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The Secret Doctrine of the Heart.

By Yogi Baba Prem

The heart has held a particular fascination amongst a variety of cultures for untold millennia. This fascination is rooted in spiritual truth, with the heart representing a powerful spiritual point in the physical and astral bodies.

The Sanskrit term for the heart is “Hrdaya or Hridaya,” which literally means heart. But in reality, hrdaya is a reference to the spiritual heart. The word Hrdaya contains many unspoken secrets. According to the Chandogya Upanishad, words have mystical meanings. To explore this mystical side, the word Hrdaya can be broken down into three parts: 

Hr or HriDaYa or Yam 

“Hr” means to gather, acquire, or receive.

Da means to give,.

Yam is a reference to air or lightness.

These can be viewed as a simple formula to practice daily For the average person, the keys to the doorway of the heart begin with the ability to give freely, receive freely, which results in lightness within the heart. We even have terms to describe the absence of lightness within the heart; with terms such “I have a heavy heart. A burden was lifted from my heart.” This illustrates the need to create lightness within the heart.

While this basic formula sounds simple, for many it is difficult to obtain. Some are excellent at receiving. Others are strong in the ability to give. But the key is capacity to give and to receive. And an unfortunate few cannot perform either task.

For the spiritual aspirant, it is important to approach “giving” and “receiving” with equality. One must not take prominence over the other. But rather they reinforce the ability to embrace the opposite quality.

More can be extrapolated from this basic formula.
'Ya' can form an important quality in this formula. Yam literally can mean “to sustain or support.” To support our life and achieve our goals we need a light heart. “Ya” literally can mean to go or move, but more importantly it is a reference to light. To lighten our heart is to bring forth the light of the heart.
“Da” for many people is “to give” as previously mentioned.

 Within “Da” itself another formula exists:
For more spiritually inclined, it is control of the senses or more importantly self-control. For those that still have conflicts with the emotions, anger and similar issues “da” comes to mean compassion or mercy. To work with the qualities of “Da” on all levels, one can chant “Da, Da, Da.”

“Hr” from a higher standpoint can mean to kill or destroy, come from the root “ha.” This means to destroy the lower emotions, thoughts, and feelings that occupy the heart and limit the experience of Yam or lightness. In it’s higher manifestation, 'Hr' represents the seat of the soul and mind.
  Again another basic formula is revealed. One must destroy the lower emotions and cultivate higher feelings within the heart. One the most basic level they should give. They must receive; have self-control and compassion. From this, they will obtain union and lightness in the heart. This, in turn, results in the experience of Hrdaya (the heart center), where hrdaya is no longer a work but a consciousness.

 This particular teaching is taken from a deeper and broader teaching referencing “da”. In this deeper teaching consciousness id divided into three groups:
1) Deva or divine consciousness.
2) Men, ordinary human consciousness.
3) Raksha or demonic consciousness.
 “Da” has a different meaning for each group. For individuals that are reaching the Deva level of consciousness, da literally means to control the senses. For the people of ordinary consciousness, “da” means to give and receive. For those of demonic or lower consciousness, “da” means to practice compassion or mercy. What is revealed is a basic but practical formula for each mental/emotional group to practice for further elevation of consciousness.

 In examining one word in Sanskrit, often a complete formula can be revealed to the aspiring student of yoga and spirituality. Many of the powerful teachings are contain within the vast amount of writings within the Hindu tradition. Everyone should have the opportunity to explore, learn about, and apply these sacred formulas.  

But much more can be gleamed from the word hrdaya or hridaya. While hridaya can mean the seat of feeling, more importantly, hridaye means the seat of the soul (Atman), the doorway to the mind, and seat of mental actions. These are actual meanings of the word from the standpoint of the Rg Veda. This importance of the heart center in reflected in a variety of teachings, especially within Advaita Vedanta through the teachings of Ramana Maharishi. One of the central teachings of Ramana’s Jnana yoga system involved inquiry within this doorway of the heart.
 While most practitioners of meditation and yoga focus on the upper three chakras such as Vishshuddha (5th), Ajna (6th) and Sahasrara (7th); in reality, they are taking a longer path. Practitioners of these forms of meditation are experiencing a nadi known as “chitta nadi.”

But the primal compound root to ‘hridaya’ would be 'hri.' Some of the common definitions of’ 'hri’ are ‘to take, to carry, to carry in.' Hri has a dual flow, as it carries the energies of the soul to the physical body, it also carries impressions from the physical body via the senses (indriyas) to the soul. It also means to ‘remove or destroy.' Our true experience of the hrdaya center removes illusion or destroys illusion.

 Another root to ‘hridaya’ is 'kri,' which is an important root and actually servers as a root to many words. It can mean to ‘place in one’s heart’ according to the Brahmanas. To take to the heart or the mind, again one can see a clear reference to Ramana’s teachings of self-inquiry.

 Kri itself is not common in the Vedas but is more common in the Brahmanas. But kri appears indirectly frequently as a root to words in the Vedas frequently. Such as the Rg Veda 1.16.7, “May this excellent stoma touch the heart.” Here is the word Hrdisprk, which is a reference to the heart; or “This illumines the knowledge of the heart…” Rg Veda 1.24.12.  

Through practice, these teachings start to reveal numerous secrets regarding the heart. The heart contains knowledge and is the doorway to knowledge, as the spiritual heart is the seat of the atman. Likewise, the spiritual heart is an important key to gaining control over the mind. The tranquility of the mind is supported by an understanding of the primal sounds that comprise Hrdaya--Hr, Da, Ya. This can increase santosha or contentment. The importance of santosha is recognized even within the 'Yoga Sutras of Patanjali', as it appears as a Niyama.


We see a constant thread from Vedic times up through the period that the Upanishad was recorded referencing the importance to the heart center. This is reflected even in modern times through the teachings of Ramana Maharishi, Ganapati Muni, and a variety of great spiritual teachers.

 But most importantly the thread serves to remind us to seek out our personal experience within the heart center, as books can only convey another’s experience, which can be important on the path to realization. It is each individual’s direct experience of the heart center that will lead to personal transformation. Learning to chant from the Vedas can be a powerful tool in this process. It can greatly aid in helping each spiritual aspirant in uncovering the secret of the heart.  

Sources used:



Chandogya Upanishad

Rg Veda

Shatapatha Brahmana

“Ayurveda and the Mind” by Dr. David Frawley

Yoga Vashishtha


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Yogi Baba Prem

  • Yogi Baba Prem has two books published in India, and has written numerous other books published by Universal Yoga. 
  • His articles have appeared in several traditional magazines and a variety of e-magazines.