The ability to gain full knowledge of the systems of the body is one of the different types of Spiritual Power or siddhis outlined in the Vibhuti Pada (Book III) of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. In western philosophy, it is said that everything in the physical world has an archetype or model that have its origin in some kind of higher realm.
One of the most popular ideas that refer to a higher dimension of prime examples is Plato’s Theory of Forms. According to Plato, the Forms are what many of our words refer to, but they are profoundly different sorts of objects from the ones revealed to our senses. These Forms are eternal, changeless, and incorporeal, and since they are imperceptible, we can only come to have knowledge of them through thought.
The Hindus have their own version of a higher domain which specifically contains the mold of the structure of objects, and in particular, the human being. They call it koshas. Well, it’s not exactly a domain. The koshas are more like sheaths or coverings (picture an onion if you will).
They believe that a spiritually awakened individual who is able to distinguish these koshas can gain knowledge about the hidden or subtle aspects of the human body.
Here’s an account by Gopi Krishna:
“I watched the phenomenon in amazement. With the aid of the luminous stuff now filling my nerves, I could, by diverting my attention towards my interior, discern clearly the outlines of the vital organs and the network of nerves spread all over my body, as if the centre of consciousness in the brain, now always ablaze with light, had acquired a more penetrating inner sight by which it could look inside and perceive dimly the interior of the body as it could see its exterior in a hazy, uncertain light. At times, turning my attention upon myself, I distinctly saw my body as a column of living fire from the tips of my toes to the head in which innumerable currents circled and eddied, causing at places whirlpools and vortices, all forming part of a vast heaving sea of light, perpetually in motion. It was not a hallucination, as the experience was repeated innumerable times. The only explanation to account for it that occurred to me was that on such occasions my undeniably extended consciousness was in contact with the world of 'prana', or cosmic vital energy, which is not normally perceptible to the common man, but is the first subtle, immaterial substance to come within the range of superconscious vision."
— Gopi Krishna, Kundalini: The Evolutionary Energy in Man
So how did the masters of ancient India manage to acquire this type of power?
The answer is stated in Sutra 30 of the Vibhuti Pada.
"(By performing Samyama) on the navel centre knowledge of the organization of the body."
— I.K. Taimni, The Science Of Yoga
"Focusing with perfect discipline on the navel energy center yields insight about the organization of the body."
— Chip Hartranft, The Yoga-Sûtra of Patañjali
"Perfectly concentrated Meditation on the centre of force in the lower trunk brings an understanding of the order of the bodily powers."
— Charles Johnston, The Yoga Sutras Of Patanjali: The Book of the Spiritual Man
Full knowledge of the systems of the body can be attained by performing Samyama Meditation on the Solar Plexus Chakra. The Solar Plexus Chakra, also called Manipura (city of jewels), is the energy centre in the spinal column located behind the navel, corresponding to the solar plexus. The solar plexus chakra is related to the transition from simple or base to complex emotion, energy, assimilation and digestion.
To understand why the Manipura is treated as the origin of this siddhi (spiritual power), you must first learn about the koshas as I mentioned earlier, particularly the annamaya kosha.
Annamaya kosha is an aspect of consciousness translated as food-apparent-sheath and corresponds to the gross or physical body. The Solar Plexus Chakra is the center that controls the distribution of energy to the gross body which has the most dense and slowest frequency of vibration. Annamaya kosha is the material part of creation, regardless if it is a stone, a plant, or a human being, which all exist in different degrees of consciousness. In the beginning of yoga practice, the primary focus is on annamaya kosha; the alignment and physical sensations of the physical body. Mastery of the flow of energy and function of this aspect of consciousness leads to full knowledge of the systems of the body.
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