The Heart - the True State

An Exposition by Ami Bansal

In honor of Bhagavan Nityananda’s Solar Punyatithi, we will be contemplating his iconic teaching, a teaching that contains the essence of all the scriptures. Bhagavan Nityananda was also lovingly known as Bade Baba or “elder Baba.” Bade Baba taught:

The Heart is the hub of all sacred places. Go there and roam.

सभी पवित्र तीर्थों का केन्द्र हृदय है। वहाँ जाओ और वहीं रमण करो।

Today, I will speak about one particular phrase in this core teaching of Bade Baba’s: “The Heart is the hub.”

“The Heart is the hub.” Each word of a Siddha, when studied and held in your awareness, can guide you to the knowledge of the true Self. Today, by focusing and reflecting on this one phrase, we will unveil the depth and the meaning of Bade Baba’s teaching.

Bade Baba teaches: “The Heart is the hub.” In the Sanskrit and Hindi languages, the word for “Heart” is hridayam. The Heart, hridayam, is a concept we have inherited from the Vedas. For thousands of years, the sages of India have used the word hridayam to describe the essential Truth, that which is at the center, the hub, of everything.

According to the Chandogya Upanishad, the Sanskrit word hṛdayam is derived from two words: hṛdi and ayam. Speaking about the etymological meaning of this Sanskrit word, the Upanishad says:

स वा एष आत्मा हृदि तस्यैतदेव निरुक्तं हृद्ययमिति।

sa vā eṣa ātmā hṛdi tasyaitadeva niruktaṃ hṛdyayamiti

The etymological explanation of hṛdayam, the heart, is this: hṛdi means “in the region of the heart” and ayam means “this one,” “the Self.” The heart is called hṛdayam as it is the dwelling place of the Self.1

In the region of the physical heart dwells the supreme Self, which is also known as the Heart—spelled in English with a capital H. When referring to the Self, the sages and saints often use the word hridayam, or Heart, because it is the energetic center of our individual being and of this entire universe. Adi Shankaracharya teaches about this in his commentary on one of the mahavakyas, the great proclamation from the Vedas, ayam ātmā brahma—“This Self is Brahman.” The great sage explains that the phrase ayam ātmā—“this Self”—should be pondered while gesturing with the hand toward the region of our heart, which is the dwelling place of the inner Self.

Hridayam, the Heart, is the supreme Self, the one and all-pervasive Consciousness that shines in everything.

Hridayam, the Heart, is the resplendent life force, prana-shakti, that imparts vitality to all created forms in this vast universe.

Hridayam, the Heart, can be experienced as infinite, unconditional love.


Bade Baba’s teaching is:

The Heart is the hub of all sacred places. Go there and roam.

“The Heart is the hub.” The hub—what a precious image! One of the Sanskrit and Hindi words for “hub” is केन्द्रkendra. Kendra means the center, the midpoint, the focal point of something.

In the scriptures of India, as well as in the world in which we live, there is an abundance of images, metaphors, and symbols based on this concept of the center, the kendra.

Consider the pupil of the eye. It is the center point of our vision. Or consider the nucleus of an atom, so small and yet the axis of a whole nano-universe! Or take the seed of a fruit, which contains within it the potential of becoming a whole tree. And what about the image of a wheel with spokes radiating from its center?

For those familiar with the flag of India, you must have seen the wheel that is placed right in the middle of the flag. This is the wheel of dharma. In the Sanskrit language, the word dharma refers to that which holds, that which sustains everything. The wheel of dharma symbolizes movement in our life, our actions, and the progress we make by being constantly rooted in a righteous and virtuous way of living. And what is a righteous and virtuous way of living? Simply put, it’s a life that exemplifies the divine virtues—the attributes of the Heart.

Kendra, the hub, holds the essence—सार or sāra—of the whole, like the pericarp of a sunflower that holds its nourishing seeds. According to the Indian scriptures, flowers are one of the key symbols for kendra. Within our being the energy centers, the chakras, are traditionally depicted as splendid flowers, with each flower’s hub holding its shakti, its particular power. These chakras are often illustrated as lotuses.

A magnificent verse from the Chandogya Upanishad describes the hub of a crystal-clear white lotus within our being. It is situated in the chidakasha, the inner sky of Consciousness.

Let’s hear the wisdom of the Chandogya Upanishad:

अथ यदिदमस्मिन्ब्रह्मपुरे दहरं पुण्डरीकं वेश्म
तद्वाव विजिज्ञासितव्यमिति ॥ 
यावान्वा अयमाकाशस्तावानेषोऽन्तर्हृदय आकाश ।
उभे अस्मिन्द्यावापृथिवी अन्तरेव समाहिते ॥
उभावग्निश्च वायुश्च सूर्याचन्द्रमसावुभौ विद्युन्नक्षत्राणि ।
यच्चास्येहास्ति यच्च नास्ति सर्वं तदस्मिन्समाहितमिति ॥

atha yadidamasminbrahmapure daharaṃ puṇḍarīkaṃ veśma
tadvāva vijijñāsitavyamiti
yāvānvā ayamākāśastāvāneṣo'ntarhṛdaya ākāśa
ubhe asmindyāvāpṛthivī antareva samāhite
ubhāvagniśca vāyuśca sūryācandramasāvubhau vidyunnakṣatrāṇi
yaccāsyehāsti yacca nāsti sarvaṃ tadasminsamāhitamiti

In the city of Brahman, the Absolute Self, there is a glowing white lotus, the lotus of the Heart. Within it there is a tiny space. Within this minute space at the center of the lotus of the Heart is the vast infinite space. Earth and sky, fire and wind, sun and moon, lightning and stars, everything known and not known to the embodied world, are all contained within this space. You must discover and seek to perceive this hub in the center of the Heart.2

One of the images that abounds in many Indian temples and the scriptures of India is that of the mandala. A mandala is a circular diagram that often resembles a flower. This symbolic circle depicts the essential Truth as the hub and axis of all existence.

The ancient mandalas are like maps that show how the creation of this universe arises from a tiny dot, the kendra-bindu, a central focal point that is the essence of life. From this bindu, which Baba Muktananda often referred to as nila-bindu, the Blue Pearl, the entire world comes into existence, along with its multitude of forms and sounds.

This kendra-bindu, the hub, contains the primordial prana-shakti, which is the cosmic life force. The Chandogya Upanishad tells us:

यथा वा अरा नाभौ समर्पिता एवमस्मिन्प्राणे सर्वं समर्पितम्।

yathā vā arā nābhau samarpitā evamasminprāṇe sarvaṃ samarpitam

All this, the entire universe, is fastened to prana-shakti, the cosmic life force, as spokes are fixed to the hub.3

This prana-shakti holds the entire cosmos together as it radiates vitality to all creation. In Siddha Yoga meditation, we experience the prana-shakti by focusing on the breath at the beginning of our meditation. The breath, our own prana-shakti, is the high road to the Heart within.


In his teaching, Bade Baba instructs us to “Go there and roam”—to enter the hub and experience it. Let me share with you one of the yogic practices prescribed by the scriptures of India for accessing the sacred hub, for experiencing the Heart.

The scriptures say that you can focus on the “space between”—for example, the space between your inhalation and exhalation, the gap between two thoughts, the pauses in a piece of music, or the moment between two states of awareness (such as when you’re leaving the waking state and are just about to go into the dream state).

This is what the Shaivite scripture Vijnana Bhairava tells us about this “space between”:

उभयोर्भावयोर्ज्ञाने ध्यात्वा मध्यं समाश्रयेत्।
युगपच्च द्वयं त्यक्त्वा मध्ये तत्त्वं प्रकाशते॥

ubhayorbhāvayorjñāne dhyātvā madhyaṃ samāśrayet
yyugapacca dvayaṃ tyaktvā madhye tattvaṃ prakāśate

While experiencing two successive actions or perceptions, one should let go of both and concentrate on the gap or the interval between them. As one focuses on the space in the center, the madhya, the essential Principle, the Self, will shine forth in the center.4

Many scriptures describe the hub of the Heart as the madhya. Madhya means “the middle” and denotes the inner space in the middle of our being. As this verse indicates, the madhya is to be discovered and experienced by focusing on the midpoints of different things.

Focusing on the space between our inhalation and exhalation is one of the classic ways to enter the madhya, the hub, within our being. As you focus on the breath coming in and moving out, you discover that in this circular flow of life energy, there is a pause: the space between two breaths. This pause is the midpoint. As you practice entering this pause again and again, your mind becomes calmer, more poised, and less affected by the seesaw of the pairs of opposites, such as joy and sorrow or gain and loss.

Let me share with you a story. When I visited Shree Muktananda Ashram in 2004, I participated in a conference of Siddha Yoga meditation teachers and Center leaders from around the world. During the conference, Gurumayi gave several talks, imparting her wisdom to the participants.

One day after her talk, Gurumayi invited the participants to receive Bade Baba’s darshan in the Temple. Gurumayi guided us to pray to Bade Baba and invoke his blessings so we could understand, at a deeper level, the Guru and the essence of the Siddha Yoga path.

Holding Gurumayi’s intention as a prayer in my heart and truly wishing to know what she wanted me to know, I entered the Temple. I offered my pranam to Bade Baba, reverently bowing in front of his radiant form.

When I raised my head to look at Bade Baba, I found myself eminently still and calm. My breath seemed to arise from a space of peace, and merge back into the same space. My being felt as pristine as a placid lake, simply reflecting the present moment. There was no past and no future, only the present. In the absence of time, there was nothing to fear or desire. There was no sense of limited identity or the notion of names that distinguish one thing from another, one person from another. The other people and things in the Bhagavan Nityananda Temple seemed an extension of my own energy.

As I sat looking at Bade Baba, these words began to pulsate in my awareness: “I am the Self, in the temple of the Self. I am the Self, in the temple of the Self.” Even though our external forms seemed different, I knew that Bade Baba and I were essentially one. Everything and everyone were part of this one universal energy. In this awareness of the great “I – Consciousness,” the Self was all that existed.

I stayed in this experience for a few minutes. Then slowly the cognizance of identities, names, and time started to come back. Full of gratitude, I smiled, treasuring what I had just experienced through my Guru’s grace and her intention. I offered pranam to Bade Baba once again before leaving the Temple.

“What was this experience?” I asked myself. As I walked out of the Temple, still facing Bade Baba, I lifted my head and saw the words on the door lintel leading into the Temple. The words were:

The Heart is the hub of all sacred places. Go there and roam.

“Ahh…” I thought. “It’s the Heart! I had the awareness of the Heart! What a blessing!”


The Guru’s grace is constant. The Guru’s love is boundless. The Guru’s blessings are always present.

On the Siddha Yoga path:

You discover the divine hub when you meditate, focusing on the breath.

You understand it when you study the Siddha Yoga teachings.

You celebrate this space of the Heart when you chant the name of God and participate in satsang.

You honor the sacred hub when you offer seva and dakshina.

You become established in the hub when the Heart becomes the focal point of your life.


The Heart is extremely close to you,
         closer than you can imagine.
It is as close as the joy in your laughter,
        as the light in your vision,
                as the meaning in your words,
                        and the life force in your breath.
Behold it, embrace it, love it—the hub of the Heart.

1 Chandogya Upanishad, 8.3.3; English rendering © SYDA Foundation 2020.
2 Chandogya Upanishad, 8.1.1 and 8.1.3; English rendering © SYDA Foundation 2020.
3 Chandogya Upanishad, 7.15.1; English rendering © SYDA Foundation 2020.
4 Vijnana Bhairava, 61; English rendering © SYDA Foundation 2020.