Sutras – More than Just Threads
Can a simple thread really have an impact when worn on the body? Sadhguru offers a comprehensive insight into the tying of sutras, weaving together the tradition and lore as well as the yogic science and significance.
Sadhguru: Sutra literally means thread. The word is also used in the sense of being a formula or a basis, like the Yoga Sutras and the Shiva Sutras. Let us look at the science of it. Let’s say I held a copper plate in my hand for a minute, and then you were to touch this copper plate. If you are a little sensitive, you will feel it reverberate in a completely different way. But a plate will not be able to retain this energy. If the same copper was shaped differently, it would hold the reverberations much longer. The form and the material have a significance.
Modern science is beginning to recognize the fundamental design of things in existence. For example, there is a similarity between the patterns that flowing water forms and the patterns that happen on sand in a desert. There is also a direct connection between how a river flows and how the human system manifests. The fundamental design of everything in existence is the same. Things only differ in complexity and sophistication. Certain forms are able to hold energy much longer than others. In this context, an ellipsoid is the best form. A perfect ellipsoid is able to store energy for five to ten thousand years, which is an eternity in human experience.
Materials to Store Energy
We can energize different types of material – silk for example. If you wear a sari that has been energized in a certain way at Linga Bhairavi, it can leave you completely blissed out, just because the cloth has been at Linga Bhairavi for some time. Silk, raw cotton, and copper are very good in terms of absorbing energy. Mercury is the best. But you should only use mercury if you have the necessary level of sadhana.
Cotton thread is used as a material to hold energy because it is commonly available, inexpensive, and it works pretty well for a period of time. To enhance its ability to absorb energy, we use certain other materials, such as turmeric.
Immunity From Within and Without
The full value and magic of turmeric are yet to be understood by modern societies. One thing is, it removes minor infections from the digestive system, and a certain amount of turmeric and ghee will make the skin glow. The glow is not just of a cosmetic nature. Turmeric purifies the aura.
The immune system does not function just from within. Your immunity also depends on the layer of energy you create around you. Turmeric creates a certain vibrancy around you, which changes the nature of the aura, causes a glow, and enhances your immunity. Another aspect of turmeric is that you can transmit energy through it effortlessly. Turmeric greatly enhances a thread’s ability to absorb energy. Turmeric is what makes a thread into a sutra.
Different Purpose, Different Preparation
According to the purpose, we can create different kinds of sutras – in simple ways or complicated, sophisticated ways. It needs to be prepared in a particular way in order to function as intended. A mangal sutra for example, the sacred thread that married women used to wear in this culture, is about binding two people together. Once a month, women would smear turmeric on their mangal sutra, and once a year, they would change the thread. The thread used to be of a certain type of material and was prepared by someone who knew how to do it. Today, instead of wearing a sacred thread, they are wearing a thick gold chain. What used to be a science has become a symbolism over a period of time. What used to be symbolism has become ridiculous nonsense after some time.
For certain other purposes, it has to be an intelligent thread that functions the way we want it to. To give a few examples – there is a thread around the Adiyogi Linga in the Adiyogi Alayam. For Linga Bhairavi, we have removed the thread. But there is always a thread around Vanashri at the Dhyanalinga, which is changed periodically. They are all made differently. The normal process of preparing a thread takes a certain period of time – sometimes thirty to forty days. If they have to be made instantly, it costs a certain amount of life.
There was a particular situation a few years ago when I was travelling, and I had to create some threads without going through the regular preparation, and I did not do the necessary work with myself afterwards that needs to be done so that it would not affect me. The next day, I could barely walk, which is something that has hardly ever happened in my life. I am not someone who gets giddy anywhere, whether you put me in a giant wheel, a rollercoaster, or you spin me around. But that day, I was wobbling because I had to create the threads instantly.
Essentially, a sutra is a medium. We could use something else, but a thread is an easy and handy way to do it. It serves the purpose and lasts for a sufficient period of time. Let us say if someone is on a sadhana for six months, we will tie a certain type of thread. If I put someone on a three-year sadhana, I tie a different type of thread, because it must last three years. Otherwise, if a thread alone does not last long enough, we will add some other material to it, so that it will last longer.
A sutra is like the body, just the physical basis – the energy is something else. In yoga, we are using the physical only as a base, which is the nature of creation. Even your physical body is only a platform. It is not the real thing. That is the way the whole existence is made. However, in modern societies, we have fixed certain parameters which are purely physical and so we are trying to limit the whole existence to physicality.
How Shiva Created Veerabhadra
There is an incident in the yogic lore where Shiva used a sutra to create a being. Once, Daksha – the father of Shiva’s first wife Sati – was performing a yagna, a sacrificial fire. Sati was present there, however Shiva was not. During the yagna, Daksha said something insulting about Shiva. Unable to bear the humiliation, Sati went into the sacrificial fire. When Shiva came to know that she immolated herself because of the disgrace that they caused to her, he got so incensed that he pulled out one of his dreadlocks, whacked it on a stone, and Veerabhadra, a mystical soldier, came into existence.
Shiva let him loose, and Veerabhadra went and slaughtered over one thousand people who were attending the yagna and did not do anything to prevent Sati’s death. Shiva said, “My wife walked into the fire. No one thought it is even something that they should have stopped. You just sat there and watched.” He said, “Every one of you must die,” and Veerabhadra impaled Daksha.
Different Types of Sutras
Shiva used his own hair to create Veerabhadra. If a sutra is organic, raw, and it has turmeric and is wet, then in a matter of a few seconds, you can make it like a part of your body. A sutra is a thread that puts something together. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras are only the thread. According to the competence of whoever handles this thread, they may put mud beads, pearls, diamonds, or their life on it. There are many things that can be strung with a thread. Depending on what part of the body we have to tie the thread – suppose we have to put it around your waist or your neck – it has to be made in different, more elaborate ways. A sutra around the arm is the simplest thing, because it is for a very specific, limited purpose. If it has a more elaborate purpose, more elaborate preparations need to be done.
The Intelligence of Inanimate Things
Even so-called inanimate things are functioning in a specific manner. If you were to sow the same seed in different places, it would grow and turn out differently according to the quality of the soil, the atmosphere, and a whole lot of other factors. The soil may be inanimate, but it has its own characteristics. It functions the way it wants to function.
There is a different kind of intelligence in inanimate things. Modern societies understand intelligence only as intellect and thought process. But you cannot really figure out anything through the thought process. What is happening organically in your body is way beyond the thought process, but we do not recognize this intelligence. We think intelligence means only certain types of thoughts. A sutra is an intelligent thread that we can make in such a way that it functions for a certain time with a specific purpose.
A version of this article was originally published in Isha Forest Flower May 2017.