The accompanying picture is a symbolic representation of the swadhisthana chakra, the second of the main chakras, coming immediately above mooladhara chakra1, both in the physical location of the trigger point and the plane of awareness.
The Sanskrit word swa means ‘one’s own’ and adhisthana means ‘dwelling place’, ‘residence’. Therefore, swa+adhisthana = swadhisthana, which means ‘one’s own abode’. This chakra is regarded as being the substratum, the basis of individual human existence. This is explainable when one knows that this chakra is generally associated with the unconscious mind with its storehouse of mental impressions – samskaras. Individual being takes root in the unconscious mind. The many instinctive drives that are felt at the level of swadhisthana chakra bubble up from the depths of the unconscious mind. Swadhisthana is indeed the basis, the abode from which most people express themselves in the world. It is their basis for living life.
It is also said that swadhisthana chakra was once the seat of the kundalini, but that there was a fall, a further fall, and kundalini descended to the mooladhara chakra. Therefore, it is said that swadhisthana is the real root centre of man and not the mooladhara chakra. As such, it is called ‘one’s own abode’.
Refer to the colour illustratration. There are six petals on the lotus which is coloured vermilion. On many traditional pictures the Sanskrit letters bam, bham, mam, yam, ram and lam are written on the petals. The central portion of the picture contains a white crescent moon. The bija (seed) mantra is vam.
The swadhisthana chakra represents the level of being where one is primarily concerned with seeking pleasurable sensations. One is motivated to obtain pleasure through the sense organs in the form of food, sex, wine, etc. It is very similar to the mooladhara chakra, except here there is more appreciation of the enjoyment of the pleasures in themselves. At the mooladhara chakra, pleasurable sensations are sought in order to satisfy the need for security. Swadhisthana is the level where people motivate their whole life to attaining pleasure in the way that suits them. The world, all things and other people are viewed according to the amount of pleasure that they can bring.
As we have already pointed out, swadhisthana is the level where samskaras (subconscious and unconscious mental impressions) begin to show themselves. They become manifest very clearly in overwhelming cravings for food, sex, etc. This is the level of man that Freud was very much concerned with. He did not realize that man’s nature extends well beyond this level.
In The Serpent Power by John Woodroffe, the attributes of swadhisthana are given as credulity, suspicion, disdain, false knowledge and pitilessness. These are from original tantric texts.
This is as much as we want to say about the characteristics of the swadhisthana chakra, for mere knowledge of these attributes is not very useful. Furthermore, they are arbitrary in that they are subjective. They are only manifestations of that level of awareness and don’t in any way indicate the experience of that awareness level.
It is said that most people in the world today predominantly function at this chakra level.