Shiva Sutra 1.4

Jnanadhisthanam matrika

Our universe is created by subtle ‘unknown’ sound. The Sanskrit word MATRIKA means the Universal Mother and her (Shakti) power of sound as pulsating frequencies that pervades letters and therefore all objects, which are known by the letters that make up words. Western science provides some insight into the mechanics of these ancient teachings.

While most of us feel we are living in a solid material reality because of the information conveyed to us through the five senses, the accurate understanding is that the brain processes our individual external reality as electrical impulses. As one brilliant writer [link below] has expressed – the world is in our brains.

We do not see the world with our eyes nor hear sound with our ears. What we take as external five-sense information is modified by the existing proclivities we have in our brain. Cells in the retina and the complex mechanisms of the ear receive electrical signals as images and sound, and transmit them to the brain. All sensory data from the five senses is essentially transformed into electric pulsation.

Each individual experiences the external world uniquely. If 10 people walk into your house, they will see 10 different environments. The artist will look at the pictures on the wall. The interior designer will be aware of the furniture, carpets, etc. The cook will head for the kitchen. Each of us inhabits our own peculiar-to-us hologram, which is projected via the DNA. We have created our unique DNA hologram over multiple life times. We are a complex and subtle collection of the impressions woven from our varied experiences throughout the Cycles of Time.

When you ‘see’ any image, what you actually see is an image produced by electrical signals received by cells in the retina and transmitted to the part of the brain that interprets them.

“… science shows us that we do not see through our eyes. The millions of nerve cells inside the eyes are responsible for sending a message to the brain… After some chemical operations carried out by retinal rods and codes, this vision becomes an electrical impulse … sent to the back of the brain.” [link below]

Your sense organs translate the perceptions of sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell into electrical pulsations. In Sanskrit the aspect of the mind that co-operates with the five senses to build up perceptions, images, and concepts is known as MANAS. Manas is not the same idea as the BUDDHI, which is the power to discriminate. The buddhi is the aspect of our intelligence that is intuitive and ultimately draws our consciousness into Wisdom.

We ‘hear’ sound because our eardrum converts pressure waves into vibrations, that then move into the snail-like inner ear called the cochlea. As these compressed waves move through the cochlea, 1000s of small hair-like nerve cells are set into motion. Each of these hair cells has an inherent response and “a natural sensitivity to a particular frequency of vibration.” [link below]

As these wave forms build, an “increased vibrational amplitude induces the cell to release an electrical impulse that passes along the auditory nerve towards the brain” [ibid.]

A recent study has shown that the neurons in the brain behave in an individual manner, meaning the same inputs can produce different outputs. We all respond uniquely.


The ancient sages knew how our senses function. In Kashmir Shaivism the world is contained in and emerges from the Divine Pulsation, the Spanda Principle. Our role in the holographic projection of this universe is explained in the theory of MATRIKA, the theory of the creative power of sound inherent in letters. “Matrika is the subtle form of gross speech” [JDS].  

Writing is a symptom of the Kali Yuga, like a symptom of an illness implying the loss of wholeness. As time moved us deeper into this cycle, those sages who were the keepers of the eternal wisdom endeavored to pass Eternal Knowledge on. They understood that in this fallen era, the best way to encode the primordial science of metaphysical principles was to personify them. Thus the mechanics of the universe and our sense organs are depicted as deities, the polarities in male and female.

“… within the Indian tradition the gods are first and foremost the constituents of the individual’s consciousness, and only secondarily the outer processes. They may be seen as the precognitive and cognitive centres of the brain…” [Subhash Kak].

Matrika is the unknown and ‘un-understood’ [JDS] Universal Mother, the power of sound contained within letters of the alphabet. This power produces the universe. She resides in the top of the skull as the chakra brahmarandhra or sahasrara.

Matrika is the “master director” [SLJ] of the triple knowledge consisting of three limitations that allow the One to Veil Its Self and become the many. These limitations, also termed impurities (malas) are: non-fullness or feeling incomplete; the ignorance of believing in apparent differences; and the impressions of what causes you pain and pleasure that are imprinted in your memory as a result of your actions.

These three limitations or impurities are the foundations of samsara, the run around of endless births and deaths we are bound in. The job of the Mother is to give birth and as the Mother of the universe, her role is to bind us in the impure limited knowledge that generates the temporal illusory ‘appearance’ of differences.

Beginning from our original eternal state of Oneness, we conceal our true nature and forget who we are, our real Self, the immeasurable immensity. We sink into ignorance, limited knowledge, and delusion. We set sail over the vast ocean of consciousness on the wonderful and terrible journey. We wander through countless lives in our imagined state of Separation.



Sound as letters that make up words, bind us in these states of assumed apparent distinctions. We wrongly think ‘I am different from others’ and ‘this thing is mine’ and so on, thus continuing along the path away from our actual state of Being the One.

Swami Lakshmanjoo tells us that this is our own choice, our own free will (svantantrya). We become “the victim” of our every thought, the sound as words that carry us away from our “real nature of universal consciousness” [SLJ]. Thus we are “played” by this matrika Mother, who pushes us deeper into the energy of illusion (maya).

Inevitably we grow weary of experiencing pleasure and pain. We become conscious of the mechanics of our self-created delusions through that intuitive intelligence (buddhi) which allows us to cultivate the liberating state of non-attachment emphasized in the Bhagavad Gita.

This non-attachment is the key to freedom. Know that you are not the Doer. It is only the five senses operating on their objects.

As we grow in awareness, we remember our real nature as the Oneness. We learn to detach our consciousness from our ‘play’ in the Cycles of Time. We are ready to return Home.

At the moment we turn our consciousness inward, meaning our total awareness becomes focused within, the matrika Mother will become the means of subtle blissful states, the sweet revealing of our own “non-difference, omnipotence, omniscience, perfection and all-pervasiveness” [Jaideva Singh, Spanda Karikas].

The power we created to delude us will become the power that liberates us. The same matrika Universal Mother that served to conceal and delude, will now reveal and light our way Home.




KASHMIR SHAIVISM, The Secret Supreme, Revealed by Swami Lakshmanjoo, edited by John Hughes; Universal Shaiva Fellowship, 1985, 2003.

SPANDA-KARIKAS, The Divine Creative Pulsation, translated into English by Jaideva Singh; Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, Delhi, 1980. 2005.

A Peep Into The TANTRALOKA and Our Cultural Heritage, by Koshalya Walli; Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, New Delhi, 1998.

THE GODS WITHIN, Mind, Consciousness and the Vedic Tradition, by Subhash Kak; Munshiram Manoharal Publishers, New Delhi, 2002.