Yogi Bhajan Lecture Archive
Lecture by :
Siri Singh Sahib Bhai Sahib Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogi Ji
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Lecture on: 01/01/1973
Category: Class Lectures
Location: Unknown

You, the Tattvas & the Gunas

SAINTS AND SAGES HAVE TAUGHT MANKIND THAT whatever elements are found in the constitution of the Infinite Universe will also be found in the human body. The Universe is the entire Cosmos; and we are a microcosm of the entire Cosmos. If we were to take a thimbleful of sea water and examine it closely, we would find by chemical qualitative analysis that the constituents of the sea water in the thimble are identical to those of the vast ocean. Similarly, the constituents of our individual bodies are iden­tical to those of the Universe. It would be a strange finding if some element were found inside the human body which differed from the elements of the Universe. For there is One Creator who has created this Creation; and all manifested things are born from the One Source of all.

Our personality is dependent on which of the five gross elements predominates in our nature. If a person has the akasha tattva (the etheric element) predominating, then he will be the happiest, most carefree being in the world. Yet, the operations of the akasha tattva are not perceptible to our sense organs.
The sattva and rajas gunas, or forces, manifest in the vayu tattva, the element of air. This vayu is the vital force or prana in the body. It produces the cells and precious seeds. It keeps all of the bodily organs active and healthy, and circulates the blood and other fluids throughout the body. Vayu is not as subtle as ether (akasha). Though we cannot see vayu, we feel its touch.
The influence of the sattva guna is present in the first two tattvas. However, it is the force of rajas which expresses itself in agni tattva, the light, or fire energy. The light inside the body expresses itself in and through the gift of sight. Agni tattva is the main motive energy in the body—digesting our food, producing blood and other fluids, and sustaining the body. It is responsible for the nourishment and growth of the body.
The fourth essence is water—apas tattva—a manifestation of the forces of rajas and tamas. The operation of this element in the body is our capacity for taste, just as ether governs sound; and air governs sight. Also, gland secretions, blood, and semen origi­nate from this element of water.
Pritvi tattva, the basic element of earth, is an expression of the force of tamas. It mainly operates through our sense of smell. All the solid parts of the body—bones, skin, flesh, teeth, and mar-row—originate from this physical element of earth.
These five elements maintain the well-being of our physical body. In the great Universe, we likewise observe the play and interplay of the three great forces—vayu, agni, and apas. When we see lightning and thunder in the heavens, this is the interplay of forces. Without such interplay life could not go on.
The operations of a particular tattva comprise the entire body-system. There are main centers as well as subsidiary centers of operation. The chief center of operation of the akasha tattva (ether) is the throat—the space between the collar-bone and the nape of the neck. This is the vyama-granthi region of the body, which comprises the following principal glands: thyroid, parathy­roid, salivary, and tonsils. The essential secretions of these glands help mold our minds and keep them nourished. In vyama-granthi, sattva guna predominates. For this reason, a person with a supremacy of the vyama-granthi in his body possesses a mind in tune with the Supreme Consciousness. The vyama-granthi of females is much stronger than that of males. Therefore, in a woman we find that endearing qualities such as affection, love, unselfishness, and steadfastness are conspicuously present.
The main center of operation for the second tattva, vayu (air) is the chest region, which is also the seat of vayu-granthi. It includes five principal organs and glands: lungs, heart, thymus, cell producing glands and their subsidiaries. Air is the main protective element in the body. Anyone having vayu-granthi in a strong and healthy condition acquires self-control, balanced temperament, purity of thought, and becomes a great, unselfish worker.
The agni-granthi, or fire center, manifests through the spleen, liver, pancreas, and adrenal glands. Just as the heat of the sun makes life possible on Earth, the heat of the agni tattva sustains life in the body. The day this internal fire goes out means death to the individual as surely as this world would die if the sun refused to shine. Persons with a supremacy of this agni tattva are very vigorous, full of perseverance, and become untiring workers. They have a wonderful capacity for leadership and a directness of manner and speech.
The kidneys, sex glands, and the lymphatic system are physi­cal manifestations of the water, or apas tattva. We group them under the term varuna-granthi. People with a predominance of the varuna-granthi are very amiable. In their dealings with others, they are very sweet and pleasing and have a charming manner.
The foundation of the physical structure of our body—bones and flesh—is in the prithvi tattva, the earth essence. People with a predominance of pritvi-granthi usually have a body heavy with an excess of blood, flesh, and fat. They are lazy, but also patient, and they keep away from all conflicts and anxiety-producing concerns.

The mystery of the creation and the mystery of our bodies can be explained in terms of the tattvas. The trinity of three of these elements—air, fire and water—are the primal constituents of the material world. The whole material system would perish if this trinity were thrown out of balance. And the same trinity of three great elements in the body maintains the breath, body tempera­ture, and so on. They build and nourish the body with the help of blood, secretions, and other fluids produced in the body. If these are thrown out of balance, we ultimately fall prey to disease.

For the spiritual man, the sadhak, it is not enough to just have a healthy body. He realizes only too well that this body is a vehicle, which he leaves behind when he reaches his destination.
Similarly, we must transcend the centers in the body over which these essences or tattvas rule, to successfully relate our essence to the Essence of the Universe. A sadhak must not allow his consciousness to remain rooted at the lower centers of earth, water, and fire. For it is only when he raises his consciousness that he gets in tune with Divine Love (the heart center) and Universal Intuition (the throat center). And beyond even this, the true yogi must raise himself. He must merge totally with the Infinite.
Some yogis get tattva-siddhi by meditating on a particular cen­ter of consciousness. For example, meditating on the ether—its sound and its light for 40 days—will lead to a stage where that ether serves them. But it serves them as a slave who will rebel when free of the master. For when such a yogi who depends on form and the finite in his life dies, he cannot relate to the Infinite; he cannot tran­scend. And he becomes an earthbound spirit for incarnations. It is only by mastering a mantram or the Shabd Guru, the sacred sound current, that we move from gross to subtle and from subtle to Infinite.
Because: Mantram siddhim siddhim parmeshram. By per­fection of the mantram, God will serve one perfectly.
It is not enough to simply relate our physical elements to the cosmic elements. That identification can be a first step. But after that we must learn a technical know-how by which we mentally and spiritually tune into the Infinite Supreme Consciousness. And that know-how is called yoga: the science of union with the Higher Consciousness. That is each person’s birthright, a sacred duty, a longing— to belong to the Supreme Consciousness. Through Kundalini Yoga, the yoga of awareness, the yoga of the Aquarian Age, we can transcend our finite nature and merge with the Infinite.

In the name of the Cosmos which prevails through everyBODY, and the Holy Nam which holds the world.

Akasha ttvaVayu tattvaAgni tattvaApas tattvaPritivi tattva
Throat region, glandsChest regionBelly region, bloodSex organs, lymphatic systemBones, Flesh
SattvaSattva, RajasRajasRajas, TamasTamas
SteadfastBalanced, unselfishPreserving, directAmiablePatient, lazy

Wind taught him to be unattached. He should constantly be on the move to reach as many mature souls as possible. The wind is subtle, not perceptible to the eye. The sadhak’s way should be subtle; not an open book for all to read. He should be a mystic, living in the depths of the spirit; not on the surface of existence.
The sky, which is all-pervading, taught him to remain pure and unsullied; and it taught him subtlety. For ether is the most subtle of the five gross elements. Similarly, the Self is also subtle. The clouds of the sky only appear to color it. In reality it is forever blue. The dirt of this life only appears to soil the soul. In reality, the soul can never be soiled by anything.
Water taught him to be cool and compassionate to others; and it taught him to was clean and purify all who come in contact with him. Just as the water is always flowing, the sadhak should be continuously flowing and progressive, never stagnant.
Fire was his fifth teacher. Fire is bright. A sadhak should burn with spiritual illumination to cleanse the sins and impurities of the people who come to him. Fire drives away cold and gives warmth and heat. Just so, the sadhak should remove the people’s fear and dread of ignorance, and give them spiritual solace and comfort.
He became the greatest teacher because he consciously related to his unconscious essences – the powerful influence of his five elements – to these give five corresponding teachers of the universe.

The First Five Teacher

THERE IS A MOST BEAUTIFUL STORY in the Shastras about the interplay of these cosmic elements of the interplay of these cosmic elements of the Intimate with the microcosmic elements of intimate. There was a meek and humble sadhak [person on the spiritual path]. In his travels he learned from every teacher he encountered. His first five teachers were the five tattvas (gross elements) in the universe: Mother Earth, Wind (air), Sky (ether), Water, and Fire.
His first learned from Mother Earth. Just as a child’s first teacher is his mother, Mother Earth taught the sadhak. She taught the lesson of forgiveness. For even though man heaps mountains of waste and pollution on Mother Earth, she gives in return valuable minerals and food without which man could not survive. He learned the lesson that for all the abuse, criticism and negativity the sadhak receives from the outside world, he should give the benefit of his spiritual power, knowledge of self, and loving forgiveness.

Above Article Copyright © Yogi Bhajan 2002. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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