Our reflection on the psychic centers begins from ajna chakra. According to tradition, mooJadhara is generally designated as the first chakra since it is the seat of kundalini shakti. However, there is another system in which consideration and study of the chakras commences from ajna.
Ajna chakra is the point of confluence where the three main nadis or forces - ida, pingala and sushumna merge into one stream of consciousness and flow up to sahasrara, the crown center. In mythology, these three nadis are represented by three great rivers - Ganga (ida), Jamuna (pingala) and Saraswati (a subterranean current which represents sushumna). They converge at a place called Prayag or Triveni, which is near present day Allahabad. Hindus believe that every twelve years, when the sun is in Aquarius, if one takes a dip at the point of confluence, he or she will be purified½ This place of confluence corresponds symbolically to ajna chakra.
The word ajna comes from the Sanskrit root which means 'to know, to obey or to follow'. Literally, ajna means 'command' or 'the monitoring center'. In astrology ajna is the center of Jupiter, which symbolizes the guru or preceptor. Amongst the deities, Jupiter is represented by Brihaspati, the guru of the devas and preceptor of the gods. Therefore, this center is also known as 'the guru chakra'. Ajna is the bridge which links the guru with his disciples. It represents the level at which it is possible for direct mind to mind communication to take place between two people. It is in this chakra that communication with the external guru, the teacher or preceptor takes place. And it is here that the directions of the inner guru are heard in the deepest state of meditation, when all the sense modalities are withdrawn and one enters the state of shoonya or void. This is a state of absolute nothingness, where the empirical experiences of name and form, subject and object, do not penetrate. In this completely static state, the light of the mind is extinguished; the consciousness ceases to function, and no ego awareness remains. This void state is the same as the death experience, and in order to traverse it the voice or command of the guru must be heard in ajna chakra.
It is interesting to note that ajna chakra is more active in females than it is in males. Women are more sensitive, psychic and perceptive and they are often able to predict coming events. However, in most people this inner eye remains closed, and though they see the events of the outside world, knowledge and understanding of truth cannot be gained. In this sense, we are blind to the real possibilities of the world, unable to view the deeper levels of human existence.
The location point
Ajna chakra is located in the brain directly behind the eyebrow center. It is at the very top of the spinal cord, at the medulla oblongata. Initially it is very hard to feel the exact location point of ajna, so we concentrate on ajna kshetram, at the mid-eyebrow center, bhrumadhya. These two centers are directly connected. That is why it has always been an Indian custom to place tilaka, chandan, sindur or kumkum on the mid-eyebrow center. Sindur contains mercury, and when it is applied to the eyebrow center a constant pressure is exerted on the nerve which runs from bhrumadhya to the medulla oblongata. Maybe the original purpose for applying these substances has been forgotten by most people today, but it is not a religious mark or even a beauty spot. It is a means by which you can maintain constant conscious and unconscious awareness of ajna chakra.
It should also be mentioned here that ajna chakra and the pineal gland are one and the same thing. The pituitary gland is sahasrara, and just as the pituitary and pineal glands are intimately connected, so are ajna and sahasrara. We could say that ajna is the gateway to sahasrara chakra. If ajna is awakened and functioning properly, all the experiences happening in sahasrara can be managed well.
The pineal gland acts as a lock on the pituitary. As long as the pineal gland is healthy, the functions of the pituitary are controlled. However, in most of us, the pineal gland started to degenerate when we reached the age of 8, 9 or 10. Then the pituitary began to function and to secrete various hormones which instigated our sexual consciousness, our sensuality and worldly personality. At this time we began to lose touch with our spiritual heritage. However, through various yogic techniques, such as trataka and shambhavi mudra, it is possible to regenerate or maintain the health of the pineal gland.
Ajna is symbolized by a two petalled lotus. According to the scriptures it is a pale color, light grey like a rainy day. Some say it is white like the moon, or silver, but actually it is an intangible color. On the left petal is the letter ham and on the right ksham. Ham and ksham are inscribed in a silvery white color and are the bija mantras for Shiva and Shakti. One represents the moon or ida nadi and the other the sun or pingala nadi. Below the chakra the three nadis merge - ida on the left, pingala on the right and sushumna in between. Within the lotus is a perfectly round circle which symbolizes shoonya, the void. Within the circle is an inverted triangle which represents shakti - creativity and manifestation. Above the triangle is a black shivalingam. Shivalingam is not, as many people believe, a phallic symbol. It is the symbol of your astral body. According to tantra and occult sciences, the astral body is the attribute of your personality, and in the form of shivalingam, it can be one of three colors, depending on the purification or evolution of your consciousness.