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On Mercury

This following article about Hindu alchemy and yoga and the
medical dangers of mercury use therein was first posted to
alt.religion.orisha because the same issues apply there (and
in African-American hoodoo), where liquid mercury is used in
magical spells, especially for gambling luck.

cat yronwode


From: "J.A. Mitchell"  
Newsgroups: alt.religion.orisha 
Subject: On Mercury 
Date: Tue, 10 Apr 2001 19:20:48 -0400 

Hi Eoghan,

I saw this information and thought you might be interested
in it. In the light of the term *parada*  and other phrases
used in the spiritual and pyscho-chemical component assigned
to the actual substance.

J.A. Mitchell Alchemy

Immortality & Mysticism by Pandit Rajmani Tigunait Ph.D

Yoga International Magazine November/December 1995

There is, as Mircea Eliade writes, a universal if
unconscious recognition that "gold is immortality (amritam
ayur hiranyam.) Gold is the one perfect, solar metal and
hence its symbolism meets the symbolism of spirit, of
spiritual freedom and autonomy."

In turn, the desire for wealth and immortality, material and
spiritual, meet and find their expression in alchemy, the
ancient science that promises to fulfill both desires here
and now. Alchemists fulfill the first desire by transforming
vulgar metals into gold (much of the age old fascination

with alchemy can be traced to unlock this secret.) They are
said to fulfill the second by absorbing gold into their

A thorough analysis of alchemy, as practiced in different
eras and cultures, reveals that alchemists achieve both of
these goals with the help of mercury. According to Indian
and Chinese alchemical traditions, in fact, it is mercury,
not gold, that holds the highest position in the
evolutionary rank of elements. It is the power and mystery
of mercury that transforms base metals into gold of a
quality far superior to that which is found in nature. When
this purified gold is again "fixed" with mercury and
absorbed into the body of an adept, it is said to have the
power to prolong life. Thus the majority of the texts on
alchemy, especially those concerned with mystical
experiences and enlightenment, consider mercury rather than
gold to be the center of this ancient science.

The Sanskrit word for alchemy is rasayana, literally, "the
abode of rasa (essence or sap.)" Rasayana is the science and
practice that deals with the essence of the universe, with
the essence of the life force, or the sap of life. In other
words, rasayana deals with the intrinsic vitality of a
living being. Its primary concern is to study the nature of
all substances to determine which particular one is the
essence of creation.

Alchemy arises from the premise that there is a perfect
equation between the human body and the universe - that
which exists in the universe can be found in the human body,
and vice versa. By knowing the essence of the substance that
makes up the body, the essence of the universe is also
known. Alchemists believe that this knowledge makes it
possible to preserve and retain the essence of life within
our bodies and thus attain youthful immortality. According
to these spiritual scientists, the knowledge of immortality
is identical with enlightenment - the cycle of birth and
death involves only those who do not have knowledge of
alchemy's immortal truth.

The essence of life in the human body is ojas - the
intrinsic brilliance that enables the stream of life to flow
continuously until it unites with cosmic existence,
consciousness, and bliss - sat chit ananda. Sexual energy
(virya), which reaches its highest expression in youth, is
the gross counterpart of ojas. Both ojas and virya are rasa,
and rasayana, or alchemy, is the science of knowing the
dynamics of ojas and virya. The counterpart of ojas and
virya outside the body is mercury, which is also called
"rasa" because mercury is the essence of all substances.
Taking mercury into the body increases rasa; by stabilizing
mercury in the body, the practitioner of rasayana prolongs
life. According to the yogis, mercury has another, higher
application, one that is revealed by a second term for it -
parada, meaning "that which takes you to the other shore of
life; that which grants enlightenment and freedom." By
employing these two terms - rasa and parada - for mercury,
yogis suggest that by using mercury it is possible to
overcome all diseases; maintain youth and vitality; prolong
life indefinitely; and unveil all mysteries related to
birth, death, the cycle of transmigration, and the
relationship between the microcosm and macrocosm.
Ultimately, all that which exists in the universe is
unveiled. Let's begin our examination of these claims with a
look at some data on its effect on the body.

The Medical Angle

Mercury is a metal, the only one that is liquid at room
temperature. This shiny substance, also known as
quicksilver, is toxic and can be deadly if it enters the
body. It acts as a cumulative poison - that is, the body has
trouble eliminating it. Mercury evaporates at room
temperature and can be inhaled in vapor form. In liquid form
it can be swallowed or absorbed through the skin.

As reported in The Toxicological profile for Mercury,
published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services, inhaling mercury causes nervous system disorders,
which intensify and become irreversible with continued
exposure. These include tremors, emotional instability,
insomnia, headaches, memory loss, and loss of the ability to
think clearly. Inhaling mercury also damages the respiratory
system, inducing coughing, shortness of breath, and burning
pains in the chest. In severe cases the lung tissue swells
and fills with fluids. This can lead to pneumonia,
emphysema, and scarring and even collapse of the lung.
Kidney damage, renal failure, rashes, fever, chills, and
elevated white blood counts are among the other consequences
of inhaling mercury vapor.

Mercury taken orally is lethal at a dose of 10 to 42
milligrams of mercury for a 150 pound adult. Death is caused
by shock, cardiovascular collapse, acute renal failure, and
sever gastrointestinal damage. In short, inhaling or
swallowing mercury has a devastating effect on the
respiratory, circulatory, nervous, gastrointestinal,
muscular, and cardiovascular systems, and it damages the
kidneys, liver, heart, brain, and reproductive organs.
Although these adverse effects are well documented, their
exact cause is open to question. Because the electron
structure of mercury is loose, many other metals readily
dissolve in it. According to the Chinese and Ayurvedic
systems of medicine, it is these impurities in mercury, such
as the presence of zinc, lead, and other minerals, that make
mercury toxic. Mercury is always found as part of a compound
in nature - most commonly in combination with sulfur in the
ore cinnabar.

According to Ayurvedic texts, eighteen steps are required to
purify mercury. Of these, only the first eight are
recommended for medicinal purposes and commonly practiced by
Ayurvedic physicians. The remaining ten steps, which are
obscure and have occult overtones, are used only for
purifying mercury in such a way that it can transform vulgar
metals into gold. Even more obscure are the methods for
applying purified mercury to the human body in order to
achieve spiritual goals. These are shrouded in mystery and
are revealed by the master alchemists only to select
students. Ancient texts such as Rasa Ratna Samuccaya, Rudra
Yamala, Goraksha Samhita, and the Hatha Yoga Pradipika touch
on the subject, but only enough to arouse our curiosity.

In every culture where alchemy has flourished, mercury has
always been intimately related to an esoteric or mystical
tradition. This can be seen in the Hellenistic, Islamic, and
Hermetic traditions, as well as in the Chinese tradition of
Taoism, and the Indian traditions of yoga and tantrism. All
emphasize secrecy. For example, in the esoteric text
Rasanava, Shiva tells the Goddess, "The secret (of mercury)
is seldom known, even among the Gods," and in another text,
the Chinese mystic Ko Hung states, "Secrecy is thrown over
the efficacious recipes." Similarly, Western post
Renaissance alchemical literature is deliberately
incomprehensible. In all cultures, the knowledge of alchemy,
especially the direct use of mercury, was imparted only to
select initiates who were aiming at the radical
transformation of the human condition. It is these initiates
who are said to have obtained the elixir of immortality and
become immortal; they wander on the earth while concealing
their condition.

The mystical aspect of alchemy is most pronounced in Indian
and Chinese traditions. In both, cinnabar is considered to
be the precursor of the elixir of immortality; the
combination of mercury and sulfur in cinnabar has
metaphysical significance. In isolation mercury is a liquid.
It is the sulfur in cinnabar that keeps mercury in place.
Thus, the relationship between mercury and sulfur is like
that of Shiva and Shakti, pure consciousness and the force
of creativity, respectively. In tantric literature, mercury
is Shiva, symbolized by the linga, and sulfur is Shakti,
symbolized by the yoni. Shiva is able to manifest this
universe only when united with Shakti. Similarly, mercury is
able to manifest the elixir of immortality only when
embraced by sulfur.

Once it has been abstracted from cinnabar, mercury becomes
figuratively lifeless. It is also adulterated by other
metals and minerals in this state, and they must be removed
before the mercury is brought back to life by reuniting it
with sulfur. This second marriage of mercury and sulfur
forms vermilion, or artificial cinnabar. Mercury is again
isolated by heating vermilion to a high temperature, but
this time the mercury is awakened.

Yogic and Ayurvedic texts describe how to make mercury sweat
(svedana), how to massage it (mardana), how to make it faint
(murchhana), how to lift it (utthapana), how to drop it
(patana), how to awaken or educate it (bodhana), how to
control or discipline it (niyamana), and how to energize it
(depana.) Although following these eight steps is a long
process, Ayurvedic doctors maintain that only such purified
mercury is fit for medicinal preparations.

Mercury and Mysticism

The mystical tradition, which prescribes the application of
mercury along with the practice of asana, pranayama,
bandhas, murdras, and mantra japa, does not specify whether
"purified" or regular  metallic mercury is required. (editor
note: unpurified mercury is poisonous.) The scriptures state
simply that mercury is taken into the body as part of
specific practices such as vajra siddhi (making the body as
strong and durable as a thunder bolt), khechara siddhi
(traveling through space), and tirodhana or antardhan siddhi
(becoming invisible.) According to some scriptures, mercury
is also used in the practice of mritasanjivani vidya (the
science of restoring the dead to life.) But not a single
scripture describes the prerequisites and procedures for any
of these practices.

Most mercury-related practices are mentioned in the context
of mantra sadhana, implying in some places that mantra
siddhi is attained with the help of mercury, and in others
that one attains mercury siddhi by applying mantra siddhi.
But nowhere do the texts specify whether the mercury is
swallowed, inhaled, or rubbed into the skin - they simply
praise the practice and warn the practices related to
mercury are highly secret and cannot be explained. The
secret of rasayana vidya is safeguarded by the oral
tradition - it is transmitted only to those who are
qualified to receive it.

Only in regard to two practices - meditation on parada linga
and vajroli kriya - do the scriptures give us any idea of
how to use mercury to attain mystical or scriptural
experiences, but even here no prerequisites are given. The
first practice, meditation on parada linga, requires a shiva
linga made of solidified mercury. Specific practices related
to mantra, yantra, and tantra are done in its presence.

Because mercury is Shiva, a shiva linga made of solidified
mercury is considered to be superior to all others, and for
millennia alchemist mystics have known the secret of
solidifying mercury at room temperature. Hinduism Today
magazine recently carried an article about a sadhu from
Rishikesh who is known for making parada lingams. Of course,
neither this sadhu nor the scriptures share the knowledge of
how this is done.

The practice of vajroli kriya is mentioned in the texts of
hatha yoga and tantra. For example, it is listed among the
cleansing techniques in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. This kriya
involves taking mercury into the body by sucking it up
through the generative organ. Because this organ is designed
for the outflow of fluids, not for intake, and because
mercury is quite dense, this practice requires thorough,
systematic preparation. The texts specify that those who
wish to practice vajroli kriya must first master the
techniques of aswini mudra, mula bhanda, agni sara, and
uddiyana, bandha in order to gain mastery over the pelvic
and abdominal regions. This enables the yogi to create a
vacuum in the pelvic and abdominal regions, which the
mercury flows in to fill. As preparation, the practitioner
first develops the ability to suck air into the bladder,
then switches to fluids - first to distilled water, then to
a mixture of milk and water, then to milk, then to sesame
oil, and finally to mercury. At least this is what the texts
say, although in my own search I have yet to meet a yogi who
can demonstrate the ability to take mercury into the body in
this manner.

The Hatha Yoga Pradipika does not describe this techniques
in sufficient detail to make practicing it possible because,
as commentators warn, it can be safely learned only under
the guidance of a qualified master. However, this text does
specify the fruit of the practice - the attainment of deha
siddhi (perfection of the body.) Success in this practice
will lead to freedom from sickness, to extraordinary
strength, and possibly even to physical immortality.
According to the tantric texts, a number of other yogic
accomplishments are associated with taking mercury into the
body, including the mastery over sexual energy,
dematerializing and rematerializing oneself at will,
defeating death, knowledge of the past and future, visions
of devas and celestial realms, attainment of samadhi, and
enjoyment of everlasting bliss.

The yogis belonging to the natha tradition believe that one
of the most startling siddhis, asmita siddhi, mentioned in
the fourth chapter of the Yoga Sutra, is based solely on
alchemical applications of mercury. According to them,
aushadhi, one of the five means for attaining perfection in
asmita siddhi, is synonymous with "medicine." Through asmita
siddhi, a yogi attains a perfect realization of "I - am -
ness." In other words, self awareness is perfected and the
practitioner becomes a totally independent field of
consciousness. From this asmita (totally independent field
of consciousness), the yogi has the power to create his or
her personal mind (chitta) at will. This particular type of
mind, directly emerging from the asmita of an accomplished
yogi alchemist, is called nirmana chitta ( the self created
mind.) Unlike the minds of ordinary individuals, nirmana
chitta is not part of nature, and therefore it is not bound
by karmas and samskaras. Yogis of this caliber may also
create a body, known as nirmana kaya, at will, and yogis
like Buddha, Gorakha Natha, Matsyendra Natha, Chaurangi
Natha, and Swatmarama - the author of the Hatha Yoga
Pradipika - are said to walk in the flesh whenever they
choose through their nirmana kaya. Looking for Answers

Are these alchemical and mystical experiences induced by
mercury purely mythical? In our highly evolved scientific
era, all the elements, including mercury, are known to us to
down to the sub atomic level. Medical data clearly show that
mercury poses a health hazard. Are we missing something?
Chinese and Ayurvedic physicians use mercury in its
"purified" form. Does this purification alter it? If so,
how? After all, it is still mercury. Even if, for reasons
yet unknown to modern science, the sulfur, herbs, and other
minerals used in the process of purifying mercury change its
subtle properties, common sense does not permit us to ignore
the mass of scientific data on the havoc mercury wreaks in
the body.

What happens when mercury is drawn through the generative
organ and stored in the bladder? Mercury vaporizes at body
temperature, albeit slowly. Yogis raise the temperature of
their navel center and abdominal region at least ten degrees
higher than normal while using mercury. As the mercury
vaporizes, some it will be absorbed by the walls of the
bladder and the rest will move through the ureter into the
kidneys, from where it enters the bloodstream. When mercury
vapor enters our bloodstream through this route, do the
effects differ from those that result when it enters through
the lungs?

Ayurveda regards mercury as the master medicine for all
diseases, and Ayurvedic preparations containing mercury are
used to cure illnesses accompanied by the symptoms of
dizziness, loss of memory, low energy, degeneration of
bodily tissues, and damage to heart, kidney, liver, lungs,
and brain. These are identical to the symptoms caused by
mercury poisoning. This is in line with the homeopathic
principle that similar cures similar, so it makes sense that
mercury is the medicine for such problems, whether or not
mercury poisoning is the case.

But the yogic claim that an earthly substance is so divine
that it can take us to the other shore of life seems
impossibly far-fetched - at least at first glance. It
implies that it is possible to use mercury to induce
mystical experiences; rejuvenate the body and lengthen life;
bring about the knowledge of past, present, and future; and
create the ground for a spiritual condition in which the
individual consciousness unites with universal
consciousness. But if we turn again to the basic principle
of homeopathy, we remember that mercury poisoning creates
mental dullness, depletes energy, shortens life, causes
confusion about the past, present, and future, and also
creates a sense of separation in the realm of consciousness
by causing the mind to become slow and spacey. In this
context, it does not seem so far-fetched to accept the
possibility that mercury, when properly applied, can remove
these problems and return us to a state of balance - which
the yogis would call awareness of our divine nature. At
least it makes an interesting area of inquiry, for science
is not able to support this hypothesis at present.

I have made my own search into the yogic application of
mercury. The yogis I met in the process fall into three
categories. The first are eager to speak of their prowess
with mercury, boasting that they have learned to take it in
through the generative organ and move it directly to the
crown of the head, where it showers them with yogic powers.
Unfortunately, these yogis display none of the signs and
symptoms of spiritual attainment. On the contrary, I found
them to be ignorant and full of greed and anxiety. As the
scriptures warn, "Do not trust one who begs, yet claims to
be an alchemist."

In the second category, I have met a few yogis who exhibit
some extraordinary yogic abilities and who are calm,
fearless, and full of joy. They have unfolded the virtue of
compassion and are able to cure others in many instances.
These yogis readily admit to experimenting with mercury and
suffering as a consequence. Swami Aghorananda of Gujrat is
an example. Rather than attaining perfection in
mercury-related practices, he damaged his body because he
was not able to find a qualified teacher to guide him. In
regard to the yogis in this category, I have never been able
to determine to my satisfaction whether the remarkable
curative powers they display are the result of
mercury-related practices, or predate them.

Finally, there are a few rare yogis in the Himalayas in whom
the higher spiritual virtues blossom. Whatever they say
comes true; they can heal others simply by giving an
ordinary substance - a sip of water, a few blades of grass,
- as medicine. These yogis are gentle, tranquil, and free of
fear and confusion, and they display an unbelievable depth
of knowledge in all subjects. When I asked about vajroli
kriya, they made fun of it, saying that when your mind,
prana, and ojas have come to one point (bindu), then mercury
does what you tell it to do. One such yogi demonstrated the
ability to absorb mercury through his palms. According to
him, mercury is Shiva and you worship or propitiate Shiva
only after you have become Shiva (Shivo bhuto, shivam
yajete.) Therefore, the direct experience of Shiva
consciousness is the prerequisite for absorbing and
retaining mercury. One of these rare yogis asked me, "If you
have already attained, then why do you need mercury?" and
then answered his own question with a gentle smile, "That is
the mystery within the mystery."

When mercury is taken into your body it is absorbed in your
bloodstream, and mercury is an elixir only if you have
trained your blood vessels and other organs to recognize
mercury as Shiva. The yogi who has attained such a high
degree of mastery is called Shiva, the divine being who
drinks poison for the purpose of transmuting it and
distributing nectar to others. Only such yogis are fit for
the practice of rasayana vidya. It is good to aspire to such
a state, which can be attained by the help of a competent
teacher, sincerity, patience, perseverance, and God's grace.
But, as the scriptures warn repeatedly, never practice
unless you know what you are getting yourself into.
Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, Ph. D. is the author of numerous
books on the philosophy and practice of Yoga. He is the
director of the Himalayan Institute in Honesdale
Pennsylvania USA.


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