Seven Limbs and Nineteen Mouths

Reading the Upanishads is a trippy experience, to use a technical word. If you think reading Elizabethan English in 10th grade was hard, “O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou” has nothin’ on this:

Turiya is not that which is conscious of the inner (subjective) world, nor that which is conscious of the outer (objective) world, nor that which is conscious of both, nor that which is a mass of consciousness.

It is not simple consciousness nor is It unconsciousness. It is unperceived, unrelated, incomprehensible, uninferable, unthinkable and indescribable.

The essence of the Consciousness manifesting as the self in the three states, It is the cessation of all phenomena; It is all peace, all bliss and non—dual. This is what is known as the Fourth (Turiya). This is Atman and this has to be realized.
Mandukya Upanishad Verse VII

OMG what?

I'm not made for this!

I'm not made for this!

So in the Mandukya Upanishad from verses I-VII, there’s a couple mentions of “who has seven limbs and nineteen mouths and who is the experiencer of gross objects.”

What could these seven limbs and nineteen mouths be? I glossed over this for a while, because I wanted to grasp the “the essence of Consciousness” first. But this “seven limbs and nineteen mouths” business stays on my mind, and I just have to do some Googling and lay it to rest.

The seven limbs are

  1. The head
  2. The eyes
  3. The breaths
  4. The stomach
  5. The bladder
  6. The legs
  7. The mouth

The 19 mouths, which are basically doors of perception, are:

  1. Five organs of sense (buddhi-indriya): ears, skin, eyes, tongue and nose for hearing, feeling, seeing, tasting and smelling.
  2. Five organs of action (karma-indriaa): vocal cords, hands, feet, genitals and anus, for speaking, grasping, walking, procreating and eliminating, (respectively, if that wasn’t obvious).
  3. Five living breaths: prana, upana, udana, samana, vyana – forward, downward, upward, balancing, and outward airs.
  4. A mind (manas)
  5. An intellectual will (buddhi)
  6. A personal ego (ahankara)
  7. Consciousness (citta)

And there you have it, someone with seven limbs and nineteen mouths isn’t something scary that goes bump in the night, it’s actually a human being (although… some of us can be mighty scary… but that’s another topic :))