Meaning Of Color in Tantra Yoga

“Forms, colors, densities, odors – what is it in me that corresponds with them?” WHITMAN: “Leaves Of Grass”

meaning-of-color-in-tantra-yogaColor, which has transformed man’s environment and has played a powerful but secret role in his inner life, remains one of the least understood forces of today’s world. For colors are but the various wave lengths of light. And light is the mysterious alpha and omega of man’s existence.

In the remote past, primitive civilizations did not use color as we do today, for its esthetic values. In ancient Egypt, Chaldea, India and China, color was associated with religious rites and with medicine.

“Evidence that the inspiring beauty of color had its origin in mysticism, in a sort of functional application of hue to interpret life and the world, and not in esthetics, piles high as we dig in the ruins of antiquity.” Birren, Faber: “The Story of Color.”

Influence Of Color On Sexual Activity

In some of the early mystery schools of India and Persia, neophytes spent years exploring the profound nature and effects of a single color.

Now, after thousands of years, man is beginning to acquire a dim understanding of what color means to his life and personality.

The more original and independent researchers in medicine, physics, psychology, botany, and related sciences, have conducted experiments that have turned up “new” facts (known and used by Tantriks for centuries).

Scientists found, for example, that color significantly influences sexual activity. They discovered that violet light increases the activity of the female sex glands. Red light stimulates the male reproductive organs.

Likewise, it was learned that under red light, muscular tension increased from a normal of 23 units to 42 units. In orange light, tension further increased to 35 units. Yellow light produced 30 units, green 29, and  blue 24.

Effect of color on the human mind was just as pronounced. Students bathed in a brilliant red light showed greater skill at solving mathematical problems than they did when exposed to ordinary light.

A “suicide bridge,” long painted black, was changed to bright green. The death leaps immediately declined by one-third.

Further tests have shown that under an intense red light, a person will over-estimate the weight of objects. Conversely, under the influence of green light, objects appear to be lighter in weight than under ordinary illumination.

Distortion of the time sense has also been noted under colored light. Red and yellow make time seem to pass more slowly than ordinarily. Green and blue have the opposite effect: time appears to be accelerated.

In exploring the effects of color, scientists have noted that the degree to which any hue influences a person is partly determined by its quality, intensity and predominance; by the duration of one’s exposure to it; by the age, sex, and race of the individual exposed.

Even in this space age, however, scientists as yet know nothing of the vast tides of cosmic color that daily flood the earth during their appointed periods, influencing all life upon this planet.

Only mystics and yogis know, and make use of, this knowledge.

In preparing for the secret ritual of maithuna or sex union, which forms the point of focus for Tantrik sadhana, and distinguishes it from other forms of yoga, the student uses color in the purification stage of his work.

Kaula adepts also use it in other and more powerful ways, of course. But its primary importance to the be ginner is that of purifying the nadis, and of supplying them with new energy.

As previously noted, there are seven major centers of psychic force in man’s subtle body – called chakras. Further, that each of these foci has a characteristic dominant color.

These major colors correspond to the seven visible rays of light that comprise the spectrum – namely, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.

Since the chakras constitute part of the etheric body, the colors are not precisely those of the solar spectrum visible to us, but the resemblance is close enough for descriptive purposes.

In physics, it is well known that all these seven colors are merely different wave lengths of pure white light. Colored objects owe their individual hues to the fact that they absorb from the white light certain wave lengths, while they reflect or rediffuse others.

For example, in the case of an object such as a red ball, it is red because it absorbs all the light falling upon it except the red ray.

Similarly, in the subtle body, each chakra absorbs certain currents of vital solar energy, and rediffuses others.

Tantra teaches that the pure, all-pervading solar light is actually the primordial emanation of the divine being. It is the radiant energy released in the first “shining forth” of Shiva at the beginning of creation. All living creatures, from the highest rishi to the lowest microorganism, exist only so long as this Shiva energy (as prana) permeates their forms.

In man it is likewise this all-pervasive energy that vitalizes and links together the gross and subtle bodies, flowing freely from one to the other.

The physical manifestation of prana in animals is respiration. Breathing includes, again, both male and female principles. The inspiration or drawing in of the breath is of negative polarity and is feminine. Exhalation is positive and male.

As we shall see later, when we consider the meaning and effects of sound, the act of breathing in itself is considered by Hindus to be an inaudible prayer or man-tram, even though it is uttered involuntarily. It is called the ajapa mantram.

The Shastra states that, as the divine current or solar breath is drawn into the body as we breathe, it makes the sound of “sah.” When we exhale, that vibration forms the syllable, “hang.”

Hence the frequent reference in Hindu texts to Hangsah, meaning “the supreme mantram, the breath of God.” It was, in fact, this breath that God breathed into Adam in the Biblical story of creation.

According to Tantra, the fiery star we know as the sun in reality veils from our physical sight the true spiritual sun, or God. And it is because they seek the divine Being behind the sun that many yogis in India stare fixedly at the dazzling orb until their eyes are burned out. Tan-triks regard this form of search for reality a harmful and misguided sadhana.

It is this reverence for the spiritual sun as “the light and life of all things created,” that inspired that most ancient and most important of all Hindu prayers, the Gayatri.

Today, as in centuries past, pious Hindus greet the dawn with the following mystical utterance:

“We meditate upon the unspeakable brilliance of that resplendent Sun. May that direct our understanding.

To a person with only a superficial knowledge of Hinduism, such a prayer might appear a mere form of sun worship, a relic of some primitive religion of the past. How, they will ask, can solar radiation direct our understanding?

The answer, according to Shaktism, is that man receives from the sun certain kinds of energy that affect his mind as well as his body.

Science has identified in the sunlight of the earth’s atmosphere minute particles that are charged with tremendous force. These are sometimes called vitality globules.

Almost everyone has had the experience of looking into the distance on a brilliant sunshiny day and of observing tiny, intensely bright specks of light, darting about in all directions. These are vitality globules. They are charged with a force that yogis call prana.

By absorbing these particles from the sunlight, we renew not only the vigor of our physical bodies, but of our subtle body as well.

It has been suggested2 that depletion of vitality globules during a succession of cloudy days may account in part for lowered vitality during winter months of those who live in harsher climates.

Certainly, the aged and the convalescent know the importance of exposure to the warm, healing rays of bright sunshine.

The exact way in which simple light rays penetrate or affect the body is still a subject of research for science.

One theory is that when color sensation is received through the eyes, the pituitary gland is stimulated, and secretes certain hormones. These pass directly into the blood stream and thus affect the body.

Some researches, on the other hand, have demonstrated beyond question that physical reaction to color can take place when the vision is completely sealed off.

One explanation advanced to account for this phenomenon states that the surface of the body possesses a radiation sense. The skin is believed to incorporate some kind of cells related to the nervous system. These cells perceive radiant energy, including the various frequencies of light.

Another opinion holds that the color rays, striking the surface of the body, set up corresponding vibrations within.

Those who are acquainted with the principles of Tantra say that the light enters the body through the six chakras or plexuses of the etheric double, described elsewhere.

Particularly concerned with this process is the svadisthana chakra, situated in the area of the generative organs. The vitality globule is drawn into the epicenter of this chakra, where its seven atoms are separated and diffused into seven currents, each of a different color.

Six of these color rays radiate outward along the six nadis or spokes of the plexus, while the seventh is absorbed into the center itself.

Thus the rose-red indraught of the sun is diffused throughout the body, stimulating the nervous system and vitalizing the entire organism.

The orange ray seeks out the root chakra at the base of the spine. There it stimulates the sex glands and energizes the etheric body.

The yellow ray pours into the abdominal region of the body, and is polarized in the manipura chakra. It stimulates the adrenals, pancreas, and liver.

The green ray is directed to the anahata center, affecting the region of the heart, or cardiac plexus. It gives balance and harmony to the body.

The current of blue energy surges upward to the throat. It is cooling, ethereal and spiritual. It influences the thyroid gland.

The indigo beam floods the area of the brow chakra between the eyebrows. It affects the pineal gland and is related to paranormal faculties such as telepathy and clairvoyance.

Finally, the violet ray from the vitality globule refraction is directed to the coronal force center or sahasrara, just above the crown of the head. Its influence in the gross body is expressed through the pituitary gland.

It is important to remember at this point that all the vital energy discussed in the preceding paragraphs has but a single source – the sun.

To the Tantrik this means that all the various frequencies of light we have been discussing are of the Shiva principle. And since the aim of all Shakta practice is the marriage of the two polar streams – Shiva and Shakti – the Tantrik seeks to unite the energy of the sun with that from another source.

Kundalini, the Shakti power, is not derived directly from the atmosphere, as is the solar energy. Rather, it comes from “the womb of Shakti,” deep within the earth; from the very core of our planet, where rages an inferno whose temperatures rival those of the sun itself.

But the Agamas point out that this primary force from below is a wholly different kind of energy from that radiated by the sun.

The solar prana is dynamic power, which diffuses itself throughout the body, vitalizing every cell, down to the most microscopic.

Kundalini or “serpent fire,” on the other hand, is normally static – sealed off, so to speak, at the base of the spine. Once released and set in motion, it must be controlled or it can ravage body, mind and spirit.

The aim of the Tantrik is to direct the centripetal Shakti force upward to the higher centers, there to complete union with the centrifugal Shiva energy.


But the literature is full of warnings to the uninitiated that, if not properly controlled, the aroused kundalini may rush downward, bringing union with a lower order of creation.

The carnal appetites are then vastly intensified. Worldly ambitions are likewise stimulated, together with the will to satisfy them at any cost. Lust, anger, greed – the whole catalog of evil passions – take over.

When the fiery Shakti current rises, however, and is led upward by the yogi, it gathers momentum as it ascends the central canal of the spine, piercing chakra after chakra, until the highest is attained.

A polarization of the two – Shiva and Shakti – then takes place.

“On their union, nectar (amrita) flows which, in an ambrosial stream, runs from the Brahmarudhra to the muladhara, flooding the microcosm. It is then that the sadhaka, forgetful of all in this world, is immersed in ineffable bliss. Refreshment, increased power and enjoyment, follow upon each visit to the well of life.” Avalon, Arthur: “The Serpent Power.”

However, our immediate concern is with prana, the seven-rayed emanation from the sun. Greater absorption of vitality globule energy through the chakras is one of the objectives of Tantrik discipline. It is accomplished through chromatic pranayama or color breathing.

The procedure is quite simple. Its effectiveness depends to some extent upon the intensity with which the student can visualize the various colors, drawing them in from the universal radiation and causing them to flood the various areas of the body.

Second Discipline

If possible, practice this exercise between the hours of 9:30 a.m. and noon.

It should be performed before an open window and preferably in full sunlight.

Seated in a comfortable posture, as described in the first discipline, face the East. Close your eyes, and for a few moments try to feel the luminous radiant energy pouring over you in a life-giving flood. Realize that the seven rays of color that fill space also penetrate the psychic centers of your etheric body, and permeate every cell and tissue of your physical body.

Then relax, allowing your whole frame to go limp.

After a moment, sit upright and exhale all the air from the lungs, forcing it out by drawing in the abdomen.

Inhale slowly to the count of seven, expanding the abdomen. Hold the breath, as you count from one to seven, at the same time strongly willing and visualizing the color red. Imagine that it flows over the lower portion of the stomach and the genitals; then mentally picture it covering the back of your head.

Exhale to the count of seven. Pause one second. Then repeat the breath cycle, visualizing red as before. Perform the red pranayama three times.

Then, as you inhale for the fourth cycle, imagine the color yellow deluging the area of the upper chest and forehead. Carry the yellow awareness through three breath cycles, as in the case of red.

Do the same with blue, envisioning that color as a cool, healing spiritual effulgence in the area of the throat, solar plexus, and top of the head. It will bring serenity and poise.

Finally, after the one-second pause between breaths, repeat the pranayama, mentally infusing the feet, legs, arms, and face with a pure white radiance.

This discipline ought to be practiced twelve times before proceeding to the next.

The Shastra repeatedly reminds the student that patient attention to details of these early and basic disciplines will be the measure of your success in later undertakings.

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