SYMBOLISM OF THE MOOLADHARA CHAKRA
THE FOUR KHERUBIM
(THE FOUR LIVING CREATURES)
AND THE MOOLADHARA CHAKRA/
THE FOUR ARMS OF SHRI GANESHA
The four petals of the Mooladhara chakra can be likened to the four arms of the Hindu deity
Shri Ganesha. In traditional iconography He is shown holding a different object in each of His
four hands. The Mooladhara chakra, with its four petals, or sub-plexuses, is the foundation of
the Tree of Life, or the subtle sytem of seven chakras (energy centres), in the human body.
The Mooladhara Chakra gives us our grounding in Reality, and the sense of orientation in space.
The Mooladhara Chakra is the Primordial 'Fourness' of the universe,
the Quaternity: the four cardinal points, the four elements,
the four pillars upholding Reality, The four Kherubim or 'Living Creatures':
Bull, Lion, Angel/Man, and Eagle. The Kherubim were a special order of angels with access to the
presence of God, and they appear several times in the Bible: in Ezekiel's vision, in
the Book of Daniel, and in the Revelation. In later times the awesome power of the Kherubim
was forgotten as people preferred the cuddlier, safer image of the baby'cherub'. The quality
of innocence was retained however. Shri Ganesha is the embodiment of child-like innocence and
humility, but also the power which supports all things, and destroys evil.
The four evangelists are linked by Christian tradition to the Four Living Creatures and the
four fixed signs of the Zodiac (Scorpio is commonly a scorpion, associated with death,
but the higher aspect
of this sign is the eagle or Phoenix which transcends death).
The Quaternity is also the four heads of Brahma-
the creative power of the Divine. Before there can be Creation
there must be a foundation on Innocence and, according to Hinduism, Lord Ganesha was the first
of all deities created.
The Sanskrit name of the Base Chakra, Mooladhara Chakra, means 'support of the Root(Kundalini)'
because it supports the whole Tree. The prophet Ezekiel described the four Kherubim as being
the bearers of the Chariot of God- the Merkabah. In Hindu mythology the principle deities each
have their own 'vahana'or vehicle. In the ranks of the
Hindu vahanas we see the Four Kherubim appear:
The Goddess Devi rides a lion(Leo), Vishnu the eagle Garuda(Scorpio), Shiva the bull Nandi
and the Kundalini is the vehicle of mankind(Aquarius). On his journey through the seven heavens
(the seven chakras) Muhammad rode on Al Buraq,
a feminine horse-like creature comparable to Kundalini.
The four fixed signs of the Zodiac: Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius represent the four
cardinal directions of space in the Macrocosm. They also must represent the four cardinal
points in the subtle system of the human body- the Microcosm.
Leo would then be, perhaps the right aspect
of the Nabhi or Navel Chakra, which has the quality of royal dignity
(the lion was a symbol of majesty, strength and courage to the Hebrews).
Taurus is perhaps the
left aspect of the Nabhi Chakra, which represents food and peacefulness (In ancient
Israel the bull, or ox, was used for agriculture and as a food sacrifice to God). Shri Mataji,
the founder of Sahaja Yoga,
has said that Aquarius (the pourer-out of energy) represents the Kundalini-
the root of the Tree of Life. Shri Mataji has linked the sign of Scorpio to the Sahasrara or
Crown Chakra which has the quality of Rebirth (death of the ego), immortality, and transcendence.
(The eagle was considered an immortal, self-renewing bird, like the Phoenix, in Israel)
If the Nabhi is taken as the centre of the
subtle system of the human body then the four Living Creatures, mentioned in the Bible,
represent its extremities: left and right nabhi, root and crown.
In "The Splendour that was Egypt" Murray has pointed out the interesting similarity between
the Four Kherubim (The Four Living
Creatures) in the Old Testament, and the four sons of Horus.
The Egyptian Solar deity Horus shares some similarities to Shri Ganesha. Both are the son of
the most important divine couple: Shiva-Shakti in India, and Osiris-Isis in Egypt. Osiris
and Shiva also have common characteristics- they both rule over the afterlife and have a
white bull as a vehicle or companion. Horus was said to have had four sons,
who bear some resemblances to
the Four Living Creatures. The Sons of Horus were the gods of the cardinal points of the
like the four Kherubim, took
the form of three beasts and a human/angel.
Both Horus and Shri Ganesha were celibate, so it could be supposed
that the four 'sons' were actually four aspects of the deity.
These are the attributes of the four arms of Lord Ganesha with possible correspondences to
the four fixed signs of the Zodiac:
Shri Ganesha's upper left hand holding a noose,
or snake (represents the Kundalini). Therefore this arm could correspond to Aquarius.
Lower left hand- holding or offering food, the providence of the earth (Taurus?).
Lower right hand- gesture of benediction, assurance (Leo?).
Upper right hand holding an axe (Scorpio?).
BIBLICAL REFERENCES TO THE FOUR LIVING CREATURES
Rev 4:5-11 (NRSV)
"Coming from the throne are flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and in front of the throne burn seven flaming torches, which are the seven spirits of God; 4:6 and in front of the throne there is something like a sea of glass, like crystal. Around the throne, and on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: 4:7 the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with a face like a human face, and the fourth living creature like a flying eagle. 4:8 And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and inside. Day and night without ceasing they sing, "Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God the Almighty, who was and is and is to come." 4:9 And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to the one who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 4:10 the twenty-four elders fall before the one who is seated on the throne and worship the one who lives forever and ever; they cast their crowns before the throne, singing, 4:11 "You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created."
Ezekiel 1:1-14 (NRSV)
"In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the exiles by the river Chebar, the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God. 1:2 On the fifth day of the month (it was the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin), 1:3 the word of the LORD came to the priest Ezekiel son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was on him there. 1:4 As I looked, a stormy wind came out of the north: a great cloud with brightness around it and fire flashing forth continually, and in the middle of the fire, something like gleaming amber. 1:5 In the middle of it was something like four living creatures. This was their appearance: they were of human form. 1:6 Each had four faces, and each of them had four wings. 1:7 Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the sole of a calf's foot; and they sparkled like burnished bronze. 1:8 Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands. And the four had their faces and their wings thus: 1:9 their wings touched one another; each of them moved straight ahead, without turning as they moved. 1:10 As for the appearance of their faces: the four had the face of a human being, the face of a lion on the right side, the face of an ox on the left side, and the face of an eagle; 1:11 such were their faces. Their wings were spread out above; each creature had two wings, each of which touched the wing of another, while two covered their bodies. 1:12 Each moved straight ahead; wherever the spirit would go, they went, without turning as they went. 1:13 In the middle of the living creatures there was something that looked like burning coals of fire, like torches moving to and fro among the living creatures; the fire was bright, and lightning issued from the fire. 1:14 The living creatures darted to and fro, like a flash of lightning."
Ezekiel 10:1-22 (NRSV)
"Then I looked, and above the dome that was over the heads of the cherubim there appeared above them something like a sapphire, in form resembling a throne. 10:2 He said to the man clothed in linen, "Go within the wheelwork underneath the cherubim; fill your hands with burning coals from among the cherubim, and scatter them over the city." He went in as I looked on. 10:3 Now the cherubim were standing on the south side of the house when the man went in; and a cloud filled the inner court. 10:4 Then the glory of the LORD rose up from the cherub to the threshold of the house; the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the glory of the LORD. 10:5 The sound of the wings of the cherubim was heard as far as the outer court, like the voice of God Almighty when he speaks. 10:6 When he commanded the man clothed in linen, "Take fire from within the wheelwork, from among the cherubim," he went in and stood beside a wheel. 10:7 And a cherub stretched out his hand from among the cherubim to the fire that was among the cherubim, took some of it and put it into the hands of the man clothed in linen, who took it and went out. 10:8 The cherubim appeared to have the form of a human hand under their wings. 10:9 I looked, and there were four wheels beside the cherubim, one beside each cherub; and the appearance of the wheels was like gleaming beryl. 10:10 And as for their appearance, the four looked alike, something like a wheel within a wheel. 10:11 When they moved, they moved in any of the four directions without veering as they moved; but in whatever direction the front wheel faced, the others followed without veering as they moved. 10:12 Their entire body, their rims, their spokes, their wings, and the wheels--the wheels of the four of them--were full of eyes all around. 10:13 As for the wheels, they were called in my hearing "the wheelwork." 10:14 Each one had four faces: the first face was that of the cherub, the second face was that of a human being, the third that of a lion, and the fourth that of an eagle. 10:15 The cherubim rose up. These were the living creatures that I saw by the river Chebar. 10:16 When the cherubim moved, the wheels moved beside them; and when the cherubim lifted up their wings to rise up from the earth, the wheels at their side did not veer. 10:17 When they stopped, the others stopped, and when they rose up, the others rose up with them; for the spirit of the living creatures was in them. 10:18 Then the glory of the LORD went out from the threshold of the house and stopped above the cherubim. 10:19 The cherubim lifted up their wings and rose up from the earth in my sight as they went out with the wheels beside them. They stopped at the entrance of the east gate of the house of the LORD; and the glory of the God of Israel was above them. 10:20 These were the living creatures that I saw underneath the God of Israel by the river Chebar; and I knew that they were cherubim. 10:21 Each had four faces, each four wings, and underneath their wings something like human hands. 10:22 As for what their faces were like, they were the same faces whose appearance I had seen by the river Chebar. Each one moved straight ahead."
(Note-for illustrations use images from Blake.)
These biblical passages give a sense of the awesome power of the Mooladhara Chakra, and of Innocence itself.
Graham Brown, 2001.