The Mahamarmas

The Mahamarmas

I’ve spoken many times about the body’s energy system. I’m not an expert but there are worthwhile observations to make.

A set of 7 universal chakras or energy wheels is inserted into the bliss body and serves as a scaffolding for building life-forms. The chakras are progressively more expressed up into the energy body of specific forms. Sub-chakras are also found at various key points. Interconnecting the various chakras are energy tubes known as nadis. The larger chakras also have a spiky array of terminated nadis called chakra databanks that express the emphasis of laws of nature (devata) in that form.

Prana or life-force flows through the nadis, nourishing and sending information around the body. This forms the underpinning of the nervous, circulatory, and lymphatic systems.

lamps in boxwood
Photo by gin_able

There is a related system of understanding known these days as Marma points. They’re not a separate system so much as a distinct way of looking at the energy system. Marma points are energy nodes where parts meet such as at nerve plexuses, joints, veins, ligaments, and so forth. They’re more about flow and where prana is focused than structure.

They were originally called Bindu (point) in Vedic times but were revived in a martial arts tradition as a way of disabling enemies. This is because blocking certain points can cause loss of consciousness or death (cue Spock). Ayurveda later adopted the understanding for therapy. Marma therapy is similar to Chinese acupressure.

There are said to be 107 primary marma points with the mind being the 108th. Marma therapy apparently focuses on body fluids and biochemistry, releasing blockages in flow. Yoga asanas help stimulate marma points. We might think of them as nodes but they have a character like a glow.

Chakras are most obvious in the energy body while marmas are more prominent on the field levels. The small ones are more specific but we commonly experience the large ones as more diffuse than chakras.

In a sense, the chakras are the masculine, creating the underling structure. Marmas are the feminine, more about the flow through the structure.

Of particular interest are the three Mahamarmas or great points. They are Sthapati (head), Hridaya (heart), and Basti (gut).

You may notice right away the connection to higher stages. I’ve often spoken of a head, heart, gut process in early stages of enlightenment. I’ve also referred to Hridaya as a higher octave version of the heart chakra, not realizing the term was for a mahamarma. Obviously, clearing the marmas is key to an embodied enlightenment.

Sthapati mahamarma is directed to the world through the senses. The throat, mouth, and voice are also related. It is associated with Saraswati, the goddess of music and knowledge. She is the Shakti of creation.

Hridaya mahamarma speaks the language of higher feelings. It is the balancer, the liaison between the outward head and inner gut, between Divine cognition and relative understanding. It is associated with Lakshmi, goddess of prosperity. She is the Shakti of dharma, sustaining power.

Basti mahamarma is about digesting food and our experiences of world, turning them it into our body. It has many neural connections, some suggest more than the brain. Basti communicates by intention. It is associated with Durga, the goddess and Shakti of destruction.

You’ll notice by the description that the mahamarmas are larger and more inclusive than the nearby chakras. While the heart chakra, for example, is in the center of the chest near the physical heart, the heart mahamarma fills the whole chest if it’s awake. Similarly, the head fills the head, and the gut covers the whole of digestion.

This also explains why there is the emphasis on these 3 areas over other centers like the throat.

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  1. Joseph Weaver

    Hi David, great article.

    On the topic of energy flows in general, does the state of our physical body play a key role? For example, would decalcifying our pineal gland (considered by some to be very important spiritually) be of assistance?

    1. Thanks, Joseph
      The state of all our bodies play a role. They’re like mirrors for the corresponding aspects of creation. So yes, the state of our physical body plays a role – but not how you might think. Illness and disability, for example, play a minor role while being stressed out can have a greater impact.

      I don’t have any expertise on the pineal. I’ve heard different things about that. The pineal has a relationship with the third-eye chakra and thus subtle perception. Some people place a lot of emphasis on having experiences. That has pros and cons. They can be reassuring but can also be a trap. Chasing experiences doesn’t get you home.

      I’ve leaned on the basics and allowed such things to unfold naturally. But if it’s of interest, Dorothy Rowe has an article and video with exercises on the topic.

      She also did one more specific to your question in a recent webinar:

    2. As an addendum to the broader audience, it’s worth noting the tendency to want to control the process. People take lots of courses, learn all sorts of techniques, etc in an effort to try and manage things. Specialized diets and healings and postures and supplements, etc.

      Yet, for the most part, our evolutionary unfoldment is being managed artfully by beings who are specialists in their aspect of the process. They have vastly more wisdom than our limited perspective can muster.

      Seeing yourself as broken and insufficient has more impact than any specific healing.

      Learning to trust and appreciate the process will actually support it more.

  2. Michael

    Hi David!

    ….my theme! ….will share just some info from tradtions:

    These are the 3 dantians in daoism.
    I like to see things crossing cultural borders (or of traditions) 🙂

    In traditions where alchemy is used (such as daoist neidan or the tamil siddhas system) the lower and the middle one play key roles. In daoism they are also not just spheres they are like layered spheres with different “effects” to each layer. (the heart has 7 layers and the one in the brain has 9, one could see them as going subtler and subler within these spheres)

    The energy of the lower and the middle one are merged (this happens in stages) first “fire” and “water” chi (in india in the tamil siddhas the merge it under the name “prana” = chest and udana= lower abdomen)…this starts the alchemical process.

    Later the “core” energy of these centers is united which creates both the spiritual embryo and makes the physical body immortal and it is said that after that merging the emptiness is realized as the core dualities within the body/mind system are neutralized. (just quoting the tradtions here)


    1. Hi Michael
      Thanks for sharing. Yes, we can think of them like spaces that are nested in a similar way to the koshas. Many of the koshas have sub-layers as well. I’ve not tried to delineate those as I’m not sure they’re consistent. (diff. laws of nature can create variations in expression)

      Interesting – in the Vedic approach, the 5 pranas are said to merge in the gut. Had some discussion with a teacher who felt that makara was actually this but experiencing an effect in the head. Here, I saw the causality of makara differently, like a drop of the Divine ocean, but it may still be related.

      That certainly didn’t make the physical immortal. (laughs) Interesting – sounds like how stages in consciousness may move forward into the denser layers.

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