BA PART III : PAPER 5.15
Introduction to Varnamala
Sabda is sound, which is more ancient than gods and men, precedes creation, and is eternal, indivisible, creative, and imperceptible in its subtle form. Sound is not just what you hear with your ear. Wherever there is motion and vibration of any kind that is sound, according to Woodroffe. Movement causes sound; we do not have instruments to pick up the sound of the movement of subatomic particles.Sound is classified as follows: Sphota, Nada, Anahata, and Ahata. Vak (Vaak) means word, sound or sabda; the Latin Vox comes from Sanskrit Vaak. Sphota literally means bursting and is eternal, indivisible, creative, and imperceptible. Tantra literature goes further in elaborating Sphota. Sphota is derived from the world Sphut meaning to burst or to open like a bud. The implication is (as the bud opens) as the word is sounded or articulated, the meaning of the word is revealed. The letter or letters by themselves carry no meaning until we connect them with an object or idea. When that object or idea is cognized, Sphota takes place. Sphota, before it opens, is in an undifferentiated partless state. It resides in Sabda Brahman, the Brahman of Sounds. When it differentiates it falls into two parts: Sabda and Artha, Sound and Meaning. Sound exists as Nada in Sabda Brahman and the force that makes it blossom is Bindu, which is also resident in Sabda Brahman. Unmanifested Sound = Avyakta Sabda; Manifested Sound = Vyakta Sabda. Bindu is enzymatic and has the same function as the Maya of Brahman of Upanishads. Brahman transforms into Isvara with Maya as an instrument or enzyme that makes the world visible to the senses. Maya of Suddha Saivism does not have the same meaning found in Upanishads. In the former, it means the building blocks of the universe--Tattvas or Saktis. But Maya (illusion) of Isvara, the clinical Brahman of both Siva and Vishnu, have the same functionality. Refer to BG Chater 7 Knowledge and Realization: Chapter7, Verse 14 commentary on Maya. Nada: This sound is perceptible only to a Rishi. Nad is flow and Nada is sound. Anahata means unbeaten, unstruck, unwound, intact; new and unbleached; a sound that is produced by means other than by beating or of two objects striking each other. It generally means ‘OM.’ In this context it means that the sound is potentially existent, as in thought, preverbal in its evolution and expression. It is latent sound, ready to unwind from the mind and find expression. Analogy used to hear the unstruck sound is to occlude or cover both your ears with the cupped palm and hear the buzz. Here it is not really an unstruck sound, because the blood flow in the capillaries and other blood vessels striking the vessel walls create that sound which is perceived by the auditory apparatus and interpreted as buzz by the hearing area of the brain. Anyhow that conveys the idea what an unstruck sound is. In Yogis practicing meditation, it is a mystic sound whose origin is assumed to be transcendental. It is not hallucination, which, if it is, is welcomed by Yogis. It is also heard by the dying, whose origin is unknown. For Buddhists, it is ‘a sound of golden bell.’ In Kundalini Yoga (the fourth Chakra or plane, Anahata or heart Chakra), it is a sound of Sabdabrahman, which needs no clanging of two objects (to produce the sound). It is the sound not of the tongue or larynx, but of the spiritual heart. Devotee’s (Bhakta) attention is focused on Anāhata plane of the heart, while Yogis concentrate on Ajna Chakra of the glabella (forehead) and the Vedantists seek the Para Nada in Hiranya Garba, the Golden Egg of the inverted thousand-petaled Sahasrara Chakra on the crown. Brahma (Siva’s surrogate or manifestation for creation) is the source of all Sounds. In Egyptian mythology, the heart is the center of consciousness. Thoughts in the heart morphed into words on the tongue which when uttered by Ptah became gods, people, cities, temples, and places of Egypt. Such is the power of words of the God Ptah of Memphis. Brahma had mind-born sons along the same lines as Ptah had thought and word-born beings. Egyptian god thinks in his heart while Brahma thinks in the head. Atum, the God of Heliopolis, the creator coexisted with Ptah in their creative process. There is agreement between Egyptian and Indian view that the sound has its seat in the heart. According to Indian belief sound exists in all Kundalini Chakras. In the heart it exists as Anahata (unstruck sound).Ahata means struck, or beaten as a drum. It is a struck sound; it has a known origin. It encompasses all sounds heard and unheard by humans within the decibel and frequency range of animals and humans. It is unlike ;da which is heard only by Rishis or Seers. Sound is of divine origin. In combination with Bindu (Light), ;da/Nada is the incorporeal cause of (this material world, including) personal god Siva and Sakti, from whom all tattvas and universe originated. Here personal god Siva (Isvara) is different from formless ParaSiva, who is ontologic and hierarchical superior; the latter is the origin of Bindu and Nada. To put it differently, Isvara is the progeny (son, grandson etc) of God, Parasiva. Paraparam, the God (the Highest and Beyond the beyond), the male aspect, in Consciousness, consorted with Paraparai (the divine energy of Siva) and gives birth to Param (the excellent or the Supreme). Param, in union with Parai (Energy) gives birth to Nada (Sound) which unites with Bindu (Light), Siva and Sakti. Siva, Sakti, Nada and Bindu form the Quadplex or Tetralogy, the basis, on which all constructs of Saiva Siddhanta are built. With Jnana and Kriya Saktis (equivalent to Sattva and Rajas), the Lord is the Sound (Nada) itself. Sound evolves from subtle to gross form. The Lord enters Muladhara plane as Paranada, the most subtle form of sound. As the sound rises through other planes and acquires more attributes, it ends in Vaikhari (speech), the gross sound which consists of Varna (letters of the alphabet), syllable, letter, pitch, Matra (measures), and Svara (accents, rhythm). Articulation or Vaikhari is the grossest expression of Divine Sound Energy. The Lord materializes first as Para Vani (Primal Subtle Sound) in Muladhara Chakra, materializes himself as Pasyanti in Manipura Chakra at the level of the navel, reveals himself as unexpressed Madhyama sound in Anahata Chakra at the level of the heart and eventually as Vaikhari speech in the throat. The Para sound exists in the body of Isvara; Pasyanti and Madhyama exist in the body of jiva; Vaikhari is the end result of differentiated sound. The Primal Sound is the most subtle and as it descends from Paranada, it assumes gross forms eventually resulting in speech. Kundalini Sound is classified as follows:Para Nada: (The Transcendental Sound) The Primal Sound’s seat is at the Muladhara plane of Kundalini. It is undifferentiated sound, though it is the source of root ideas or germ thoughts. It is not within the reach of ordinary consciousness. Nada Yogis claim that Para Nada is a high frequency sound, so high that it does not stir or produce vibrations; it is a still sound. Pasyanti (seeing, observing—Visual Sound) Its seat is Manipura Chakra or Svadhistana plane at the level of navel. Yogis experience it in the form of color and form, which are common to all languages. It is akin to universal sign language, which is understood by all cultures, animals, birds, and humans. All body parts participate in Pasyanti language: the ears, the eyes, the limbs and so on. When someone bares his teeth, raises his sword or points his gun, that is a visual sound of aggression. The near comparison is sights and sounds in a dream, in which there is no actual sound; the ear does not hear because there is no external source for the sound; if the ear hears, you will wake up. It is neither produced by an instrument or by a vocal organ nor heard by anatomical ears. It is a mental sound; it is heard by the inner ear (not the inner ear of anatomist). Where is the visual aspect to this sound? When you chant the name of Krishna or Ram silently within yourself while visualizing him in color and form, that visualization in the chant is Pasyanti. Its frequency is less than the high frequency sound of Para Nada. When you take, raise and flail a stick, the nearby bird flies off; that is the universal Pasyanti visual sound, interpreted by most land animals as visual sound of aggression. It is the visual language of the body. Pasyanti BhAva associated with manas is the state of Kundalini when she reaches Svadhistana plane. Madhyama (middle, intermediate—Mental Sound): Its seat is the heart (Anahata Chakra). The sound is of the heart and not of the tongue, associated with Buddhi. The yogis experience flashes of transcendental knowledge from the Source. Its frequency is in the hearing range. Anahata sounds heard by the yogis are chini, chini-chini (onomatopoetic sounds), the sound of bell, conch, lute, cymbals, flute, drum, Mridanga (double-drum), and the last thunder. These ten Anahata sounds can be heard at random subsequently and only during meditation. Ahata Sound as opposed to Anahata is the sound that is produced by an external sound producer such as a drum and perceived by an anatomical sensory organ such as ear. Anahata sounds originating in the spiritual heart are perceived by the non-anatomical spiritual or subtle ear. Para Brahman is attained, when one hears the tenth sound; that is lysis or absorption; you and the sound become one; one enters into Bliss. As the Yogi hears these sounds, he becomes adept in knowing hidden things, hears Para Vak, develops divine eye and eventually becomes one with Para Brahman. Vaikhari: (Articulation, Speech) It is the speech that originates in the larynx. Vaikhari is the mother (origin) of letters of Alphabet (Varna), syllables (Pada), words (Vak), and sentences (Vakya). The stages of sound from the most subtle to articulated sound have concordance with the evolution of Primal Being from Avyakta through Brahman, Isvara, Hiranyagarbha, and Virat, the last being the manifest world. The sound in Muladhara is Tamasic, impinges the mind upon arriving in Svahistana or Manipura Chakras, takes on the color of Buddhi upon arriving in Anahata or heart plane and flows out in combinations of fifty letters upon the arrival of Kundalini in the Visuddha (larynx) plane.
Nada Yogis and Tirumular believe that the universe originates from Sound. Sabda (sound) Brahman or Nada Brahman is the cause of the universe. All major and some lesser known religions pronounce Sound as the origin of the universe. Nada is the mother (originator) of five subtle elements, five gross elements, five motor organs, five sensory organs, four karanas, three gunas and others. Fire exists in the wood as latent heat and fire, and that is (latent) Para Vani; friction of the wood manifests sparks and that is (the visual) Pasyanti; a small flame is Madhyama; and the big flame is Vaikhari. Wind (air) is the mediator and facilitator of spark and fire as it is the mediator of Sound also; the (mediator) Lord serves the same purpose in sound and speech. Para Vani, Pasyanti, and Madhyama are the subtle sounds, remaining deep and unfathomable, while Vikhari is the gross sound, which can be quantified (and qualified). Vaikhari starts as Pranava (OM) and assumes characters and characteristics to become Vedas (and spoken and written words). Para resides in the breath or Prana, Pasyanti in mind, Madhyama in Indriyas (body parts and organs), and Vaikhari in larynx. Paranada is the Supreme Sound Energy; it is transcendental. It shows as sprout in Para Vani, two leaves in Pasyanti, buds in Madhyama, blossoms in Vaikhari or Vak. Blossoms look beautiful but Vaikhari is the lowest of sounds; Para is the highest of sounds, because that is where the germ ideas originate.
Verse 2007 Tirumantiram Para Sound or transcendental Sound (Nada Tattva) originates from Siva Tattva, the First of the Suddha Tattvas and remains there in its most subtle state. Para Sound (Para Sabda) stays unmanifested in Kundali Sakti according to Tantras. It is a Tamasic sound in Muladhara. Pasyanti or visual sound originates from Sakti Tattva (Kundali Sakti), the 2nd of the Suddha Tattvas. Since Pasyanti sound is visual, Sakti Tattva is also known as Bindu Tattva, Bindu for Light. Creation is Sound and Light Show and therefore, Nada and Bindu are two sides of the same coin. But Nada is recognized as the origin of Bindu. While the coin is minted, Nada is the first stamp on the coin and Bindu is the 2nd stamp. The fifty letters of the Sanskrit alphabet form the garland of heads (skulls) in Mahakali. She is the causal source of Sabda or sound and speech; she absorbs them back into herself at Maha Pralaya. Sabda Brahman or Sound Brahman is the manifest Brahman of sounds in all breathing creatures. Sabda finds expression in various creatures according to the level and sophistication of Sound Consciousness of Sabda Brahman in each species. When creation takes place, it is said that Viparita Maithuna (reversed coition) of Mahakali and Mahakala (Sakti and Siva) takes place, and Bindu or seed is deposited in Prakrti resulting in the birth of Kundali Goddess in the nature and form of letters (Aksara). Kundalini acquires three gunas one by one, Sattva first, Rajas next and Tamas last. If it were not for these gunas, Iccha, Jnana and Kriya Saktis will not be immanent in the goddess. When Sattva (goodness and virtue) enters her, she is called Cit-Sakti ; the condition results in Paramaka-avastha (Excellent dwelling or house). When Sattva and Rajas (motion and passion) enter her, she is called Dhvani (Sound); the condition is called Aksara-avastha (sound house). When Sattva, Rajas and Tamas enters her, she is called Nada (sound); the condition is Avyakta-avastha, unmanifest dwelling. When Sattva (Jnana) is dominant , she is half Moon (Ardhendu). When Tamas abounds in Nada, she is an obstructor (Nirodika). When both Sattva and Rajas are equal, (Jnana and Iccha saktis, wisdom and will), she is Bindu. When Tamas enters her, the Lord or Goddess (Sakti) appears ready to create (Kriya sakti). At human level, Jnana, Ichha and Kriya (wisdom, will and action) are linear in that order; with Isvara, it is Ichha, Jnana and Kriya, linear in that order. The Great Will (Iccha Sakti) wells up in Isvara; the Lord knows (Jnana Sakti) what he wants to create; he acts on it (Kriya). In men, a prior knowledge preconditions the will to act. Jnana sakti is intrinsic in Siva sakti. Kundali has the following features: Iccha, Jnana, and Kriya; the gunas; the garland of letters (Varnamala). Kundalini settles down in Muladhara Chakra; She is known as Karana Bindu or Causal Bindu, the unmanifest precursor of sound (non-differentiated condition). When Karana Bindu undergoes evolution, it becomes Tribindu, three Bindus (Bindu, Nada and Bija); the first of the three is Karya Bindu (action Bindu), also called Sabdabrahman (Sound Brahman), which is static or motionless (Ni-Spanda, no motion) in Muladhara; sound is not in air for propagation. (Tri = three) When Sabdabrahman ascends to Manipura (Nabhi or Navel) area and associates with manas or mind, Pasyanti sound [Visual] sound is born. (Note 'Navel' is derived from Sanskrit word 'Naabhi.') This is first movement of sound, called Samanya-Spanda (common motion). When the modified Sabdabrahman proceeds from Manipura to the heart chakra and associates with buddhi, it becomes Madhyama or mental sound. This is special motion, called Visesa-Spanda. When this twice-modified Sabdabrahman proceeds to the larynx (Visuddha Chakra), its third motion is called distinct articulate sound. Sound and speech are compared to a tree: preverbal Vak (speech) sprouts in Para; Pasyanti leaf-bud sprouts, watered by mind; Madhyama flower-bud sprouts, nurtured and enriched by Buddhi (intellect); Vaikhari flower blooms as speech in the throat. Sabda is divided into lettered and visual, and unlettered and audible (Varnatkamaka Sabda and Dhvanyatmaka Sabda). The lettered sound is eternal while the audible sound is fleeting. The analogy goes as follows: A jar in the dark is revealed by lightning; that revelation is Dhvani, transient sound, though the jar was there before, during and after lightning (Varna). When an object is presented in the form of Varna (letters) or Dhvani (sound), the mind becomes the object and that is called Vrtti (mental modification). When you hear the word APPLE, your mind becomes the apple. The palpable apple is the gross object (Sthula artha) and the mental apple is the subtle object (Mental impression). Woodroffe points that the mind is thus both a cognizer (GrAhaka) and cognized (GrAhya), revealer (PrakAsaka) and revealed (PrakAsya), denoter (VAcaka) and denoted (VAcya). The mind cognizes the apple, becomes the apple, reveals the apple, is the apple itself, the fruit (its body) and its essence (unmanifest seed or juice). The same principle is applied to a devotee who worships a deity. Chanting of Mantra makes mental modifications. The terms denoter and the denoted are applied to Mantra, used in meditation. The power of Mantra is of two kinds: Vacaka Sakti and Vacya Sakti. Vacaka Sakti is to realize Saguna Brahman (Isvara, the fruit) and Vacya Sakti is to realize Nirguna Brahman (Brahman, the seed of the fruit). By meditating on the deity, he becomes the deity. There is an analogy given for this phenomenon, which is the Maxim of Wasp and Worm. A worm thinks of the dreaded sting of wasp and is so much preoccupied with it, it does not think of anything else and becomes a wasp in its mind. The mind is the mirror of the object it thinks of. Kundalini is represented as a serpent with fifty-one coils, which are the subtle forms of the fifty Sanskrit alphabets or Varnas (characters). This sound evolves from Para state at Muladhara to Vaikhari state in Visuddha Chakra, the throat center wherefrom articulate speech comes. One coil is Bindu; two coils, Prakrti-Purusa; three coils, three saktis, Iccha, Jnana, and Kriya and three gunas, Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas; three and a half coils, creative force with multitudinous transformations (Vikrti); and so on. Pasyanti state : Iccha (Will) Sakti at play. Madhyama state : Jnana (Knowledge) Sakti at play. Vaikhari State: Kriya (Action) Sakti at play. All this means the progress from will, to knowledge, to action in terms of manifestation of sound from transcendental, visual, mental and articulation stages. No reproduction without permission.