Sahasrāra = thousand, infinite
The Sahasrāra Chakra is located on the crown of the head beneath the Fontanelle, which is easily visible in a new-born child. It is also known as the Thousand-petalled Lotus, Brahmrandhra (door to Brahma) and Source of Light (because a supernatural light as bright as the sun radiates from it).
No other light approaches the brilliance of the sun. In the same way the radiance of all other Chakras fades before the incomparable radiance of the Sahasrāra Chakra. The Sahasrāra possesses no special colour or quality. Its light contains all colour vibrations united in the incomparable brilliance of pure light. The energy of all Nādīs flows together here, just as the water of a thousand rivers comes together in the sea.
The element of the Sahasrāra Chakra is ĀDI TATTVA or ĪSHVARA TATTVA . It is the source of creation, the pure light and one reality – God. This Tattva is Ādi Anādi. Ādi means “without beginning”, Anādi means “without end” – therefore infinite. As soon as this Tattva unites with a quality (Guna) it is bound and therefore limited – just as pure water has no taste of its own, but is modified by and takes on the taste of whatever is added to it. In the Cosmos there are diverse manifestations of this one Tattva with various qualities and functions – such as fire, water, air and earth – but the basis is always the same, the pure essence.
The awakening of the Sahasrāra Chakra means revelation of the Divine Splendour and attainment of Supreme Consciousness. It is the seat of Lord Shiva, whom we have met in three forms in the Chakras:
In the Mūlādhāra Chakra as Pashupati, Lord of the Animals.
In the Mūlādhāra and Āgyā Chakras in the symbol of the Shiva Lingam.
In the Sahasrāra Chakra as Ādi Anādi, Supreme Divine Consciousness and original foundation of the Universe.
Ādi Shiva is the uncreated creator of the Cosmos (Svayambhu). He represents Ānanda (bliss), Purusha (pure consciousness) and Moksha (liberation). He is perfect, eternal and divine, and radiant like a million suns. No Karmas can touch Him, all impurities melt and burn in his proximity. Only purity, clarity, light, love and truth emanate from Him.
In each individual (Jīvātmā), the Self (Ātmā) resides with the Supreme Self (Paramātmā), appearing in the form of Ādi Shiva in the Sahasrāra Chakra. In essence Ātmā and Paramātmā are the same. The Ātmā also possesses divine consciousness, but until it has attained liberation (Moksha) it is closely linked to the personal “I” and the Koshas , and through this is qualified and limited. But Paramātmā is unlimited and therefore impersonal – it is the Universal, Supreme Self, the “Light of Life”. When the consciousness of the Jīvātmā reaches Ādi Shiva in the Sahasrāra Chakra and merges with it, it is illuminated and freed from any shackles and limitations. Just as night gives way to sunrise, the darkness of ignorance fades with the opening of the Sahasrāra Chakra. We can attain this through Kriyā Yoga meditation and Guru Kripā .
The Jīvātmā strives lifelong for reunion with its source, the Supreme Self, either consciously or unconsciously. Or, expressed another way, our lifelong striving for happiness and fulfilment is, at its deepest level, the union of Jīvātmā and Paramātmā, which, translated in the symbolism of the Chakras, is the union of Shiva and Shakti.
Shakti is located in the Mūlādhāra Chakra and Shiva in the Sahasrāra Chakra. Between the two exists an irresistible attraction, and we experience the distance between them as a dark zone of unclarity and ignorance. The trench that separates Shiva and Shakti (otherwise known as Purusha and Prakriti – consciousness and nature) is “not-knowing”, and the consequence of “not-knowing” are emotions full of suffering, such as loneliness, sadness, bitterness, fear, doubt, etc., that accompany us through life. The bridge across this gap of ignorance is blocked by barriers and the rocks of numerous Karmas and restrictive qualities.
Icchā Shakti (willpower) is the force that finally provides the impulse for the removal of the rocks of Karmas and cumbersome qualities once and for all. Once this Sacred Will arises within the Jīvātmā, it leads inexorably to union with the Divine Self. In line with the Karma and personality structure of the aspirant, this process can either continue in tumultuous and intense circles or unfold gradually and calmly.
The union of Shiva and Shakti occurs when the stream of energy in the two main Nādīs, Idā and Pingalā , unite and rise through the Sushumnā Nādī. There is, however, one important condition. As written in the chapter on the Anāhata Chakra, the seat of the Ātmā is in the heart, and realisation of the Ātmā takes place only when a simultaneous awakening of the Anāhata Chakra and the Sahasrāra Chakra occurs. With this a direct connection from the Sahasrāra Chakra to the Anāhata Chakra through the Brahmā Nādī (also known as Gyāna Nādī) is established. If the Anāhata Chakra is blocked and the flow of Bhakti, love and devotion, has also dried up the Sahasrāra Chakra does not open.
Only with the complete awakening of the Anāhata Chakra does the flame of light, which is the Ātmā, rise from the heart and reach the level of Divine Consciousness through the “Door of Brahman”. Then, in the ocean of Brahma Gyāna the thousand-petalled Lotus unfolds, and in its centre the pearl of Paramshakti shines. Like a “swan” the Jīvātmā dives into the splendour of eternal, Divine existence. When it unites with the Supreme Self its existence dissolves – just as a river loses its name when it flows into the ocean. Now it is in the sphere of pure consciousness. Its form is perfect divine consciousness and eternal, divine bliss – SAT CHIT ĀNANDA SVARŪPA ĀTMĀ. The Realised Ones and Saints of all ages have reached this level of consciousness, which cannot be described with words.
When we are unable to see or experience anything in meditation, it is because our vision is obstructed by the barrier of the limited “I”. Though our Ātmā is directly connected to God, and is, in fact, God, we are not yet conscious of this.
We will again return to the image of the Lotus. The root of the Lotus represents Ādi Shakti, the original, divine power, which is located in the Mūlādhāra Chakra. The Blossom in the Sahasrāra Chakra is Ādi Shiva, the Divine Consciousness and Supreme Self. In Rāja Yoga these two primal principles are known as Jīvātmā and Paramātmā. When they become one it is said that we are “one with our Self”, whereas in reality there is no difference between them. The division is only apparent, because we are not conscious of the real unity. And yet the Jīvātmā must wander along a lengthy and often very difficult path until it again discovers this oneness within the consciousness.
The development of the consciousness progresses step-by-step; just like the seed of a Lotus when dropped into the soil first produces a delicate bud, then continues to grow upwards towards the light. The journey leads from the root of the Lotus (Mūla Prakriti) through the water (the World, which is Māyā), upwards along the stem of the Lotus (the different Chakras and levels of consciousness) until it finally reaches the blossom, the Sahasrāra Chakra.
All individuals travel along their own pathway, have their own history and their own experiences – but at the end all inevitably reach the same goal, the same truth and the same reality. However, until then it is a long journey. Only those who purposefully follow the spiritual path throughout their life with consistency and discipline, come through. Those who pursue happiness in the external world, lose their way. Eternal, true happiness is found within us and not outside. Just as a stag runs after the scent of musk not realising it is he himself who is producing it, we seek fulfilment of our wishes in the external world and are not aware that everything we are missing and seeking is carried within us.
As Saint Francis of Assissi so concisely expressed it:
“That for which they seek is that which searches.”
Only when we turn towards the inner Self do we find fulfilment and peace.
Seek only God; do not look for spiritual sensations, or Siddhis , or extraterrestrial adventures. Hand your life over to God and pray in this way: “Oh Lord, may Your will be done. May my destiny be fulfilled”.
The greatest happiness that can be bestowed upon us, due to good actions in earlier lives, is a meeting with a spiritual Master. The Masters assist us through techniques with which we are able to purify our “inner field” and open our consciousness to the Divine Light. They accompany us on all levels through our development, wherever our destiny takes us. Under their protection our soul cannot be harmed, no matter what happens.
The greatest misfortune is to die without attaining God-Realisation. Painfully, the Jīvātmā comes to the realisation that it has missed the opportunity of human life and must re-enter the cycle of death and rebirth.
After death we move unavoidably into the astral level appropriate to our Karma. In the astral world we are fully aware of all events but are incapable of taking any action. We see our life running past us like a film. We recognise the mistakes of our earthly life, and also joyfully experience the bliss of divine light and divine love resulting from our spiritual progress and good actions. But there is no possibility whatsoever of any further resolution or intervention. The direction and goal of our journey is determined solely by the trend of our Karmas.
Here the Jīvātmā follows one of three possible threads of destiny: Two lead to a new birth in the world of Māyā, and the third to Realisation and union with the Supreme Self.
In the Bhagavad Gita (8/24-25) Lord Krishna explains the circumstances by which the soul comes to one of these paths.
Anyone who still has some Karma adhering – good or bad – will take on a mortal body again. Those who in their earthly life load themselves largely with bad deeds, were unkind and lacked compassion for others will be born into an animal level of consciousness. With complete justification this can be described as “hell”. In an animal life form the ability of expression and development of the soul is greatly limited. It does not possess free will, intellect, speech or the capacity to reason. In this existence there is only a very small and slow development of consciousness; all karmas must be lived through over the pre-determined period, and be cleared away. But those whose good karmas predominated have the opportunity to aspire to human birth and liberation. In line with the ratio of good and bad karmas their existence is either happy or full of sorrow. The most beautiful fruit from existences which were full of good and noble actions, is a happy life enriched with numerous opportunities for development in a spiritual and peaceful environment.
Those who finally attain liberation through knowledge and selfless deeds (Nishkāma Karma), and with the help of the Master and God’s grace are not born again – unless they voluntarily decide to return to the earth as a helper or a teacher.
These are the paths the soul takes after earthly death. Normally the soul (together with the astral and causal bodies ) leaves the physical body through one of the “nine doors” – the mouth, eyes, ears, nostrils, excretory organs or genitals. Occasionally it can be clearly seen through which door the soul departs. If a dying person eliminates excrement or urine it is an indication that the soul is wandering in a lower level of consciousness. These souls, particularly, need our prayers so they can find their way to a higher consciousness when they again finally obtain a human birth after a long waiting period. Many dying people open their mouths or eyes; with others a drop of blood comes from their nose or ears. These souls wander in the astral level appropriate to their Karma.
But the Ātmā of liberated Yogis and Masters departs through the “tenth door” – the Sahasrāra Chakra. (This is occasionally visible through a drop of blood or ray of light appearing at the crown of the head). Realised souls go to the highest level of the Cosmos where they are honourably welcomed as triumphant heroes.
The path of development through the Chakras, the process of change in the consciousness and the investigation of our own thoughts and feelings, is no easy undertaking. Many old habits must be given up, and much must be overcome. Unfortunately we continue to perform ill-considered actions, speech and thoughts. But for all the errors that we committed in ignorance we can ask for forgiveness and pray:
“Oh Lord, lead us from ignorance to wisdom, from darkness to the light of knowledge. May Your Divine Light always enlighten my heart and my consciousness”.
Though the way may still be onerous and thorny, when we reach the goal we forget immediately all pain, and the effort expended appears to vanish when compared to the bliss we now experience. Therefore we should stay strong and under no circumstances give up our goal.
The most important thing in life is that our spiritual practices are always performed with Bhakti – love and devotion. Through Bhakti, Ātma Chintana (constantly thinking about the Ātmā), Mantra and meditation the Chakras are awakened. Sāttvika Bhakti is a safe and certain pathway to God, because while the flame of pure love and devotion burns within us no shadow or destructive forces can approach us.
Allow the river of love to flow within, and hold the candle of wisdom firmly in your hand. Be a light to anyone you meet and help them on their path. In this way you will continue to progress and develop further on your spiritual path.