The 36 Tattvas for Deep Meditations and Spiritual Awakening
Sri Amit Ray tells us the importance of Tattva Meditation for Spiritual Awakening.
Tattvas are the foundation of yoga philosophy. Many of my students and spiritual seekers requested me to explain tattvas in a very simplistic term. The purpose of this article is to explain tattvas in a meaningful way so that anyone can understand and practice tattva meditation easily.
Why Tattvas are Important?
Understanding tattvas help us to evolve our consciousness to higher levels. It purifies the mind and removes the ignorance. Tattva deals with the pure consciousness, material world and the three forms of energies. These energies are energy of intentions, energy of wisdom and the energy of actions. Realizing the ever blissful divine Self, which is unchanging, omnipresent and omniscient, is the hidden desire of every human being. Tattvas show the way for realizing that objective. The practice of tattva yoga accelerates the evolution of human beings. Tattvas are the key concepts of yoga philosophy. Knowledge of the 36 tattvas allows you to understand the laws of nature in a deeper way. You can use this yoga to attain greater brain power, health, knowledge, wisdom and happiness.
What is Tattva?
The universe is made of energy and Consciousness. Tattvas explain the underline connection between our inner world and the outer world. Tattva is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘reality’ or ‘truth’. Tattvas are the basic concepts to understand the nature of absolute, the souls and the universe.
Meditation on tattva is a journey to the ultimate reality. Knowing the tattva is the way of understanding inner psychology, the world and the beyond. The journey of tattva is a journey from unconsciousness to supreme consciousness. It is a journey from darkness to light.
In chemistry, all materials are classified into 118 basic elements. They are classified according to the number of protons in their atom. Similarly, in spiritual science all matters and consciousness are classified into thirty six elements. These thirty six elements are called tattavs. Tattvas are used to explain inner psychology, the creation and the existence of the Universe. Tattvas are connected with chakras and the tanmatras.
Meditation on Tattva:
Tattva meditation is a journey from gross to subtle. Tattva meditation gives us the bigger picture and connects us the higher potential of life. Our special tattva meditation class is a seven step meditation process. The first step is developing the theoretical knowledge about the tattvas. The second step is developing experiential knowledge about the gross tattavs in individual levels. The third step is formalizing and assimilating the collection of valuable knowledge gained from experiences. The subsequent steps deals with much deeper and subtler aspects tattavas. Tattav meditation includes, concentration, awareness, visualization and deep compassion.
Tattavs are deeply connected with the 114 chakras and 72000 nadis. These meditation practices help you to expand your awareness and harmonize your relationship with inner world and outer world. Exploring these thirty six elements through meditation will encourage you to move beyond the physical expression and into the deeper meanings of existence and the reality. Each of the tattavs has a certain relationship with chakras and nadis, based on their nature. Awareness about these relationships removes the ignorance of life and you can get mastery over the four forms of energies; intention energy, manifesting energy, emotional energy and spiritual energy. Just as a scientist observe the minutest details of nature and life under microscope, similarly yogi should meditate, understand develop awareness on the tattvas.
The 36 Tattvas:
The evolution of human consciousness attains fulfillment by achieving its divine blissful state of oneness. Yoga is the path of developing union – union with the supreme oneness. There are 36 tattvas in the yoga philosophy of Shiva. These 36 tattvas are traditionally classified into three groups; five pure tattvas, seven pure-impure mixed tattvas and the twenty four impure tattvas. Here, impure means gross tattvas and pure means subtler tattvas. The brief description of the tattvas are as follows:
Hierarchy of 36 Tattvas:
The 36 tattvas can be classified into five groups. Five cosmic tattvas are at the highest level and the five gross elements are in the lowest level. Manifestation takes place from the higher levels to lower levels. According to the process of creation and manifestation the hierarchy of the tattvas are explained in the figure below:
Five Pure Tattvas:
The five subtler tattvas are pure consciousness, pure energy, universal self, god consciousness and the action aspects of the existence.
Seven Pure-Impure Tattvas
There are two very important tattvas the Maya and the Purusha. The maya is classified into five groups; fate, time, desire, action and the process of knowing. These seven semi-gross tattvas are described as the “instruments” that assist the souls for their liberation. Maya creates the weaves of the multiplicity of forms. Maya is deeply involved in this play of life. It creates the sense of separateness. Purusha, is the highest witnessing self.
Maya – The Illusive nature of the existence
Maya creates the sense of duality. Maya is also classified into the following five groups.
- Energy for Actions
- Energy of Knowledge
- Energy of Desire and Intention
- The Nature of Time
- Nature of Fate and Luck
Purusha – the highest witnessing self
It is the ultimate sense of oneness. Purusha is the supreme truth which is an eternal and infinite and absolute self-existence, self-awareness. This supports and pervades all things.
Whereas, the limited Purusha is the soul and Maya is the energy of the soul. Purusha pairs with maya and creates the individuals. The individual forgets her or his unlimited nature, considering herself or himself to be a limited individual (Purusha) with a certain nature (Maya).
Twenty Four Impure Tattvas
The twenty four gross tattvas are explained below.
Twenty Four Tattvas = Four Inner Instruments + Five Impressions + Five sense organs + Five motor organs + Five Gross Elements.
Antahkarana – The Four Inner Instruments:
The four components of antahkarana are; mind, intellect, memory and ego (manas, buddhi, chittha and ahankara). Manas the important function of synthesizing the sense-data into determinate perceptions, passing them on to the ego, and carrying out the orders of the ego through the sense organs. The three primordial energies; intention (iccha), knowledge (jnana) and action (kriya) take the form of mind (manas), intelligence (buddhi), memory (chitta) and ego (ahankar).
When you think deeply and carefully about something then it is the mind (manas). When your mind takes decision it is the intellect (buddhi). When your mind stores memories, it is the chitta. When your mind identifies itself with each of these functions it is known as ego (ahankara).
The memory (chitta) is very much like an ocean on which there are continuous waves of rise and fall. These countless waves of thoughts called vritis, on which the mind survives. Without these thought waves mind can not exists. Mind develop attachments to that thought from which security and pleasures comes. Mind hates to that thought from which pain and fear comes. Mind thinks, feels, identifies and react with them accordingly. The ahamkara (ego) gives the driving power to the instincts in the mind Now mind generates desires and activates the sense organs outwardly. These thought patterns of attachments and aversions are stored in chitta for future reference then it is called impression (sanskara).
Pancha Tanmatras – The Five Subtle Impressions
Tan means subtle and matra means elements. Tanmatra are the subtle life force behind the sense organs. There are five sense perceptions – hearing, touch, sight, taste and smell, and there are the five tanmatras corresponding to the five sense-organs. They are as follows:
- Rupa Tanmatra – Tanmatra of Sight- It is the hidden energy behind your physical eyes that gives you the power to see something.
- Shabda Tanmatra – Tanmatra of Sound – It is the hidden energy behind your physical ears that gives you the power to hear something.
- Rasa Tanmatra – Tanmatra of Taste – It is the hidden energy behind your tongue that gives you the power to taste.
- Gandha Tanmatra – Tanmatra of Smell – It is the hidden energy behind your nose that gives you the power to smell.
- Sparsha Tanmatra – Tanmatra of Touch
Pancha Jnanendriyas – Five sense organs
Eyes, Ears, Nose, Tongue and Skin are the five sense organs. These five sense organs are the paths through which we experience the outer world. They are also called the pathways of knowledge. The sense organs are not adequate in themselves but are dependent on sankalpa/vikalpa, (selection and rejection), qualities of the mind. They operate based on tanmatra and mind information.
Pancha Karmendriyas – The Five Motor Organs
The expressive counter parts to the receptive sense organs are the five motor organs. While the sense organs are more connected to the five tanmatras (subtle elements), the five motor organs relate more to the five gross elements (physical manifestations of the elements) upon which the operate/act.
- Mouth, the organ of expression (sound)
- Hand, the organ of grasping (touch)
- Feet, the organ of motion (sight)
- Urino-genital, the organ of emission (taste)
- Anus, organ of elimination (smell)
Pancha Mahabhutas – The Five Gross Elements:
The five gross elements are earth, water, fire, air and space. Earth constitutes everything that is solid. Water constitutes the essence of liquidity. Fire is the essence of heat; Air is the essence of all that is gaseous; and Space is the matrix in which the entire physical world exists.
Tattvas are the yoga explanation of matter, energy and consciousness. Different schools have different levels of classification of tattvas but the underline mechanism is almost same. Samkhya philosophy defines tattva as twenty five principles. Kashmir Shaivism, explains the 36 tattvas as the 36 principles of reality. Siddhas defined 96 tattvas as the main principles of reality.
We have discussed the nature of 36 tattvas. Tattva meditation is the easy way to realize the non-duality of the soul and the supreme consciousness of the blissful Self. You can access the higher tattvas through deep Om meditation. Nature is a process where everything is impermanent. There is an innate impulse in every living thing to be alive and thrive. In this process the universe is evolving. Tattva meditation is the conscious way to participate in the evolutionary movement and to achieve the highest level of realization and fulfillment in life. Tattva meditation can help you to improve your health, emotional intelligence and clarity of mind.