DASAMDVĀR (Skt. Daśamadvārā), lit. meaning 'tenth gate', is a concept in Sikhism which signifies the door to enlightenment and spiritual vision. Dasamdvār in the Haṭhayogic system is also known as brahmrandhra, mokṣadvārā, mahāpatha and madhya mārga, the terms frequently used in the esoteric literature of medieval India. It is term of religious physiology and its significance lies in its being a concept in the framework of soteriological ideology. Nine apertures (navdvāras) opening towards outside the body serve the physical mechanism of human personality but when their energy, normally being wasted, is consciously channelized towards the self, the tenth gate or the dasamdvār opens inside the body and renders a hyper physical service by taking the seeker beyond the bondage of embodied existence.

        The human body is endowed with nine doors also called holes or streams. These nine are : two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, mouth, anus, and urethra. All these are vital organs of living organism called human being. The Pālī Suttanipāta (verse 199, in Khuddak nikāya, vol. I, p. 297) is perhaps one of the very first Indian texts which mentions the idea of nine 'holes' in the body. It is from a philosophically ascetic or śramaṇic 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 Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad (III. 18) and the Bhagavadgītā (V. 13) refer to human body as "a city with nine gates" (nava dvāra pure dehī) in which the Self dwells, neither acting nor causing to act. The Kaṭha Upaniṣad (2. 51), however, describes human abode of the Unborn One as "a city with eleven gates" (puram-ekādaśa-dvāram). Mystical and soteriological significance of dasamdvār is found in the writings of the siddhas and the sants. As a matter of fact, the history of the idea of dasamdvār begins with the Buddhīst Siddhas and we owe its popularity to Nātha yogīs. 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 dasamdvār as a mystical spiritual gateway to Vaiṣṇava Sants and thence it came to the Sikh Gurūs. The process of transmission was direct and natural since the Sants (or bhagats) and Gurūs lived and taught in a society thoroughly acquainted with and influenced by the terms, concepts and precepts of the Siddhas. Although the concept of dasamdvār remained the same, its functional value in theistic theology and socio - devotional methodology of the Sikh Gurūs became decidedly different from its original one in the non - theistic ideology and esoteric ascetic methodology of Buddhist Siddhas and Nātha yogīs.

         In the Buddhist caryāpadas or hymns of spiritual practice, the daśamadvāra is also called vairocana-dvāra, the brilliant gate or the supreme gate. In the texts of the Nātha school such as the Siddhasiddhānta paddhati (II. 6), the mouth of śankhinī is called the tenth gate (śankhinī-bibaram-daśam-dvāram). Śaṅkhinī is the name of a curved duct (baṅkā nāla) through which nectar (soma rasa, mahārasa or amrit) passes downwards. This curved duct lies between the moon (candra) below the sahasrāra-cakra or thousand-petalled lotus plexus in the cerebrum region and the hollow in the palatal region. The Gorakṣavijaya describes śaṅkhinī as a double mouthed (dvi-mukhīā) serpent (sarpiṇī), one mouth above, the other below. The life elixir called amrit or nectar pours down through the mouth of śaṅkhinī. This mouth called daśamdvār has to be shut up and the quintessence of life, amrit or mahārasa has to be conserved by the yogī. The amrit which pours down from the daśamdvār falls down in the fire of the sun (sūrya) where it is dried up by time (kālāgni). The yogī by closing the daśamdvār and preserving the amrit deceives Time (death) and by drinking it himself through cumbersome khecarī-mudrā he attains immortality. Some other haṭhayogic texts name suṣumnā nāṛī instead of śaṅkhinī. However all the texts agree that the brahmrandhra or the daśamdvār is the cavity on the roof of the palate and khecarī mudrā has to be performed for tasting the elixir or the amrit pouring down from it.

         The notion of daśamdvār, written as dasamduār, occurs several times in the Gurū Granth Sāhib. Sikhism is a strictly monotheistic system of belief and it must be stated at the outset that according to Sikh view of the daśamdvār, the tenth door opens into the abode of God, the Creator--dasam duārā agam apārā param purakh kī ghāṭī (GG, 974), and again - nau ghar thāpe thāpaṇhārai dasvai vāsā alakh apārai (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 Nāthas, on the other hand, practised Tantra or Haṭhayoga in which the disciplines of psychology and physiology were fused together. With these differences the notion of dasamduār in Sikhism employs the same terms and symbols as used by Siddhas and Nāthas.

         The nine doors (nau darvāje) 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 darvāje dasvai muktā anahad sabadu vajāvaṇiā (GG, 110). It is believed that the tenth door is closed by a hard diamond-like door (bajar kapāṭ) 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 (Gurū). 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 sarūp). One hears day and night the anahad śabda there when one dwells in one's own house through the tenth door - nau dar ṭhāke dhāvatu rahāe, dasvai nijghari vāsā pāe (GG, 124).

         At few places in the Gurbāṇī, the term dasamduār has been used to denote ten organs-five sensory organs and five organs of action, i. e. jñānendriyas and karmendriyas. Says Gurū Nānak: "Hukami saṅjogī gaṛi das duār, pañch vasahi mili joti apār" in the fortress of the body created in his hukam are ten doors. In this fort five subtle elements of śabda (sound), sparśa (touch), rūpa (sight), rasa (taste) and gandha (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 (nām ras) according to the Gurū it is not the physical elixir of immortality conceived by the Siddhas, nor is this amrit to be found by awakening kuṇḍalinī or by practising mudrā; it is to be found through the Teacher's instruction. When the Satgurū 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 dhunī) is produced - dhāvatu thammiā satiguri miliai dasvā duāru pāiā tithai amrit bhojanu sahaj dhuni upajai jitu sabadi jagatu thammi rahāiā (GG, 441).

         This wholesome spot is not outside the physical frame. The second Gurū also refers to the fort (koṭu) 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 Gurū's word (GG, 954). According to Gurū Amar Dās, Nānak 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 dasamdvār is of considerable theological interest. Here at the tenth door the anahad śabda (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 kāpāṭ) which can be opened duly with the Gurū's word. Inside the front (i. e. the body) is the tenth door, the house in the cavity (guphā 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 - bhītari koṭ guphā ghar jāī, nau ghar thāpe hukami rajāī dasvai purakhu alakhu apārī āpe alakhu lakhāidā (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, l036). The nectar-like essence (amrit ras) is dripped by the Satgurū 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 satigurū chuāiā dasavai duāri pragaṭu hoi āiā taha anahad sabad vajahi dhuni bāṇī sahaje sahaji samāī he (GG, 1069). The Siddhas, unlike the Sikh Gurūs, find the amrit by their own effort.

         Occasionally the term das duār is used in gurbāṇī 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 duār, apart from God's ordinance (hukam) and Teacher's compassion (kirpā, prasād) and the necessity of transcending the realm of three-strand nature (triguṇa māyā). Kabīr, for instance, says that the tenth door opens only when the trinity (trikuṭī) of sattva, rajas and tamas is left behind - trikuṭī chhūṭai dasvā daru khūlhai tā manu khīvā bhāī (GG, 1123).


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L. M. Joshi