In chapter 3 of Paramahamsa Hariharananda’s book Kriya Yoga, we come across the following sentence:
Through this technique [of Kriya Yoga] you can always remain in the third circuit, i.e. inside the cranium above the pituitary, which is the kingdom of God. The longer you remain there, the more you will hear a constant divine sound and feel a constant touch sensation of God and visualize an effulgent divine light that altogether will lead you to a blissful sojourn in the Kingdom of Heaven.
What is this “third circuit”?
To start with, we should be aware that it is known by many other names.
In Western anatomy, it corresponds to the “third ventricle” of the brain—the space equidistant between the tips of your ears, a structure which includes the pineal, pituitary, thalamus and hypothalamus glands.
Illustration from the medical textbook Gray’s Anatomy
In Taoism, it is called the “Crystal Palace.”
In Tantra and Kriya Yoga, it is known as the “Cave of Brahman” or hidden cave of God.
Illustration from Paramahamsa Hariharananda’s Kriya Yoga book.
The reason why this etheric chamber has been the focus of so many different spiritual traditions is due to its particular location and function in the brain:
- On a North-South axis, it is between the sixth chakra (also known as the “Soul center”, associated with the pituitary gland) and the seventh chakra (also known as the “God center”, located in the fontanel)
- On an East-West axis, it sits between the left (rational) and right (emotional) hemispheres of the brain
- From an evolutionary perspective, it serves as a bridge between the old brain at the back and the new brain at the front of the head
- It sits on top of the cerebellum, one of the oldest layers of the brain, involved in coordinating muscular activity in the body.
Moving beyond mere functional or structural descriptions, various yogic and tantric texts illustrate the third circuit as a bird of light (often described as a swan) poised in flight, with its wings (the lateral ventricles) thrust forward and its head pointing to the back as though flying faster than light.
Illustration from Wikipedia: colored 3D rendering of the four ventricles. In blue, we can clearly see the two lateral ventricles in the shape of a swan in flight (with its head pointing to the back).
The third ventricle is in red. In purple is the fourth ventricle.
It is said that when the pineal gland is activated it becomes illuminated like a thousand suns. When the yogi, by deep and precise concentration, penetrates this etheric chamber, he dissolves his ordinary mind into light. As Paramahamsa Hariharananda said,
During meditation, the only perception is of the triple divine qualities rotating inside the cranium. The devotee also feels as if the Soul is separated from the body and He is floating in the vacuum. In this stage the devotee feels that the Soul is all pervading and is going up to the High Heaven. When the disciple remains busy in worldly activities, he feels as if some super power is doing work through him; he remains detached. The samadhi of third kriya is tanu-manasa samadhi. This means that the mind is not roaming in the biological sense—it is roaming only in the real philosophical sense and perceiving God-consciousness.
In Verse 121 of the Guru Gita Lord Siva declares to His Consort Parvati,
Pindam kundalini shaktih hamsam iti udahritam rupam binduh iti jneyam rupatita nivanjanam—“Pinda [body] is Kundalini Shakti. Hamsa [body and soul] is pada. You must know that rupa [the form] is the bindu, and rupatita is the Pure One [beyond the three].”
Commenting on this verse, Baba Hariharananda said,
You must abstract your senses to the third circuit, above the pituitary. This is the true place to seek the experience of God. The kundalini shakti will rise. The milk has been churned and the cream has gone up to the top.
What about the other two circuits?
The other two “circuits” are of the ida and pingala, the dueling tamasic and rajasic forces within our spine. Only by opening the sushumna canal does the meditator have access to the bliss of the Cave of Brahman or “third circuit.”
The practice of Third Kriya deepens our experience of the inner Bird of Light.
However even with the first Kriya the sincere meditator can travel to this mystical dimension.
Practice well and reap immense bliss!