In this post, we’re not discussing the function, location, or pathway of Sushumna Nadi in the body, but we’ll look at the meaning and interpretation of the name and synonyms of this Yoga Energy Channel.
The synonyms of Sushumna Nadi, found in the classical Yoga scriptures, are Saraswati Nadi — not to be confused with the actual Saraswati Nadi — Jnana Nadi, Brahma Nadi (Brahmani Nadi), Agni Nadi, and Sumana and Susumna Nadi.
Here further below we discuss each of these names and synonyms.
The Sanskrit word “sushumna” consists of the two other Sanskrit words “su” (also written “shu”) and “shumna” (also written “sumna”).
The word “su” can mean many different things, including quick, delivery, birth, power, supremacy, move, sacrifice, press, well, good, excellent, beautiful, perfect, much, worthy of respect or reverence, prosperity, delight, pleasure, to just give some examples.
The word “shumna” can mean joy, happiness, favor, protection, sacrifice, benevolent, gracious, prayer, satisfaction, or peace, among some other meanings.
The combined word “sushumna” (su-shumna) as an adjective is generally translated as “very gracious, kind and favorable.” As such, in the Yogic community, “Sushumna Nadi” is usually translated as “The Most Gracious Channel”, and indeed is considered the most important Prana Energy Channel in the body, flowing from the the base of the spine to the crown of the head.
Although Saraswati Nadi is considered a distinct Nadi, one of the principal fourteen Nadis, it’s also used as a synonym for Sushumna Nadi.
In India, the Sarasvati (Saraswati) is considered a mythical, metaphysical river (in this case equated with Sushumna Nadi), forming the imagined confluence with the sacred rivers Ganges (synonym for Ida Nadi) and Yamuna (synonym for Pingala Nadi) at the Triveni Sangam, being “the pathway to immortality.”
The Sanskrit word “jnana” can mean wisdom, knowledge, understanding, proficiency, consciousness, supreme spirit. It’s obvious that the use of Jnana Nadi as a synonym for Sushumna Nadi points to the attainment of spiritual wisdom and knowledge, in the way it’s also used in the context of Jnana Yoga.
Sushumna is sometimes called Brahma Nadi after its most inner Nadi Channel — the Brahma Nadi or Brahmani Nadi — referring to the ultimate, Divine Being, and to the attainment of Spiritual Enlightenment. Mind that Sushumna Nadi is said to actually consist of three inner Nadis which envelop each other.
The most common meanings of the word “agni” in Sanskrit are fire, heat, digestive fire, gold, and sky. It’s also strongly associated with the Ayurvedic Agni Digestive Fire Element.
It’s sometimes used as a synonym of Sushumna Nadi to stress the “burning, absorption, and destruction of ignorance” and the attainment of wisdom and spiritual awakening.
Sumana Nadi and Susumna Nadi
The synonyms Sumana and Susumna are actually just two other ways of spelling the word Sushumna. Nevertheless, Sumana is used in the Thai Sib Sen Energy Line system where it’s called Sen Sumana, being the most important Sen Energy Channel in the Thai pranic channel system.