The different levels of nada

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It is impossible to specify the nature of the nada as it extends into more subtle regions of being. They have to be personally experienced. However, as an indication of the direction that nada will lead to, the following fourfold classification has been given in the ancient texts:

1. Vaikhari: This is the grossest form of sound that we hear in the world around us. It is produced by striking two objects together and is the type discussed in physics. This is the plane of the spoken word. This is the starting point of nada yoga practice from which one must retread the path through the more subtle realms of nada.

2. Madhyarna: This form of nada is more subtle than vaikhari. The word madhyama means 'in the middle', so called because it is midway between the grossest nada and the more subtle nada. It is at this stage that nada begins to assume form and to crystallize from the formless subtle layers of nada. In nada yoga sadhana the aim is to hear sounds associated with this level.

3. Pasyanti: This nada can be seen but not heard. The sound has different specific colours which can be seen by inner vision. It exists in the deeper layers of the mind beyond the range of audible nada.

4. Para: This is transcendental sound. This is the point of origin of nada. It is the nada that is heard in states of super consciousness. It is way beyond normal levels of perception. It is nada that has such a high rate of vibration that it is beyond the classification of vibration. It is silent sound. It is associated with the state of samadhi. It is called the anahata nada - the unstruck sound and is beyond all conceptualization.

Many ancient texts also give a guidance to the actual sounds that can be heard during the practice of nada yoga. In the Hamsa Upanishad it gives the following list:

1. Chini nada - the sound is like the sound of the word 'chini'.

2. Chini-chini nada - the sound is like the word 'chini-chini'.

3. Ghanta nada - the sound of bells ringing.

4. Shankha nada - sound of a conch being blown.

5. Tantri nada - sound of a lute (tantri) or vina.

6. Tala nada - sound of cymbals.

7. Bansuri nada - sound of a flute.

8. Bheri nada - the echoing sound of a drum.

9. Mridanga nada - the sound of a double drum.

10. Megna nada - the roar of thunder, the ultimate sound. Remember that the sounds are psychic, therefore, you should not take this list too seriously - it is merely an indication. You must perceive the sounds for yourself. The sound that you hear will depend on the depth to which your awareness has penetrated the ocean of your being.


The method that we will shortly describe is similar to the method described in the previous lesson1. The main differences are that this practice is not preceded by a vocalized humming sound and that it is combined with retention of breath. Each ofthe practices has a specific use. The first method utilizing bhramari pranayama is most suitable for beginners and for those who are overwhelmed by outer and mental disturbances. The loud humming sound helps to drown out these distractions and make the mind more concentrated so that one can eventually perceive the inner sounds. The method described here is more suitable for those who have a reasonably harmonized mind and who are not beset by distractions. It is the more advanced practice of the two.

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