Swadhisthana Chakra

The header image for this article is a photograph taken by Johannes Plenio as found on Pexels.


Sacral Chakra

The purpose of this piece on the swadhisthana chakra is simply to clarify, for my own reference, the notes that I have taken over the years from two primary sources, the books Kundalini Tantra and Kundalini Yoga for the West. There are slight differences in their interpretations of various aspects of the chakras, in these notes both interpretations are listed, more often than not.

These notes below are taken from the book Kundalini Tantra by Swami Satyananda Saraswati

“One’s own dwelling place”, swadhisthana, is also involved in the awakening of kundalini in muladhara. It corresponds to the reproductive and urinary systems in the gross body and it is physiologically related to the prostatic or utero-vaginal plexus of nerves. Its location is at the base of the spine, at the level of the coccyx or tailbone.

Anatomically very close to muladhara, swadhisthana can be experienced as black in colour due to being the seat of primary ignorance, but traditionally it is represented as a six petalled vermillion or orange / red lotus. On each petal is a letter – bam, bham, mam, yam, ram, sam – written in the colour of lightning.

It is related to the water element, symbolized by the white crescent moon in the pericarp of the lotus. The moon is formed by two circles within engender two further yantras. The larger one with out-turned petals represents the conscious dimension of existence. The smaller one has petals facing inwards, representing the unconscious dimension, the state of formless karma. The two yantras are separated by a white crocodile, this is the vehicle which carries unconscious life and it symbolizes the subterranean movement of karmas.

Seated on the crocodile is the beeja (seed) mantra of swadhisthana, vam, stainless and white.

Within the bindu of the mantra reside the deity Vishnu and the devi Rakini. Vishnu has four arms, is a luminous blue and clothed in yellow rainment. Rakini is the colour of a blue lotus, clothed in celestial rainment and ornaments, her uplifted arms hold various weapons, her mind is exalted from drinking nectar. She is goddess of the vegetable kingdom, and as swadhisthana is closely related to the vegetable world, the observance of a vegetarian diet is an important practice for the awakening of this chakra.

Swadhisthana belongs to the bhuwarloka, the intermediate plane of spiritual awareness.

The tanmatra, sense of swadhisthana, is that of taste.

The jnanendriya, sense of knowledge of swadhisthana, is the tongue.

The karmendriya,  senses of actions of swadhisthana, are the sexual organs, kidneys, urinary system.

The chief vayu is apana coursing throughout the body.

Both swadhisthana and manipura are the seat of the pranamaya kosha.


Depiction of the Swadhisthana Chakra.

Note: For a fully detailed depiction of Swadhisthana please refer to one of the books listed as sources for these notes.

These notes below are taken from the book Kundalini Yoga for the West by Swami Sivananda Radha

Swadhisthana is the second chakra.

Its 52 rays relate to water.

Swadhisthana controls the sense of taste.

The colour of the six lotus petals is vermillion, indicating impulses, imagination and ideas stimulating to the mind.

The lotus within the lotus is the kunda flower.

The ambhoja mandala, the crescent moon, is luminous, white, cool and negative (receptive, inactive) representing water.

The makara looks like a combination of an alligator and a fish. It has a wide open mouth which swallows up everything without discrimination. This chakra governs imagination which creates desire leading to gratification, particularly of pleasure.

Beeja mantra – vam, the seed sound.

The deity of swadhisthana is Vishnu, the male aspect of energy unmanifest. Intelligence on this level is represented by Vishnu, the second aspect of the Hindu Trinity, the other two being Brahma, the creator and Siva the destroyer. Aspect of preservation is important to human life. Mind expresses itself through the physical vehicle of the brain, all actions are carried out by the physical body, which is the seat of the five senses. Through physical activity that karma is created and the healthy functioning of the mind and senses is necessary to overcome karma.

The mala of Vishnu is the vanamala, made of forest flowers extending down to the knees, a garland of flowers for all seasons, also known as the celestial mala.

In the hands of Vishnu’s four arms are the following.

Sankha / Conch shell – hearing of sound only possible if one keeps silent, this type of listening demands attention, the conch sound must not be drowned out by the talkative activity of the mind.

Cakra / Disc – To hit the target with the disc controlled movements of the body and perfect attention are necessary. The disc symbolizes the mind. Concentration has to be achieved.

Gada / Mace – Weapon to subdue the many personality aspects and their egos.

Padma / Lotus – The lotus is symbolic of the sacred, of the spiritual goal. The lotus floats on the water yet is connected to the bulb from which it grew, rooted in the mud. These two aspects of the lotus are expressed in the double lotus or kunda flower. One is below and one is above the surface of the water.

The devi in swadhisthana is Rakini, the female aspect of energy manifest. Blue in colour, her three eyes are red and with teeth which protrude giving a fierce appearance. This is to symbolize the danger of an uncontrolled and uncultivated imagination.

In the hands of Sakti Rakini’s four arms are the following.

Sula / Trident – A trident is divided into three parts at the top – body, speech and mind. One has to be aware of the interplay of these forces. Stick of the trident represents the spine in which kundalini is active.

Padma / Lotus – Expressed in the mudra of the hand, or in the Padmasana of Hatha yoga and the thousand petalled lotus on top of the head. Lotus is symbol toward purity of mind, as the lotus flower grows in muddy waters but is not stained. Similarly the Self which undergoes various experiences is uncontaminated.

Damaru / Drum – Drum vibrations can stir up emotions and sexual feelings. Such responses have to be controlled and refined. Drum is also symbol of time. Continuous exposure to words and temptations makes it only a matter of time before the physical body will respond to the rhythm and stimulated into desires not originally anticipated. The drum is also symbolic of the continuous hum in the head, the mind active, mental talk. A virtuoso demonstrates that the drum is also able to produce inspirational sounds and vibrations.

Tanka / Battle-axe – Symbolic of the uphill struggle of life. The aspirant has to continually fight and balance negative characteristics with positive characteristics in order to overcome their destructive and powerful influence.


Depiction of the Swadhisthana Chakra.

Note: For a fully detailed depiction of Swadhisthana please refer to one of the books listed as sources for these notes.

These notes below are taken from the book Kundalini Tantra by Swami Satyananda Saraswati –

Swadhisthana is regarded as the substratum or basis of individual human existence, its counterpart in the brain is the unconscious mind and it is the storehouse of mental impressions (samskaras). Many instinctive drives felt at the level of this chakra bubble up from the unconscious. In tantra there is the concept of animal and master, in Sanskrit pashu means animal, pati means master. Pashupati is the controller of all animal instincts, it is one of the names of Lord Shiva and also one of the attributes of the swadhisthana chakra.

When shakti enters swadhisthana there is an overwhelming feeling of the unconscious state. Unlike the muladhara, where karmas of the lower states are manifested in the form of anger, greed, jealousy etc, in swadhisthana there is no conscious activity or manifestation – this is the hiranyagarbha, the universal womb, where all exists in a potential state.

In kundalini yoga swadhisthana is often regarded as a hindrance in the sense that these karmas lying embedded in the unconscious do not allow the rising of kundalini to pass through. After initial awakening kundalini returns to dormancy time and time again, due to the karmic block at swadhisthana. Therefore it presents difficulties for the sadhaka (aspirant) and a competent guru (teacher)is therefore needed to traverse it safely. In order to pass through swadhisthana the sadhaka must possess detachment in the final stages of sadhana (spiritual practice) and awakening – a supreme kind of vairagya.

There are two questions applicable to swadhisthana

Where is the end to the pleasures of life?

Can you ever satisfy your desires?

You can leave sensual pleasures but the taste will remain in your mind. If the sadhaka understands the truth that desires can never be satisfied in a lifetime, even in thousands of lifetimes, the kundalini can pass through swadhisthana safely to manipura. Without this understanding swadhisthana can seem like an impenetrable iron curtain.

Sexual awareness and desires can manifest at any stage in evolution, they are very acute, clearly expressed when one is in swadhisthana, having continual fantasies, but the awareness never really dies as it is fuelled by primal energy and is present throughout. In swadhisthana it is in a disturbed state whilst in higher centres of evolution it is in a seed form. Bhakti (devotion) is a sublimated, pure form of sexual energy. Energy at different levels is known by different names. At the highest level it is called spiritual experience, at the physical level it is sex and at the lowest level it is avidya or ignorance.

At a higher level swadhisthana can as a switch for bindu.

Bindu – psychic centre at the top of the head, a point, a drop, which is the substratum for the whole cosmos, the seat of total creation.

Any awakening in swadhisthana is carried up to bindu  as swadhisthana is the point where primal sound originates, at bindu it is experienced in the form of the sound body.

In summary, the awakening of kundalini is not difficult, but to get kundalini beyond swadhisthana is. Once you get through however, it is unlikely to descend again but is destined to move on, then the problems confronted will be to do with siddhas (powers) which are even more difficult to subdue.

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