Invocation is the most misunderstood part of the yogic path.
The frequent assertion that mantra yoga is an activity for the lowest level of seeker is a gross misrepresentation of the place of mantra in the yogic sadhana since the entire journey is interwoven with and dependent on the use of mantra. ‘Mantra’ can be broken down into two parts; man refers to mind (manas) and tra refers to protection. This role is exemplified in the opening prayers made before practice that invoke guidance and protection from the lineage of gurus.
If the initiated student follows the prescribed sequence of activities they come to realise that each layer of practice is nothing but the invocation of a particular power whose door can only be opened by the appropriate mantra. Invocations through mantras are of many kinds, prayers for protection and guidance, instructional prayers, the seed mantras (bijam) used in the building of the power principle, prayers of veneration, and prayers of conclusion and offerings.
Before delving into the deeper layers of mantra yoga it is worth reflecting on the hidden caution given in the introduction to the Amrutavakyam of Gorakshanath.
The meaning of the word Nath is Lord or Master and implies that everything in this world has been moulded by him, the creator. The meaning of Goraksha is that everything is a mystery.
Goraksha can be further broken down into go, which means cow but also tongue and raksha, which refers to protection. Drawing all these together the meaning of Gorakshanath becomes the Lord who is master over the mysteries of the tongue that lead the cows (ignorant people) out of darkness and into light.
Gorakshanath implies that one must uncover the hidden aspect of words rather than dwelling on or debating superficial meaning. Words by themselves are devoid of life and those who first chanted them long dead. Mere chanting of words will bear no results until the hidden depths of meaning within the mantra have been understood. Although reference is often made to the chakras and their sound systems in present day schools of yoga. Unfortunately most are ignorant of the knowledge of mantra yoga that allows access to them.
Matsyendranath in his Samhita outlines the yogic journey from initiation to the crowning process of Samadhi in seven chapters. These seven chapters describe Deha Shuddhi (purification of the body), Asana, Pranayama, Mudra, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. In all these processes mantra and its applications are utilised for purifying, healing or to invoke the energetic systems within the body. The eighth chapter is titled Antararchanam or inner worship. It is critical to take note here that guidance for inner worship is only given after the state of samadhi has been achieved. This is only possible when the entire practice can be performed during one round of pranayama in that state described by Patanjali as Samprajnata Samadhi (transcendental state induced through the mind) or as Goraknath terms it Samanaskayoga.
The ninth chapter is titled Mantraraja and its Mantroddhara (The King of Mantras and Mantra Support System). It is here that all the layers beginning with deha suddhi are gathered into a single pillar of intelligence. The Mantra Raja draws and rests upon what is termed nyasa-viddhim, the science of placement through touch. One must know that this entire physical appearance is a manifestation of sound. There are 52 bija mantras (seed syllables) that are evenly spread over the periphery of the body that are in correspondence with the central chakra systems of the body, from the muladhara to the sahasrara (crown chakra). Mantra raja is a power system that is developed through repeated practice and can be viewed as a hologram formed from the energies of the sun and moon, through the science of touching and placement and brought into play through the innate qualities of the mind. It is this mantra raja that helps to pierce through the chakras and gather their energies into a single point – bindu.
To be able to establish this pillar of the heart fire one must know all the peripheral sites and their correspondences to the chakra system. All of this is hidden within the sapta-varga-aksharas, the system of seven groups of sound variations that reside in the seven chakras. These sounds correspond to the various parts of the peripheral body. Through them one is able to gain direct control over the face, the senses, right arm, lips and teeth, mouth, ears, soft tissue and bone, left arm, right leg, throat, left leg and the whole body-mind complex. This control cannot be achieved with an unprepared or superficial mindset.
In conclusion one must understand that without the science of invocation there can be no progress on the path of yoga. One must know what is to be invoked and from whom; in the moment of invocation one must recognise what was been invoked and know how to respond to the power that presents itself. Without the science of mantra raja and its mantrodhara the khechari mudra will remain forever a dream never lived.
MUDRAS – The third step in the science of Hatha Yoga
MUDRAS by Sundernath
Europe 2018 Courses
Mudras constitute the third step in the science of Hatha Yoga and evolve from the first two steps, asana-kriya and pranayama.
The required bodily shapes (asanas and karanas), combined with different modes of pranayama are adapted to create the mudras. The mudras form the bridge to the internal states of consciousness, Pratyahara (sense withdrawal), Dharana (concentration) and Dhyana (meditation – a sustained, unbroken flow to the point of concentration). Dhyana leads into the state of Samadhi, the mental state of equanimity which has two levels – Samani (with the support of the mind) and Unmani (beyond the mind). Unmani Samadhi is where the mind accepts the guidance of the soul and the soul awakens from its slumber. All these final stages of the path of yoga arise from and depend upon the mudras.
Before describing the mudras themselves it is helpful to consider the meaning of the term ‘mudra’. The first part, ‘mu’ denotes the fulfilment of a joyous experience’; while the second part ‘dra’ refers to a sealed ring shape. The full meaning is therefore ‘a sealed bodily gesture giving rise to a feeling of joy.’
From the cryptic terminology suggesting a ring shaped seal one can infer the role of the ‘cricoid’ cartilage that is shaped like a signet ring. The cricoid supports and protects the larynx and marks the transition to the trachea. The larynx and pharynx are channels of the spleen and stomach, through which the vital wind (pranavayu) moves up and down. The tension of the vocal cords is controlled by flexion or relaxation of the muscles attached to the cricoid. This modifies the tone of the voice. The cords can also spread or contract to permit or block the flow of respiration. The cricoid thus holds the secret of Jalandhara Bandha.
The second such ‘ring’ within the body is the navel. The area of the navel controls absorption and the eyes and ears are connected to it. The navel also controls space within the bodily structures. Below the navel and above the point where the uretha enters the bladder is the location of uddiyana and it is through the navel that one gains control of Uddiyana Bandha. The third ring is the anal sphincter which is controlled from the centre of the perineal floor and which gives rise to the state of Mula Bandha.
These three bandhas are the heart and soul of all the mudras. When they are held together at the same time this constitutes Maha Bandha. Once this is mastered one can begin the application of Mahamudra (the great seal). This is utilised after the completion of mantra nyasa and leads to Viparita Karani Mudra. This in turn leads into Pashini Mudra with its three stages of Vayu Bandha, Vajroli Mudra and Laya Mudra. These mudras prepare the field for the cultivation of Nabho Mudra, better known as Khecari Mudra ‘the queen of the mudra kings’. Khechari Mudra is Kundalini in her full bloom.
Sixteen asanas are used as supplementary aids to prepare the body-mind complex for the adaptation of the mudras. Matsyendranath and Gorakhnath only gave these mudras. Later texts list many more and this is an indication of the decline of yogic culture, long before the advent of the glorified exercise systems that now misappropriate the term ‘yoga’.
I will give a broader explanation of the science of mudra in my forthcoming book however the practical adaptation of the art of mudras must be learnt from a guide in whom they live. Otherwise one will face set backs through injury that, in turn, will lead to various types of disease.
SHATKRIYAS by Sundernath
Agniyogana Film: Events
SHATKRIYAS – THE SIX ACTS
The six acts (processes)
The Asanas constitute the first limb of Hatha Yoga and must be mastered before beginning the internal practices of Pranayama, Mudra, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. This mastery involves the dynamic asanas and their static counterparts, the later required for the practices of Pranayama. It is here at the crossroads between asana and pranayama that the use of the six acts should be considered.
‘…if the practitioner still suffers from conditions of flabbiness and phlegmatic breathing disorders, they should utilise the six acts of Dhauti, Basti, Neti, Trataka, Nauli and Kapalabhati.’
This recommendation suggests that though one may have gained some facility in the asanas due to inherited ability, real mastery may be incomplete as evidenced by such symptomatic disorders.There is a further suggestion that to progress from asanas to pranayama, one must first gain voluntary control over the involuntary natural processes that guarantee the sustenance and health of the body so that the necessary longevity and strength is achieved to to allow the unfolding of wisdom.
Dhauti and Basti give control over the digestive tract all the way from the mouth to the rectum. Neti and Trataka are responsible for clearing the breathing passages and the vision through steadying the eyes. Kapalabhati and Nauli Kriya are the crowning processes of the six acts. Like any other art or science Hatha Yoga includes both crude and refined methods of cultivation. Those that have reached mastery of the required asanas have no need of Dhauti, Basti, Neti or Trataka – crude forms intended only for those insensitive and rough individuals who are otherwise incapable of perceiving the experiences that are the fruits of the practice of Asanas. For those who gain true mastery of the required asanas the mastery of the three bandhas is already within their grasp and with them the practices of kapalabhati (cleansing of the skull, the brain stem) and nauli kriya (the churning of the abdominal recti).
The three bandhas are Jalandhara, Uddiyana and Mulabandha. Jalandhara bandha gives control over the network of nadis (subtle channels) within the brain and the regions of the throat that control the movements of cerebrospinal fluid, blood and lymph as well as the fluids of reproduction. Jalandhara bandha is gained through mastery of Kandasana.
Mulabandha (the root tie) leads to the mastery of the excretory systems and their organs in addition to the energy that operates through the organs of reproduction. This is made possible by the mastery of Mulabandhasana. This seat is also known as Bhagasana, (the seat of the womb referring to absorption and development) and Yoni Mudra, (the seal of the womb (this references advanced practices within the refined activities of meditations).
Uddiyana bandha is responsible for the union (yoga) of the other two bandhas and its mastery is consequently more demanding. The asanas used in this mastery are Mayurasana, Hamsasana (both danda and padmasana variations), then Bhadrasana, Gorakshasana 1, 2 and 3, and Garbha Mudra 1 and 2. If one has the patience and determination to gain mastery over these asanas then one has also gained possession of the refined actions of the three bandhas in the seat of siddhasana (the seat of the adepts) termed Mahabandha.
By mastering these procedures one not only gets the benefits of practicing Kapalabhati and Nauli kriyas but also opens the way to the refined practices of the pranayamas, mudras and the further refinements of pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi.
By the adaptation of the kriyas and bandhas one gains unimposed control over the 10 vayus, 16 nadis (sound corridors), the 5 gross elements and the mind with an occasional glimpse of the universal expanse.
The processes described here can only be learnt from a competent guru not from text books or copying images.
Though there is mention of eight million four hundred thousand asanas, only a few are used as tools in the cultivation of the mind and the life force. Many of the showy and badly copied practices of modern day Yoga are of no use within the fields of Hatha, Shadanga or Ashtanga yogas.
This article will slowly unfold into its full bloom within the lines of the next article – The Mudra Kings and their Queen.
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