Mani = pearl, jewel Pūra = place, city
After we have passed through the levels of unconscious and subconscious – the Mūlādhāra Chakra and the Svādishthāna Chakra – our consciousness reaches the third level, the Manipūra Chakra. With the realisation of the Manipūra Chakra the aspirant has reached an important stage on the spiritual path. For once the consciousness has unfolded in the Manipūra Chakra there is a greater likelihood that – under the guidance of a Realised Master – one can attain the goal of Supreme Consciousness in this lifetime. At the Manipūra Chakra more than of half the journey towards realisation has already been completed.
The position of the Manipūra Chakra is in the middle of the abdomen behind the navel; this is why it is also known as the Navel Centre. More precisely speaking, its area of influence radiates out about 7cm above and below the navel. Its counterpart in the body is the Solar Plexus.
The Manipūra Chakra is the “City of Jewels” in which we find the pearls of clarity, wisdom, self-confidence and wellbeing. Their lustre radiates down to the lower Chakras as well as up to the Heart Centre (Anāhata Chakra). The feelings of love and happiness that we feel in our heart actually originate in the Manipūra Chakra and rise from there to the Anāhata Chakra. The positive radiance emanating from the Manipūra Chakra also purifies the Svādhishthāna and Mūlādhāra Chakras and their qualities.
Passion becomes pure selfless love; through the light of wisdom, prejudice and aversion change to respect and understanding; and envy and insatiable greed change to goodwill and healthy moderation. With the gaining of self-confidence, pride and jealousy change to modesty and generosity, ignorance changes into clarity, and laziness into focussed, consistent effort.
As already said for the Mūlādhāra and Svādhishthāna Chakras, the simultaneous activation of the Āgyā Chakra (Eyebrow Centre) is a great help on the spiritual path. This is also the case here. The beneficial qualities of the Manipūra Chakra can only reach perfection in conjunction with the Āgyā Chakra, because when we depend only on the inspiration of one of them we can easily become confused.
Decisions that are based only upon the Manipūra Chakra, the so-called “gut-feelings”, are often intuitively correct, but can be distorted by strong emotions and therefore be “irrational”. And judgements based only on intellect lack complete and integrated vision. Therefore both Chakras are important for clarity of purpose; with the “right feeling” of the Manipūra Chakra being guided and examined by “Viveka” (discrimination), a quality of the Āgyā Chakra.
Self-awareness and self-confidence are other pearls of the Manipūra Chakra. Until we discover these pearls within us and raise them into the light we live in constant fear – fear that we will not be loved, that we will be a failure, fear of becoming ill, of dying, etc. Many of our fears are produced by blockages in the Manipūra Chakra.
The Manipūra Chakra is closely connected to the psyche. Psychic problems frequently give rise to digestive problems. For example, many people react to fear or stressful situations with abdominal pain or diarrhoea.
The Tattva (element) of the Manipūra Chakra is TEJAS (fire), and therefore this Chakra is also known as the Fire or Sun Centre. The Fire Element manifests within the body as body heat. The Manipūra Chakra controls our energy balance and supplies the digestive organs with energy. When it fans and regulates the “digestive fire” it also makes an important contribution to a stable and healthy constitution.
The Manipūra Chakra is also described as the “Cosmic Door” because it provides an entry for numerous astral powers. It is the centre of the HARA , a power centre or “Lion’s Centre” that bestows upon us balance, stability, strength and activity. It works as an energy transformer that converts and supplies the body with the cosmic energy (Prāna) that is absorbed with our food.
On the physical level the function of this Chakra is similar to that of a fireplace. When we put wood into the grate the flames are fed; but when the wood is almost gone the fire will gradually die. The “firewood” for our digestive fire (Jatharāgni) is the food that we eat. Foods that have a strong, positive vibration are grains, nuts, fruit and vegetables. So just as bad wood does not burn well, food of a lesser quality also generates less power and poorer health; and “heated” reactions such as rage, anger and aggression also draw energy from the Manipūra Chakra and as a result weaken it.
A good fireplace will provide heat for a long time without constantly having to put on more wood; but a badly functioning fireplace does not heat as well and will cool down as soon as the fuel begins to run low. When the energy of our food is not properly absorbed, utilised and distributed in the Manipūra Chakra we feel tired, weak and ill, but with an active Manipūra Chakra the body is provided with sufficient energy, even if we have only eaten or slept a little. This is why the Manipūra Chakra is the most important energy centre for our physical well-being.
An imbalance or blockage in the Manipūra Chakra paralyses and destroys our energy and triggers diverse physical and psychic problems. If we are unable to think clearly, to express our thoughts and feelings, or if our mind is foggy there is often a disturbance in the Manipūra Chakra. Numerous complaints such as Diabetes, skin diseases, cardio-vascular diseases, Gout, Arthritis, rheumatic diseases, many types of migraines, allergies and many more can trace their origin back to a lack of energy within the Manipūra Chakra and a badly functioning digestive system.
It is tremendously important for both our physical and mental health that we consume healthy, energy giving food that has a pure, positive vibration. Before we eat we should find out where the food has come from and what qualities it contains. It is not only the nutrients that are important but also the subtle vibrations of the food, which have a marked effect on the body, mind and our spiritual energy. These vibrations can considerably alter our physical wellbeing, our thoughts, feelings and vitality. A basic question we should put to ourselves is: “Is the food we are eating connected with the pain, suffering or death of any living being?”
Daily, hundreds of thousands of animals are cruelly slaughtered for consumption. Apart from the fact that meat is detrimental for our physical health it is extremely harmful for our consciousness and has serious karmic consequences. Just as they are still doing today, Yogis have been warning people for thousands of years about the karmic consequences of killing animals, and also the danger to their health caused by the consumption of meat (a fact which nowadays is undeniable, with the spreading of animal diseases such as BSE, Foot and Mouth Disease, Swine Fever, etc., and also the feeding of antibiotics and hormones to animals).
Together with the meat that we consume we absorb the vibration of the fear of death, the pain and the despair of the animal. This fear sinks into the subconscious and comes to light again in our dreams and meditation. How subtly the food works can be seen in the following story:
A Yogi lived in a little hut outside a village and each day the villagers provided him with a meal. In the village lived a thief who also wanted to gain the blessings of the Yogi, so one day he went and offered the Yogi a meal. But the Yogi refused to accept anything from him. Hurt, the thief left and changed his plan. He then instructed the owner of a café to prepare and deliver a midday meal to the Yogi, for which he paid. The owner carried out the instructions and the Yogi ate the meal not suspecting that the thief had paid for it.
During his evening meditation a very peculiar thought suddenly arose in the mind of the Yogi. He had a compulsive desire to acquire the gold statue of Krishna from the temple. The longing for it was so strong that in the middle of the night he crept into the temple and stole the statue of Lord Krishna. But he was observed by the guard who immediately ran into the village and sounded the alarm.
The Yogi ran as quickly as he could down towards the river with the golden Krishna under his arm. He jumped into the water – and then abruptly stopped. The cold water had brought clarity to his confused thoughts and he became conscious of just what he had done, and of the awkward situation he now found himself in as the villagers approached him shouting angrily.
With great presence of mind the Yogi decided on a ruse. He acted as though he were performing a Pūjā . As his pursuers approached they saw what appeared to be a ritual bathing of the form of Krishna with the Yogi chanting Mantras. This calmed them down and afterwards they returned with the Yogi to re-instal the statue in its rightful place.
It was completely incomprehensible to the Yogi how his mind was able to have become so confused. Then it occurred to him to ask the man who had brought him his last meal. He called him and questioned him about where the food had come from. This person then admitted that the thief was the true donor of the meal. Now the Yogi was clear about where the desire to steal had come from. The vibrations of the thoughts of the thief were in the food and it was in this way that they had been transmitted to him.
To neutralise bad vibrations and influences that we are unaware of within our food it is recommended that we say a prayer before eating. This transforms the subtle vibrations of the food and has a harmonising influence on the Manipūra Chakra. But a prayer said at the beginning of a meal still does not give us a “karmic licence”. It is unable to protect us from harmful substances or from the karmic consequences that arise from the consumption of meat, due to the slaughter, or from condoning the slaughter, of animals. God is the Creator of all living beings, so how can He be happy when we destroy His Creation?
This sequence of Mantras is a very beautiful prayer to repeat before eating:
OM ANNAPŪRNE SADĀPURNE SHANKARA PRĀNA-VALLABHE
GYĀNA-VAIRĀGYA-SIDDHĀRTHE BIKSHĀM DEHI CHA PĀRVĀTĪ
MĀTĀ CHA PĀRVATĪ DEVĪ PITĀ DEVO MAHESHWARAH
BĀNDHAVĀH SHIVA BHAKTĀSHCHA SVADESHO BHUVANATRAYAM
OM PŪRNAMIDAH PŪRNAMIDAM PŪRNAT PŪRNAMUDACHYATE
PŪRNASYA PŪRNAMĀDĀYA PŪRNAMEVĀVASHISHYATE
SHUBHAM KAROTI KALYĀNAM AROGYAM DHAN SAMPADĀH
SHATRU-BUDDHIR-VINĀSHĀYA DĪPA-JYOTIR-NAMO’STU TE
OM DĪP JYOTI PARABRAHMA DĪPAM SARVE MOHANAM
OM BRAHMĀ’RPANAM BRAHMA HAVIR BRAHMĀGNAU BRAHMANĀ HUTAM
BRAHMAIVA TENA GANTAVYAM BRAHMA-KARMA-SAMĀDHINĀ
OM SHĀNTIH SHĀNTIH SHĀNTIH
OM NAMAH PĀRVATĪ PATAYE, HARA HARA MAHĀDEVA HARA
The fire of the Manipūra Chakra is a sacred power. It is the flame of life into which the Yogi sacrifices not only his food, but also his conscious breathing (Prānāyāma). When we understand that the taking of food and oxygen are acts of giving not taking, then these activities acquire great spiritual significance.
There is one great disadvantage with the fire of the Manipūra Chakra. It is the duty and characteristic (Dharma) of fire to burn everything indiscriminately. It does not care at all whether it turns newspaper or banknotes into ash. Therefore, the nectar (Amrit), which is produced by the Bindu Chakra and is capable of slowing down the aging process and preserving our health and youthfulness, is burnt in the Manipūra Chakra before this valuable “elixir of life” can be utilised.
The functioning of the Manipūra Chakra is closely connected to the Pancreas. A displacement of the Pancreas is an important cause for an imbalance in the Manipūra Chakra. If the Pancreas is in its correct position one can feel a slight pulse at the centre of the navel; but sometimes the pulse can be felt further to the left or right, or a little above or below the navel. Through this shift in position different disorders such as headache, migraine, diarrhoea, abdominal pains, a lack of energy or feelings of anxiety can occur.
For example: If the pulse is perceptible above and to the left of the navel, respiratory problems can arise; if it is to the left of the navel it can be the cause of emotional problems; to the right it can produce energy blockages; and to the right and below the navel, digestive disorders can occur. However, there are some exercises that can correct the positioning of the Pancreas, and in this way the flow of energy in the Manipūra Chakra can again be brought back into balance. As a result the symptoms in many cases improve rapidly.
A symbol of the Manipūra Chakra is the ten-petalled Lotus blossom. The petals represent the ten Prānas (currents and energy vibrations) that are regulated by the Manipūra Chakra. Prāna has two meanings: Firstly, it is the all-pervading energy that fills the entire Universe – the Cosmic Mother who nourishes our soul . Prānic energy streams through all objects and all living beings and is “coloured” by their qualities. The second meaning of Prāna is “God”, or the “Self”.
Here we are talking about Prāna in the first sense – life force, vitality, that we absorb with the oxygen that we breathe and the food that we eat. The ten Prānas are divided into five Prāna-Vāyus and five Upa Prānas. They regulate the five Karma Indriyas (the organs of action) and the five Gyāna Indriyas (the organs of knowledge, or perception), which together are responsible for other important life-supporting functions.
The five Prāna Vayus are: PRĀNA, APĀNA, UDĀNA, SAMĀNA and VYĀNA. Prāna is responsible for inhalation, Apāna for exhalation, Udāna for ingestion of food, Samāna for digestion and Vyāna for circulation and nervous system. The five Upa Prānas are: NĀGA, KŪRMA, DEVADATTA, KRIKALA and DHANANJAYA. Nāga controls the function of burping, Kūrma the movement of the eyelids, Devadatta yawning, Krikala sneezing and Dhananjaya nourishes and strengthens the body and stabilises the function of the organs.
As the ten Prānas radiate through the whole body it is understandable just how important a strong and harmonious Manipūra Chakra is for all the functions within the body.
There are two basic functions within the body - reception of energy (Prāna) and elimination of waste (Apāna). The energies of Prāna and Apāna meet at the Manipūra Chakra. They represent the two basic functions of giving and taking, expansion and contraction, assimilation and elimination. Both forces should be able to function freely; disturbances or blockages lead to illness and, in extreme cases, even to death.
Prāna is the “receiving power” that enables and controls the supply of energy to the body. Its seat is in the upper body. Through this Prāna we receive oxygen, which is essential for life, and the life force that exists within the air we breathe.
Apāna is the “eliminating power” that brings about detoxification through excretion, secretion and exhalation. Its seat is in the lower abdomen. If Apāna Vāyu cannot flow freely then it results in toxicity within the body. Illnesses or diseases that affect the lower abdomen, intestines, kidneys, urinary tract, legs, etc., result from a disturbance of Apāna Vāyu.
Prāna and Apāna not only have a physical but also a very important spiritual function. Through certain advanced Yoga techniques (Kriyās) the energy currents of Prāna and Apāna can be united in the Manipūra Chakra and guided into the Sushumnā Nādī (Central Nervous System). When this occurs the Kundalinī energy rises to the Sahasrāra Chakra and the meditator experiences the state of Samādhi, supreme consciousness.
But this Prānic energy is also influenced by our own mental radiation, by our individual qualities, feelings and thoughts. For as long as the Prānic energy remains polluted and encumbered by karmic “waste” it is not possible for the energy to rise and unite with the divine.
The animal symbol of the Manipūra Chakra is the RAM, a fiery and lively animal. The animal symbol of a Chakra indicates that at this particular stage of development we are still connected to nature. As the development of the embryo within the mother’s womb indicates, we carry the genetic makeup of plants as well as animal and human life within us and must therefore constantly make allowance for these qualities and aspects of consciousness that form our evolutionary base.
Another symbol of the Manipūra Chakra is an inverted TRIANGLE. This symbol is also encountered in the Mūlādhāra Chakra. The downward pointing tip of the triangle symbolises the origin, and the upward spreading sides of the triangle indicate growth and development. The triangle is also a symbol for the flame of the Manipūra Chakra that expands and rises upwards.
VISHNU and LAKSHMĪ are the divinities that reside in the Manipūra Chakra. Lakshmī is the goddess of wealth and prosperity. This does not refer only to the material, but primarily to health and spiritual prosperity. Health and a cheerful nature are very valuable possessions that make our life successful and happy. Lakshmī is the “celestial counterpart” of Māyā. Her gifts are perfect and constant happiness. Lakshmī symbolises the rising spiritual energy, whereas Māyā diverts the consciousness towards the material.
Here Vishnu personifies the progression towards human consciousness, spiritual growth and creativity. In mythology Lord Vishnu rests in the middle of an infinite ocean on the coiled up body of a thousand-headed snake (Sheshanāga), and the snake carries the earth on its heads. As soon as the snake moves its heads a little an earthquake occurs. From Vishnu’s navel a Lotus grows upwards, and from its opening petals Lord Brahmā, the creator of the world, appears.
What does this mythological image say to us?
First we will examine the significance of the world resting on the snake’s heads. Shesha means thousand, but also “the rest”, what is left over. When diversity is removed, there remains only unity – Truth (Satya). The earth, which is the basis of our existence, is therefore based on the one divine truth and reality. When this foundation of our existence begins to shake, it means that if we fall from unity into duality, a “trembling” of our consciousness occurs and we lose the inner peace and harmony with our Self and creation.
As Kundalinī (Serpent Power), the world-snake also represents the Mūlādhāra Chakra upon which our consciousness and personality are founded.
In the Shastras it is said that the first movement (Sphurana) that led to the creation of the Universe came from Lord Vishnu. Therefore the Lotus that grows from Lord Vishnu’s navel centre – the Manipūra Chakra – symbolises the primal sound OM from which creation began. Therefore the Lord of Creation, Brahmā, is found here.
The element of the Manipūra Chakra is fire, a symbol for activity and creativity. So in this archetype of creation we find all the elements – Earth, Water, Fire, Air (Sound) and Space.
Recapitulating briefly on our journey through the Chakras up till now: The divinity of the Mūlādhāra Chakra is Pashupati Shiva who accompanies evolution from animal consciousness to the beginning of human consciousness. In the Svadhishthāna Chakra we encounter Brahmā who awakens Buddhi (intellect) and Viveka (reason) within humans. And Lord Vishnu symbolises the human consciousness purified of animal qualities, which has its beginning in the Manipūra Chakra.
In the Hindu trinity Lord Vishnu is the protector. Just as a mother protects and nourishes her child, the Manipūra Chakra safeguards and supports our life by distributing the energy that we take in through eating, drinking and breathing.
The colour of the Manipūra Chakra is YELLOW-ORANGE and its radiation is GREEN, the complimentary colour of red. It has the colour of a pure flame that gives light and energy and removes all pollutants.
On one hand, “fire” means aggression, passion, inner heat and restlessness – and on the other hand it means purification and refinement. In the Manipūra Chakra we have the unique opportunity to free ourselves once and for all of bad qualities and habits. When we consign our doubts and weaknesses, such as anger and envy, to the fire of the Manipūra it burns them to ash on the spot. Therefore we should not guide the energy of such emotions to the head or the heart where it causes blockages, tension and pain, but to our inner fireplace.
Mahāprabhujī says in one Bhajan:
Ignite the fire of the Manipūra and throw all your doubts and ignorance into this fire.
And in another Bhajan, Mahāprabhujī sings of the inner fire of the Manipūra Chakra:
Oh Yogis, why do you kindle a fire in the jungle?
My fire burns without wood and generates no smoke.
It is the inner fire that glows through Prāna Shakti.
In the middle of this fire flows the Holy Ganges,
In which Yogis refresh themselves.
Here, fire stands for the Pingalā Nādī and the Ganges for the Idā Nādī , the nerve channels which run along the right and left sides of the body. The Pingalā Nādī is activated through the breath in the right nostril. Its energy is warming like the light of the sun. Idā Nādī is activated through the breath in the left nostril. Its radiation is like that of the soft and cool light of the moon.
Also in the same Bhajan it further says:
The voices of these Yogis ring out with beauty and purity
In harmony with the rhythm of eternity.
This rhythm is NĀDA, the pulse beat of the Universe that we are able to feel in the navel and perceive as a subtle sound in meditation. Another basic rhythm that resounds within us is SO HAM – “That I am”. It is the call of the soul that we are able to perceive in deep meditation.
Nāda (sound, vibration) is the foundation stone of the Universe. As Nāda is compressed the subtle and gross elements are formed. The resonance of its vibration pulsates within us as life force (Prāna).
The Bīja Mantra of the Manipūra Chakra is RAM. This sound developed from the vibration caused by the meeting of the Nādīs in this centre. If we sing RAM for some time and specifically allow the “R” to vibrate, we become conscious of a pleasant feeling of warmth and the flow of energy.
The seat of words is in the Manipūra Chakra. This is demonstrated by the following experiment: Place your thumb on your navel and say a word out loud. You will notice that you feel the vibration of the sound first in the navel before it is discernable on your lips. The sound begins in the navel, rises to the larynx, and manifests as sound from the lips. Exercises that strengthen and harmonise the Manipūra Chakra are therefore also beneficial for all types of speech impediments.
“While your hands work carry God’s name on your lips.” and “Allow your words to flow like radiant pearls from your lips.”
The best word of all is God’s name, the Mantra. Therefore always practise your Mantra. If you do not have a personal Mantra then mentally repeat OM SHĀNTI. OM is the original sound of the divine and SHĀNTI means peace. You will experience how this vibration fills your inner being with harmony, strength and peace, and through this your attitude to the external world and your fellow beings will change for the better.
In Buddhism there is a much-recited Mantra – OM MANI PADME HUM . This Mantra means: “My adoration to the Lotus Feet of the Master” or “My adoration to the Master of the Jewelled City”. It also says: “I am the jewel in the Lotus – my Self carries all these jewels as divine qualities within”. The Lotus, as the symbol for beauty, clarity, wisdom, bliss and spiritual awakening, corresponds precisely to the qualities of the Manipūra Chakra. This is why the vibration of the Mantra, OM MANI PADME HUM, influences this Chakra particularly and frees us from inner problems and complexes.
Those who pray, meditate and repeat their Mantra daily are blessed. Through effort, knowledge, trust in God and the blessing of the Master (Guru Kripā) everything turns around for the better. Choose God as your constant companion on your journey through life while you allow God’s name to constantly resonate within you. Those who feel God within live in eternal joy and never feel sad or abandoned.
At the beginning of your meditation always concentrate firstly on the Manipūra Chakra. If this energy centre is relaxed then the Mūlādhāra Chakra and Svādhishthāna Chakra will also automatically relax. Then the energy can flow upwards unhindered, streaming outwards and upwards to the heart. Through this you experience a happy and deep meditation.
When the energy flows harmoniously within the Manipūra Chakra a feeling of total wellbeing develops within us; and when we feel well everything goes smoothly. This feeling of wellbeing permeates the entire body, mind and psyche and is therefore an important prerequisite for our health and ongoing spiritual development.