alambuṣā kuhūrviśvodarā vāraṇā hastijihvā yaśauvatī payasvinī gāndhārī pūṣā śaṅkinī sarasvatīḍā piṅgalā suṣumnā ceiti caturdaśa nāḍayaḥ sarvasaṁkṣobhiṇyādi catrudahsa śaktayaḥ ||

अलम्बुषा कुहूर्विश्वोदरा वारणा हस्तिजिह्वा यशौवती पयस्विनी गान्धारी पूषा शङ्किनी सरस्वतीडा पिङ्गला सुषुम्ना चेति चतुर्दश नाडयः सर्वसंक्षोभिण्यादि चत्रुदह्स शक्तयः॥

(Bhāvanopaniṣad 13)

This verse talks about the fourth āvaraṇa, which is known as sarva-saubhāgya-dāyaka cakra. There are fourteen śakti-s in this āvaraṇa, who again work on the subtle aspects of a human body. Each of the devi-s preside over fourteen subtle nāḍi-s of the body. Prāṇa, which we inhale gets converted and further energised to make our internal organs function. Under general conditions, we breathe about 21,600 times daily (24 hour period). These 21,600 breaths are distributed to different psychic centres of the body (chakras), but not equally. Major portion of breath is distributed to three major psychic centres of the body – sex chakra, navel chakra and heart chakra. Out of the above three chakras, navel chakra is extremely important as it represents the nourishing aspect of the body. Nyāsa-s that we perform while doing mantra japa is directly related to different nāḍi-s and different psychic chakras. Nyāsa means depositing. It is a process by which we mentally place the concerned devata in various parts of the body. When one surge forward in spiritual path, nyāsa-s can be dispensed with. For them there is no need for nyāsa-s as they know that the concerned deity pervades their entire body. Though there are several types of nyāsa-s, primary nyāsa-s are hrdayādi or aṅga nyāsa. If a mantra is too long, the mantra is split into six parts and each of these parts are touched (tactile sense) with right hand fingers to symbolically implant the mantra and devata into the body (it would be ideal if only is able to do this mentally instead of doing this externally). In hrdayādi nyāsa a part of the mantra (in some cases, it will be full mantra) is implanted in the heart chakra, ājñācakra, back head chakra, eyes, manas chakra and finally at the eight cardinal points around us. In the case of mahāṣoḍaśī mantra, there are around thirty known nyāsa-s.

On the subtle side, the prāṇa that we inhale first reach the base chakra known as mūlādhāra, where kuṇḍalinī lies in a dormant state. From mūlādhāra, energy proceeds to the navel chakra, to the heart chakra, to the throat chakra, to the shoulder blades and then to ājñācakra and finally reaches brahmarandra (a minute orifice at the top of the skull) in sahasrāra. When the mind is completely purified in the previous āvaraṇa-s, psychic centres are purified in this āvaraṇa. Purification of psychic centres not only cleanses the subtle body, but also cleanses various internal and external organs to which these psychic centres are connected. When complete purification happens in this āvaraṇa, kuṇḍalinī pierces brahmarandra to establish connection between individual consciousness and Supreme Consciousness. At this stage, connection is established between brahmāṇḍa (macrocosm) and piṇḍāṇḍa (microcosm). When this connection is established, purity of the cosmos also prevails within the human body and pervades the mind. In this āvaraṇa dualism is completely annihilated and the yogi at this stage always stands connected to Parāśakti, who has manifested as macrocosm. This perfect conceptualization may not be possible while performing navāvaraṇa pūjā, as mind is preoccupied with material objects such as offerings, flowers, etc. For cleaning the mind, the mind needs to be without action. Hence meditation is recommended for final emancipation. Names of the fourteen nāḍi-s and names of the fourteen devi-s are discussed while discussing fourth āvaraṇa. There is always a direct relationship between kuṇḍalinī and spiritual level of an aspirant. Whether someone likes it or not, kuṇḍalinī automatically ascends with spiritual practices.

prāṇapāna vyānodāna samāna nāga kūrma kṛkara devadatta dhanañjaya daśavāyavaḥ sarvasiddhipradādi bahirdaśāra devatāḥ ||

प्राणपान व्यानोदान समान नाग कूर्म कृकर देवदत्त धनञ्जय दशवायवः सर्वसिद्धिप्रदादि बहिर्दशार देवताः॥

(Bhāvanopaniṣad 14)

This verse talks about fifth āvaraṇa, known as Sarvārthasādhakacakra and has ten śakti-s. This verse identifies these ten śakti-s with ten types of prāṇa-s - prāṇa, apāna, vyāna, udhāna, samāna, nāga**, kūrma, hṛkara, devatatta and dhanañjaya and this has already been discussed in fifth āvaraṇa. After having cleansed the aspirant’s subtle body, this āvaraṇa imparts spiritual knowledge with reasoning and makes him proficient and compatible to move further towards his or her spiritual goal. Sarvārtha refers to means of accomplishing his goal and sādhaka means effective, efficient and productive. The purified subtle body realises its purpose of existence and moves towards the central point of Śri Cakra to attain liberation. From this āvaraṇa onwards, knowledge about Śiva is gradually being imparted. When all the prāṇa-s are purified, the aspirant is totally detached from the material world.

The cleansing process takes much longer time in this āvaraṇa than in other āvaraṇa-s, because all the internal and external organs are controlled by the ten prāṇa-s. These ten prāṇa-s make jñānendriya-s and karmendriya-s functional. When these ten prāṇa-s unify to become a single entity called prāṇa, from which these ten prāṇa-s originated, the functions of organs of perception and action are subdued and later withdrawn at the time of liberation.  This is known as contraction. Contraction refers to liberation and expansion refers to creation. Since we are looking at Bhāvanopaniṣad from the angle of saṁhārakrama, the Upaniṣad is being interpreted from the point of view of liberation.

Sarva-siddhi-pradā means bestowing of universal success or bestowing complete accomplishment. This means that the prolonged contemplation of Her lotus feet has now yielded results. The result comes in the form of Her Grace, which is showered on the aspirant through Her various representatives. First comes the Guru, who teaches “tat tvaṁ asi” (You are That). Next comes Her different śakti-s beginning from the first āvaraṇa to the eighth āvaraṇa. In the ninth āvaraṇa She takes over the aspirant and She Herself imparts knowledge about Śiva (Lalitā Sahasranāma 727 śivajñāna-pradāyinī). After ensuring that the yogi is perfectly fit for liberation, She reveals Śiva to him for final liberation and he is not born again.

etadvāyuḥ saṁsargopādhi bhedena recakaḥ pācaka śoṣako dāhakaḥ plāvaka iti prāṇamukhyatvena pañcadhā jaṭharāgniḥ bhavati ||

kṣārakaḥ uddhārakaḥ kṣobhako jṛṁbhako mohaka iti nāgamukhyena pañcavidhāste manuṣyāṇāṁ dehagā bhakṣya bhojya śoṣya lehya peyātmaka pañcavidhamannaṁ pācayanti ||

etā daśa vahnikalāḥ sarvajñāddyā antardevatāḥ ||

एतद्वायुः संसर्गोपाधि भेदेन रेचकः पाचक शोषको दाहकः प्लावक इति प्राणमुख्यत्वेन पञ्चधा जठराग्निः भवति॥

क्षारकः उद्धारकः क्षोभको जृंभको मोहक इति नागमुख्येन पञ्चविधास्ते मनुष्याणां देहगा भक्ष्य भोज्य शोष्य लेह्य पेयात्मक पञ्चविधमन्नं पाचयन्ति॥

एता दश वह्निकलाः सर्वज्ञाद्द्या अन्तर्देवताः॥

(Bhāvanopaniṣad 15)

This verse discusses about the sixth āvaraṇa.  We have discussed about five important prāṇa-s in the previous verse. In sṛṣṭi krama, it is always from subtle to gross and in saṁhāra krama, it is always from gross to subtle. These five prāṇa-s get modified as five different types of digestive fires. In particular, nāga** gets converted into jaṭharāgni, which aids different types of assimilation and excretion including belching. There are ten aspects of digestion referred in this verse and they are recakaḥ (purging, etc), pācaka (actual digestion), śoṣaka (absorption of water contents into the body), dāhakaḥ (actual metabolic action for life sustenance), plāvaka (this can be explained as the fire log for the digestive fire). The second five are mentioned in the second part of this verse and they are kṣārakaḥ (bile secretion), uddhārakaḥ (expelling gas generated during digestive process), kṣobhaka (churning of food), jṛṁbhaka (expansion of the stomach) and mohaka (assimilation of food by the body).

In this āvaraṇa the entire digestive system is cleansed. With the cleansing of digestive system and its associated actions, the one, who is going to be liberated does not have appetite. Many living yogis are examples. They do not eat anything for years. There are certain places where yogis meditate throughout the year and they see the external world only on Śivarātri (once in a year). Rest of the days they meditate perpetually without sleep, water, food and excretion. This is possible only because their digestive systems do not function and they live only on prāṇa. They not only inhale prāṇa through their nostrils, their back head chakra and crown chakra also feeds their body with cosmic energy to keep their life going.

In this āvaraṇa, the yogi is almost purified except the presence of three guṇa-s, tanmātra-s and antaḥkaraṇa. They will also be contracted in the subsequent āvaraṇa-s. By the time, a yogi enters the ninth āvaraṇa, he or she is completely purified ready to have Her darśan and ultimate liberation.