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Prabhupada in his Gita commentaries mentions the phrase "cave of the heart", where he says dwells the atomic soul.

Even Ramana Maharshi said, that the godly atom of the Self is to be found in the right chamber of the heart, about one finger-width’s distance from the body’s midline. He says- “Here lies the Heart, the dynamic Spiritual Heart. It is called hridaya, is located on the right side of the chest, and is clearly visible to the inner eye of an adept on the Spiritual Path. Through meditation you can learn to find the Self in the cave of the heart."

My question is what exactly is this hridaya or heart. Maharshi only mentioned the location of it. But what exactly is it? A clear definition of it would be most helpful.

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The cave of the heart is mentioned in many Upanishads.

Realising through self-contemplation that primal God, difficult to be seen, deeply hidden, set in the cave (of the heart), dwelling in the deep, the wise man leaves behind both joy and sorrow.

Katha Upanishad I.2.12

The cave of the heart is also known as the heart lotus or hrit padma. Unlike the well known lotuses in the susumna channel along the spine, this lotus is in the chest.

Next above the navel lotus (Nabhi-padma) is the Anahata, in the region of the heart, which is red like a Bandhuka flower, and is so called because it is in this place that Munis or Sages hear that "Sound (Anahata-sabda) which comes without the striking of any two things together", or the "sound' of the Sabda-brahman, which is here the Pulse of life. For it is here that the Purusa (Jivatma) dwells. This lotus is to be distinguished from the Heart Lotus of eight petals, which is represented below it, where in mental worship the Patron Deity (Ista-devata) is meditated upon.

The Serpent Power the secrets of tantric and shaktic yoga, The Centres of Lotuses (Cakra, Padma) by Sir John Woodroffe

  • In Udhava Gita Krishna says to draw life air from below to center of chest where you could hear sound of Pranava. – Akshay S Sep 21 '18 at 15:40
  • @PradipGangopadhyay, Sorry i had to delete my yesterday's reply to your post, since i thought it needed some editing. Anyway, my question is, you said above that jivatma dwells in the anahata heart region. But as far as i know it, the whole subtle body plus the universal Atman's rays, is called jivatman ... (i.e jivatma = subtlebody) ... The heart region anahata u spoke of, should be IMO, part of the subtle body aka jivatma ... How could the jivatma dwell in the chest region, when the whole subtle body, including the chest region, IS jivatma. Please help me understand this. – The Crimson Universe Sep 22 '18 at 7:59
  • @TheCrimsonUniverse, what you are stating is the theory. In practice the Guru will tell you to imagine your Atma (jivatma is the same as the Paramatma according to Advaita) seated in the heart lotus and meditate. Yogis have found out through pracice that meditation works best when one concentrates on the heart lotus. – Pradip Gangopadhyay Sep 23 '18 at 6:16
  • @PradipGangopadhyay, It still doesn't make sense. 1) Atma first of all, is all pervasive and present everywhere. Why would it dwell only in the chest region. It should be present all through out the subtle body .... And yes i know that atma and jivatma are same. The latter is simply a combination of ((atma's reflection + the reflecting medium subtle body)). – The Crimson Universe Sep 24 '18 at 9:06
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    If you reread my earlier comment then you will see that you are asked by the Guru to imagine the atma in the heart lotus. This localization of the atma is necessary for concentration. In fact there are Upanishadic verses that say that atma of thumb size is in the heart lotus. This is again for concentration purpose. The Atma is not really of thumb size and is not really located only in the heart lotus. There is a channel going from the heart lotus to the higher chakras in the Susumna channel. The power of meditation on the atma in the heart drives the heated prana shakti to the higher chakras. – Pradip Gangopadhyay Sep 24 '18 at 10:56
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I have also wondered exactly which place is regarded as the region of heart. Because, after we have sipped during Achamana we are required to touch the seven holes of the head as well as the seat of soul (as per Manu Smriti).

Now, the seat of the soul is said to be the region of heart in the Upnishads. So, is that region is on the left of our chest where the organ of heart resides or at the middle chest or somewhere else? We need to know this because we need to touch that spot.

We can get the precise location of this region from a minor Upanishad called MahAnArAyana Upanishad (MNU).

adho nishtyA vitastya ante (1) |
nAbhyAm upari tishthati (2) ||
hridayam tat vijAniya (3) |
vishvashya Ayatanam mahat (4) ||

That which is known as heart (3) is located above the navel (2), at the distance of a finger-span (nishti) below the Adam's apple (vitasya ante). This is the great abode ( Ayatanam) of the universe.

MNU 13.7

We precisely know where the Adam's apple is located in our throat so thus the region of heart is somewhere around the top portion of the middle of the chest.

The previous verse talks about a lotus that resides in that region (of heart) which one needs to meditate upon and this verse is precisely giving the location of the region.

The translation of 13.6 is as follows:

On the One who is limitless, unchanging, the supreme poet dwelling in the sea (of one's heart) and the cause of the happiness of the works, (one who should meditate). (The place for meditation is) the ether (AkAsham) in the heart which is symbolised (pratikA) by an inverted lotus bud (padma kosha).

  • But Atman the universal spirit, pervades everything. When atman pervades or illumines the entire subtle body its called jivatma or soul. So how is it possible for the whole subtle body or soul, to be placed in the heart region, when in fact the heart region is part of the subtle body aka soul. – The Crimson Universe Sep 21 '18 at 15:54
  • @TheCrimsonUniverse you have some logical questions but Atman is beyond this logic ;) – Akshay S Sep 21 '18 at 16:04
  • Well the Upanishads say both the things that Brahman is everything and is everywhere and that Brahman resides in the bodies in that region of heart.. Now, how both of these claims can be simultaneously true is I guess not part of ur present Q. @TheCrimsonUniverse That is a separate Q. – Rickross Sep 22 '18 at 8:13
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    @TheCrimsonUniverse Also I thought that u are basically asking " Where according to scriptures the region of heart is situated in the body?" I was also bothered by this question previously. – Rickross Sep 22 '18 at 8:56
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    @TheCrimsonUniverse Yes I have also read something like that in commentaries of Upanishads. And those are coming from Advaitin scholars. – Rickross Sep 22 '18 at 14:45

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