Macrocosm and Microcosm

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Written by Sir John Woodroffe, Book: Introduction to Tantra Sastra 


THE universe consists of a Mahābrahmāṇ ḍ a, or grand Cosmos, and of numerous Bṛ hatbrahmāṇ ḍ a, or macrocosms evolved from it. As is said by the Nirvāṇa-Tantra, all which is in the first is in the second. In the latter are heavenly bodies and beings, which are microcosms reflecting on a minor scale the greater worlds which evolve them. “As above, so below.” The mystical
maxim of the West is stated in the Viśvasāra-Tantra as follows: “What is here is elsewhere; what is not here is nowhere” (yadhihāsti tadanyatra yannehāsti na tatkvacit). The macrocosm has its meru, or vertebral column, extending from top to bottom. There are fourteen regions descending from Satyaloka, the highest. These are the seven upper and the seven nether worlds (vide ante).
The meru of human body is the spinal column, and within it are the cakras, in which the worlds are said to dwell. In the words of the Śāktānanda-Tarangiṇ ī, they are piṇ ḍ amadhyesthitā. Satya has been said to be in the sahasrārā, and Tapah, Janah, Mahah, Svah, Bhuvah, Bhūh in the ājnā, viśuddhi, anahata, maṇ ipūra, svādhiṣ ṭ hāna, and mūlādhāra lotuses respectively. Below mūlādhāra and in the joints, sides, anus, and organs of generation are the nether worlds. The bones near the spinal column are the kulaparvata.1 Such are the correspondences as to earth. Then as to water. The nadis are the rivers. The seven substances of the body


1 The seven main chains of mountains in Bhārata (see Viṣ ṇ u-Puraṇ a, Bk.
II, chap. iii).

(dhatu)1 are the seven islands. Sweat, tears, and the like are the oceans. Fire exists in the mūlādhāra, suṣ umṇ ā, navel and elsewhere. 2 As the worlds are supported by the prāṇ a and other vāyus (“airs”), so is the body supported by the ten vāyus, prāṇ a, etc. There is the same ākāśa (ether) in both.3 The witness within is the puruṣ a without, for the personal soul of the
microcosm corresponds to the cosmic soul (hiraṇ yagarbha) in the macrocosm.


1 Skin, blood, muscle, tendon, bone, fat, semen.
2 The kāmāgni in mūlādhāra, badala in the bones; in suṣ umṇ a the fire of
lightning, and in the navel earthly fire.
3 As to distribution of elements in the cakras, see chap. iv, Bhūtaśuddhi-














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