Glands and Sub-Glands

There are many underdeveloped creatures which have no nerve cells or nerve fibres and behave according to their instincts only.

Human beings possess nerve cells and nerve fibres, but they also behave according to their instincts.

For example, very young children smile and keep their hands closed because of their instincts. They are not goaded by intellect or by any intellectual inclination in this respect.

The innumerable nerve cells and nerve fibres in the human body can be divided into two types: one connecting the brain to the spinal cord [the central nervous system], and the other from the spinal cord to the skin and going within the body [the peripheral nervous system]. There is also a collection of nerve cells in the cranium that is made up of fat [that is, the hypothalamus], which has a special power, an inborn power or a vibrational speciality, which is sometimes synthetic [sympathetic] and sometimes apathetic [parasympathetic].

In Sanskrit the region across the top of the head above the ears is called snáyupet́aka, which means “a basket of nerves”. A vibration from any part of the body takes one two-hundredths of a second to reach the cranium. Suppose an insect bites your hand. The sensation will travel through your afferent nerves to the brain. Immediately an order, which will travel through the efferent nerves, will be given to remove the insect. The terms “afferent nerves” and “efferent nerves” are derived from Latin words and mean “sensory nerves” and “motor nerves” respectively. The corresponding Sanskrit terms are saḿjiṋá nád́ii and ájiṋá nád́ii.

The nerve cells are active and work directly in the conscious (jágrata), subconscious (svapna) and unconscious (suśupta) states of mind, although the Sanskrit and English terms for these three states are not exactly synonymous. When the nerves do not work properly, sometimes people experience a condition which may be described as feeling unnerved. For example, if a person is hit on the head and the balance between their afferent and efferent nerves is lost, the person may forget everything, lose his or her discrimination and be unable to decide what to do.

The same condition may occur after a nightmare. If a man dreams that he is being chased by a ghost and falls down and knocks his head, he may suddenly wake up covered in perspiration, suffering from the same symptoms as if he had actually been hit on the head while awake. In such a condition we say he is feeling unnerved.

The mid-point of the last vertebra of the spinal column is a nerve centre. This is the central point of the múládhára cakra. The whole body is balanced on this cakra [plexus]. It has four vrttis [propensities]: dharma [psycho-spiritual longing], artha [psychic longing], káma [physical longing] and mokśa [spiritual longing].

The svádhiśt́hána cakra is situated on the spinal cord directly behind the root of the genital organ. It has six propensities: avajiṋá [belittlement of others], múrcchá [psychic stupor, lack of common sense], prashraya [indulgence], avishvása [lack of confidence], sarvanásha [thought of sure annihilation] and kruratá [cruelty].

Next comes the mańipura cakra. This cakra is located at the navel. It controls ten propensities: lajjá [shyness, shame], pishunatá [sadistic tendency], iirśá [envy], suśupti [staticity, sleepiness], viśáda [melancholia], kaśáya [peevishness], trśńá [yearning for acquisition], moha [infatuation], ghrńá [hatred, revulsion] and bhaya [fear].

Then the anáhata cakra, situated in the centre of the chest, which controls twelve propensities: áshá [hope], cintá [worry], ceśt́á [effort], mamatá [attachment], dambha [vanity], viveka [conscience], vikalatá [mental numbness due to fear], ahaḿkára [ego], lolatá [avarice], kapat́atá [hypocrisy], vitarka [argumentativeness to point of wild exaggeration] and anutápa [repentance].

Next is the vishuddha cakra, located in the region of the throat, which controls sixteen propensities: śad́aja [sound of peacock], rśabha [sound of bull or ox], gándhára [sound of goat], madhyama [sound of deer], paiṋcama [sound of cuckoo], dhaevata [sound of donkey], niśáda [sound of elephant], oṋm [acoustic root of creation, preservation, dissolution], hummm [sound of arousing kulakuńd́alinii], phat́ [practication, i.e., putting a theory into practice], vaośat́ [expression of mundane knowledge], vaśat́ [welfare in the subtler sphere], sváhá [performing noble actions], namah [surrender to the Supreme], viśa [repulsive expression] and amrta [sweet expression]. When any theory is put into effect the process of practication is made effective by chanting the sounds hummm, phat́, vaośat́, vaśat́, sváhá and namah.

Finally, there is the ájiṋá cakra, located between the eyebrows, which controls two propensities: apará [mundane knowledge] and pará [spiritual knowledge].

Cakra is a Sanskrit term while “plexus” is the Latin term. Besides the main nerve centres at the point of each cakra, there are also sub-centres where sub-glands are located. These sub-glands influence [and control] the propensities attached to each cakra. This science is largely unknown today.

By performing ásanas [postures for physico-psychic well-being] regularly, human beings can control the propensities attached to each cakra, and hence the thoughts which arise in their minds and their behaviour. This is because ásanas have a profound effect on the glands and sub-glands. How? All ásanas have either a pressurizing or depressurizing effect on the glands and sub-glands. For example, mayúrásana [peacock posture] has a pressurizing effect on the mańipura cakra. The secretions of the glands and sub-glands of the mańipura cakra and the propensities associated with them will become more balanced if this ásana is practised regularly. If someone has a great fear of public speaking, it means his or her mańipura cakra is weak.

Through the regular practice of mayúrásana, this propensity will be controlled and fear will be eliminated. Other ásanas may have a depressurizing effect on the mańipura cakra, and if these ásanas are performed regularly the glands and sub-glands associated with the cakra will become less active. Increased glandular secretions generally make the propensities more active and vice versa. By practising ásanas regularly, one can control the propensities and either increase or decrease their activity. So spiritual aspirants should select the ásanas they perform very carefully. This effect of ásanas on glands and sub-glands has never been revealed before.

Extreme fear causes excessive tension and pressure on the mańipura cakra. Normally when people experience fear, the afferent and efferent nerves are able to work properly. The tension in the nerves caused by the fear travels through the nervous system and reaches the brain, so excessive pressure does not occur.

However, when a person becomes extremely afraid the balance between the afferent and efferent nerves is lost, and there is a build-up of tension and pressure around the mańipura cakra. If the information carried by the efferent nerves from the brain to the mańipura cakra is prevented from reaching its destination, the imbalance can cause a blockage in the region of the anáhata cakra which is a very complicated and sensitive part of the human body. A disturbance in this region can cause palpitations, excessive pressure on the heart, the inability to act decisively, and even a heart attack.

In human beings the thyroid and parathyroid glands are more developed than the lymphatic glands. Previously the lymphatic glands were more developed than they are today, but as human beings evolved, the thyroid and parathyroid glands became more active and the role of the lymphatic glands diminished. In monkeys, the opposite is the case: the lymphatic glands are more developed than the thyroid and parathyroid glands. The thyroid and parathyroid glands are concerned with psychic development and intellectual elevation, while the lymphatic glands are more concerned with physical activity, hence monkeys can jump higher and swing further than human beings. One of the reasons why human beings are more evolved than monkeys is that their thyroid and parathyroid glands are more active.

Semen and lymph are not the same thing. When males are sexually aroused, the nerves in the testes get stimulated and lymph is converted into semen.

Joint hair grows near the lymphatic glands in the armpits and leg joints. If this hair is removed, then the lymphatic glands tend to overheat, causing over-secretion, and this in turn decreases the function of the thyroid and parathyroid glands. There is an inverse relation between the lymphatic glands and the thyroid and parathyroid glands: if one is more active then the other is less developed and it becomes weak. For this reason, the joint hair should not be removed.

The process of controlling all the cakras and propensities was invented by Astavakra over two thousand years ago. He wrote the book Aśt́ávakra Saḿhitá. He was a great saint and called this process Rájadhirája Yoga. He first taught this system of yoga to Alarka at Vakreswar in Bengal. The human body is a biological machine. No body deviates from this rule – all physical bodies are biological machines. The different types of lessons in Ananda Marga sádhaná [spiritual practices] are designed to strengthen the different cakras and control the propensities. Guru dhyána [meditation on the guru] strengthens the sahasrára cakra. If there is control over the sahasrára cakra, then the body and mind can be controlled completely.

When a great man gives you a blessing, he generally does it by placing his hand on the sahasrára cakra, which has a positive effect on all the other cakras. The higher propensities will be increased and the lower propensities will be decreased. This kind of effect is not only produced by touch; it can also be caused by sound. When you do sáśt́áuṋga prańáma [prostration] to a great personality and are verbally blessed as well, the sound of the blessing will have a positive effect on your whole being. Both the touch of the hand on the sahasrára cakra and the verbal blessing will increase your spiritual elevation.

You can only bless those you like. If you accept salutations from those you dislike, negative sentiments may arise in your mind, increasing the lower propensities and decreasing the higher propensities in those seeking your blessing. So you do not have the right to accept salutations from all people, and you should not automatically bless everyone.

The cranium of females is usually slightly smaller than that of males, consequently women have less nerve cells in the brain than men. But the fact is that men use a very small number of the nerve cells in their brains, and the same applies to women. Spiritual practices and higher pursuits utilize more and more nerve cells. Suppose a man and a woman learn sádhaná at the same time, practise with the same sincerity and progress with the same speed – they will both achieve spiritual elevation. Now, suppose they both enjoy divine bliss after performing sádhaná for the same number of years. If all or say ninety-nine per cent of the nerve cells in the brain of the woman are utilized, a lower percentage will be utilized by the man because he has more nerve cells in his brain.

Women have some propensities which are very strongly developed. In particular, women normally have great love and affection for their children.

This is natural. But if the expression of a particular propensity is excessive, it may have adverse consequences.

For instance, most stepmothers love their own children more strongly than their stepchildren, and if the intensity of this affection is not controlled, it may create tensions and divisions in the family. Also, because of the affection women have for their children, they may not like to go outside the home, and if this is taken to extremes, it may lead to harmful isolation. Similarly, if a large number of people living in a particular region only stay in their own region out of blind love for their locality, it will be detrimental to the progress of society as a whole.

Good relations with other regions will not be encouraged, and the trade and economic development of their region may be adversely affected. Love and affection are very good attributes, but to protect oneself and society from their possible extreme expressions, the best path to follow is to channelize all one’s love and affection towards Parama Puruśa [Supreme Consciousness]. This will expand the arena of one’s love and accelerate one’s march towards the Great. A person who has developed universal love will be able to do very great work in a very short time.

12 May 1990, Calcutta

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