What's in a Name?

Here I look at the actual word "nakshatra" and also the words for the Chinese lunar mansions and Mayan day signs.  Etymology is a great and fascinating science that looks into the origins of words and how they were derived.  It takes one through an exploration of sound and pictographs as well, and in understanding the language of a culture one is able to peer into their thought process as well. (And language is ever evolving - it lives and breathes - very literally.)  All three of these cultures had fascinating languages full of coded meanings that took centuries to break and because they are connected to sacred teachings and the divine processes that link every energy channel in our subtle system through sound vibration to the world of matter and every other dimension as well - there was an understanding of the magical powers inherent in naming things.

In the spiritual journey the one that gets us into the most trouble is the "I am".

The Sanskrit language is known as the language of the gods because every sound is linked to a chakra petal and every petal is where the chakra energy flows through an energy channel.  That means that the consciousness of that chakra is able to vibrate through the subtle energy vibration (prana, chi, qi) inherent in sound.  We don't have to speak a sound outloud to connect with its vibration.  We can hear sounds silently in our mind.  We can also pick up that pranic energy by reading the representation of that sound.

The Word Nakshatra and Its Hidden Meanings

So now I'm looking at this word Nakshatra and all the hidden meanings it could contain.  I begin with Dennis Harness' ideas.  He prefers the roots नक्षते=naksh "to approach/worship/attain" + त् tra (the instrument of that attainment) as clues to its essential meaning:
"The Nakshatras were defined originally as means of connecting with the cosmic powers and extending our human mind to the cosmic mind.  Some scholars derive Nakshatra from na - kshatra, not destructible.  This is a later and derivative meaning, though it is not without its significance." 
The Nakshatras:  The Lunar Mansions of Vedic Astrology p.xv-xvi
I like to look at ALL the meanings, because Sanskrit is always playing a hide and seek game with us, same as Maya.  Here are some combinations to think about:

नक्षत्र nakshatra
न "no" + क्षत्र kSatra=water, warrior caste, governing body
नक् nak=night + क्ष kSa earth + त्र to protect

This makes me think of the stars as warriors or governors like the Chinese governor generals, and the idea that they are watching over us from the celestial sky above.

Sri Vasudeva speaks about mantra in the way of a tool to protect the mind from being contaminated from ego delusion (all the false "I am"s we create) after the benefits of meditation have been attained - it's a way to hold on to that bliss from meditation, and a way to connect with whatever empowers us (same as an affirmation or prayer).  The word mantra मन्त्र has two important roots:  मनस् manas (that faculty of mind that is involved with the senses and therefore illusion) + त्र tra "to protect"; so a mantra is used to protect the mind.  The nakshatras have a very powerful connection with sound (more on that later), but here I am just thinking about them as points in the sky and points within us that protect, like a warrior or general protects and this has got to be a very basic way of thinking about them.  Look up at the sky and you see the moon and the stars and you will naturally feel in the presence of some divine influence, or at the very least something that is greater than we are.

And we see this idea of protection even in the word पदा pada, that quarter division of the nakshatra. It means, among many other things: step/word/post.  Post works for me for the guardian idea.  Padas are of four types corresponding to four goals of life (dharma, artha, kama, moksha) and four levels of consciousness (gross, astral, causal, transcendent).  They speak to four kinds of functions that each nakshatra has.  And in the word pada we have प pa that means guarding or protecting.  Even the दा dA part of pada gives us the idea of giving protection.

Protection is what mantra is for and when we do japa mala, the recitation of a mantra 108 times are we not going through every pada also?  Here is a link where someone has taken this idea and run with it.  The association of the padas of the nakshatras with the chakra petals is appropriate and important for a Vedic perspective and astrologer Achala Sylwia Mihajlović has written a marvellous book about her discoveries (link) which we can explore further.  [more coming]

Pada can also mean "cleansing/heat" which is associated with that spiritual evolutionary process, and it also means "sound/drum" that relates to the vibration of life that is Shakti (Energy).

Exploring Chinese Words for the 28 Lunar Constellations

Google "Yee Sup Baat Suk" or "Èrshíbā Xiù" 二十八宿 and you will find all kinds of things about the twenty-eight constellations also known as the twenty-eight lodges.  宿 is the kanji for Xiù "lodge" (source):  宿 "to lodge" is derived from "building" 亻人 "person" +  "remnant (a mat for sleeping on)".  It's obviously giving us the very basic idea that the Moon "sleeps" overnight "in" the twenty-eight constellations.  We could say that about the nakshatras too, that Chandra having twenty-seven wives, would sleep overnight in their rooms.  But this kind of naming is really a visual reference to an astronomical observation, the moon resting in 28 places during it's monthly sojourn around the earth.  So far this isn't telling me much on an esoteric level.

For the esoteric meaning of the lunar constellations I need to see them as 7 x 4 dragons in the sky, seven parts (chakras) of the four directions.  These dragons are the celestial guardians, and in Chinese folklore they are emperors - each of which has seven military generals guarding their post.  Mantak Chia has written a great deal about the four directions and its relationship to our subtle anatomy and the practice of Taoist Inner Alchemy.  What I find interesting is that the idea of "protection" is also expressed here - both in the dragons guarding the cardinal directions, and in the individual generals guarding or managing each of the seven parts or components (or chakras) of each dragon.  And then there is this whole alternate name for the Du Mai meridian in acupuncture nomenclature with all twenty-eight points on it as the Governor Vessel.  Again the idea of "governing", having jurisdiction over, generals, guardianship.

Just looking for common threads that link these together.

[much more to explore here since there isn't much available in English about the Generals]

The Mayan Day Signs and Night Lords as Gylphs

The decoding of the Mayan language has a long and fascinating history.  It took the wisdom of an archeologists son, David Stuart, then twelve years old at the time to finally decipher how the whole Mayan language works.  It's a very complex language, no less than Chinese or Sanskrit, composed of many variations of phonetic and ideogram-based components.  All three cultures were ardent star watchers, all three possessed knowledge of our subtle energy, so it is not surprising that their languages reflect this complexity of understanding of the harmonics between life on Earth and life between dimensions.  In English we don't have this concept of an ideogram plus a phoenic element going into what a word is and how a word sounds.  I think it's a very tantric concept - the idea that the entire universe is based on consciousness and energy, that everything "is" and everything "does".  The ancient Egyptians had this too.  And I haven't even begun to explore the numerology behind language...but it all boils down to vibration.  All of life is a vibration of consciousness, a vibration in consciousness and consciousness in vibration!  (If you want to understand that learn how to meditate!)

On one of those long documentaries about Mayan archeology it was mentioned that there are an estimated 6,000 more archeologically significant sites still buried under jungle overgrowth and yet to be discovered.  These would contain sources of knowledge not destroyed by the Spanish nor twisted out of context by well intentioned non-natives.  In the meantime we know that the oral tradition is another powerful way of preserving knowledge and that the Mesoamerican wisdom of the cosmological circle found its way throughout the indigenous peoples of the Americas - both north and south in the form of Medicine Wheel teachings (and there were pyramids also).

The one that intrigues me most is the 28-spoked Medicine Wheel at Bighorn Range, Wyoming.

"The wheel has 28 spokes, the same number used in the roofs of ceremonial buildings such as the Lakota Sundance lodge. These always includes an entrance to the east, facing the rising Sun, and include 28 rafters for the 28 days in the lunar cycle. The number 28 is sacred to some of the Indian tribes because of its significance as the lunar month."
Stanford Solar Center 

This is exciting because it means that clues as to the enlightened teachings behind the nakshatras are to be found in even more places.  Also to say that this knowledge is not only for spiritual seekers because for it to have been preserved like this in probably every culture known to humanity means that this knowledge is essential to our survival.  And in the end perhaps that's what the idea of "protection" or "guardianship" is what it's all about...if we are to survive as a species and to thrive as souls on an evolutionary pathway through the consciousness of the human experience.

[more to explore....the journey continues....]

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