The Tattwas of the Eastern School

This is a Golden Dawn knowledge lecture from 1894 and provides the Golden Dawn’s teachings on the Tattvas. It has been provided here as background material for the Tattva Vision exercise.

The Golden Dawn Knowledge Lectures

The Tattwas of the Eastern School

Addressed to the Grade Philosophus

By Frater De Profundis

ad Lucem August 1894.

General Observation

There are five Tattwas or Principles:

  1. Akasa – Ether.
  2. Vayu – the Aerial principle.
  3. Tejas – the Principle of Light and Heat.
  4. Apas – Watery Principle.
  5. Prithivi – the Earthy Principle.

But the first Cause of these is the Great Controller of all things, the One Light, the Formless. From Him first came into appearance Ether; thence the Air, the motion producing Ether waves which causes Light and Heat, and so on in the above order.

The Yogi comes to know the principle of these five Tattwas, their Sukshma Sharira, but how? Further on you will see how. The Astrologer who has no knowledge of the Swara is as worthless as a man without a wife. It is the soul itself; it is the Swara, the Great Controller of all, who creates, preserves, and destroys, and causes whatsoever is in this World. Experience and Tradition both say no knowledge is more precious than this knowledge of the Swara. None else lays bare the workings of the machinery of this world, or the secret workings of this world.

By the power of Swara may be destroyed an enemy. Power, wealth, and pleasure, all these can be commanded by Swara. The beginner in our Science must be pure and calm in mind and in thought, virtuous in actions, and having unmixed faith in his spiritual teacher. He must be strong in his determination, and grateful.

Swara in the Body. Ten manifestations of this Swara are in the body. But before the Neophyte is told this, he must gain a thorough knowledge of the nervous system. This is very important, and according to his knowledge of this science, the Neophyte gains success. To give a rough outline of the parts we have chiefly to deal with in our endeavor to explain the elementary treatise. There are ten principal nerves, this includes the tubes, etc. It is in the ten manifestations of Swara that the ten so-called Vayus move. We mean by this ten forces which perform ten different functions. The three most important nerves are the following, as the beginner has only to deal with these:

  1. Ida, the left bronchus.
  2. Pingala, the right bronchus.
  3. Sushumna, in the middle.

The ten Vayus are:

  1. Prana, in the breast.
  2. Apana, about the excretory organs.
  3. Samana, in the navel.
  4. Udana, middle of the throat.
  5. Vyana, pervading the whole body.
  6. Kurmana, the eyes, helping them open.
  7. Kirkala, in the stomach, producing hunger.
  8. Nag, whence comes vomiting.
  9. Devadatta, causes yawning.
  10. Dhananjaya, that which doth not leave the body after death.

These ten Vayus, or forces, have their play in the ten principal nerves, not one in each. They are the regulators of the body of man. If they go on working properly, a man remains perfectly healthy; if not, different kinds of diseases spring up.

A Yogi keeps them always working, and consequently diseases never come to him. The key to all these nerves lies in the working of the Prana Vayu, or vital principle drawing the air through the Ida, the Pingala, and the Sushumna. When the Air is drawn through the Ida it is felt coming out or going in through the left nostril. When through the Pingala, in the right nostril. When through the Sushumna it is felt through both nostrils simultaneously. The air is drawn or felt through either or both of the nostrils at certain appointed times. Whenever in any given time, the Breath goes in and comes out of the wrong nostril it is a sure sign some sort of disease is coming on.

The Ida is sometimes called the Chandra Nadi, or the Moon Nerve. The Pingala, the Surya Nadi or Sun nerve. These are called, the former, the Chandra Swara and the latter the Surya Swara.

The reason is that when the breath is in the Ida it gives coolness to the body, and that when in the Pingala it gives heat to the body. The Ancient Magi used to say the place of the Moon in the human body was in Ida, and the Sun in Pingala.

The Course of the Breath. The Lunar month, it is well known, is divided into two parts, the fortnight of the Waxing and the fortnight of the Waning. On the first fortnight, or the Bright Fortnight, just at Sunrise of the first day the Breath must come into the left nostril and must be so for the three succeeding days, when again the 7th day must begin with the Moon breath, and so on in the same order. Thus we have said that such and such days begin with such and such breath.

But how long is our breath to remain in one nostril? For five Gharis, or 2 hours. Thus when the first day of the Bright fortnight begins with the Moon Breath, after five Gharis, the Sun Breath must set in, and this again must change into the Moon Breath after the same interval of time. So on for every day.

Again, the first day of the dark fortnight must begin with the Sun Breath, and proceed in the same way, changing after five Gharis and the three succeeding days. It will be seen that all the days of the month have been divided into the Ida and the Pingala. In the Sushumna, the Swara flows only when it changes, either in its natural course or in certain other conditions to be afterwards mentioned. This is the course of Nature. But a Yogi commands Nature. He turns everything into his own way. Rules for this will be given in the proper place. (Colored illustrations of the tattwas will be found in the co lour plate section of this book).

Course of the Tattwas

For five Gharis, as we have above said, the breath flows through our nostrils. In these 5 Gharis, or two hours periods, the Tattwas have their course. In the first we have Akasa, in the second Vayu, in the third Tejas, in the fourth Apas, in the fifth Prithivi. Thus in one night and day, or 6O Gharis, we have twelve courses of these 5 Tattwas, each remaining one Ghari and returning again in two hours. There are again further five subdivisions of each Tattwa in a Ghari. Thus, Akasa is subdivided into Akas-Akasa; Akas-Vayu; Akas-Tejas; Akas-Apas; Akas-Prithivi and similarly with the other four.

How to know which of the Tattwas is at a certain time in course, not merely by a mathematical calculation but with the certainty of an eye witness, is of the greatest importance in the practical part of this science. We shall come to it further on.

The Ida. When the Breath is in Ida, that is in the left Nostril, then only is it well to perform the following actions. Stable works such as erecting a building, or the construction of a well or tank, going on a distant journey, entering a new house, collection of things, giving gifts, marriage, making jewels or clothes, taking medicines and tonics, seeing a superior or master for any purpose of trade, amassing of wealth, sowing of seed in a field, negotiations, commencement of trade, seeing of friends, works of charity and faith, going home, buying of animals, doing work for the benefit of others, placing money on security, singing, dancing, taking up abode in any village or city, drinking or making water at the time of sorrow, pain, fever, etc. All these acts should be done when the Swara is in Ida. It must however be kept in mind that the Tattwas Vayu and Tejas are to be excluded from these actions, likewise Akasa.

During the Tattwas Prithivi and Apas only, are these actions to be done. In a fever, the Yogi keeps his Chandra Swara going, and brings the Apas or Water Tattwa in course, so the fever is all over in a very short time. How mastery is gained over the Tattwas will come further on.

The Pingala. In the Surya Swara only, are the following actions to be done. Reading and teaching hard and difficult subjects of knowledge, sexual intercourse, shipping, hunting, mounting a hill or fort, riding a donkey, camel or horse, swimming over a powerful stream or river, writing, painting, buying and selling, fighting with swords or hands, seeing a king, bathing, eating, shaving, bleeding, sleeping, suchlike. All these secure success and health, as the case may be, if done in the Surya Swara.

The Sushumna. When the Breath comes not out of both nostrils at the same time, it is flowing in the Sushumna. Nothing ought to be done under these conditions, for everything turns out badly. The same is the case when the Breath is now in one and now in the other nostril. When this is the case, sit down and meditate upon or over the Sacred Hansa. This joining of the Breath is the only time for Sandha, meditation.

NOTE: Zanoni secured success in gaming for Cetosa and overcame the effects of the poisoned wine of the Prince di D. as follows. In the first place, he changed his breath to the right nostril, and threw an envelope of the Akasa Tattwa over his antagonist, who consequently became all empty, the money in gaming flowing towards the Surya Swara. In the latter case he brought the Water, Apas, Tattwa into course, directed it with the full force of his trained will towards the poisoned wine, and consequently the burning heat of the poison was counteracted for a very long time, and before it could recover strength enough to act on the system, it was there no longer. S.R.M.D.

The Tattwa

To each of the five Tattwas a special co lour has been assigned. Akasa – Black or Indigo. Vayu – Blue. Tejas – Red. Apas – Silver. Prithivi – Yellow. It is by these colors that a practical man finds on the spur of the moment which Tattwa is at the time in course. Besides, these Tattwas have different shapes and tastes. These figures are seen by taking a bright mirror and letting the breath fall upon it, as it comes out of the Nose. The divided part takes one of the following forms according to the Tattwa then in course. Prithivi – a square. Apas, a crescent. Tejas, a triangle. Vayu, a sphere. Akasa, egg shaped. To sum up their qualities:

Prithivi – moves always in the middle of the Paths of Air and Water. Apas -downwards, straight through the nose. Tejas – upwards. Vayu – obliquely towards the right or left arm, as the case may be. Akasa – transversely always.

Tattwa Co lour Form Taste Distance of Breath under Nostril Principle
Prithivi Yellow Square Sweet 12 fingers Bulky
Apas Silver Crescent Astringent 16 fingers Cold
Vayu Blue Sphere Acid 8 fingers Moving
Tejas Red Triangle Hot tastes 4 fingers Hot
Akasa Indigo Oval Bitter Upwards All-pervading

Tests of the Tattwas. For practice, take five little bullets or counters colored: red, yellow, blue, silver, and black. Place or carry them in a pocket. Now let him close his eyes and at random take one of them out of his pocket. The co lour of the bullet will be that of the Tattwa in course. While still keeping the eyes closed let him see if the co lour of the bullet floats before the eyes.

He must not suppose he will be correct immediately. Eventually the confusion will disappear, and well defined colors, more or less stable, will appear before him so that the co lour of the bullet will be the same as that floating before his eyes. Then he will have gained the power of knowing which of the Tattwas is in course, and can at will find them.

There is a special method of the concentrating the mind and practicing with the eyes for this purpose, which will come with practice.

Let him ask any of his friends to imagine a flower. He will only have to shut his eyes to find the Tattwa then in course and he can astonish his friends by naming the co lour of the flower. Again if a man sitting amongst his friends finds the Vayu active let him ascertain those of his friends who are healthy mentally and physically wish to go away. Let him ask them to answer frankly and they will say ‘yes’.

In what way other Tattwas affect both the body and mind of man will be stated later. Some higher secrets are deliberately reserved for those who safely and honestly pass the elementary stage. When one has reached the stage of finding at Will any of the Tattwas, do not imagine you have become perfect.

If one goes on practicing his inner sight becomes keener so that he will recognize the five Tattwic subdivisions. Continue with the meditations and innumerable shades of co lour will be recognized according to the different proportions of the Tattwas. His work will be tedious while he is trying to distinguish between the different shades of co lour. Tedious at first because when the many shades of co lour become fixed and defined by persevering practice he will see an ever changing rainbow of the most beautiful shades of co lour and for a time this will be sufficient food for his mind.

To avoid the tediousness meditate upon the breath as is laid down in the chapter on meditation on the Tattwas.

Action to be taken during the different Tattwas. Actions of a sedate and stable nature as enumerated under the Chandra Swara are best done during the course of Prithivi, the earthy principle. Those of a fleeting nature which are to be done and gone through quickly should be done during Apas. Actions such as a man has to make of a violent struggle to hold his own, are best done during Tejas. If a Yogi wishes to kill a man he should do so with the Vayu Tattwa. In the Akasa, nothing should be done but meditation, as works begun during this Tattwa always end badly. Works of the above nature only prosper in the specified Tattwas; and those whose actions prosper may see this by experiment.

Meditation and Mastery over the Tattwas

We have previously given summary rules for distinguishing the various colors of the different Tattwas. But now we are going to explain the final method of mastering the Tattwas and of practicing. This is a secret which was only imparted to the most promising Adepts of Yoga. But a short practice will fully show the important results to be gained by this practice.

By degrees the student will become able to look into the future at will and have all the visible world before his eyes, and he will be able to command Nature.

During the day when the sky is clear let him once or twice for about an hour or two withdraw his mind from all external things, and sitting on a easy chair let him fix his eyes on any particular part of the blue sky and continue gazing without allowing the eyes to blink. At first he will see the waves of the water, the watery va pour in the atmosphere. Some days later as the eyes become more practiced he will see different sorts of buildings, etc. in the air. When the Neophyte reaches this state of practice he is sure of success.

After this he will see different sorts of mixed colors of Tattwas in the sky, which will show themselves in their proper and respective Tattwic colors.

To test the truth of this the Neophyte should occasionally close his eyes during the practice, and compare what is floating in the sky with that which he sees inwardly. When both are the same the operation is right. Other tests have been given before and other wonders will present themselves later to the Yogi. This practice is to be done in the day time.

For the night, let the student rise about 2 AM. when everything is calm, when there is no noise and when the cold light of the stars breathe holiness and a calm rapture enters into the soul of man. Let him wash his hands, feet, the crown of his head, and the nape of his neck with cold water. Let him put his shin bones to the ground and let the back of the thighs touch his calves, and let him put his hands upon his knees, his fingers pointing toward the body. Let him now fix his eyes on the tip of his nose. To avoid tediousness he must always meditate on the inhalation and exhalation of his breath.

Besides the above this has many other advantages described elsewhere. It may be said here, by constant practice one is able to develop two distinct syllables in his thought. It is evident that when a man inhales a sound is produced like HAN. When exhaling the sound is SA. By constant practice, the breath becomes associated with these sounds so that effortlessly the mind understands HANSA in relationship to the Tattwas. Thus we see that one full breath makes HANS A which is the name of the Ruler of the Universe together with His Powers. They are exerted during natural phenomena. At this stage of perfection the Yogi should commence as follows.

Getting up at 2 or 3 in the morning and washing himself in the aforementioned manner, let him know and fix his mind upon the Tattwa then in course. If the Tattwa be Prithivi at that moment, think of it as something that is a yellow square, sweet smelling, small in size and able to eliminate all disease. Let him at the same time say LAM. It is very easy to imagine this.

Much the same is true of the other Tattwas which are described in the chart above, which the student should again consult. However, be aware that the words VAM are related to Apas, RAM to Tejas, PAM to Vayu, and HAM to Akasa.

By diligent practice these syllables become definitely associated with the Tattwas. When he repeats them the special Tattwa appears with as much force as he may will, and thus it is that a Yogi can cause whatever he likes — lightning, rain, wind, etc.

Cure of Diseases

Every disease causes the breath to flow out of the wrong nostril and the wrong Tattwa to come into course. When the breath is therefore restored to the proper nostril, and the proper Tattwa has been brought into course, do not expect that that is all to be done. If the disease be obstinate and the attack a violent one, one will have to persevere a long time before success is gained.

If success does not come quickly resort to use of the appropriate medications and Swara will soon be restored.

You may notice the Chandra Swara is generally the best for the cure of any disease. Its flow is an indication of the soundness of health. In colds, coughs and other diseases this Swara should flow.

No one Tattwa or Swara causes pain if it flows properly. In this state it should not be unduly meddled with, but when any one Tattwa or Swara becomes overdominant and causes disease it should be changed at once. Experience shows that the Apas and the Prithivi Tattwas are the only ones generally good for health. Indeed the fact that during the course of the Apas Tattwa the breath is felt 16 fingers breadth below the nose and during the Prithivi 12 fingers, argues that at those times there is a more sound and powerful working of body functions than when it is felt only 8 or 4 or no finger breadths below the nose.

Akasa therefore is the worst for health and when sick one would find Akasa, Vayu, or Tejas in course.

When need be therefore proceed in the following manner. After having changed the breath from the wrong nostril to the proper one, generally the left, and pressing the opposite by a cushion so that it may not change readily again, sit on an easy chair and bind the left thigh a little above the knee joint with a handkerchief. Shortly he will perceive that the Tattwa changes to the one immediately below it and so on; and then the next, etc. If he be an acute observer of bodily conditions he will perceive that slowly his mind is becoming more easy. Then let him tighten his bandage still more. When at last he reaches Prithivi, he will find his health a great deal better. Let him persevere in this state or still better the Apas Tattwa for some time, and return to it occasionally for some days even after the disease has disappeared. Undoubtly he will be cured.

Forecast of futurity

Although a Yogi obtains the power of knowing everything that is, has been, or is to be, beyond the reach of the senses, yet generally he becomes indifferent to such knowledge. He forgets himself in his eternal presence before the Light, which breathes beauty into all we see in the world. We shall therefore represent him here revealing if not all his knowledge of futurity then only specific questions put to him by others. But our Neophytes may as well put the questions themselves, and then answer them according to the laws here laid down.

When a Yogi is asked a question, let him:

(a) Determine what Tattwa is in course. If it be Prithivi then the question is about something in the vegetable kingdom or where the element earth is dominant.

(b) If it be Apas the question relates to life, birth, death, etc.

(c) If Tejas the question concerns metals, gain or loss, etc.

(d) If Akasa the questioner has nothing to ask.

(e) If Vayu it relates to a journey.

These are but elementary things. The practical Yogi who can distinguish between the mixture of the Tattwas can name the particular things.

Now let him determine through which of his nostrils the breath is flowing, which is the fortnight then in course of passing, which the days and what direction of himself, the enquirer.

If the breath comes through the left nostril, to secure complete success the work which is the subject of the question and which will be specified under IDA, he must have the following coincidences. The fortnight must be bright. The day must be even, the direction must be east or north. If these things coincide the questioner will get what he wants.

Again if the Surya and Swara coincide with a dark fortnight, the day odd, the direction south and west, a similar result will be predicted, but only partially. The action will be of the sort described under Pingala.

If any of these coincide, the success will vary. It must be remembered that the breath at the time must not be flowing through the wrong nostril.

If the wrong Swara is at the commencement of the day the wrong Swara arises, the Lunar for the Solar or vica versa, one may expect something wrong. If it happens the first day there is sure to be some sort of anxiety. If the second some loss of money. If the third there will be a journey. If the fourth some dear object will be destroyed. If the fifth, loss of Kingdom. If the sixth loss of everything. If the seventh illness and pain are sure to come. If the eighth, death.

If the Sun breath flows in the morning and at noon, and the Moon in the evening, a sad discomfiture will result, the reverse being a sign of Victory.

If a man, about to travel which coincides in direction with the empty nostril at the time, he will not get what he desires.

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1 Comment

  1. How is it possible to keep the breath in one nostril for 5 gharis (2 hours)?

    What about sunset, is the course of the breath reversed? moonrise?

    And bright fortnite means waxing correct?


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