Soundarya Lahari
Soundarya Lahari

Did you know that the prana that accumulates and redistributes at the 7 Chakras in the human body, branches out, in exactly three hundred and sixty pathways.

In this article, let's look at this phenomenon, described by Adi Shankaracharya, in one of the foremost books on tantra, Soundarya Lahari.

chakras are nothing but energy junctions, where prANa, or life breath gathers, and circulates across the body, through pathways, called nAdis.the three primary nAdis, ida, pingala and sushumna. It is these three that further divide themselves into multiple branches, to carry prANa throughout the body.

What's interesting, is that the number of
nAdIs that branch out, out of all these Chakras, when added together, form the number 360.

Adi Shankaracharya mentions this phenomenon, in the 14th shloka of soundarya lahari, as follows :

क्षितौ षट्पञ्चाशद्द ् विसमधिकपञ्चाशदुदके ।
हुताशेद्वाषष्टीश्चतुरधिकपञ्चाशदनिले ॥
दिविद्विः षट् त्रिंशन्मनसि च चतुःषष्टिरितिये ।
मयुखास्तेषामप्युपरि तव पादाम्बुजयुगम् ॥१४॥
Ksitau sat-panchasad dvi-samadhika-panchasadudake Hutase dva-sastis chatur-adhika-panchasad anile;
Divi dvih-shatrimsan manasi cha chatuh-sashtir iti ye Mayukhastesham athyupari tava padambuja yugam.

This means, in the earth element(kshiti) , which corresponds to the mulAdhAra chakra, there are shat panchAshat or 56 rays, and in udaka, which is water element, and the corresponding maNipUraka, there are dvisamadhika panchAshat = 52 rays in hutAsha, or the fire element, which corresponds to the svAdhistana chakra, there are dvAshashti = 62 rays. in anila, or wind element, which corresponds to anAhata chakra, there are chaturadhika panchAshat = 54 rays. In vishuddhi chakra, which means in the space element, in divi, there are dvi shat trimshan = 2 times 36 which is 72 rays. finally, in manas, or mind, at the centre of the eyebrows, or the ajna chakra, there are chatushashti = 64 rays.

On top of all these rays, says shankaracharya, are the pAdAmbujayugam or the lotus feet of the goddess. Her feet are said to be resting at the sahasraara chakra.

If we add all these branches which diverging out from 6 chakras, it forms a wholesome 360. A complete circle. Each of these nAdis correspond to a particular human capability, and are also depicted as being governed by various goddesses, and gods.

You might also have noticed, that the order of the elements corresponding to svAdhistana, and maNipUraka were reveresed in this shloka. Infact this correlation can be seen through out soundarya lahari.

While at the surface, it looks like there
is a contradiction between soundarya lahari, and shat chakra nirUpanam, the underlying significance is something like this : If the spiritual path you are following, is about quenching your reproductive urges, and firing up your belly, then fire element is associated with manipUraka, and water with svAdhishtHAna. If it is about firing up your reproductive strength and quenching your hunger, then fire element is associated with svAdhishtAna, and water with maNipUraka.

I hope this article gave you a little more insight into the functioning of chakras, and how they are branched throughout the body. From here on, the path gets more and more mystical, with the association of these subtle faculties in the human body, with various kinds of deities, who are not just symbolic representations, but a living presence in the world.


soundarya lahari

part I

part II