The science of subtle centers (spiritual Chakras) is the loci of the Naqshbandi way of practice. It is the path leading straight towards the goal that avoids undue hardship and risk of going astray. This is the extraordinary gift of the Naqshbandi Sufi way of practice to the humanity. Shaikh Ahmad al-Faruqi was one of the greatest exponents of this science better known as ilm-e-lataif.
In the Naqsh MuMRa, Mahatma Ram Chandraji assimilated the science of subtle centers from both the Islamic and the Hindu traditions, including the knowledge of the mediaeval saints.
To appreciate this science properly, one needs to understand the nature of the creation of the universe and the status of Man. All the major religions believe that the God created the universe by commanding it to ‘be’ in order that He may be known and the state of bliss enjoyed by Him, be enjoyed by His creation as well. The entire universe thus originated from the one Absolute Truth, the God, and since the entire universe originated from the God, some saints believed in the unicity of existence i.e. everything is God (wahadat al-wujud), whereas some others believed that everything is because of God (wahadat al-shuhud). For them the degree of reality inherent in the successive stages of creation is not the same. They, specially the Mujaddidi Shaikhs of the Naqshbandi Order, propounded the theory of reflections and shadows of the Absolute Truth manifesting in different degrees in the created world. The two theories are, however, a matter only of taking a different viewpoint of the same truth and can be reconciled if one considers that the essence of the entire creation is the Essence of God.
The creative power of the God manifested itself at three levels; the first of these levels contained the seeds of all possibilities of manifestation (hiranyagarbha), followed by the level of undifferentiated existence (non-manifest or avyakta) and the level of manifestation of exterior forms (manifestation or vyakta). These three levels of manifestation are considered to correspond to the causal body (Karan Sharir or the spirit), the subtle body (Suksham Sharir or the mind) and the gross body (Sthul Sharir or the physical body) of the Man, the highest creation of the God, which occupies the most eminent position amongst the creatures. The Man is also called microcosm i.e. a prototype of the macrocosm. It is said that the Man was created in the likeness of God i.e. having all the possibilities of the cosmos and the most excellent and the noblest of all creation.
The cosmic evolution is considered to begin with the coming into existence of the Ahankara (Mahtatva-the individual consciousness) identified in the Hindu mythology with Kalpurush, representing from a macrocosmic viewpoint the temporal principle that governs the creation subject to the condition of time and space. Ahankara gives rise to Shabda (the vibration), the subtle principle of the element ether (Akash), the first most subtle of the five corporeal elements (Panch Bhuta or Panch Tatvas) that compose the physical body of the Man. Shabda gives rise to Sparsh (touch), the subtle principle of the element air (Vayu), which in turn gives rise to Rupa (form), the subtle principle of the element fire (Agni). From Rupa springs the Rasa (essence, savour), the subtle principle of the element water (Jal) and lastly the Gandha (odour) that corresponds to the element earth (Prithvi).
These very five elements (Panch Bhuta or Panch Tatvas) i.e. ether, air, fire, water and earth make the gross body of the Man. Their subtle principles are situated at the five subtle centers or chakras, situated inside the body of the Man.
Ether (Akash) was the first element to descend into the gross determination and its subtle principle (Shabda-vibration) resided at the throat in Vishuddh Chakra. The element air was produced as a result of churning of the element ether, which took its seat inside the Hriday Chakra in the proximity of the lungs. Churning of air in turn produced the element fire, which found a place in the Manipurak Chakra. The next element to be produced from fire (by churning e.g. burning of hydrogen into hydrogen-oxide) was water, which resides in the Adhisthan Chakra, characterizing the flow of the corporeal secretion from the organ of procreation. The presiding power of the Chakra, the creative aspect of the God (Brahma in Hindu mythology and Allah in His aspect as al-Bari or al-Khaliq-the Creator) created all the living creatures from the clay by mixing this water with the element earth on the potter’s wheel in His celestial workshop.
According to the Naqshbandi Sufi tradition the subtleties corresponding to the four gross elements (anasir-e-arba) i.e. air, fire, water and earth situated in Chakras below the throat i.e. in the trunk of human body together with the carnal soul (nafs-the Suksham Sharir in the Hindu tradition), are considered as the inferior lataif (spiritual centers of energy). These five subtle organs are considered to pertain to the world of creation (alam-e-khalq). Their immediate cause or their principles pertain to the world of order (alam-e-amr). According to the Sufi tradition world of order is identical to the world of light (alam-e-nur) that contains the principles and inner realities of all the possibilities of manifestation (haqaiq-e-mumkinayat), past present or future and it came into existence with the first determination of the God. It is beyond the limitations of time and space, which govern the world of creation.
The world of creation is divided into two parts along an imaginary horizontal line; the upper-superior dominion is called the world of sovereignty (alam-e-malkut), which contains the subtleties of the gross elements and the nafs. The lower-inferior dominion is called the world of human sovereignty (alam-e-mulk) and is characterized by the gross state that can be perceived through the senses. The highest reach of the world of creation is the subtle heart and the lowest limit of the world of order consists of the subtle principle of the heart organ.
The five subtle organs pertaining to the world of creation represent the outer aspects of Man while the five subtle organs pertaining to the world of order constitutes the inner aspects of Man. These five subtle organs of Man (the energy centers) are the Kulb (heart), Rooh (spirit), Sirr (the secret), Khafi (the hidden) and Akhafi (the most hidden), all located in the Hriday Chakra of Man by the order of God (for a more detailed description of their location inside the Hriday Chakra, please see Sufi Principles and Practices). They bear a strong relationship with the individual gross elements directly derived from them. The latifa-e-kulb is closely associated with nafs; latifa-e-rooh with the element air; latifa-e-sirr with the element water; latifa-e-khafi with the element fire and latifa-e-akhafi with the element earth.
These subtle Chakras need to be activated and awakened in order to reintegrate them with their latent spiritual principles in the form of pure light of different colours in the world of order. It is believed that the five subtle organs lost their original purity-luminosity due to their association with nafs-the carnal soul, during their descent into the world of creation. They, therefore, need to be purified so that they may acquire their original uncontaminated state.
In the Naqshbandi Sufi Order latifa-e-kulb is considered to be the root of all the other Chakras and is associated with the creative aspect of God. Purification of this Chakra is, therefore, most important from the spiritual point of view.
Prior to the time of Shah Baha’uddin Naqshband, the Masters of the Order followed the practice of purifying all the Chakras starting from the Muladhar Chakra. Shah Baha’uddin Naqshband introduced the practice of starting from the Hriday Chakra. The method of practice was further modified and improved by the Masters of the Order after him and Shaikh Ahmad Faruqi considered that purification of latifa-e-kulb (one of the five spiritual organs of the Hriday Chakra) was sufficient.
Mahatma Radha Mohan Lalji has specifically stated that in this Order (Naqsh MuMRa) the Hriday Chakra is used mainly, which is center of love. When it is activated such force, such power flows that one forgets all other things. By activating the Hriday Chakra love is created by the Master with his spiritual power (tavajjoh). This is a process of induction where the Master through his high spiritual energy, induces love in the heart of the disciple. The result is that the entire work of awakening, activating of other Chakras is done by this Chakra alone. Once the Hriday Chakra is activated and awakened the seeker can be immediately taken to the nafs-e-natiqa (Prana Bindu or the Agya Chakra) the subtle abode of the nafs in one step, as sanctioned by Shaikh Ahmad Faruqi and he may be progressed to the Brahmand Chakra (or the center of the lotus of one thousand petals-the Sahstra dal Kamal) as the second step.
In the Naqsh MuMRa stream of Sufis, the grace of God works through the tavajjoh of the Master, which helps the seeker to achieve his goal in an effortless manner and in the shortest time.