Ways to perceive nada

What are the sources through which the yogi can perceive nāda? There are two main ways. The first is mantra yoga (tantras), the second is haṭha-yoga (prāṇāyāma, mudrās, etc.). Here is what the Śāradā-tilakam tantra (Рrathamaḥ paṭalaḥ) tells us:

सच्चिदानन्दविभवात् सकलात् परमेश्वरात् ।
आसीच्छक्तिस्ततो नादो नादाद् बिन्दुसमुद्भवः ॥७॥

saccidānandavibhavāt sakalāt parameśvarāt ।
āsīcchaktistato nādo nādād bindusamudbhavaḥ ॥7॥

From the eternal goodness of Parameśvara, whose nature is Eternity-Knowledge-Bliss, Śakti (power) manifested first, then the vibration (nāda) manifested from the power, and bindu manifested from the peak of the tension of nāda.

That is, if you practice yoga, then by doing practices to activate Śakti, such as bhastrikāprāṇāyāma, etc., Śakti can release the pulsation, the vibration of nāda. Or, if you practice mantras, then “activating the mantras“, awakening them in various ways, you will also come to the perception of nāda.

Of course, these methods in the traditions have always been directly transmitted from Gurus to their students. It is more than just information or theory, although knowledge of the theory, one way or another, can help.

Aṣṭa mudrā (the Eight Mudras)

This part is an appendix to the Gorakhbani, a text published by the Gorakshanath Mandir, Gorakhpur. The mudras, especially the five of them in the head area, are described in many Nathā texts, their practices are interpreted there in different ways. The ideal option is when the Guru in a live presentation transfers them to his disciple. For example, khecarī here is associated with taste, someone understands this as control of taste, but others understand taste as Śakti and lack of taste as Śiva, their union is khecarī-mudrā. The same applies to other mudrās, because they all require oral transmission, where the Guru (who is, of course, an experienced practitioner and has achieved high success in the practice of “siddhi“) can convey the essence to a worthy student.

अष्ट मुद्रा स्वामीजी अष्ट मुद्रा बोलिए घट भीतरी, ते कौंण कौंण ।
Tell me, Swamiji, what are the eight mudrās inside the body?

अवधू यंद्री मध्ये मूलनी मुद्रा, काम त्रिष्णा ले उतपनी काम । काम त्रिष्णा समो कृतवा, मुद्रा तो भई मूलनी ।।
O avadhu, in the middle of the perineum is the mulanī-mudrā associated with sex (kāma) and greed (tṛṣṇā). The control of kāma and tṛṣṇā is mūlanī-mudrā.

नाभी मधे जलश्री मुद्रा, काल क्रोध ले उतपनी । काल क्रोध समो कृतवा, मुद्रा तौ भई जलश्री॥
There is jalśrī-mudrā in the umbilical centre, time and anger rise there (Kālabhairava or Kālāgnirudra symbol). The control of time and anger is jalśrī-mudrā.

हुदा मधे षिरनी  मुद्रा, ग्यांन दीप ले उतपनी। ग्यांन दीप समो कृतवा, मुद्रा तो भई पोरनी॥
There is ṣirnī  (or kṣīriṇī) in the centre of the heart, there is the perception of the rising light of wisdom. When one’s knowledge shines there, then this wisdom is realised.

मुष मध्ये षेचरी  मुद्रा, स्वाद विस्वाद ले उतपनी। स्वाद विस्वाद समोकृतवा, मुद्रा तो भई षेचरी ।।
In the centre of the mouth is khecarī-mudrā, the manifestation of taste and its absence is perceived there. If there is harmony there between taste and absence (also between pleasant and unpleasant taste), it is khecarī-mudrā.

नासिका मध्ये भूचरी मुद्रा, गंध विगंध ले उतपनी। गन्ध विगन्ध समो कृतवा, मुद्रा तौ भई भूचरी ।।
In the centre of the nose is bhūcarī-mudrā, there we get odour or lack thereof (also pleasant and unpleasant smells). If there is odour control or lack thereof (also pleasant and unpleasant smells), it is bhūcarī-mudrā.

चषि मध्ये चाचरी मुद्रा, दिष्टि विदिष्टि ले उतपनी । दिष्टि विदिष्ट समो कृतवा, मुद्रा तौ भई चाचरी।।
At the centre of the eye is cācārī-mudrā, the perception of what is visible and invisible rises there. If there is harmony and control of the visible and invisible, that is cācārī-mudrā.

करण मध्ये अगोचरी मुद्रा, सबद कुसवद ले उतपनी। सवद कुसबद समो कृतवा, मुद्रा तौ भई अगोचरी।।
There is agocarī-mudrā in the centre of the ears, pleasant and unpleasant speech is manifested there. If there is evenness with regard to pleasant and unpleasant speech, it is agocarī-mudrā.

ब्रहमंड असथांनि उनमनी मुद्रा, परम जोति लै उतपनी। परम जोति समो कुतचा, मुद्रा तो भई उनमनी ।।
In the universe there is unmanī-mudrā (the symbol of the unfolding mind), the Supreme light is manifested there. If this supreme light (consciousness) is evenly distributed everywhere, then it is unmanī-mudrā.

यती अष्ट मुद्रा का जाणै भेव । सौ आपै  करता भेवे ।। इती अष्ट मुद्रा कर्थत श्री  गोरषनाथ  जती संपूर्ण समापत सिवाय ।
One who knows these various mudrās has a higher nature. Thus ends the complete explanation of the eight mudrās by Gorakṣanāth.

Mudrās from Nātha texts and Tāntric mudrās

Such mudrās as karaṅkiṇi, krodhinī, bhairavī, lelihānā and khecarī belong to the same system. The basis of this system is khecarī-mudrā, and the other four are in fact various aspects of khecarī-mudrā. These mudrās are mentioned in 32nd āhnika (5-6) of ‘Tantrāloka’ as a manifestation of khecarī-mudrā, and altogether they described as a principle (प्रतिबिम्बोदयो pratibimbodayo), reflection of divine awareness between a subject and an object(s). The practice of these five mudrās is mentioned in a famous ‘Vijñāna Bhairava Tantra’ (dhāraṇā 54) and in a number of other texts, such as, for instance, ‘Mahārtha Manjarī.’ Nāthas attribute ‘Mahārtha Manjarī’ to Gorakṣanāth, as the text identifies Maheshvarananda and Gorakṣanāth as authors. Also, these five mudrās are connected with Kuṇḍalinī Śakti, through its awakening by ritual sexual practices, ascending over five centres in the microcosm of a practitioner, starting from ‘kanda’ in a lower part of a body to bhrūmadhya. While Kuṇḍalinī ascends, these mudrās proceed as follows: karaṅkiṇi, krodhinī, bhairavī, lelihānā and in bhrūmadhyakhecarī. That practice may include both inner and objective awareness. Also, many texts state that these mudrās reveal different perfections. Karaṅkiṇi is translated as ‘a carcass’. This mudrā gives an experience of ‘jñāna-siddhi’ – the knowledge of conventionality of external form, because there is a divine dimension behind it. ‘Krodhinī’ means destructive qualities of Bhairava or Bhairavī, when tattva of a Deity, presented as devouring fire of a mantra, consumes basic elements of creation. Bhairavī-mudrā shows the unity of internal and external spaces, feeling of their interflow, which is an analog to śāmbhavī-mudrā in Tantra, described in many Tāntric sources and in ‘Amanaska Yoga’ of Gorakṣanāth as “an unblinking outward gaze” (with simultaneous inner awareness). Bhairavī-mudrā grants melāpa-siddhi, which is a realisation of unity between consciousness and outer space, or between Bhairava and Yoginī. Lelihānā-mudrā means the consumption of neсtar ‘kulāmṛita’. This mudrā gives śakta-siddhi, practically it’s an enhanced form of bhairavī-mudra. Khecarī-mudrā grants a state of immersion into the omnipresent space of appeasement, which reveals śāmbhava-siddhi. Five chakras in microcosmic system of human being can be found in many early Tāntric traditions and their texts: in the 29th Chapter of ‘Tantrāloka’, where they are mentioned in connection with eight vyomas; in Kubjikā Tantras, also in texts of Gorakṣanāth (e.g. ‘Gorakṣa-purāṇa’). Many similarities about such sort of practices can be found in texts of Gorakṣanāth and many other Nātha Yogins, as in the title of Tāntric mudrās, as well as in their essential reference points. The fact that yoga texts say that of all yogic mudrās khecarī-mudrā is the fundamental (essential) is not accidental. Guruji Mithileś Nāth ji told me once that Tantra is a nutrition environment for Nātha Yogins, it served as ‘nourishment’ for yogic life of Nāthas. But of course, there is a vast amount of detailing in Tantrism, sacred use of Sanskrit alphabet, it’s phonetics, including mentioned mudrās and other methods. However, it’s impossible to examine all these subtle details in a short article, they bound with secrecy and a certain level of a relationship (confidence, devotion) between a disciple and a Guru.