The body is made up of the five elements—earth, water, fire, air and ether combined with the ego and other gross senses. They form the basis of the major chakras that govern the body; earth for Mooladhar, water for Swadhisthan, fire for Manipoorak, air for Anahad and ether for Vishuddhi. The controls for the various elements in our body lie at our fingertips. The little, ring, middle and index fingers represent earth, water, ether and air respectively while the thumb represents fire.
Things expand on heating and contract on cooling. If any element touches the tip of the thumb, it expands and at the base it reduces. We can very easily increase or decrease the various bodily elements, depending on the situation, using mudras. For example, in extreme tension and anxiety, like when appearing for an interview, exam or an important meeting, the vayu tattva increases leading to uneasiness in the chest. Place your index finger at the base of the thumb (where you get a pulsating feeling), the air element will normalise and you will feel better. The gyan mudra, which involves touching the index finger to the tip of the thumb, has the diametrically opposite effect. If the body is unprepared for the increase in the vayu tattva, tension increases and nervous disorders happen. Hence it is inadvisable to sit in gyan mudra in the initial stages of dhyan. It is introduced by one’s Guru at a later stage, after the body has attained a specific balance. Mudras are a perfect and precise science, however, not taught en masse. It is given by the Guru to the shishya, as per individual needs and capacity. If used incorrectly, it can do more harm than good. The purpose of mudras is to bring the body in a state of balance. An incorrect mudra would create imbalance because an element which is not supposed to increase might do so.
As one moves up, lower elements merge with the higher. Ether contains air, fire, water and earth; air holds fire, water and earth; fire contains water and earth, and water contains the earth element. To effect a change, these can be easily controlled and modified by accessing the element that is above the five elements—the par-tattva or Shiva, governed by the agya chakra, in the sanidhya of Guru. ‘Omkar bindu samyuktam…’ means everything is present in the Omkar bindu, the point where everything is present; ‘Nityam dhayanti yoginam’, meaning the yogi’s dhyan is always on the par-tattva. A yogi has an association with the lower elements, too, but he controls them through the agya.
But how to experience the Shiv tattva, the basis of all elements?
The par-tattva is not experienced by an ordinary person because he does not need it. He spends his life in the pursuit of the five senses which pertain to the five basic elements and the five basic chakras. Sense of smell is controlled by Mooladhar, taste by Swadhishthan, sight by Manipoorak, touch by Anahad and sound by Vishuddhi. When there is no need, then there is little incentive to look further, and hence, an ordinary person remains unaware of the Shiv tattva. Shiv is beyond the five tattvas, the par-tattva, in which all the tattvas reside. Experience of Shiv requires the awakening of agya through yog and Sanatan Kriya under a Guru, and the pleasure associated with the experience of Shiv is limitless.
Yogi Ashwini is the spiritual head of Dhyan Ashram.