The word ‘tattva’ translates as element, something which is created and not the Creator. Everything that is created is composed of elements or tattvas, which are 16 in number. The first five tattvas – Prithvi (earth), Jal (water), Agni (fire), Vayu (air) and Akash (ether) pertain to the Bhuloka, or earth as we know it. Earth element pertains to the sense of smell and the survival instincts and is controlled by the Mooladhar chakra, located at the base of the spine. Water pertains to sense of taste and need for procreation and is governed by Swadishthan chakra. Fire pertains to the sense of sight and needs for physical power and status in society. It is the property of Manipoorak chakra, situated in the navel region. Air element is responsible for the sense of touch and for the experience of love. It is the property of Anahad chakra, corresponding to the chest region. Ether element pertains to the sense of hearing and expression of higher creativity. It is governed by Vishuddhi chakra, situated at the throat pit. For a normal earthly being, engaged in the pleasures of the five senses, these five elements are enough. There is no need for him/her to access the sixth element.
The sixth element is the Shiv tattva, which corresponds to the Agya chakra, located at the centre of the forehead. Between the Vishuddhi and Agya, there are 11 more tattvas and yet the Shiv tattva is called the sixth tattva because Shiv is Adi, Anadi, Anant, Akhand…that which is beyond the comprehension of buddhi. A normal human brain functions on 7-8% efficiency, the rest 92-93% is dormant. This 7-8% is enough for experiences of physical world, but to experience Shiv tattva, activation of higher senses is required. There are three knots in the body – Brahm Granthi, Vishnu Granthi and Rudra Granthi. It is easiest to open the Brahm Granthi, Vishnu Granthi also opens up relatively easily, but to open the Rudra Granthi is extremely difficult. Till the Rudra Granthi opens, one cannot experience the remaining 11 tattvas and till one experiences these tattvas, the 6th element or Shiv tattva will not get activated. All the tattvas reside in the Shiv tattva and the purpose of Shiv tattva is mukti or salvation. All Shiv sadhnas lead to that. There is no other purpose to it.
Till the Shiv tattva is activated, one cannot get the experience of subtle dimensions. Reading about them is redundant. Reading leads to activation of lower brain – the five senses and the five elements. The more is the lower brain active, the more you get caught up in the desire for physical experiences. Because, there is no limit to physical desires. The same sugar and flour, one can have in a hundred thousand ways and still want more sweets. It keeps you engaged and you get caught in a downward spiral of lower pleasures. It is in fact the lack of Shiv tattva, which is causing the human race to devolve.
When we say Shiv tattva, we refer to the combination of Shiv and Shakti, the Ardhnareshwar form of Shiv. If you remove ‘eee’ of Shakti from Shiv, it becomes shav (dead body). It is Shakti that fuels the vehicle that is Shiv and it is Shiv that drives the Shakti. One is redundant without the other. Shiv resides at the top (Agya chakra) and Shakti at the base (Mool chakra). When we start sadhna, Shiv has to come down, hold the Shakti and lift it up through the various chakras. Interesting thing is, when Shiv merges with Shakti, it becomes a tattva. When the merger happens in Prithvi tattva, so much force is generated at that level, that the sadhak is unable to let go of physical pleasures. Whatever he/she desires in the physical comes walking to him/her, such is the attraction. Similarly at subsequent chakras and tattvas. These are described as pitfalls in Yogsutras because no matter what you get in the physical, fulfilment never happens and you are left wanting more. It keeps you engaged and you lose your path. So the Guru has to gradually lift the sadhak above all these attractions.
So after experiencing 16 tattvas, the merger of Shiv and Shakti happens and you access the Shiv tattva and then, you get plenty of all the tattvas. Merger of tattvas is Shiv tattva and Shiv tattva is for evolution only. It gives all that is there in physical Creation but it gives you to leave it. The Yogsutras say, as soon as you achieve merger at a tattva, prepare to leave it to achieve the next tattva. Whether you leave or you don’t, is your choice. There is a pyramidal structure in Creation, there is plenty of space at the base and very little at the top. That is why as soon as you access the Shiv tattva, effect of Vishnu’s maya becomes manifold – money, power, position, beauty – none of which will last, but will keep you from moving up. The choice is yours.
This is Shiv tattva, without Shiv tattva, kundalini cannot rise and the darshan of Shiv tattva is not possible without a Guru. No amount of singing and dancing, smoking up, attending discourses or rave parties can grant you that experience. It is a practical experience of merger of Shiv and Shakti and it is achieved holding the hand of Guru. The quest is an important factor here. Before one ventures to explore the Shiv tattva, one must look within and see what the quest is. Is it more of pleasure, which will result in pain later and would be definitely temporary or is it actually Shiv? Is it socialising and making contacts and doing networking, or is it release from the bondages…depending on the quest one finds a Guru or an entertainer.