Muladhara Chakra - 1
Muladhara, the first chakra, is called the root and basis of existence.
Mula means root and adhara, the basis. I must say that I’ve taken some latitude in interpreting the meaning of the word Mula as root. Sage Patanjali says in Sutra 2-13 of the Yogasutra:
“So long as the roots (or sanskaras) exist, their fruition will be birth, life and experience resulting in pleasure or pain.”
“As long as the roots exist, they will lead to fruition. Jati or class, ayuh or length of existence and bhogah, the experience, is the fruition that follows.”
From this it is evident that the word mula refers to the collection of past subliminal impressions which are the roots of future karma. Thus, we can say that all the master files of karma lie in the muladhara chakra.
The muladhara is situated in the perineum, at the root of the reproductive organs, above the anus and at the base of the spinal column. It is in the shape of a red triangle, the shape of the pubis, and has four spokes. It’s physical counterpart is the pelvic plexus of the autonomic nervous system. The four spokes, which are the four letters, are also called its petals. The chakras are also viewed as lotuses and the spokes are its petals.
Just above the muladhara, but situated within its petals, lies the kanda. It is the origin of the nadis in the nadi system. It is said seventy-two thousand subtle nerves or nadis emerge from here. Because the kanda is situated quite near the sides of the rectum, this area can be activated through Ashwini Mudra. The kundalini energy or Shakti is wrapped around the kanda in three and a half coils.
The petals are the vortexes of energy caused by the humming sound of the four letters in the Muladhara. They are वं vaṃ, शं śaṃ, षं ṣaṃ, and सं saṃ. These four vibrations create certain packets of emotions through their vibrations. The main emotions being vam—joy, sham—natural pleasure, sham—controlling passion and sam—the ability to concentrate blissfully.
As we can see, all the letters have a dot or bindu upon them. This is anuswara or the humming sound or Makara. It allows the vibration of the letter to travel back and merge with the original word or Sabda.
Within the chakra is the seat of the prithvi tattva or earth element which is vibrating, creating the mantra लं laṃ. The rishis herd this with an inner ear as the sound of an elephant trumpeting. Since the earth element is concentrated here, the force created is that of gravity. Gravity is a natural force, but when it becomes a negative emotion it turns into greed and possessiveness, which are the basic negative emotions of muladhara (Lobha).
Every chakra has a Shakti. This is, the Shakti that brings control over some of the functions of the chakra. There is a general Shakti called kundalini which, when it rises, affects all the chakras. However, each chakra also has a Shakti particular to itself. The Shakti of the Muladhara chakra is called Dakini. The word comes from the Sanskrit root ‘diyate’—to fly. This Shakti has to be awakened through conscious effort. In medical terms, we can say that it is a consciously created afferent impulse which pauses an efferent impulse of the working of the sympathetic nervous system and allows the parasympathetic to take over.
Mr. Tavaria lays great emphasis upon the pause. But the type of pause in every chakra is different. The automatic reactions of the Muladhara chakra are greed and possessiveness. When we are in a state of self-observation, we pause these reactions. When we react, a current is automatically created in the sympathetic nervous system which facilitates the reaction. The muscles become tense, we get upset and angry, our gestures are tight and we are flooded with dislike. When we consciously pause this reaction from within ourselves, it creates a new current in the sympathetic nervous system which neutralizes the current of the reaction. The parasympathetic takes over, relaxes the muscles, releases our tension and we are in a state of consciousness and balance. This consciously created current is called Dakini.
The main characteristic of the Muladhara is gravity, which does not allow us to rise spiritually. It keeps drawing our attention down and out. Once we consciously activate the current Dakini, we free ourselves from the law of gravity. Attention, thus, goes in easily and prana follows attention. The sleeping Kundalini is hit by the afferent (incoming) impulse of prana which transforms when it is mixes with the sex energy. This afferent prana transforms the sex energy into Kundalini Shakti which then creates a rising impulse called udaan vayu making the Kundalini pierce through the muladhara. The sleeping Kundalini is now not held down by gravity and starts rising into the muladhara chakra.
In yoga, just as there are five pranas, there are five vayus. They have the same name as the pranas. But pranas are molecular whereas vayus are electronic. We can visualise pranas as energy and in gross form as matter and the vayus as currents of electricity moving in a certain direction. Electricity moving from out to in is prana vayu (afferent). When it moves down and out, it is apana vayu. When it is samana vayu, it is a balancing current. Vyan vayu is the decoding current. Udaan vayu is the rising current that transforms lower matter into higher matter. The prana vayu is also a rising current but it acts only to pause, as we saw in the earlier paragraph. We will study them in detail in a later article. The natural vayu in the Muladhara chakra is the Apana Vayu. This vayu has the function of taking things out of the system. It is an efferent impulse. That is, it is downward flowing. At a physical level, we eliminate stool, urine, semen, the foetus and seed in the sex act. Apana vayu gets rid of waste products both at a physical and a psychic level, what we call catharsis.
One form of catharsis is day-dreaming where we are continuously expelling a film of images based on past perceptions and unfulfilled desires. But, at a psychic level, expelling waste products as we do at the physical level robs us of vital energy. We have to transform them into something higher. Thus, we consciously awaken the Dakini Shakti by creating a pause in the day-dreaming and turning the apana impulse into a prana (afferent) impulse, thus preventing ourselves from leaking psychic matter.
In nearly all of humanity, the sex act is dominated by the apana impulse. The unconscious impulse stimulates the sex organs and sexual fluids, leading to passion and excitement. This apana impulse is paused and replaced by the prana impulse which we have created by consciously working on ourselves. (This conscious working on ourselves is called yoga). This prana impulse will now activate the pelvic nerve. Can you visualize the quality and beauty of now entering into the sex act, pausing the apana impulse and creating a new prana impulse? This very pause allows the kundalini to rise.
We will continue this next week.
--- Rajen Vakil