Tattwa Shuddhi - explanation and a guided practice by Swami Nishchalananda

by Swami Nishchalananda Saraswati

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Suitable for advanced practitioners who have practised hatha yoga for some years and are conversant with other forms of meditation, such as Ajapa Japa. Preferably, it should be used by practitioners who have already been initiated into the practice – which is given periodically at Mandala Yoga Ashram.

The practice of Tattwa Shuddhi presented on this CD is adapted from a traditional Tantric ritual and presented in a simplified from more suitable for the modern era. The practice is based on the understanding that the mind and body are composed of different energy frequencies. The practice retraces the different levels of frequency, moving from the gross to the subtle and then deeper to the transcendental.

During the practice we visualise geometric figures (Tattwa Yantras) which symbolise the five material tattwas, each of which is associated with a bija (seed) mantra. The mantras are considered the resonant trequency of the tattwas and are chanted mentally during the practice.
Each of the five material tattwas are associated with one of the five senses and commonly symbolised by the following: prithvi (earth/ smell) = incense; apas (water/ taste) = sweets or fruit; agni (fire/ sight) = flame; vauy (air/ touch = cloth; akasha (ether/ sound) = bell/ mantra. Those who wish to ensure more into the more ritualistic aspects of Tattwa Shuddhi can integrate these items into their practice. Ask for personal guidance.

During Tattwa Shuddhi, one visualises a grotesque little figure called papa purusha (literally “embodiment of negativity”), an image which represents the negative aspects of our personality which bind us in ignorance. The figure holds an axe and a shield – symbolising that our life is an alternating process of attack and retreat: either selfishly grabbing for personal gain (i.e. attacking with the axe) or withdrawing into our own little world of comfort and security (symbolised by the shield). The papa purusha epitomises these negative tendencies and this visualisation represents our desire to be free of this negativity.

At the end of the practice, homage is made to the Goddess Prana Shakti, who represents the intelligent energy which creates, sustains and destroys life. She also symbolises Kundalini, which is the energy and intelligence which awakens us to the Higher Reality.

Before practising Tattwa Shuddhi, it is recommended, though not essential, that you do preparatory practices such as a series of asana and some pranayama. Trataka is also useful.

Tattwa Shuddhi is based mainly on visualisation. The purpose of this visualisation is to awaken energy on a deeper level. Though most people find visualisation difficult, if you persevere you will find with practice it becomes easier and easier.

Throughout Tattwa Shuddhi, there should be a strong bhava, which is a feeling of reverence.

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released June 1, 2014

Swami Nishchalananda

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Mandala Yoga Ashram Llanwrda, UK

Mandala Yoga Ashram nestles in 25 acres of beautiful and peaceful Welsh hill country in the U.K. It offers a range of residential courses each year covering all aspects of Yoga. Yoga students and teachers are welcomed from all over the world. It's purpose is to enable people to deepen their Yogic practice and understanding, and thus act as a catalyst for their ongoing spiritual evolution. ... more

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