the cause of earth. In the ether there is only sound, in the air there are sound and touch, in the fire there are sound, touch and form; in the water there are sound, touch, form and taste; finally in the earth there are all of these qualities and the quality of smell as well.
The Sankhya system of philosophy explains how each element telescopes out from the previous element. The first physical or gross element is the ether. Within the ether all the other four gross elements are present (earth, water, fire and air) in a subtle form. The subtle quality of ether is sound, and from the sound expands the air. The subtle quality of air is touch (movement), and from the touch expands the fire. The subtle quality of fire is sight, and from the sight expands the water. The subtle quality of water is taste, and from the taste expands the earth. And finally, the subtle quality of earth, the last of the physical elements, is smell.
Thus you have a telescoping effect of the elements and their subtle qualities beginning from ether down to earth. Since each element is manifesting from the previous, each new element contains all of the qualities of the previous elements. The ether element, being the first, only possesses the quality of sound. One cannot touch, see, taste or smell ether. The air element, having expanded from the ether, possesses both the qualities of sound and touch. One can feel and hear the movements of air, but one cannot see, taste or smell the air. The fire element’s added quality is sight. Thus one can see, touch and hear the fire, but one cannot taste or smell fire. The water, having expanded from the fire, can be heard, felt, seen and tasted, but not smelt. Earth, being the final element, contains all the five qualities of sound, touch, sight, taste and finally smell. This is the natural sequence of manifestation of gross matter, and it is within the earth that all of these qualities manifest in full.
The plant kingdom deposits in their flowers a wonderful amount of these essential nectar aspects, extracting them from the earth, which is the repository of all the sense objects.
The Srimad Bhagavatam (3.26.44-45) explains:
rasa matrad vikurvanad
ambhaso daiva coditat
gandha matram abhut tasmat
prithvi ghranas tu gandhagah
“Due to the interaction of water with the taste perception, the subtle element odor evolves under superior arrangement. Thence the earth and the olfactory sense, by which one can variously experience the aroma of the earth, become manifest.”
karambha puti saurabhya
gandha eko vibhidiyate
“Odor, although one, becomes many – as mixed, punchy, fragrant, mild, strong and so on – according to the proportions of associated elements.”
Bad odors are perceived from filth, waste and pollution of air; healing scents are perceived from camphor, menthol and similar products; pungent smells are perceived from garlic, onions, etc.; and acidic smells are perceived from turmeric and similar substances.
The nature, from one single original aroma that emanates from the earth element, arranges for a variety of exhibition of various useful and healing smells through the auspices of the plant kingdom.
In the Bhagavad-gita (15.3) it is stated:
gam avishyaca bhutani
dharayamy aham ojasa
pushnami caushadhih sarva
somo bhutva rasatmakah
“I enter each planet, and by my energy they stay in their orbits, I become the moon and thereby supply the juice of life to all herbs”
The moon nourishes the plant kingdom. The moon influences the tides of the ocean (which is the cosmic mental substance) and thereby provides a supply of water that is transformable to pure, non-salty taste by evaporation to make rain clouds. This is why the association of flowers can counteract the influence of the moon in the eighth house.
In summary, one could postulate that all stress and disease is a result of a lack of equilibrium between the levels of energies of the body and the life force, the consciousness.
The consciousness is the Managing Director of the whole network of psychic and physical departments of our existence. Distortion of this administration due to conditioning by external elements is the real problem facing us.
Re-alignment of this administration allows the vital forces to interact freely, and the nature has kept within the plant kingdom the nectarine powers for this re-alignment.
By this powerful method of treatment (utilizing the sight, touch and smell of flowers) the Chakras are “balanced”. This is the minimum effect; but one may even attain to mystic visions, or even a log-on to cosmic consciousness once the Chakras are balanced.
The nadis, or the expressways of energy transmission in the body can be fully cleansed and the traffic jams of work stress there are cleared, allowing the consciousness to drive in bliss!
No wonder, why the Holy book of India, Bhagavad-gita (7.9) describes the Divine as “smell”:
punyo gandhah prithivyam ca
“I am the original fragrance of the earth.”