Q: Please tell us about the seven spiritual cities in India and their relationship with chakras in the body.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes. Seven cities in India correspond to seven centres or chakras in our body: ‘Ayodhya Mathura Maya Kashi Kanchi Avantika Puri Dwarakavati caiva saptaide moksha dayika’ Maya or Haridwar corresponds to the mooladhar chakra situated at the base of the spine. When the jadata or lethargy goes and enthusiasm begins, you commence your journey. Haridwar, the starting point, is the door to the house of the Divine. Kanchi corresponds to the swadhisthana chakra situated behind the genitals, as the presiding deity here is Kamakshi, the goddess of kama or desire.
Ayodhya corresponds to the third chakra, the manipura, situated in the navel region, where joy, generosity, greed and jealousy manifest. All these emotions are connected to Ayodhya. It was the jealousy and greed of Kaikeyi that made Rama take vanavas. Ayodhya is also known for the generosity of Rama. The joy of Rama’s return to Ayodhya is celebrated as Diwali. Joy, generosity, greed and jealousy meet in the nabhi pradesh, Ayodhya. Ayodhya also means where there is no fight, where it cannot hurt.
Mathura is anahata, the heart chakra. The heart is associated with three emotions: Love, fear and hatred. Mathura symbolises the love and devotion of the gopis for Krishna, as well as of the fear and hatred of Kansa, all matters of the heart.
Avantika, also called Ujjain, is related to the vishuddha or the throat chakra. Ujjain is the city of art and literature. Poet Kalidas hailed from Ujjain. It is also the city of Vikramaditya, of grief and glory. We feel gratitude in the throat region – we get choked. Kashi represents the ajna chakra situated between the eyebrows. Kashi has always been the seat of knowledge. That’s why the ajna chakra is also called gyana chakshu, the third eye. Kashi is the city of pundits and scholars.
Dwaraka represents the sahasrara, the crown chakra on top of the head. Dwarka literally means: Where is the door? The door is irrelevant if there are no walls. Infinity has no walls. Krishna left his body in Dwarka. Sahasrara also means thousand avenues. It means the pathless path. The path to liberation begins at Haridwar and culminates at Dwarka.
The soul is called Purusha. Pura means a town. Purusha means one who lives in the town. The Purusha is unbound and infinite. But the Purusha experiences bondage with all the negative emotions. Positive feelings with knowledge are liberating. Positive feelings without knowledge create negative emotions that are stifling, hence one experiences bondage. When you observe the prana moving through different centres associated with sensations, the negative feelings cease to exist and one is liberated from bondage.
The seven sacred rivers are the Ganga, Yamuna, Saraswati, Godavari, Narmada, Sindhu and Kaveri. Together with the seven sacred cities, they are linked to the seven sacred spots within you.