The following sections in quotation marks are some of Banerjea’s comments regarding these power centers:
“The nine chakras are conceived (or perceived by the yogis) as different stations in the central Sushumna-Nadi, which has been called the Brahma-Marga (the path for the realization of the Supreme Spirit within the body or for the realization of the perfect Existence-Consciousness-Bliss in one’s own Self). They are really different planes of esoteric experience through which a sincere and earnest seeker of perfect Self-realization in the path of yogic self-discipline passes in course of his systematic endeavor for ascending to the highest plane of spiritual experience and enjoying therein the blissful absolute unity of Shiva and Shakti and his own Self.
“They act sometimes as hurdles and sometimes as steps in the path of spiritual progress. Spiritual aspirants have to be acquainted with them and their specific characteristics in order to cross through the hurdles and also to make the best use of them for ascending to higher and higher steps of spiritual power and enlightenment. These chakras also represent particular planes of spiritual experience. When a person’s vital and mental energy moves in the domain of a lower chakra, he looks upon things from a lower point of view–from a sensuous or materialistic point of view or from the view point of his lustful or desireful mind. As his energy ascends to the domains of higher and higher chakras, his outlook becomes more and more refined and enlightened, his interests become more and more spiritualized, he learns to appreciate more and more deeply the spiritual and divine character of his own Self and of the cosmic system. According to the yogis, spiritual progress essentially consists in piercing through all the lower chakras (chakra-bheda) and ascending to the highest chakra for being ultimately united with the transcendent character of Shiva-Shakti. When the chakras are crossed, the Sushumna-current becomes straightened, and the yogi can easily rise from the normal state of empirical consciousness to Samadhi, to the state of perfect spiritual illumination and liberation from all bondage and limitation.
“The spiritual urge is inherent in the nature of every individual living being, inasmuch as every individual is a self-manifestation of the Supreme Spirit and he is immanently meant for passing through various planes of conditioned and variegated mundane experiences to the ultimate blissful supra-mundane experience of perfect unity with the Supreme Spirit. The fulfillment of individual existence lies in the attainment of this ultimate experience and deliverance from the sense of individuality and its limitations. This ultimate ideal is immanent in the inner nature of all individuals and imperceptibly determines the most intricate courses of their development. In the lives of the lower (i.e. sub-human) orders of living beings, this spiritual urge never rises to the surface of distinct empirical consciousness, though it is present in their inner nature. Their psycho-physical organism is unfit for their actually feeling this urge. But they also are unknowingly inspired by it and the development of their nature is inwardly determined by it.
“The human life too passes through many stages of development, man’s psycho-physical embodiment too is developed in a gradual process. In the lower stages of development there is no actual feeling of the immanent spiritual urge. Even when a man rises to comparatively higher stages of physical, vital and mental development, and even when his moral and intellectual consciousness is considerably developed and refined, he may not have a clear perception of the spiritual urge immanent in his inner nature. In the normal course this spiritual urge rises upon the surface of the empirical consciousness of a man through contact with spiritually enlightened persons whose empirical consciousness had already been awakened to and inspired by this spiritual urge. Before this spiritual awakenment of the empirical consciousness the inherent spiritual urge appears to remain in what may be regarded as a sleeping condition and to exert its influence upon the course of development of the life of the individual from below the threshold of the empirical consciousness. When this awakenment comes, the individual consciously feels that he is essentially a spiritual being and that the fulfillment of his life lies in the realization of the ultimate spiritual ideal. He then directs consciously and voluntarily and enthusiastically all his vital and mental energy towards the blissful experience of the identity of the individual soul with Shiva, the Supreme Spirit, as well as the eternal union of the Maha-Shakti manifested in this cosmic order with the same spirit.
“This awakenment of dynamic spiritual consciousness in the individual mind is described by Gorakhnath and the yogi school as the awakenment of the apparently sleeping Divine Power in man, the awakenment (bodhana or jagarana) of Kundalini-Shakti. This Divine Power with infinite potentiality is conceived to be existing in every individual, but in a sleeping or dormant state, as if in the form of a coiled serpent, closely embracing the lowest or the most initial center of physical, vital and psychical energy. This Shakti is present as the immanent power even in the most subtle and minute body which is first born in the mother’s womb in the form of a Bindu, and it is the primal energy from which all forms of energy are evolved, all powers and capacities are developed, all tissues and organs and limbs are produced, mind and intellect also are manifested. It is essentially a Conscious Power (Chinmayi Shakti), Pure Consciousness or Shiva being the Soul of this Shakti. But it does not reveal itself as such a Conscious Power till the time of the spiritual awakenment, referred to above.
“This sleeping Divine Power is imagined as existing in the form of a sleeping serpent coiling itself thrice round one Shiva-linga and deeply embracing it in the lowest center of psycho-vital energy. In some texts eight coils also are mentioned. When this Divine Power is awakened in a man, his spiritual yearning becomes intense; his vital and mental energy is easily and almost spontaneously concentrated in the central Sushumna-Nadi and strives to rise above in this spiritual path. The vital impulses and the mental inclinations which in normal life are diverted towards outward and downward directions come easily under the control of the spiritual urge and the disciplined will, the power of determination is therefore immensely increased, the internal and external obstacles in the path of spiritual progress are easily conquered, and there is steady and rapid ascent of the psycho-vital energy in the Sushumna-Marga towards the Supreme Ideal. This is often described as the sacred Yatra (journey) of awakened Kundalini-Shakti for the most blissful union with Her eternal Beloved, Shiva, in the highest region of spiritual experience, Sahasrara-chakra. In course of this gradual ascent of the psycho-vital energy along the path of Sushumna, yogis meet with a number of subtle chakras, at particular stages and particular centers…which they have to pierce through in order to reach the highest plane of transcendent spiritual experience.
“Yogiguru Gorakhnath mentions (in Siddha-Siddhanta-Paddhati) nine such chakras.…Older yogic literature often speaks of nine chakras. It is said, ‘Nava-chakramayam vapuh’–the body consists of nine chakras. Gorakhnath also says, ‘Pinde nava chakrani’–there are nine chakras in the body).”
Location of the nine chakras
Banerjea speaks of the chakras and their location thusly:
Muladhara chakra. “The first, according to Siddha-Siddhanta-Paddhati, is the Brahma chakra in Muladhara.…This is the point of the lowest termination of the Spinal Cord and of the Sushumna-Nadi.…This is the primary seat of the psycho-vital energy, from which the living body originates and by which it is supported and sustained. Hence it is named Muladhara. Herein Kundalini-Shakti lies in a spiritually sleeping condition and herein She is first awakened and pushes the psycho-vital energy (manha-prana-shakti) upward in the path of Sushumna (Brahma-Marga). In this Muladhara a yogi meets with the first chakra which is called by Gorakhnath Brahma-chakra (Adhare Brahma-Chakram).…Thus, the chakra at Muladhara is the starting station of Kundalini in her sacred journey to the abode of Shiva in Sahasrara and likewise the starting station of the concentrated psycho-vital energy of a yogi in its spiritual ascent in the path of Sushumna towards the same goal.”
Swadhishthana chakra. “The second chakra mentioned by Gorakhnath, is called Swadhishthana-Chakra. It is located within the Sushumna-nadi at a center close to the origin of the generating organ.”
Manipura chakra. “The third chakra is called by Gorakhnath Nabhi-chakra, because it is experienced within the Sushumna-Nadi at a center in the region of the navel. It is generally known as Manipura-chakra.”
Anahata chakra. “The fourth chakra is Hridaya-chakra, also called Anahata-chakra. Like the other chakras, it is also located in the Sushumna Nadi within the spinal column and it is experienced near about the region of the heart.”
Vishuddha chakra. “The fifth chakra is called Kantha-chakra. It is also known as Vishuddha-chakra. It is located in the Sushumna in the region of the throat (Kantha).”
Talu chakra. “The sixth chakra is described by Gorakhnath as located at the root of the palate (talu-mula) and is called Talu-chakra.”
Ajna chakra. “The seventh chakra is located at a nerve-center between the two eyebrows and is called by Gorakhnath Bhru-chakra.…This is called Jnana-netra–the eye of enlightenment.”
Nirvana chakra. “The eighth chakra is called by Gorakhnath Nirvana-chakra, and it is located in Brahma-randhra within a part of Sahasrara. This is the finest center for the realization of the Infinite and Eternal Spirit (Brahma) by the individual consciousness. The individual consciousness is in this plane merged in the Transcendent Existence-Consciousness-Bliss. Kundalini-Shakti is here perfectly united with Shiva, the Supreme Spirit. In this plane the difference between light and darkness, between motion and rest, between finite and infinite, between phenomena and noumenon, vanishes altogether. Yogis often give it the poetic name of Jalandhara-Pitha, because this is the place of the perfect self revelation (pitha) of the Supreme Holder of the magnificent net-work of the phenomenal cosmic order (Jalandhara), the Supreme Spirit from Whom this cosmic net (jala) originates, by Whom this net is sustained and governed and harmonized, of Whom it is the playful self manifestation and Who is its infinite and eternal self luminous and all-illumining Soul. An individual remains jala-baddha (bound in and suffering from this jala or net), so long as he does not realize Jalandhara (the Supreme ‘Net-holder’) in himself and the cosmic system. When he perfectly realizes his oneness with Jalandhara, he feels full freedom in this very world, he becomes free from all sense of bondage and limitation and sorrow. He attains Moksha or Nirvana.”
Brahmarandhra chakra. “Above the Nirvana-chakra in the Brahma-randhra, which is the seat of the attainment of Moksha (liberation from all possible bondage and sorrow), Gorakhnath mentions the existence of the ninth chakra, which he names Akasha-chakra. This last chakra is located at the highest point of Sahasrara.…This center of experience is further described as Purna-Giri-Pitha (i. e. the seat of the highest mountain of Absolute Experience). Here the phenomenal consciousness is perfectly transformed into and fully realizes itself as all-absorbing all-unifying all-transcending Absolute Consciousness. The holy journey of Kundalini-Shakti from Muladhara-chakra for the most blissful re-union with Her most beloved Soul and Lord, Shiva, reaches here its most successful end.…The yogi attains perfect self-fulfillment, when he can firmly establish himself in this plane of existence and consciousness and blissfulness. This is the plane of Para-Samvit. Gorakhnath also calls it Parama Shunya, because all objectivity and individuality vanish in this Experience, and there remains only one infinite eternal differenceless changeless Absolute Experience. Shunya does not mean absence of existence, but perfect subject-object-less space-time-less unconditioned Existence.”
Read the next chapter in So’ham Yoga: Appendix Five: Banerjea on the Nadis
Chapters in So’ham Yoga: the Yoga of the Self
Preface to Soham Yoga: Yoga and Freedom
Read about the meanings of unfamiliar terms in A Brief Sanskrit Glossary.
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