This term originated from the Hathayogic system, where it is also known as the brahmrandhra, moksadvara, mahapatha, madhya marga or even the "Dasam Duara"; these terms are frequently used in the esoteric literature of medieval India.
It is a term of religious physiology and its significance lies in its being a concept in the framework of soteriological ideology. The nine apertures (navdvaras) opening towards outside the body serve the physical mechanism of human personality but when their, normally wasted, energy is consciously channelized towards the self, the tenth gate or the dasamdvar opens inside the body and renders a hyper-physical service by taking the seeker beyond the bondage of embodied existence.
Also called holes or streams, these nine nine doors are the: eyes, ears, nostrils, mouth, anus, and urethra. All are vital organs of the human being. The Pali Suttanipata (verse 199. The Khuddak nikaya (vol. 1, p. 297) is perhaps the very first of several ancient Indian texts that mention the idea of nine ‘holes’ in the body. It is from a philosophically ascetic or Sramanic standpoint that the human body is described in this text as a mass of bones, sinews, flesh, etc. and as a bag for belly, intestines, liver, heart, bladder, lungs, kidneys, blood, bile, etc. “Ever from its nine streams (navahi sotehi) the unclean flows.” The Svetasvatara Upanisad (III. 18) and the Bhagavadgita (V. 13) refer to human body as “a city with nine gates” (nava dvara pure dehi) in which the Self dwells, neither acting nor causing to act. The Katha Upanisad (2.51), however, describes human abode of the Unborn One as “a city with eleven gates” (puram-ekadasa-dvaram). Mystical and soteriological significance of dasam dvar is found in the writings of the siddhas and the sants.
As a matter of fact the history of the idea of dasam dvar begins with the Buddhist Siddhas and we owe its popularity to the Natha yogis. The term as well as the concept first appears in the works of Siddhas who flourished during the period between eighth and eleventh centuries. The Siddhas transmitted the theory of dasamdvar as a mystical spiritual gateway of the Vaisnava Sants and thence it came to the Sikh [Gurus]]. The process of transmission was direct and natural since the Sants (or Bhagats) and Gurus lived and taught in a society thoroughly acquainted with and influenced by the terms, concepts and precepts of the Siddhas. Although the concept of dasam dvar remained the same, its functional value in theistic theology and socio-devotional methodology of the Sikh Gurus became decidedly different from its original one in the non-theistic ideology and esoteric-ascetic methodology of Buddhist Siddhas and Natha yogis.
In the Buddhist caryapadas or hymns of spiritual practice, the dasama dvara is also called vairocana-dvara, the brilliant gate or the supreme gate. In the texts of the Natha school such as the Siddhasiddhanda paddhati (II. 6), the mouth of sankhini is called the tenth gate (sankhini-bibaram-dasam dvaram). Sankhini is the name of a curved duct (banka nala) through which nectar (soma rasa, maharasa or amrit) passes downwards. This curved duct lies between the moon (candra) below the sahasrara-cakra or thousand-petalled lotus plexus in the cebrum region and the hollow in the palatal region. The Goraksavijaya describes sankhini as a double-mouthed (dvi-mukhia) serpent (sarpini), one mouth above, the other below. The life elixir called amrit or nectar pours down through the mouth of sankhini. This mouth called dasamd var has to be shut up and the quintessence of life, amrit or maharasa has to be conserved by the yogi. The amrit which pours down from the dasam dvar falls down in the fire of the sun (surya) where it is dried up by time (kalagni). The yogi by closing the dasam dvar and preserving the amrit deceives Time (death) and by drinking it himself through cumbersome khecari-mudra he attains immortality. Some other hathayogic texts name susumna nari instead of sankhini. However, all the texts agree that the brahmrandhra or the dasamdvar is the cavity on the roof of the palate and khecari mudra has to be performed for tasting the elixir of the amrit pouring down from it.
The notion of dasam dvar, written as dasam duar, occurs several times in the Guru Granth Sahib. Sikhism is a strictly monotheistic system belief and it must be stated at the outset that according to Sikh view of the dasam dvar, the tenth door opens into the abode of God, the Creator — dasam duara agam apara param purakh ki ghati (GG, 974), and again—nau ghar thape thapanharai dasvai vasa alakh aparai (GG, 1036). This fact distinguishes Sikhism from the non-theistic non-dualistic philosophy of the Siddhas. Second outstanding difference is that Sikhism is predominantly a devotional pathway, relying chiefly on the discipline of bhakti, i.e. loving devotion for the divine; the Siddhas and Nathas, on the other hand, practised Tantra or Hathayoga in which the disciplines of psychology and physiology were fused together. With these differences the notion of dasam duar in Sikhism employs the same terms and symbols as used by Siddhas and Nathas.
The nine doors (nau daryaje) and the tenth door are often mentioned together to show their differences. The unstruck sound is heard at the tenth door when it is freed from the shackles of nine doors in the body—nau darvaje dasvai mukta anahad sabadu vajavania (GG, 110). It is believed that the tenth door is closed by a hard diamond-like door (bajar kapat) which is haumai (self-centredness). This hard and strong door is opened and the darkness of haumai is dispelled by the instruction of the Teacher (Guru). In other words, the tenth door is the door of enlightenment and it opens only when the door consisting of haumai is broken. It is taken for granted in Sikhism that the tenth door is the supreme state of the mind. It is certainly not a physical door; it is that state of purified consciousness in which God is visible and all contacts with physical existence are cut off. It is called a being’s own house (nij-ghar), that is to say, a being’s real nature which is like light (joti sarup). One hears day and night the anahad sabda there when one dwells in one’s own house through the tenth door—nau dar thake dhavatu rahae, dasvai nijghari vasa pae (GG, 124).
At few places in the Gurbani, the term dasam duar has been used to denote ten organs—five sensory organs and five organs of action, i.e. jnanendriyas and karmendriyas. Says Guru Nanak: “Hukami sanjogi gari das duar, panch vasahi mili joti apar”—in the fortress of the body created in his hukam are ten doors. In this fort five subtle elements of sabda (sound), sparsa (touch), rupa (sight), rasa (taste) and grandha (smell) abide having the infinite light of the Lord in them (GG, 152). The amrit which flows at the tenth door is the essence of Divine name (nam ras) according to the Guru; it is not the physical elixir of immortality conceived by the Siddhas, nor is this amrit to be found by awakening kundalini or by practising khecari mudra; it is to be found through the Teacher’s instruction. When the Satguru is encountered then one stops from running (after the nine doors) and obtains the tenth door. Here at this door the immortalizing food (amrit bhojan), the innate sound (sahaj dhuni) is produced—dhavatu thammia satiguri miliai dasva duaru paia; tithai amrit bhojanu sahaj dhuni upajai jitu sabadi jagatu thammi rahaia (GG, 441).
This wholesome spot is not outside the physical frame. The second Guru also refers to the fort (kotu) with nine doors; the tenth door is hidden (gupatu); it is closed by a hard door which can be opened by the key of the Guru’s word (GG, 954). According to Guru Amar Das, Nanak III, he alone is released who conquers his mind and who keeps it free from defilement; arriving at the tenth door, and staying there he understands all the three spheres (GG, 490).
The importance of dasamdvar is of considerable theological interest. Here at the tenth door the anahad sabda (unstruck sound) is heard; here the divine drink of immortality trickles down; and here the devotee meets with the invisible and inaccessible transcendental Brahman who is described by the sages as unutterable (GG, 1002). The devotional theology of Sikhism requires that the gateway of ultimate release can open only by God’s will. The tenth door is closed with the adamantine hard door (bajar kapat) which can be opened duly with the Guru’s word. Inside the front (i.e. the body) is the tenth door, the house in the cavity (gupha ghar); in this fort nine doors have been fixed according to Divine ordinance (hukam); in the tenth door the Invisible, Unwritten, Unlimited Person shows Himself—bhitari kot gupha ghar jai nau ghar thape hukami rajai; dasvai purakhu alekhu apari ape alakhu lakhaida (GG, 1033). This is the view expressed by the founder of Sikhism and he repeats it at another place also. He says that the Establisher has established nine houses (nau ghar) or nine doors in the city of this body; the Invisible and Infinite dwells at the tenth house or tenth door (GG, 1036). The nectar-like essence (amrit ras) is dripped by the Satguru; it comes out appearing at the tenth door. The sounding of the unstruck sound announces, as it were, the manifestation of God at this door — Amrit rasu satiguru chuaia; dasavai duari pragatu hoi aia; taha anahad sabad vajahi dhuni bani sahaje sahaji samai he (GG, 1069) The Siddhas, unlike the Sikh Gurus, find the amrit by their own effort.
Occasionally the term das duar is used in gurbani in the sense of sensory and motor organs of body which should be kept under control. For the most part, however, the Sikh Scripture stresses the need for realization of the dasam duar, apart from God’s ordinance (hukam) and Teacher’s compassion (kirpa, prasad) and the necessity of transcending the realm of three-strand nature (triguna maya). Kabir, for instance, says that the tenth door opens only when the trinity (trikuti) of sattva, rajas and tamas is left behind—trikuti chhutai dasva daru khulhai ta manu khiva bhai (GG, 1123).
1. Sher Singh, The Philosophy of Sikhism. Lahore, 1944
2. Dasgupta, Sasibhusan, Obscure Religious Cults. Calcutta, 1962
3. Hathyoga-Pradipika. Adyar, 1972
4. Briggs, George Weston, Gorakhnath and the Kanphata Yogis, Delhi, 1973
5. Jodh Singh, Religious Philosophy of Guru Nanak. Varanasi, 1983.
Above adapted from article By L. M. Joshi