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 Meditation 5 (according to Non-dual Shaivism of Kashmir)

Āṇavopāya (Anavopaya) - The way of action (Part 2)


 Introduction

Hi, Gabriel Pradīpaka again. This is the second document on Āṇavopāya or the Way of Action. We have studied the first two methods of this "upāya". Now, we are going to study the remaining three methods, that is: Varṇa, Karaṇa and Sthānakalpanā.

As you know, each upāya leads to the other. That is to speak: Āṇavopāya leads to Śāktopāya, Śāktopāya leads to Śāmbhavopāya, and lastly Śāmbhavopāya leads to Anupāya. So, although Trika includes the previous three viewpoints, absolute non-dualism (I am Śiva or God) is the final goal to be attained. I advise you to read the documents to be found in the Trika section of our website (click here) as a support for our study. Moreover, you can revise the first part of our study of Āṇavopāya each time you need to do so: Āṇavopāya (Part 1).

The first method that we will study here is Varṇa. It is based upon the practice of listening to a both mysterious and familiar sound that goes on all the time. The second method (Karaṇa) uses the physical body; while the third one uses external things as objects of concentration. Well, let us get down to work.

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 Varṇa: First glance

The Prāṇa or vital energy has two aspects: (1) General or Subtle and (2) Specific (divided into ten individual prāṇa-s). In Uccāra (the second method in Āṇavopāya), we used the "specific prāṇa-s" for our mind to become onepointed. However, in the method known as Varṇa, one uses the General Prāṇa. The technical term "Varṇa" designates a continuous sound which is going on in oneself all the time. It goes on by itself, nobody is producing it, and again nobody can prevent it from sounding. As this sound is spontaneous and natural, no tremendous effort on your part is required really during the practice. You only should pay attention to that sound and that is all. As your sādhanā (practice) is developed, you will attain to higher states of consciousness which are the origin of Varṇa.

While commenting the aphorism 27 of the third section of Śivasūtra-s, the sage Kṣemarāja quotes the following stanza in order to show the process by which a particular Divine Sound (Nāda) is manifested through the breathing in and out of all living creatures:

सकारेण बहिर्याति हकारेण विशेत्पुनः।
हंसहंसेत्यमुं मन्त्रं जीवो जपति नित्यशः॥
षट्शतानि दिवारात्रौ सहस्राण्येकविंशतिः।
जपो देव्या विनिर्दिष्टः सुलभो दुर्लभो जडैः॥

Sakāreṇa bahiryāti hakāreṇa viśetpunaḥ|
Haṁsahaṁsetyamuṁ mantraṁ jīvo japati nityaśaḥ||
Ṣaṭśatāni divārātrau sahasrāṇyekaviṁśatiḥ|
Japo devyā vinirdiṣṭaḥ sulabho durlabho jaḍaiḥ||

(The subtle mantra) "Haṁsa, Haṁsa" (haṁsahaṁsa iti) goes out (bahis yāti) with the sound (kāreṇa) "Sa" (sa) and goes in (viśet) again (punar) with the sound (kāreṇa) "Ha" (ha). (For this reason), the living being (jīvaḥ) constantly (nityaśaḥ) mutters (japati) that (amum) mantra (mantram). Day and night (divārātrau) (this living being mutters it) 21,600 (times) (ṣaṭśatāni... sahasrāṇi ekaviṁśatiḥ). The muttering (japaḥ) of the Goddess (devyāḥ) has been indicated (vinirdiṣṭaḥ) to be easy (sulabhaḥ) (for the wise, but) difficult (durlabhaḥ) for the unwise (jaḍaiḥ).

This mantra known as "Haṁsa" is automatically repeated 21,600 times a day. As it occurs in an automatic way, its repetition is often called Ajapajapa or "Japa without any japa", that is, it continues to repeat by itself. Note that even though the word "japa" means literally "muttering, murmuring, whispering" is often used in the sense of "repetition", which is not thoroughly correct indeed. The inhalation emits the sound "ha" and the exhalation the sound "sa" (see "Sibilants and Sonant Aspirate" in Pronunciation 1). The vowel "ṁ" stands for the sacred word Om̐, which is to be listened to between "ha" and "sa" (i.e., between inhalation and exhalation) as your practice is gradually developed. The practice of listening to the Varṇa sound is also known as Ajapagāyatrī.

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 Varṇa: Going deeper

When one speaks of the Prāṇa or vital energy, he should always makes clear if he is speaking of its general aspect or else, of its specific one. The former is the subtle aspect of Prāṇa (which is usually called "Varṇa"), while the latter is the gross aspect and is divided into ten sub-prāṇa-s (which are commonly known as "prāṇa-s", in lowercase), viz.: (1) prāṇa, apāna, samāna, udāna and vyāna (these are the principal ones); and (2) kūrma, kṛkara, devadatta, nāga and dhanañjaya (these are the subsidiary ones) --see Uccāra, Meditation 4 for more information--. The present study deals with Varṇa or the general aspect of Prāṇa. When this General Prāṇa --which is also named "Mahāprāṇa"or "Great Prāṇa, in order to differentiate it from the "specific" prāṇa going out along with the exhalation in a living creature-- ascends and manifests as a sound is properly known as Varṇa. In short, Varṇa is the sound emitted by the General Prāṇa or Mahāprāṇa. For its part, Varṇa may also be divided into two aspects:

(1) Sṛṣṭibīja: the monosyllabic seed-sound (bīja) pertaining to the emission (sṛṣṭi), that is to speak, pertaining to the "breathing out".

(2) Saṁhārabīja: the monosyllabic seed-sound (bīja) pertaining to the reabsorption (saṁhāra), that is, pertaining to the "breathing in".

And what are those sounds? They are Sa and Ha respectively. The inhalation produces a sound that is very similar to "Ha", and the exhalation produces a sound that is really like "Sa" approximately. Thus, the practice by means of the Varṇa sound is as follows:

a) Sit down for meditation in an appropriate yogic posture (Padmāsana --lotus posture--, Siddhāsana --perfect posture--, Sukhāsana --easy posture--, etc.). Your spinal column must be completely straight. The entire body is relaxed.
b) Pay attention to both inhalation and exhalation. Try to hear (not to repeat) the sounds "Ha" and "Sa" when breathing in and out respectively. You should not repeat them mentally either, just "listen to them". Granted, at first you maybe need to repeat them in your mind for a little while for the sake of convenience, but this repetition should be abandoned as soon as possible.
c) As your practice continues to develop, the madhyadaśā or "middle state" will be developed too. Madhyadaśā is simply the gap between inhalation/exhalation and exhalation/inhalation. They are not "two" gaps, but only one. Although they are situated in two different points (one inside and the other outside) from a spatial viewpoint, they are just one point from the viewpoint of Consciousness or Śiva. This should be understood completely.
d) When the above madhyadaśā becomes "wider", you choose "one" gap (the one that is situated between inhalation/exhalation or the other that is placed between exhalation/inhalation). As both of gaps are really only one point of Consciousness, there is no difference between them. In the ancient times, the external gap was preferably chosen; but nowadays, the internal one is chosen. Nonetheless, choose that gap to where your attention is led spontaneously. Please, do not found a school based either on "the external gap" or on "the internal one" or I will found a school based exactly upon "the opposite gap", hehe! You know, the discussions begin so: "you maintain a viewpoint and immediately someone else will maintain a different one". Thus, since the two gaps are the same from Śiva's point of view, there is no room for a useless controversy.
e) As you keep paying attention to the gap (internal or external), you will come to hear the sacred word Om̐ in the form of a constant "humming". The Anusvāra "ṁ" in Haṁsa is symbolic of that "humming" (it is like the humming of many bees). Some yogī-s compare that sound to the "babbling" produced by a brook. Take the analogy you like better.
d) When the sacred Om̐ emerges, you only pay attention to it, nothing else is necessary for you now. You will have many amazing experiences while practicing. And in the end of your practice you will attain to that supreme state of Śiva, which you paradoxically never lost. You will be filled with the highest Bliss at that moment and the goal of your life will be finally accomplished. That achievement is known as Liberation, Enlightenment and so on.

As you can see, the practice of Varṇa is very easy. However, do not understimate Varṇa because it is really powerful. I myself was initiated in the practice of Yoga by means of Varṇa. When given by a true guru is able to awaken the dormant inner Power known as Kuṇḍalinī. As soon as this Power is awakened, all Cakra-s are bound to be pierced sooner or later by Kuṇḍalinī. When the Cakra-s are pierced, all their energy is released and this occurence obviously brings you to a different state of consciousness accordingly. At the moment the first six major Cakra-s are pierced, you have attained to a high level of accomplishment. From there, Kuṇḍalinī goes to the last major Cakra called Sahasrāra and the Englightenment is at hand. Well, this has been a mere short summary of a much more complicated process carried out by the Supreme Śakti Herself.

So, just keep hearing the subtle sound brought about by your breathing right now and be happy. Karaṇa is coming!

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 Karaṇa: First glance

Karaṇa is the Āṇavopāya's technique in which you use your own body to attain to a higher state of consciousness. In Karaṇa you use Mudrā-s or Seals too, but I will explained how to perform Mudrā-s to you later. There are seven kinds of Karaṇa technique. The great sage Jayaratha states the main purpose of those techniques through a simple but profound teaching. Listen:

इह ग्राह्यादिभिः सप्तभिः प्रकारैर्भिन्नं करणं नाम
बोधपूर्वकमभ्यासं प्राहुः बोध्यन्यग्भावेन
स्वातमैकतानतामापन्नं बोधमेव कथितमन्तः॥

Iha grāhyādibhiḥ saptabhiḥ prakārairbhinnaṁ karaṇaṁ nāma
bodhapūrvakamabhyāsam prāhuḥ bodhyanyagbhāvena
svātmaikatānatāmāpannaṁ bodhameva kathitamantaḥ||

(The great sages) state (prāhuḥ) that here --in this world-- (iha) the practice (abhyāsam) known as (nāma) Karaṇa (karaṇam), which is divided (bhinnam) into the seven (saptabhiḥ) kinds (prakāraiḥ) of Grāhya (grāhya), etc. (ādibhiḥ) and is to be consciously performed (bodhapūrvakam), attains to (āpannam) a condition of assimilation or absorption (ekatānatām) in one's own Self (svātma) by absorbing (nyagbhāvena) the knowables (bodhya) --that is, by identifying them with oneself--. (In other words, Karaṇa) lastly (antaḥ) (attains to that condition) which is called (eva kathitam) "The Awakening" (bodham).

Therefore, by means of Karaṇa you will come to realize that You are all. When the practice is completely accomplished, you feel that there is no difference between You and the universe. In fact, this is the goal behind all practices in Trika. What are "the knowables"? All that is perceived or known is a "knowable". Thus, mind, ego, intellect, senses, external objects, etc., are knowables. However, in Karaṇa the term Grāhya (knowable) is used only in connection with the "external objects (physical body included)". Keep this in mind, please, or you will never understand why the ego (a knowable from a strict viewpoint) is not included in the first stage but in the second one or Grāhaka.

Even though the limited "you" or ego is considered to be a knowable, the real You is not so. You are the eternal Knower or Witness and never fall under the category of "knowable". This Knower is Śiva, your own true Self. Through Karaṇa you simply bring all knowables (thoughts, external objects, etc.) to a condition of identification with Śiva or You. When this assimilation occurs, you achieve the Awakening, that is, you have been now awakened to your essential nature. How is it possible? Well, I will explain that to you when going deeper into Karaṇa.

The seven stages are as follows:

1 Grāhya Knowables (in the form of external objects and physical body) Āṇavopāya
2 Grāhaka Ego and Buddhi
3 Cit or Saṁvitti Puruṣa or Consciousness
4 Niveśa or Sanniveśa The same as the previous condition (Cit or Saṁvitti) but now fully established
5 Vyāpti Pervasion Śāktopāya
6 Tyāga Renunciation
7 Ākṣepa Realization Śāmbhavopāya

Note that only the first four stages really fall under Āṇavopāya, while the remaining ones fall under Śāktopāya and Śāmbhavopāya respectively. This is a common feature in the Upāya-s according to Non-dual Shaivism of Kashmir, that is to say, a particular Upāya leads to a higher one. After having attained to Śāmbhavopāya and the subsequent Ākṣepa, you keep practicing just to affirm that Realization or Enlightenment. In other words, a yogī becomes liberated at the moment he enters the Supreme Consciousness, but afterward, he will have to make that experience firm so that he may retain it as such.

Now it is time to go deeper into Karaṇa.

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 Karaṇa: Going deeper into Karaṇa by using Khecarīmudrā

Now, I am going to teach you the significance which is hidden in each of the previous stages (See Tattvic Chart for more information).

Man owns four bodies:

BODY or ŚÁRĪRA TATTVIC AREA CHARACTERISTICS
Mahākāraṇaśarīra or Supracausal Body 3 to 5 It is also known as "Baindavadeha" or Bindu Body. In turn, Nīleśvarī (Blue Mistress) is an epithet of it. It appears in the form of a minute blue dot (Bindu). All Yogī-s strive to attain the vision of that blue dot, because it confers Immortality and Supreme Delight. This body is called Supracausal for two reasons: 1) It is the original source for the rest of bodies; 2) It is above all karmic impressions contained in Causal Body.
Kāraṇaśarīra or Causal Body 6 to 13 Kṛśneśvarī (Black Mistress) is an epithet of it. It appears in the form of a thumb-tip-sized black light. It is the body of the dreamless or deep sleep. It is known as Causal Body, because it encompasses the entire aggregate of karmic impressions (saṁskāra-s). These saṁskāra-s are like seeds from which the creeper composed of intellect, ego, mind, indriya-s, subtle and gross elements is developed.
Sūkṣmaśarīra/Liṅgaśarīra or Subtle Body 14 to 31 Śveteśvarī (White Mistress) is an epithet of it. It appears in the form of a thumb-sized white light. It is the body of dream state. Intellect, ego and mind live in Sūkṣmaśarīra, along with the ten indriya-s and the five tanmātra-s or subtle elements. It is the subtle mold from which the physical body is forged.
Sthūlaśarīra or Physical Body 32 to 36 Rakteśvarī (Red Mistress) is an epithet of it. It appears in the form of a body-sized red light. It is the body of wakefulness or waking state. It is made of gross elements: space, air, fire, water and earth.

Note that Śiva/Śakti (tattva-s 1 and 2) have no body. They are the Eternal "I am", which is formless. The ignorant people identify themselves with the lower three bodies (specially physical and subtle bodies) and thus forget their essential nature as "I am", who is a "bodiless" Witness to all bodies. They identify with their gross body, mind, intellect, etc... and consequently they are all the time experiencing pain because those lower bodies are full of distress. On the contrary, Yogī-s push aside that ridiculous identification and strive to attain to the highest body in order to experience sublime Joy, omniscience, etc. However, they should ultimately go beyond Supracausal Body, and merge their entire being into the Supreme Self or "I am", who is "bodiless" and "formless". The attainment of "I am" is beyond all bodies and bestows Absolute Liberation on those fortunate Yogī-s. And now, let us go deeper into Karaṇa.

The first stage in Karaṇa is (1) Grāhya (the knowables --objects of knowledge-- or external objects --gross body included--). You should practice Karaṇa with all external objects in front of you simultaneously. If you take only one of them, you would be performing Sthānakalpanā (the last stage in Āṇavopāya, which I will teach you later on). After becoming conscious of all knowables, you have to assimilate them into your own ego or Grāhaka (knower). In other words, you should try to experience the inherent unity between the ego and the objects (body included). You may wonder, "How am I supposed to accomplish that?" Well, you can accomplish that easily with the help of Mudrā-s. "Mudrā" literally means "seal". A Mudrā joins (seals) the mind with the Self. Besides, a secondary meaning to "Mudrā" is "that giving mudā or joy". In short, "Mudrā" means "all those particular dispositions of the physical body (or parts of it), which are adopted in order to manifest a higher consciousness".

You sit as if for meditation... cross-legged if you feel comfortable... and with your spinal column completely straight. Then, you pay attention to all things (body included) around you simultaneously... and practice a particular Mudrā... Khecarīmudrā in this case. But, what is Khecarīmudrā?

Well, I am going to explain it to you now:

Khecarīmudrā is convenient to be practiced after that your eyes are gotten tired due to concentration on the external objects (Grāhya). At that moment, you decide to concentrate on them in a mental way. While you retain the objects in your mind, you roll your tongue backward so that its underside touches the upper back portion of the soft palate and its tip is inserted into the nasal cavity... if possible. This is way in which you perform Khecarīmudrā according to Rājayoga (Royal Yoga), but in Haṭhayoga the things are somewhat different. In Haṭhayoga you should gradually cut the frenum of the tongue... but I am not going to go deeper into the subject since this practice is dangerous and it should be learnt from a proficient Khecarīguru. I recommend you practice Rājayoga's Khecarīmudrā.

So, after closing your eyes, your attention must be focused on the mental objects placed right in front of your eyes. This simple act of attention will force the eyes to become one-pointed on the space between the eyebrows. As practice goes on, the mental objects are dissolved and thus you gain access to the higher stages of Grāhaka, Saṁvitti, etc.

The stage of (2) Grāhaka is accomplished when, by means of Khecarīmudrā or any other Mudrā, you can stop the flow of thoughts (Manas, tattva 16) and abide in this active and mutating I-consciousness which is at the root of all those thoughts. Of course, the aforesaid "active and mutating I-consciousness" is Ahaṅkāra or ego. When I get to it, I realize that all mutations of this ego are the causes of all changes in the external objects. In other words, I realize that the entire manifestation has arisen from Ahaṅkāra. When through Khecarīmudrā or any other Mudrā, the thoughts about Grāhya (external objects) come to an end, I become firmly established in Ahaṅkāra, that is to say, I become firmly established in Grāhaka. This process is known as "to become well established in Grāhaka". After that, you are led to realize Buddhi (intellect, tattva 14), which constitutes a subtler stage within Grāhaka itself. How? With the help of Khecarīmudrā, etc. you are led to become more and more onepointed on the inner "knower" or Buddhi. It is that simple!

At the moment you attain to the purest I-consciosness, you attain to Buddhi or the sense of existence. By "purest" I meant "purest within the scope of mind", of course. In Buddhi or intellect you experience joy and peace. To go even further, you need to renounce that joy and peace of Buddhi. Why? Because Buddhi is mutating. Granted, its mutation is not as gross as that of Ahaṅkāra or ego, but it still changes. Even though Buddhi is predominantly sattvic, the other two Guṇa-s (Rajas and Tamas) are still there. That is why Buddhi "mutates". If Buddhi were to be completely sattvic, there would be no mutations at all. And with any "mutation" of Guṇa-s, the possibility of pain, error, etc. are also still there. So, Yogī-s, by renouncing Buddhi, strive to attain the next stage (Cit or Saṁvitti).

If 1) you renounce that subtle state of Buddhi and, 2) with the help of Khecarīmudrā, strive to restrain that "almost" unperceivable mutation of Guṇa-s, and 3) develop Vivekakhyāti (discriminative knowledge) about the difference between Buddhi (intellect) and Puruṣa (tattva 12), you will be able to enter Puruṣa then. The discriminative knowledge or Vivekakhyāti says to me that Puruṣa is a state of "limited" knower but without any Antaḥkaraṇa (the inner psychic organ composed of Buddhi --intellect--, Ahaṅkāra --ego-- and Manas --mind--). Since it lacks Antaḥkaraṇa, there is no mutation of Guṇa-s in Puruṣa. Puruṣa is pure consciousness but still limited by Māyā, Kañcuka-s and Mala-s (See Tattvic Chart).

When you gain access to Puruṣa, the entire mental world is gone once and for all. Khecarīmudrā is the Mudrā which is specially used to enter that condition of Puruṣa. Puruṣa is also called "Cidākāśa" or "Space or Ether of Consciousness". Cidākāśa is also known as "Kha". At a gross level of understanding, Khecarīmudrā is a particular disposition of the tongue (rolled backward) and the eyes (concentrated on the space between the eyebrows) which makes me move (carī) in the space or ether of Consciousness or Kha. The word "khe" means simply "in Kha". The word Khecarī is a good example of an Aluk compound (See Compounds series in "Sanskrit" section). However, the influence of Khecarīmudrā is much deeper than that. Before describing it, I have to say that the stage of (3) Cit or Saṁvitti is obviously the state in which you experience yourself as Puruṣa. You enter that condition and identify yourself with Puruṣa. In turn, (4) Niveśa or Sanniveśa is simply "to become firmly established in Kha or Puruṣa". These previous four stages (i.e. Grāhya, Grāhaka, Cit or Saṁvitti and Niveśa or Sanniveśa) exclusively pertain to Āṇavopāya.

 Haṭhayogapradīpikā (See "Haṭhayogapradīpikā" in the "Scriptures" section), the celebrated scripture dealing with Haṭhayoga science, analyzes the importance of Khecarīmudrā. In the third Chapter, aphorism 37, it states that:

कलां पराङ्मुखी कृत्वा त्रिपथे परियोजयेत्।
सा भवेत्खेचरी मुद्रा व्योमचक्रं तदुच्यते॥३७॥

Kalāṁ parāṅmukhī kṛtvā tripathe pariyojayet|
Sā bhavetkhecarī mudrā vyomacakraṁ taducyate||37||

Having turned back (parāṅmukhī kṛtvā) the underside of the tongue (kalām), (the Yogī) should insert it (pariyojayet) into the place where the three passages --i.e. Iḍā, Piṅgalā and Suṣumnā-- meet (tri-pathe). This (sā) is (bhavet) Khecarīmudrā (khecarī mudrā), which is (also) known (tad ucyate) as Vyomacakra --i.e. center of ether-- (vyoma-cakram).

The abovementioned three passages are Iḍā, Piṅgalā and Suṣumnā. The first one is related to the mind. It is a subtle channel that zigzags from the base of the spinal column up to the left nostril. The second passage is related to the physical body. It is a subtle channel that zigzags also from the base of the spinal column but this time up to the right nostril. Both of channels run in a symmetrical way forming "eight numbers" as it were. Finally, the third passage is related to the spiritual body. It is a subtle channel that runs from the base of the spinal column straight up to the crown of the head. The three channels or passages meet in two points: 1) the base of the spinal column and 2) one place within the head on a level with the space between the eyebrows. In Khecarīmudrā, the tip of the tongue should be inserted into the nasal cavity, which is really close to the second point of meeting.

This form of Khecarīmudrā, recommended by Rājayoga, is much easier to practice than that form of Haṭhayoga in which you have to gradually cut the frenum of the tongue so that it may elongate more and more. So, it is convenient for you to practice the easy form given by Rājayoga.

It is performed by turning the tongue back so that its underside touches the upper back portion of the soft palate and... if possible... its tip may be inserted into the nasal cavity. This Mudrā should be held as long as comfortable. At the beginning, you will need to relax the tongue from time to time, of course. This form of Khecarīmudrā is usually performed along with other practices such as "Japa" (muttering of a Mantra... in a mental way obviously, as your tongue is occupied in other matters, hehe), "Dhyāna" (meditation) and "Ujjāyīprāṇāyāma" (prāṇāyāma that conquers or is victorious). In short, Khecarīmudrā is used as an aid for concentration and meditation. When Prāṇa or vital energy is moving by itself during profound meditation, you will note that the tongue also moves in a spontaneous way and you do not need to force it to be inserted into the nasal cavity.

Yogī Svātmārāma in Haṭhayogapradīpikā continues to talk about Khecarīmudrā:

रसनामूर्ध्वगां कृत्वा क्षणार्धमपि तिष्ठति।
विषैर्विमुच्यते योगी व्याधिमृत्युजरादिभिः॥३८॥

न रोगो मरणं तन्द्रा न निद्रा न क्षुधा तृषा॥
न च मूर्च्छा भवेत्तस्य यो मुद्रां वेत्ति खेचरीम्॥३९॥

Rasanāmūrdhvagāṁ kṛtvā kṣanārdhamapi tiṣṭhati|
Viṣairvimucyate yogī vyādhimṛtyujarādibhiḥ||38||

Na rogo maranaṁ tandrā na nidrā na kṣudhā tṛṣā|
Na ca mūrcchā bhavettasya yo mudrāṁ vetti khecarīm||39||

The Yogī (yogī) (that,) having made (kṛtvā) the tongue (rasanām) move (gām) upward (ūrdhva), remains (in that manner) (tiṣṭhati) for even (ápi) half (ardham) of twinkling of an eye (kṣaṇa), is freed (vimucyate) from venoms (viṣaiḥ), diseases (vyādhi), death (mṛtyu), old age (jarā) etc. (ādibhiḥ).

To one (tasya) who (yaḥ) knows (vetti) Khecarīmudrā (mudrāṁ... khecarīm), there is no (na... bhavet) disease (rógaḥ), death (maraṇam), lassitude (tandrā), nor (na) sleep (nidrā), nor (na) hunger (kṣudhā), (or) thirst (tṛṣā), and there is no (na) mental stupefaction (mūrcchā) either (ca).

There is a zone in the upper back portion of your head from which a Divine Nectar flows down. You become conscious of that Ambrosia when you perform Khecarīmudrā. At the moment that Nectar is produced, it flows down to the tongue. When that happens, you should perform Jālandharabandha (chin lock) so that the Nectar may not go to the stomach and be accumulated on the tongue. Through Khecarīmudrā and Jālandharabandha, you will be able to retain that Ambrosia and taste it. When you do so, a divine bliss spreading throughout the body is experienced.

Afterward, you get to the fifth stage called (5) Vyāpti. It is stated that in this stage you realize that Universal Consciousness pervades every object. After that, you enter the sixth stage or 6) Tyāga. At this level, all efforts come to an end, that is to say, you renounce all of them. The fifth and sixth stages pertain to Śāktopāya. Finally, you get to the seventh stage known as (7) Ākṣepa. In Ākṣepa is manifested a state in which you realize that the whole universe is Your own Body. Thus, Śiva and Śakti are experienced in complete unity. You are enlightened, friend. Of course, Ākṣepa pertains to Śāmbhavopāya y Anupāya.

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 Other Mudrā-s or Seals used in Karaṇa

Even though Khecarīmudrā is by far the most important seal to be used in Karaṇa, there are other Mudrā-s or Seals which are also used during the practice.

Śāmbhavīmudrā

In this case, the object of concentration or Grāhya is the space between the eyebrows. You have to gaze at that space for as long as possible. When your eyes are tired, simply close them and keep your attention fixed on the dark space in front of you. After some practice, you will be able to see a bright light while your eyes are open. Afterward, the same light will appear when your eyes are closed. Once you can see that light, pay attention to it completely. Nothing else you need to do. The remaining stages of Grāhaka, Cit, etc. will come by themselves, do not worry.

Nāsikāgramudrā

"Nāsikāgra" means "the tip (ágra) of the nose (nāsikā)". And as the term clearly suggest, in this Mudrā you have to concentrate on the tip of your nose (the object of concentration or Grāhya, in this case). The process is a really simple one. You have to gaze at the tip of your nose for as long as possible. You will note that your eyes converge and both of sides of the nose are visible. The concentration should be on the middle space between those two sides. At first, the image you see is unstable and your eyes get tired quickly. In due course, the eyes will get used to Nāsikāgramudrā, do not worry. When you can fully fix your attention on the tip of the nose, strive to become conscious of the breathing. Attempt to become conscious of which nostril is working more. When both of nostrils are working, Suṣumnā (the subtle channel running through the spinal column in the subtle body) is totally open. When Suṣumnā is thus open, Kuṇḍalinī (Śakti or Supreme Power within the human being) can goes up freely. And, when Kuṇḍalinī goes up, your state of consciousness will also go up to a higher level.

When your eyes get tired of gazing at the tip of the nose, close them and fix your attention on the dark space in front of you. If you can see a light in that darkness, fully concentrate on it. Nothing else you need to do. The remaining stages of Grāhaka, Cit, etc. will come by themselves, do not worry.

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 Sthānakalpanā

This is the most simple method or means indeed. It is to be used when you cannot practice any of the previous methods. In Sthānakalpanā, you concentrate on external things, body or breath. An fragment in Tantrasāra by Abhinavagupta confirms that:

अथ बाह्यविधिः स एव स्थानप्रकल्पनशब्देन उक्तः। तत्र त्रिधा स्थानं प्राणवायुः शरीरं बाह्यं च।

Atha bāhyavidhiḥ sa eva sthānaprakalpanaśabdena uktaḥ| Tatra tridhā sthānaṁ prāṇavāyuḥ śarīraṁ bāhyaṁ ca|

Thus (átha), the external (bāhya) method (vidhiḥ) (pertaining to Āṇavopāya) is certainly (saḥ eva) known as (śabdena uktaḥ) Sthānakalpanā (sthānaprakalpana). In that --i.e. in Sthānakalpanā-- (tatra), there are three (tridhā) points or places (sthānam) (for the mind to be concentrate on:) vital air (prāṇavāyuḥ), body (śarīram) and (ca) something outside (bāhyam).

Although you are recommended to concentrate your mind on the vital air, this is not at all the same method as that one taught in Uccāra or Varṇa. In Sthānakalpanā, you merely fix your attention on the process of inhaling and exhaling through the nose. Besides, concentration on the body is not similar to Karaṇa either. In Sthānakalpanā you simply make your mind onepointed on your own physical body to give it a support for meditation. You may choose certain parts of your body or simply meditate on it as a whole. Finally, concentration on external things is to fix one's own attention on objects (e.g. the light of a candle, the picture of a saint and the like). There is nothing strange or complicated about Sthānakalpana, as you can see. It is the last resource if you failed to attain to the goal through the former methods. A summary of Varṇa, Karaṇa and Sthānakalpanā now (Ah!, you can grab various techniques of Āṇavopāya here --The three means/Action in Trika section--).

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 Summary

Here you are a chart summarizing Varṇa, Karaṇa and Sthānakalpanā:

Varṇa
(the stage
in which
you use
the general aspect of Prāṇa as an
object of meditation)
You sit for meditation and pay attention to the process of breathing in and out. You intensely try to hear the sound emitted by both inhalation and exhalation (ha... sa) for a period of time. In due course of your meditation, the gap between inhalation/exhalation and exhalation/inhalation becomes "wider". At that moment, you must choose one of the two gaps (the one to which your attention is led spontaneously) and concentrate your mind on that. After a time of practice (if it will be short or long, nobody can say indeed... it depends on two factors: the intensity of your effort and the divine Grace of the inner Lord), you will start hearing a kind of "humming". This sound is simply Om̐, the holy sound from which the entire universe emerges, in which it is maintained and finally disolved. Om̐ is your own Self or Śiva. Only keep listening to that Om̐ and... what is to come, will come, do not worry.
KÁRAṆA
(the stage in which you use the body as the principal means)
1 Grāhya You should concentrate on all objects around simultaneously. After a period of time, close your eyes and mentally behold them, assisted by the type of Mudrā you wish to use. Āṇavopāya
2 Grāhaka With the help of the chosen Mudrā, your thoughts will gradually vanish, and consequently, the mental image of those external objects will disappear too. When Manas (tattva 16, mind) is stopped, you experience ego or Ahaṅkāra (tattva 15), which is an active I-consciousness. This I-consciousness is not the Supreme I-consciousness, of course, but a tremendously limited I-sense. If you concentrate on the ego, you will attain Buddhi (intellect), which is a purer I-sense than that of Ahaṅkāra. It is not the Supreme I-consciousness either, but a mere reflection of this transcendental state.
3 Cit
or
Saṁvitti
After becoming completely conscious of Buddhi, when you become identified with Puruṣa (tattva 12) or the individual soul, through 1) a renunciation of the subtle mutation perceived in Buddhi due to an intense desire of Liberation, 2) the stoppage of all mental activity because of a great capacity to attain the aforesaid Liberation, and 3) the discrimination of the difference between Buddhi (intellect) and Puruṣa, it is said that you have gotten to the stage known as Cit or Saṁvitti. It is to be noted that the use of Khecarīmudrā is specially recommended for gaining access to this stage.
4 Niveśa or Sanniveśa It is simply to become firmly established in Puruṣa.
5 Vyāpti After going through Niveśa, you get to Vyāpti. You realize you have arrived in this stage since you experience all-pervasiveness and omnipresence. It is a really high state of consciousness, undoubtedly. Śāktopāya
6 Tyāga Afterward, you enter a stage in which you renounce the effort, that is, you cease striving to attain to the spiritual goal. It is renouncing one's own effort or practice to let the Supreme State come by Itself.
7 Ākṣepa This is the final stage or Enlightenment. Liberation or Emancipation is another name for it. When arriving in Ākṣepa, you experience Śiva-Śakti in complete unity. In other words, you fully understand that You are Śiva and the entire universe is Your Body or Śakti. Śāmbhavopāya and Anupāya
Sthāna-
kalpanā

(the stage
in which
you use an external object, the body itself or your breath as an
object of meditation)
Fixing one's own attention on the vital air You should merely pay attention to the natural process of breathing in and out. Just try to feel the vital air coming in and going out through your nostrils. This will make your mind peaceful, and when the mind is in that condition, Self-realization is at hand.
Fixing one's own attention on the physical body In this case, you use your entire body or parts of it as a support for your meditation. You let the mind become onepointed on the body, and in due course of the process of concentration, it will abandon all thoughts. And consequently, with the abandonment of all thoughts, final Liberation is really near.
Fixing one's own attention on something outside Finally, if you cannot meditate on the vital air or your physical body, you choose something outside (a picture, the light of a candle, a mystic diagram and so on) as a support for your concentration. The final goal is always the same thing... to make the mind become empty from thoughts.

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 Concluding remarks

With the present document, I finished giving an overview of the four Upāya-s (Means or Methods) stated by Trika. In this document, the last three methods of Āṇavopāya have been studied to a certain extent. Through the next documents (Meditation 6, etc.), I will go even deeper into my analysis of the Upāya-s. As I teach always, theory alone is not enough. You should practice along with your study of the theory. If you do not practice, you are only an "armchair philosopher" without any practical and real experience in the subjects you talk about. Theory and practice are the wings of the bird on which you fly directly toward complete Liberation. If one wing is not working at all, you will not even take off, no doubt.

Besides, you can find various techniques pertaining to the four Upāya-s in "The three means" (Trika section). See you soon.

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 Further Information

Gabriel Pradīpaka

This document was conceived by Gabriel Pradīpaka, one of the two founders of this site, and spiritual guru conversant with Sanskrit language and Trika philosophy.

For further information about Sanskrit, Yoga and Indian Philosophy; or if you simply want to comment, ask a question or correct a mistake, feel free to contact us: This is our e-mail address.