Tattva

Sloka 8 of Soundarya Lahari

This stanza contains in a nutshell the quintessence of the sublimest truths of the Vedanta and the Yoga systems in harmonious combination, in relation to the worship of the Devi, as the Kundalini-Sakti of the Pindaanda (microcosm), and as the Tripurasundari of the Brahmanda (macrocosm). For a proper appreciation of the conception  of the External Verities according to the conceptionof the ancient Rishis of India and their bearing on the Cosmogeny of the microcosm and the macrocosm will be found useful.

 

An Eternal Verity may be defined as that which gives scope for functioning to all orders of creation, till their final dissolution. Some Tantra-s classify the Eternal Verities into three groups:

  1. Aatma Tattvas 2. Vidya Tattvas 3. Siva Tattvas

           

Aatma Tattvas: characterised by Jadathvaa i.e.

non-sentinence

            Vidya Tattvas: characterised by both Jadathvaa i.e.

non-sentinence and Prakaasakatva, the sentinence

Siva Tattvas: characterised by Prakaasakatva, the

 Sentinence pure and simple.

 

According to the Kalpa-sutra-s, twentyfour fall under the first group, seven under the second and five under the third. These may be arranged as shown hereunder with their characteristic properties:

 

Aatma tattvas

  1. Prithvi – Earth, possessed of solidity
  2. Ap – Water, possessed of fluidity
  3. Tejas – Fire, possessed of heat
  4. Vaayu – Air, of the character of perpetual motion
  5. Akaasaa – Ether, of the character of space
  6. Gandha Tanmaatraa – Smell, in the form of subtle Earth
  7. Rasa Tanmaatraa – Taste, in the form of subtle Water
  8. Rupa Tanmaatraa – Form, in the form of subtle Fire
  9. Sparsa Tanmaatraa – Touch, in the form of subtle Air
  10. Sabda Tanmaatraa – Sound, in the form of subtle Eather
  11. Srothra – the auditory sense that perceive sound
  12. Tvac – the tactile sense that perceives Touch
  13. Chaksus – the optic sense that perceives Form
  14. Jihva – the gustatory sense that perceives Taste
  15. Ghraana – the olfactory sense that perceives Smell
  16. Vaac – speech, the motor-organ of articulate expression.
  17. Paani – the hand, the motor-organ of grasping and leaving.
  18. Paada –the foot, the motor-organ of locomotion
  19. Paayu – the motor-organ of evacuation
  20. Upasthaa – the motor-organ of generation and carnal pleasure
  21. Manas – the Mind, the inner sense that is attained, when Rajas, the mobility of misery, preponderates over Sattva and Tamas, the rhythm of happiness and inertia of delusion, which is the root cause of all volition
  22. Buddhi – the Intellect, the inner sense which is attained, when rhythm preponderates over mobility and inertia, and as such, is at the root of all conviction
  23. Ahamkaaraa – the Egoism, the inner sense which is attained, when inertia preponderates over rhythm and mobility, and which is at the root of all fancy, converging towards the self
  24. Prakriti – otherwise known as the Chitta which is attained by the equiposed state of rhythm, mobility and inertia

 

 

Vidya Tattvas

 

  1. Purusha or the Jiva (of the microcosm) – which, though full in itself, commands only to a limited extent, the five powers detailed below
  2. Kalaa – the Kriya-sakti, the power to do all things, but to a limited extent, inherin in the Jiva
  3. Avidya – also called Vidya – the Jnaana-Sakkti, in a veiled form and thus limited in its operation, inherent in the Jiva
  4. Raagaa – the Icchaa-sakti, perpetual satisfaction, which operates only partially and is therefore limited in extent, inherent in the Jiva
  5. Chit-sakti — perpetually inherent in the Jiva, when limited but the operation of the six changes denoted by ‘exists’, ‘takes birth’,  ‘grows’, ‘ripens’, ‘wanes’, and ‘perishes’.
  6. Niyati – that which causes the Ananda-sakti, absolute independence, inherent in the Jiva
  7. Maayaa – the condition operating upon the Isvara, causing it to look upon the phenomenal world as ‘this’ , i.e., an entity separate from itself

 

Siva Tattvas

 

  1. Suddha Vidya – the condition operating upon the Sadaasiva, causing it to identify itself with the phenomenal world with the impression ‘I am this’
  2. Maheswara – that which is operated upon by the Maayaa
  3. Sadaasakti – that which is operated upon by the Sudhha Vidya
  4. Sakti – the desire which is but the impression of the world to be created
  5. Siva – the absolute non-differentiated existence, when conditioned by the Sakti.

 

Fifteen more are added to the number of Eternal Verities by some, by a process of further elaboration, thus making fifty-one in all, answering to the 51 letters of the Samskrt alphabet:

 

The seven Dhaatus, humours:

  1. Tvac – the external sheath of organs
  2. Asrj – blood
  3. Maamsa – flesh
  4. Medas – fat
  5. Asthi – bone
  6. Majjaa – marrow
  7. Suklaa – semen

 

The five vital airs:

  1. Praanaa
  2. Apaanaa
  3. Vyaanaa
  4. Udaanaa
  5. Samaanaa

 

The three gunaas:

  1. Rhythm (Sattva)
  2. Mobility (Raajasa)
  3. Inertia (Thaamasa)

 

The five Elements, the five Tanmaatraa-s, the five Organs of perception,  the five organs of motor action, the Mind, the Maayaa, the Sudhha-Vidyaa, the Maheswara and the Sadaasiva are the twentyfive Eternal Verities from the Vedic standpoint, while the others are capable of being included in the twentyfive.

 

In this stanza, the Devi of the macrocosm, in the form of her exact prototype, the Kundalini of the microcosm, is represented as having broken through the entire Kula path containing the six Chakra-s of psychic energy, indicative of the twenty-one Tattvaa-s, to reach her Lord in the Sahasraaraa, the habitat of the four remaining Tattvaa-s, there to divert herself in secrecy with her Lord.

 

Even as Paramasiva, in the absence of his conjunction with the Tripurasundari, is powerless, so also the Jiva, without the operation of the Kundalini, will be very much the same as a corpse.

 

The vital force, which is inherent in every limb, muscle, nerve-centre and other physiological organs and which causes the entire frame to function, is but one aspect of the Kundalini. It is the same vital force that is the root cause of the functioning of the entire phenomenal world and could be comprehended only by those rare mortals who have gained mastery over it.

 

It is upon this fundamental fact that the system of Yoga is based, as the Praanaayaamaa, or the control of this vital force forms the bedrock of that system. If only the secret of control of this vital force and the human mind (the psychic force), which is only a subtle variety of the vital force, should be mastered by any person, he may be said to have conquered the phenomenal world. No wonder the Yogin takes his stand upon the Praanaayaamaa and Manolayaa for the successful accomplishment of the state of Samaadhi, his goal.

 

It is with that end in view that the Yogin concentrates his mind, controls the vital force and projects them towards the Moolaadhaaraa, the first psychic centre of energy, which results in the rousing of the Kundalini, dormant with its form of three-and-a-half spirals coiled therein.

 

Those that are proficient in the Yoga Saastraa hold that this machine of the human frame, which is controlled by the Kundalini, contains sevety-two thousand Naadi-s, the main ones among them, e.g. the Sushumnaa, the Idaa, the Pingalaa, etc. having distinct functions connected with the respiratory system alloted to them, and the other important Naadi-s controlling the sensory and motor organs.

 

The psychic energy requisite to control the various organs is said to abide in the six Chakraa-s of the Sushumnaa path, provided with the three stages, known as the Rudra-, Vishnu-, and Brahma-granthis-s (knots); which are respectively the regions of Fire, the Sun and the Moon, each of them situated at the end of a pair of these Chakraa-s, in the order given above.

 

In the case of ordinary mortals, their vital energy is wasted through the Idaa and Pingalaa, but in the case of the initiated, it is reulated in such a way that the Praanaa, coursin g through the Idaa and Pingalaa, and also the Apaanaa, are made to conserve the purpose of rousing the Kundalini and sending her up to the Brahmarandhraa.

 

All impulses, psychic and organic, may be classified as volitional, cognitional and actional, corresponding to the Ichhaa-,  Jnaana-, and Kriyaa-saktis of the Devi. These, when pertaining to the body, are attributable to the Kundalini, while the corresponding cosmic impulses are attributable to the Tripurasundari.

 

Thou art diverting Thyself, in secrecy with Thy Lord, in the thousand-petalled lotus, having pierced through the Earth situated in Mulaadhaara, the Water in the Manipuraa, the Fire abiding in the Svaadhishtaana, the Air in the Heart (Anaahataa), the Ether above (the Visudhhi), and Manas between the eyebrows (Aajnaa) and thus broken through the entire Kula path.

 

Thou – in the form of Tripurasundari of the macrocosm and the Kundalini of the microcosm

 

Thy Lord – the Siva of the macrocosm and the Jiva of the microcosm, bereft of Maayaa, illusion

 

the thousand-petalled lotus – which is no other than the upper Srichakraa, the Bindu of which represents the Siva and the Jiva,bereft of Maayaa, as the case may be. This is the final resort, the Nirvaanaa of the accomplished seeker, lying beyond the Kula path, the Sushumnaa Maargaa, which contains the six Chakra-s mentioned in the stanza, in the ascendin g order of subtlety, with the three granthi-s in their appropriate places.  The Sahasraaraa is considered  to be the inner Srichakraa to be meditated upon with all the fifty-one letters of the Samskrt alphabet. The view is taken by some that the Bindu has its position in the Bindu of the Chakraa and the other fifty letters are to be arranged consecutively over the thousand petals, twenty times.

 

diverting Thyself, in secrecy with Thy Lord – Sudhha-Vidya in coalescence with Sadaasivaa is known as the Saadaakhyaa or the Paramaatman, which may be charecterised as the twnty-sixth Tattvaa, on the attainment of which is experienced Nirvaavaa or Jivanmukti.

 

having pierced through – having got beyond, after overcoming and absorbing in her own form. The ascent and the descent of the Kundalini constituting the Kundalini Yoga are said to form an Antaryaagaa.

 

the Earth situated in Mulaadhaara – But for the Muladhara, which partakes of the character of the Earth-element through its subtle form of Gandha-tanmaatraa, the body will become unstable with its equilibrium disturbed. This chakraa is no other than the Tri-kona of the Sri-chakraa. Piercing through this element would mean conquering it. The Yogin who does so is said to attain the power of penetration through massive stone walls, etc.

 

the Water in the Manipuraa – Manipura, the interior of which the Devi is said to fill with gems; hence the practice among the Samayin-s of the offering of jewels studded with various kinds of gems, while meditating on her in this seat. Although the Manipura is the third in the order of the Chakraas, it has been given the second place in the stanza to suit the order of the elements. This Chakraa represents water in its Rasa-tanmaatraa form. Conquest of this by the Yogin is said to confer on him the next higher power of mastery, such as floating, walking, etc. over water, The inner Dasaaraa of the Sri-chakraa is indicated by this.

 

the Fire abiding in the Svaadhishtaana —  where the Devi is said to take her stand in the form of Kundalini, of her own accord, making the knot of Rudhra-granthi thereon. The fore is in the form of Ruupa-tanmaatraa. The conquest of this by the Yogin is credited with the bestowal of the power of fire-walking,etc. The SAshta-kona of the Sri-chakraa is indicated by this.   

 

the Air in the Heart (Anaahataa) – the Air in the form of Sparsa-tanmaatraa. The heart signifies the Anaahata-chakraa of the heart-lotus. The word Anaahataa means the Naadaa, sound, produced without impact in the recess of the heart; hence ythe name of the Chakraa. The outer Dasaara of the Sri-chakraa is indicated by this. By the conquest of air, the Yogin is said to attain the fleetness of wind, buoyancy, etc.

 

the Ether – in the form of Sabda-tanmaatraa; above – i.e., above the heart, which is meant by the Chakra wich is as clear as the crystal, namely, the Visudhhi. The Chatur-dasaara of the Sri-ckakraa is indicated by this. By the conquest of this the Yogin attains the power of traversing the ethereal regions.

 

It may be noted here that Purnananda Swamin, the author of Satcakra-nirupana and other Taantrikaa-s are of the view the elements , Earth, Eater, Fire, Air and Ether have, as  their corresponding Chakraas , the Muladhra, the Svadishtana, the Manipoura, the Anahata and the Visudhhi, which is at variance with this stanza of Samkara-bhagavatpaadaa, the author of this work, who has the support of the Vismakeswara Tantra in his favour, as explained by Bhaskaracharya in his Sethubanda.

 

Manas between the eyebrows (Aajnaa) – Manas, which embraces  within itself the five senses of perception and the five senses of motor action, i.e., in all, the eleven Tattvaas. This refers to the Ajnaa-chakraa, so called because it is at this stage that a speck of knowledge about the Devi dawns. As she is bent upon breaking through the Brahma-granthi on the way to the Sahasraaraa, she remains there only for a trice, manifesting herslf in the form of a streak of lighting. The Chathush-kona i.e. the Bhugra of the Sri-chakraa is indicated by this. By conquering the mind, the Yogin is said to attain mystic powers, such as clairvoyance, clairaudience, telepathy etc.

 

The mystic powers explained above, as resukting from the mastery of these Chakraas, are really so many pitfalls to be avoided  by the practitioner, as they are likely to lead him astray from his final goal of Nirvaanaa.

 

These six Chakraas are but temporary stages or planes wherein the Kundalini rests awhile, avowedly for mastering them, while the Sahasraaraa is her permanent abode, whence the practioner should not lose sight of his final goal, Nirvaanaa, beguiled by the temptations offered by the psychic powers attainable at the lower centres, but should lead the Kundalini on to the Sahasraaraa, there to effect her union with her Lord. Up to the moment of such blending, the practitioner retains his individual consciousness and thereafter enters on the blissful state of Nirvaanaa as long as the Kundalini rests in the Sahasraaraa prior to her descent therefrom. The duration of her staty depends on the strength of practice and the previous experience of the practitioner.

 

broken through the entire path of Kula – and thus having transcended the tenty-one Tattvaa-s from Prithvi to Manas, and the six-chakraas, which when taken together, would form the lower Sri-chakraa.

 

Bija- Bhuta- Chakraa- part of Srichakraa

HamEther-Visudhhi-Chathurdasaara

YamAir-Anaahataa-Bhahirdasaara

Vam – Water – Manipura – Antardasaara

Ram – Fire – Svaadishthaana- Astakona

Lam – Earth – Mulaadhaaraa – Trikona

 

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