Swami Satyananda Saraswati
Introduction to Kundalini TantrSection I – KUNDALINI
- Ye Man, Tame the Kundalini
- Preparing for the Awakening
- Diet for Kundalini Awakening
- The Experiences of Awakening
- Vama Marga and Kundalini Awakening
Section 2 – THE CHAKRAS
- Introduction to the Chakras
- Evolution through the Chakras
Section 3 – KUNDALINI YOGA PRACTICE
Preliminary techniques for individual chakras and kshetram and the advanced techniques of kriya yoga
- Practices for Ajna Chakra
- Practices for Mooladhara Chakra
- Practices for Swadhisthana Chakra
- Practices for Manipura Chakra
- Practices for Anahata Chakra
- Practices for Vishuddhi Chakra
- Practices for Bindu Visarga
- Practices for Integrated Chakra Awareness
- Your Sadhana Program
- Kundalini Kriyas of Kriya Yoga
Section 4 – KUNDALINI RESEARCH
Compiled by: Swami Shankardevananda Saraswati MB, BS (Syd)
- Kundalini, Fact not Fiction
- Controlling the Nadis and the Brain
- Evidence for the Existance of Nadis
- Neurophysiology of the Chakras
- Evidence for the Existence of Chakras
- Analysis of the Chakras from a Psychophysiological Viewpoint
Section 5 – APPENDIX
Index of Practices
Introduction to Kundalini and Tantra
I have been travelling the world for the last three decades in order to pass on the message of yoga, and I find that yoga has influenced the course of human thinking tremendously.
Initially of course, there was some doubt about it as many people thought that yoga was a type of religion, witchcraft or mysticism. This particularly happened because man believed matter was the ultimate point in the evolution of nature. The materialistic world did not understand yoga for some time, but as the men of science dived deep into the mysteries of matter, they came to understand and realize that matter was not the ultimate in the evolution of nature.
If that is so for one form of matter, it applies to every form of matter. This external experience, the perception you have through your senses, is a product of matter. Even your thoughts, feelings, emotions and cognitions are products of matter. Therefore, they cannot be absolute and final. This means there must be another realm of experience. And if there is another realm of experience, it must be possible to transcend the present limitations of the mind.
The mind is also matter; it is definitely not spirit. So the mind can also be transformed and made to evolve. People have begun to realize and experience this in the last few decades. And in my opinion, this marks the end of one era and the beginning of another. For those who have knowledge of science and the nature of matter, it is not difficult to understand exactly what inner experience is.
An inner experience is the manifestation of a deeper level of oneself. Dream, of course, is an experience. Your dreams may be schizophrenic but that is an expression of your own self. Thought is also a concept or expression of your own self. A piece of music is an expression of yourself, whether you compose it or just admire it. A painting or sculpture is a concept of yourself whether you create it or just admire it. That means the external world is a manifestation of your inner experience. And you can improve this experience to any extent.
You can also bring about deterioration of this experience. When everything is hopeless outside, that is your experience of yourself, and if everything is beautiful outside, that is also your experience of yourself.
In the last few decades, yoga has helped millions of people improve their concepts of themselves. Yoga realizes that man is not only the mind, he is body as well. Therefore man does not experience happiness only through the mind. The body is also real and it is a part of his personality. Just by improving the condition of the body however, man will not necessarily enable his mind to experience happiness either. This is because he is not only the body and mind, he is emotion and desire as well. He is something beyond the mind or psyche. Therefore, yoga has been designed in such a way that it can complete the process of evolution of the personality in every possible direction. That is why yoga has so many branches – hatha yoga, karma yoga, bhakti yoga, raja yoga, gyana yoga, kundalini yoga, and so on.
A combined, integrated practice of yoga in one’s life will definitely ensure a better quality of experience within you and without. Every seeker and practitioner on the path of yoga must remember that the various paths of yoga are to improve the quality of head, heart and hand. However, yoga does not end with the development of the personality. One level of the personality is dependent on this mind, this body and these emotions, but there is another deeper part of the personality which you have to develop with another kind of mind and emotion. This requires a special process, and that process is known as kundalini yoga.
Objective experience not the ultimate
Kundalini yoga is a part of the tantric tradition. Even though you may have already been introduced to yoga, it is necessary to know something about tantra also. Since ancient times, the wise men have realized that mind can be expanded and that experiences do not necessarily depend on an object. This means that if somebody is playing music, I can hear it, and if somebody has painted a picture, I can see it, but I can also see if there is no picture, and I can hear if there is no music. This is also a quality of man’s personality which has been ignored in the last 150 to 200 years.
Tantra says that the range of mental experience can be broadened. With the help of the senses, your mind can have an experience based on an object. There can be an experience within the framework of time, space and object, but there can also be an experience beyond the framework of time, space and object. The second form of experience can happen when the present mind expands beyond its given definitions and borders, and when this experience occurs, energy is released from yourself.
For hundreds of years, people have been talking about an experience called nirvana, moksha, emancipation, self-realization, salvation or liberation, without understanding it properly. Yogis call this experience samadhi. Although many people think that in samadhi or
nirvana everything is completely finished, it is definitely not a process of quitting the world. Nothing finishes, only one level of experience ends, but then another begins.
Since the dawn of creation, the tantrics and yogis have realized that in this physical body there is a potential force. It is not psychological, philosophical or transcendental; it is a dynamic potential force in the material body, and it is called kundalini. This kundalini is the greatest discovery of tantra and yoga. Scientists have begun to look into this, and a summary of some of the latest scientific experiments is included in this book. We can see from this research that science is not actually going to discover anything new in this field. It is only rediscovering and substantiating what yogis discovered many, many centuries ago.
A universal event
The seat of kundalini is a small gland at the base of the spinal cord. With the evolution of the natural forces in man, this gland has now come to a point where man can explode it. Quite a number of people have awakened this supernatural force and they have been called rishis, prophets, yogis, siddhas and various other names according to the time, tradition and culture. In India the entire cultural setup was once organized to facilitate this explosion, but today things are a little different because materialism is a very powerful force, and for the moment, it has even stupefied the Indian minds.
For the awakening of kundalini, not only are the practices of yoga required. If this awakening is to become a universal event, then the entire social structure has to be reorganized and millions of people all over the world have to be told the purpose of their existence. The whole life from the time of conception to the moment when you leave the body, each and every thing has to be reoriented. You will see in this book how even the instinctive and emotional interaction between man and woman must be revised and refined, so that it can lead us not away from, but towards, this ultimate awakening. This reorientation has to be undertaken with the purpose of expanding the mind and opening new doors of experience.
Today we are living in a world where everyone is more or less satisfied. Man has all the comforts and everything he needs and does not need. There will come a time, however, when man will be prepared to throw off these comforts. Luxury and comfort weaken the will and keep man under constant hypnosis. Alcohol and drugs are not as dangerous as man’s total slavery to luxury and comfort. He cannot pull himself away from them. It is impossible unless he has become aware of something more than what his parents and society could give him.
Formerly there were only a few seekers, but now millions and millions of people in the world are striving for a higher experience. And this higher experience is known as knowledge. When, through yoga and tantra, the awakening of kundalini takes place, a process of metamorphosis occurs in the realm of nature and in the realm of spirit. The elements of the physical body change and the elements of the mental body also.
It may be difficult for people of today to understand the whole concept, but soon humanity will comprehend it all. Matter will become unnecessary and insignificant. Behind the matter and behind the mind there is energy and there is an experience of that energy.
Proceed slowly, sensibly and systematically
Yet, you should not try to realize and experience these things abruptly. You will find here detailed instructions on the gradual preparation of your mind and body for the arousal of kundalini, and advice on elementary precautions to be observed in order to avoid unnecessary risks and obstacles. Do not try to influence your mind directly, because the mind is nothing but an extension of the body complex. Start systematically with the body, the prana, the nadis and chakras, according to the scheme outlined in this book. Then see how you evolve.
Many people, encouraged by this type of philosophy take to drugs, chemicals and other things they consider to be speedy alternatives. They are very serious people I believe, but they are not practical and systematic because they think they can transcend the role of the body in the realm of evolution. In the final evolution of mind, matter and man, you cannot ignore either the body or the mind. You cannot even ignore the nose, the stomach or the digestive system. That is why this transcendental philosophy begins with the basic considerations of diet and yogic physiology that you find discussed here.
The discovery of the great energy began with matter. Did nuclear energy descend from heaven? No, it evolved from crude matter. Where does the experience generate from? From heaven? From the sanctum sanctorum? No, from this body and this nervous system. That is how you should be practical and sensible.
This book presents a systematic and pragmatic approach to the awakening of kundalini. It begins with an expanded understanding of the true role and potential of the body and nervous
system, moving through an exhaustive examination of the different methods of awakening suitable for different personalities and conditions. You will find clear and direct instructions on the actual yogic and tantric techniques to be practised towards this goal, together with a map of possible experiences you may encounter as the practices mature, so that you can sustain this great awakening and integrate it into a more conscious and creative way of life.
We have included here a systematic schedule of practice, within the context of a philosophy that is both pragmatic and transcendental, to prepare you in every way for this great adventure in consciousness.
Section I – KUNDALINI
Уе Man, Tame the Kundalini
When I was six years old I had a spontaneous spiritual experience during which I became completely unaware of my body for quite a long time. Again, when I was ten, the same thing happened, but this time I was old enough to think and rationalize, and I told my father about it. At first he did not understand what had happened and he wanted to take me to a doctor, but fortunately there were no doctors in our area at that time. Had there been, perhaps I would have ended up in a mental hospital, but things being what they were, I did not have to undergo treatment and was left unattended.
My father had great regard for the Vedas and for his guru. One day this guru happened to visit my native town, so my father took me to him and asked his advice about me. The sage told him that I had had a spiritual experience and therefore should be instructed to lead a spiritual life. My father obeyed his guru and arranged for me to be trained accordingly. Thus at an early age I was dedicated to the spiritual quest.
My family was Hindu, and in Hinduism there are two traditions: one believes in the worship of idols, and the other that God is formless. My family belonged to the latter, but still I often looked at the pictures of all the different deities and wondered at them. Durga was mounted on a lion; Saraswati on a swan; Vishnu lay sleeping on a huge cobra; Kali was completely naked, standing on the body of Shiva; Таrа too was naked and Shiva was drinking milk from her breast. I could not understand what it all meant. Why did Shiva ride upon a bull and have so many snakes wrapped around him; how could the Ganga flow from his hair; why was Ganesha, with his enormous elephantine head and pot belly, riding on a small rat? I thought that there must be some symbolic meaning behind all this, but I only began to understand it through kundalini yoga, which I started practising at the age of fifteen, while still at school.
Around this time I had another experience. I was sitting quietly when suddenly, without any effort, my mind turned inwards. I immediately saw the whole earth with its oceans, continents, mountains and cities, crack into pieces. I did not understand this vision until a few days later when the second world war broke out. This really made me begin to wonder. How could I have seen this future event symbolically in meditation when living in a remote area? I had neither heard nor read about it previously, nor had I any way of knowing that it was coming.
A new life begins
By the time I was seventeen, I was asking questions which nobody could answer. I wondered about things like the difference between perception and experience. I talked a lot about such topics with my maternal uncle and my younger sister, but this did not quench my thirst and I knew I had to go out and discover the answers for myself. I postponed my departure from home until one day my father pushed me out with ninety rupees in my pocket. Thus my wandering life began.
During my travels I met a very old swami who invited me to stay in his ashram. He had a wonderful knowledge of tantra and taught me many things. Though I knew I would never forget him, he was not my guru and after nine months I left his ashram and continued wandering. Soon after this I reached Rishikesh, where I heard about Swami Sivananda. I went to him and asked how to experience the highest consciousness. He told me to stay in his ashram and he would guide me. So I followed monastic life, but still, for a long time I was puzzled about the purpose of my existence. I felt that man was a seeker, yet I really did not know what I was seeking and was often left with the terrifying question that man asks himself regarding death.
The awakening of my kundalini
Sometime later I had another experience while sitting on the banks of the Ganga. I was thinking of some mundane things when my mind spontaneously started going in and in.
Suddenly I felt as if the earth was slipping from under me and the sky was expanding and receding. A moment later I experienced a terrible force springing from the base of my body like an atomic explosion. I felt that I was vibrating very fast, the light currents were terrific. I experienced the supreme bliss, like the climax of a man’s desire, and it continued for a long time. My whole body was contracting until the feeling of pleasure became quite unbearable and I lost complete awareness of my body. This was the third time it had happened.
After returning to consciousness I was listless for many days. I could not eat, sleep or move, even to go to the toilet. I saw everything but nothing registered. The bliss was a living thing within me and I knew that if I moved, this wonderful feeling would cease; I would lose the intensity of it all. How could I move when bells were ringing inside? This was the awakening of my kundalini.
After a week or so I returned to normal and then I started to study tantra and yoga very seriously. At first I was still a bit weak and sick, so I practised hatha yoga to purify my whole system. Then I began to explore the fantastic science of kundalini yoga. What is this power which awakens in mooladhara chakra? My interest was aroused and I put much effort into trying to understand this marvellous force.
With the awakening of kundalini, the greater intelligence is aroused from its sleep and you can give birth to a new range of creativity. When kundalini awakens, not only are you blessed with visions and psychic experiences, you could become a prophet, saint, inspired artist or musician, a brilliant writer or poet, a clairvoyant or messiah. Or you could become an outstanding leader, prime minister, governor or president. The awakening of kundalini affects the whole area of the human mind and behavior.
Kundalini is not a myth or an illusion. It is not a hypothesis or a hypnotic suggestion.
Kundalini is a biological substance that exists within the framework of the body. Its awakening generates electrical impulses throughout the whole body and these impulses can be detected by modern scientific instruments and machines. Therefore, each of us should consider the importance and the benefits of awakening kundalini, and we should make a resolve to awaken this great shakti.
What is Kundalini?
Everybody should know something about kundalini as it represents the coming consciousness of mankind. Kundalini is the name of a sleeping dormant potential force in the human organism and it is situated at the root of the spinal column. In the masculine body it is in the perineum, between the urinary and excretory organs. In the female body its location is at the root of the uterus, in the cervix. This center is known as mooladhara chakra and it is actually a physical structure. It is a small gland which you can even take out and press.
However, kundalini is a dormant energy, and even if you press it, it will not explode like a bomb. To awaken kundalini you must prepare yourself through yogic techniques. You must practise asanas, pranayama, kriya yoga and meditation. Then, when you are able to force your prana into the seat of kundalini, the energy wakes up and makes its way through sushumna nadi, the central nervous canal, to the brain. As kundalini ascends, it passes through each of the chakras which are interconnected with the different silent areas of the brain. With the awakening of kundalini there is an explosion in the brain as the dormant or sleeping areas start blossoming like flowers. Therefore, kundalini can be equated with the awakening of the silent areas of the brain.
Although kundalini is said to reside in mooladhara chakra, we are all at different stages of evolution, and in some of us kundalini may have already reached swadhisthana, manipura or anahata chakra. If this is so, whatever sadhana you do now might start an awakening in anahata or some other chakra. However, awakening of kundalini in mooladhara chakra is one thing, and awakening in sahasrara, the highest center of the brain, is another. Once the multipetalled lotus of sahasrara blossoms, a new consciousness dawns. Our present consciousness is not independent, as the mind depends on the information supplied by the senses. If you have no eyes, you can never see; if you are deaf, you will never hear. However, when the superconsciousness emerges, experience becomes completely independent and knowledge also becomes completely independent.
How man discovered kundalini
Right from the beginning of creation, man witnessed many transcendental happenings.
Sometimes he was able to read the thoughts of others, he witnessed somebody else’s predictions coming true, or he may even have seen his own dreams manifesting into realities. He pondered over the fact that some people could write inspiring poems or compose beautiful music whereas others couldn’t; one person could fight on the battlefield for days together and another person couldn’t even get up from his bed. So he wanted to discover why everybody seemed to be different.
In the course of his investigations, man came to understand that within every individual there is a special form of energy. He saw that in some people it was dormant, in others it was evolving and in a very small minority of people, it was actually awakened. Originally, man named this energy after gods, goddesses, angels or divinities. Then he discovered prana and called it prana shakti. In tantra they called it kundalini.
What the various names for kundalini mean
In Sanskrit, kundal means a coil, and so kundalini has been described as “that which is coiled”. This is the traditional belief, but it has been incorrectly understood. The word kundalini actually comes from the word kunda, meaning “a deeper place, pit or cavity”. The fire used in the ceremony of initiation is kindled in a pit called kunda. Similarly, the place where a dead body is burned is kunda. If you dig a ditch or a hole it is called kunda. Kunda refers to the concave cavity in which the brain, resembling a coiled and sleeping serpent, nestles. (If you have the opportunity of examining a dissection of the human brain you will see that it is in the form of a coil or snake curled up upon itself.) This is the true meaning of kundalini.
The word kundalini refers to the shakti or power when it is in its dormant potential state, but when it is manifesting, you can call it Devi, Kali, Durga, Saraswati, Lakshmi or any other name according to the manifestation it is exhibiting before you.
In the Christian tradition, the terms “the Path of the Initiates” and “the Stairway to Heaven” used in the Bible, refer to kundalini’s ascent through sushumna nadi. The ascent of kundalini and ultimately, the descent of spiritual grace, are symbolized by the cross. This is why Christians make the sign of the cross at ajna, anahata and vishuddhi chakras, for ajna is the center where the ascending consciousness is transcended and anahata is where the descending grace is made manifest to the world.
Whatever happens in spiritual life, it is related to the awakening ot kundalini. And the goal of every form of spiritual life, whether you call it samadhi, nirvana, moksha, communion, union, kaivalya, liberation or whatever, is in fact awakening of kundalini.
Kundalini, Kali and Durga
When kundalini has just awakened and you are not able to handle it, it is called Kali.
When you can handle it and are able to use it for beneficial purposes and you become powerful on account of it, it is called Durga.
Kali is a female deity, naked, black or smoky in color, wearing a mala of 108 human skulls, representing the memories of different births. Kali’s lolling tongue of blood red color signifies the rajo guna whose circular movement gives impetus to all creative activities. By this specific gesture, she is exhorting the sadhakas to control their rajo guna. The sacrificial sword and the severed head held by the left hand are the symbols of dissolution. Darkness and death are by no means the mere absence of light and life, rather, they are their origin. The sadhaka worships the cosmic power in its female form, for she represents the kinetic aspect, the masculine being the static which is activated only through her power.
In Hindu mythology, the awakening of Kali has been described in great detail. When Kali rises in red anger, all the gods and demons are stunned and everybody keeps quiet. They do not know what she is going to do. They ask Lord Shiva to pacify her, but Kali roars ferociously, throwing him down and standing on his chest with her mouth wide open, thirsty for flesh and blood. When the devas hold prayers to pacify Kali, she becomes calm and quiet.
Then there is the emergence of Durga, the higher, more refined and benign symbol of the unconscious. Durga is a beautiful goddess seated on a tiger. She has 8 hands representing the eightfold elements of man.
Durga wears a mala of human heads to symbolize her wisdom and power. These heads are generally 52 in number, representing the 52 letters of the Sanskrit alphabet, which are the outer manifestations of Shabda Brahma or Brahma in the form of sound. Durga is the remover of all evil consequences of life and the giver of power and peace that is released from mooladhara.
According to yoga philosophy, Kali, the first manifestation of the unconscious kundalini is a terrible power; it completely subdues the individual soul, represented by her standing on Lord Shiva. It sometimes happens that by mental instability some people get in contact with their unconscious body and see inauspicious, ferocious elements – ghosts, monsters, etc.
When Kali, the unconscious power of man, is awakened she goes up to meet the further manifestation, being Durga, the superconscious, bestowing glory and beauty.
Symbolic representation of kundalini
In the tantric texts, kundalini is conceived of as the primal power or energy. In terms of modern psychology, it can be called the unconscious in man. As we have just discussed, in Hindu mythology, kundalini corresponds with the concept of Kali. In the philosophy of Shaivism, the concept of kundalini is represented by the shivalingam, the oval-shaped stone or pillar with a snake coiled around it.
However, most commonly, kundalini is illustrated as a sleeping serpent coiled three and a half times. Of course there is no serpent residing in mooladhara, sahasrara or any other chakra, but the serpent has always been a symbol for efficient consciousness. In all the oldest mystic cults of the world you find the serpent, and if you have seen any pictures or images of Lord Shiva, you will have noticed serpents girdling his waist, neck and arms. Kali is also adorned with serpents and Lord Vishnu eternally reposes on a large coiled serpent. This serpent power symbolizes the unconscious in man.
In Scandinavian, European, Latin American and Middle Eastern countries and many different civilizations of the world, the concept of the serpent power is represented in monuments and ancient artifacts. This means kundalini was known to people from all parts of the world in the past. However, we can conceive kundalini in any manner we like because actually, prana has no form or dimension, it is infinite.
In the traditional descriptions of kundalini awakening, it is said that kundalini resides in mooladhara in the form of a coiled snake and when the snake awakens it uncoils and shoots up through sushumna (the psychic passage in the center of the spinal cord), opening the other chakras as it goes (see Sir John Woodroffe’s The Serpent Power). Brahmachari Swami Vyasdev, in his book Science of the Soul, describes the awakening of kundalini in the following way:
“Sadhakas have seen the sushumna in the form of a luminous rod or pillar, a golden yellow snake, or sometimes as a shining black snake about ten inches long with blood redeyes like smouldering charcoal, the front part of the tongue vibrating and shining like lightning, ascending the spinal column.”
The meaning of the 3 1/2 coils of the serpent is as follows: The 3 coils represent the 3 matras of Om, which relate to past, present and future; to the 3 gunas: tamas, rajas and sattva; to the 3 states of consciousness: waking, sleeping and dreaming; and to the 3 types of experience: subjective experience, sensual experience and absence of experience. The 1/2 coil represents the state of transcendence, where there is neither waking, sleeping nor dreaming.
So, the 3 1/2 coils signify the total experience of the universe and the experience of transcendence.
Who can awaken kundalini?
There are many people who have awakened their kundalini. Not only saints and sadhus, but poets, painters, warriors, writers, anyone can awaken their kundalini. With the awakening of kundalini, not only visions of God take place, there is dawning of creative intelligence and an awakening of supramental faculties. By activating kundalini you may become anything in life.
The energy of kundalini is one energy, but it expresses itself differently through the individual psychic centers or chakras – first in gross instinctive ways and then in progressively more subtle ways. Refining of the expression of this energy at higher and more subtle levels of vibration represents the ascent of human consciousness to its highest possibilities.
Kundalini is the creative energy; it is the energy of self-expression. Just as in reproduction a new life is created, in the same way, someone like Einstein uses that same energy in a different, more subtle realm, to create a theory like relativity. It is the same energy that is expressed when someone composes or plays beautiful music. It is the same energy which is expressed in all parts of life, whether it is building up a business, fulfilling the family duties or reaching whatever goal you aspire for. These are all expressions of the same creative energy.
Everybody, whether householder or sannyasin, must remember that awakening of kundalini is the prime purpose of human incarnation. All the pleasures of sensual life which
we are enjoying now are intended only to enhance the awakening of kundalini amidst the adverse circumstances of man’s life.
A process of metamorphosis
With the awakening of kundalini, a transformation takes place in life. It has little to do with one’s moral, religious or ethical life. It has more to do with the quality of our experiences and perceptions. When kundalini wakes up your mind changes and your priorities and attachments also change. All your karmas undergo a process of integration. It is very simple to understand. When you were a child you loved toys, but why don’t you love them now?
Because your mind has changed and consequently, your attachments have also changed. So, with the awakening of kundalini, a metamorphosis takes place. There is even the possibility of restructuring the entire physical body.
When kundalini awakens, the physical body actually undergoes many changes. Generally they are positive, but if your guru is not cautious, they can be negative also. When the shakti wakes up, the cells in the body are completely charged and a process of rejuvenation also starts. The voice changes, the smell of the body changes and the hormonal secretions also change. In fact, the transformation of cells in the body and brain takes place at a much higher rate than normal. These are just a few observations. However, scientific researchers are still taking their first steps into this field.
Why awaken kundalini?
If you want to take up the practice of kundalini yoga, the most important thing is that you have a reason or an aim. If you want to awaken kundalini for psychic powers, then please go ahead with your own destiny. But if you want to awaken kundalini in order to enjoy communion between Shiva and Shakti, the actual communion between the two great forces within you, and if you want to enter samadhi and experience the absolute in the cosmos, and if you want to understand the truth behind the appearance, and if the purpose of your pilgrimage is very great, then there is nothing that can come to you as an obstacle.
By means of kundalini awakening, you are compensating with the laws of nature and speeding up the pace of your physical, mental and spiritual evolution. Once the great shakti
awakens, man is no longer a gross physical body operating with a lower mind and low voltage prana. Instead, every cell of his body is charged with the high voltage prana of kundalini. And when total awakening occurs, man becomes a junior god, an embodiment of divinity.
Kundalini or the serpent power does not belong to the physical body, though it is connected to it. Nor can it be discovered in the mental body or even the astral body. Its abode is actually in the causal body, where the concepts of time, space and object are completely lost.
How and where is the concept of kundalini related to the supreme consciousness? The serpent power is considered to arise from the unconscious state in mooladhara. This unconscious awareness of man then has to pass through different phases and becomes one with the cosmic awareness in the highest realm of existence. The supreme awareness or Shiva is considered to be seated in sahasrara, the superconscious or transcendental body at the crown of the head. In the Vedas, as well as the Tantras, this supreme seat is called hiranyagarbha, the womb of consciousness. It corresponds to the pituitary body, the master gland situated within the brain.
Immediately below this center of supreme consciousness, there is another psychic center – “the third eye” or ajna chakra, which corresponds to the pineal gland. This is the seat of intuitive knowledge. This center lies on top of the spinal column, at the level of bhrumadhya, the eyebrow center. Ajna chakra is important because it is simultaneously connected with the seat of supreme consciousness in sahasrara and with mooladhara, the seat of the unconscious, at the base of the spine, via sushumna, the psychic passage within the spinal column.
Therefore, it is the connecting link between the lowest unconscious seat of power and the highest center of illumination within the individual.
Kundalini yoga is not abstract. It considers this very physical body as the basis. For a kundalini yogi, the supreme consciousness represents the highest possible manifestation of physical matter in this body. The matter of this physical body is being transformed into subtle forces – such as feeling, thinking, reasoning, remembering, postulating and doubting, in the gradual process of evolution. This psychic, suprasensory or transcendental power in man is the ultimate point of human evolution.
The literal meaning of the word chakra is ‘wheel or circle’, but in the yogic context a better translation of the Sanskrit word is ‘vortex or whirlpool’. The chakras are vortices of psychic energy and they are visualized and experienced as circular movements of energy at particular rates of vibration.
In each person there are myriads of chakras, but in the practices of tantra and yoga, only a few principal ones are utilized. These chakras span the full spectrum of man’s being from the gross to the subtle.
The chakras are physiological as well as psychic centers whose structures correspond more or less with the traditional descriptions. These nerve centers are not situated inside the spinal cord itself, but lie like junctions on the interior walls of the spinal column. If you cut the spinal cord transversely at different levels you
can see that the grey matter in the cross section resembles the lotus shape and the ascending and descending tracts of nerve fibers correspond to the nadis. These communicating nerve fibers control the different physiological functions of that portion of the body. Many books state that the chakras are reservoirs of power, but this is not true.
A chakra is like a centrally placed electricity pole from which electrical wires are run to different places, houses and street lights in the vicinity. This arrangement is the same for each of the chakras. The nadis which emerge from each chakra carry prana in both directions.
There is a forward and backward pranic motion
in the nadis, analogous to the flow of alternating current in electrical wires. The outgoing communication and the incoming reaction enter and leave the chakra in the form of this pranic flow in the corresponding nadis.
There are six chakras in the human body which are directly connected with the higher unillumined centers of the brain. The first chakra is mooladhara. It is situated in the pelvic floor and corresponds to the coccygeal plexus of nerves. In the masculine body it lies between the urinary and excretory openings, in the form of a small dormant gland termed the perineal body. In the feminine body it is situated inside the posterior surface of the cervix.
Mooladhara is the first chakra in the spiritual evolution of man, where one goes beyond animal consciousness and starts to be a real human being. It is also the last chakra in the completion of animal evolution. It is said that from mooladhara chakra right down to the heels there are other lower chakras which are responsible for the development of the animal and human qualities of instinct and intellect. From mooladhara chakra upwards lie the chakras which are concerned with illumination and evolution of the higher man or super man.
Mooladhara chakra has control over the entire range of excretory and sexual functions in man.
The second chakra is swadhisthana, located at the lowest point or termination of the spinal cord. It corresponds to the sacral plexus of nerves and controls the unconscious in man.
The third chakra is manipura, situated in the spinal column exactly at the level of the navel. It corresponds to the solar plexus and controls the entire processes of digestion, assimilation and temperature regulation in the body.
The fourth chakra is anahata, and it lies in the vertebral column behind the base of the heart, at the level of the depression in the sternum. It corresponds to the cardiac plexus of nerves, and controls the functions of the heart, the lungs, the diaphragm and other organs in this region of the body.
The fifth chakra is vishuddhi, which lies at the level of the throat pit in the vertebral column. This chakra corresponds to the cervical plexus of nerves and controls the thyroid complex and also some systems of articulation, the upper palate and the epiglottis.
Ajna, the sixth and most important chakra, corresponds to the pineal gland, lying in the midline of the brain directly above the spinal column. This chakra controls the muscles and
the onset of sexual activity in man. Tantra and yoga maintain that ajna chakra, the command center, has complete control over all the functions of the disciple’s life.
These six chakras serve as switches for turning on different parts of the brain. The awakening which is brought about in the chakras is conducted to the higher centers in the brain via the nadis.
There are also two higher centers in the brain which are commonly referred to in kundalini yoga: bindu and sahasrara. Bindu is located at the top back of the head, where Hindu brahmins keep a tuft of hair. This is the point where oneness first divides itself into many.
Bindu feeds the whole optic system and is also the seat of nectar or amrit.
Sahasrara is supreme; it is the final culmination of kundalini shakti. It is the seat of higher awareness. Sahasrara is situated at the top of the head and is physically correlated to the pituitary gland, which controls each and every gland and system of the body.
Nadis are not nerves but rather channels for the flow of consciousness. The literal meaning of nadi is ‘flow’. Just as the negative and positive forces of electricity flow through complex circuits, in the same way, prana shakti (vital force) and manas shakti (mental force) flow through every part of our body via these nadis. According to the tantras there are 72,000 or more such channels or networks through which the stimuli flow like electric current from one point to another. These 72,000 nadis cover the whole body and through them the inherent rhythms of activity in the different organs of the body are maintained. Within this network of nadis, there are ten main channels, and of these ten, three are most important for they control the flow of prana and consciousness within all the other nadis of the body. These three nadis are called ida, pingala and sushumna.
Ida nadi controls all the mental processes while pingala nadi controls all the vital processes. Ida is known as the moon, and pingala as the sun. A third nadi, sushumna, is the channel for the awakening of spiritual consciousness. Now the picture is coming clear; prana shakti – pingala; manas shakti – ida; and atma shakti – sushumna. You may consider them as pranic force, mental force and spiritual force.
As sushumna flows inside the central canal of the spinal cord, ida and pingala simultaneously flow on the outer surface of the spinal cord, still within the bony vertebral column. Ida, pingala and sushumna nadis begin in mooladhara in the pelvic floor. From there, sushumna flows directly upwards within the central canal, while ida passes to the left and pingala to the right. At swadhisthana chakra, or the sacral plexus, the three nadis come together again and ida and pingala cross over one another. Ida passes up to the right, pingala to the left, and sushumna continues to flow directly upwards in the central canal. The three nadis come together again at manipura chakra,
the solar plexus, and so on. Finally, ida, pingala and sushumna meet in the pineal gland – ajna chakra.
Ida and pingala function in the body alternately and not simultaneously. If you observe your nostrils, you will find that generally one is flowing freely and the other is blocked. When the left nostril is open, it is the lunar energy or ida nadi which is flowing. When the right nostril is free, the solar energy or pingala nadi is flowing.
Investigations have shown that when the right nostril is flowing, the left hemisphere of the brain is activated. When the left nostril is flowing, the right hemisphere is activated. This is how the nadis or energy channels control the brain and the events of life and consciousness.
Now, if these two energies – prana and chitta, pingala and ida, life and consciousness, can be made to function simultaneously, then both hemispheres of the brain can be made to
function simultaneously and to participate together in the thinking, living, intuitive and regulating processes.
In ordinary life this does not happen because the simultaneous awakening and functioning of life force and consciousness can take place only if the central canal – sushumna, is connected with kundalini, the source of energy. If sushumna can be connected in the physical body, it can reactivate the brain cells and create a new physical structure.
The importance of awakening sushumna
Sushumna nadi is regarded as a hollow tube in which there are three more concentric tubes, each being progressively more subtle than the previous one. The tubes or nadis are as follows: sushumna – signifying tamas, vajrini – signifying rajas, chitrini – signifying sattva and brahma – signifying consciousness. The higher consciousness created by kundalini passes through brahma nadi.
When kundalini shakti awakens it passes through sushumna nadi. The moment awakening takes place in mooladhara chakra, the energy makes headway through sushumna up to ajna chakra.
Mooladhara chakra is just like a powerful generator. In order to start this generator, you need some sort of pranic energy. This pranic energy is generated through pranayama. When you practise pranayama you generate energy and this energy is forced down by a positive pressure which starts the generator in mooladhara. Then this generated energy is pushed upward by a negative pressure and forced up to ajna chakra.
Therefore, awakening of sushumna is just as important as awakening of kundalini.
Supposing you have started your generator but you have not plugged the cable, the generator will keep running but distribution will not take place. You have to connect the plug into the generator so the generated energy can pass through the cable to the different areas of your house.
When only ida and pingala are active and not sushumna, it’s like having the positive and negative lines in your electrical cable, but no earth. When the mind receives the three currents of energy all the lights start working, but if you remove the earth wire, the lights will go down. Energy flows through ida and pingala all the time, but its effulgence is very low. When
there is current flowing in ida, pingala and sushumna, then enlightenment takes place. This is how you have to understand the awakening of kundalini, awakening of sushumna and the union of the three in ajna chakra.
The whole science of kundalini yoga concerns the awakening of sushumna, for once sushumna comes to life, a means of communication between the higher and lower dimensions of consciousness is established and the awakening of kundalini occurs. Shakti travels up sushumna to become one with Shiva in sahasrara.
Kundalini awakening is definitely not fictional or symbolic; it is electrophysiological!
Many scientists are working on this, and Dr. Hiroshi Motoyama of Japan has developed a unit by which the waves and currents of energy which accompany the awakening of kundalini can be recorded and measured.
When the roots of a plant are watered properly, the plant grows and its flowers bloom forth beautifully. Similarly, when kundalini awakening occurs in sushumna, awakening occurs in all the stages of life. But if awakening only occurs in ida or pingala or in one of the other centers, it is by no means complete. Only when kundalini shakti awakens and travels up the sushumna passage to sahasrara is the entire store of higher energy in man unleashed.
The mystical tree
In the 15th Chapter of the Bhagavad Gita there is a description of the ‘imperishable tree’ which has its roots at the top and its trunk and branches below, growing downwards. He who knows this tree knows the truth. This tree is existing in the structure and function of the human body and nervous system. One must know and climb this paradoxical tree to arrive at the truth. It can be understood in this way: the thoughts, the emotions, the distractions and so on, are only the leaves of this tree whose roots are the brain itself and whose trunk is the spinal column. It is said that one has to climb this tree from the top to the bottom if he wishes to cut the roots.
This tree seems to be completely topsy-turvy, yet it contains the essence of all occult truth and secret knowledge. It cannot be understood intellectually, but only through progressive spiritual awakening, for spiritual understanding always dawns in a way which is paradoxical and irrational to the faculty of intellect. This same tree is called the ‘Tree of Life’ in the Kabbalah and the ‘Tree of Knowledge’ in the Bible. Its understanding forms the basis of both
Christian and Judaic religious traditions, but unfortunately it has been completely misunderstood by and large, for a very long time.
So it is that everybody who is trying to move from mooladhara to sahasrara is climbing to the root every time, and the root is at the top, the brain, the sahasrara. Mooladhara is not the root center at all. So if you are moving from swadhisthana to sahasrara or from manipura to sahasrara, then you are climbing to the root, which is at the top in sahasrara.
Kundalini and the Brain
The awakening of kundalini and its union with Shiva is immediately and intimately
connected with the whole brain. The brain has ten compartments, and of these, nine are dormant and one is active. Whatever you know, whatever you think or do is coming from one-tenth of the brain. The other nine-tenths, which are in the frontal portion of the brain, are known as the inactive or sleeping brain.
Why are these compartments inactive? Because there is no energy. The active portion of the brain functions on the energies of ida and pingala, but the other nine-tenths have only pingala. Pingala is life and ida is consciousness. If a man is living but is unable to think, we say he has prana shakti but not manas shakti. Similarly, the silent parts of the brain have prana, not consciousness.
So a very difficult question arises: how to awaken the sleeping compartments of the brain?
We know how to awaken fear, anxiety and passion, but most of us do not know how to awaken these dormant areas of the brain. In order to arouse the silent areas, we must charge the frontal brain with sufficient prana and we must awaken sushumna nadi. For both these purposes we must practise pranayama regularly and consistently over a long period of time.
Lighting up the brain
In kumdalini yoga it was discovered that the different parts of the brain are connected with the chakras. Certain areas are connected with mooladhara chakra, others with swadhisthana, manipura, anahata, vishuddhi and ajna. When you want to turn on an electric lamp, you don’t have to touch the lamp itself, you operate it by means of the switch on the wall. Likewise, when you want to awaken the brain, you can’t deal with it directly, you have to flick the switches which are located in the chakras.
Modern science divides the dormant area of the brain into ten parts, whereas in kundalini yoga we divide it into six. The qualities or manifestations of the brain are also sixfold, e.g. the psychic powers. These manifest in different individuals according to the degree of awakening in the corresponding areas of the brain. Everybody is not clairvoyant or telepathic; some people are talented musicians. Anybody can sing, but there is a center in the brain where transcendental music expresses itself.
Total and partial awakening
A genius is one who has been able to awaken one or more of the dormant areas of the brain. People who have flashes of genius are those who have had a momentary awakening in certain circuits of the brain. It is not total awakening. When the total brain wakes up, you become a junior god, an incarnation or embodiment of divinity. There are various types of geniuses – child prodigies, inspired poets, musicians, inventors, prophets, etc. In these people a partial awakening has occurred.
Sahasrara is the actual seat of kundalini
Although the classical descriptions place heavy emphasis on the awakening of kundalini in mooladhara chakra, there is a widespread misconception that kundalini must be awakened there and made to travel through and awaken all the chakras in turn. In fact, the seat of kundalini is actually sahasrara. Mooladhara is only a manipulating center or switch, like the other chakras, but it happens to be easier for most people to operate this switch.
Each of the chakras is independent; they are not connected with each other. This means, if kundalini shakti awakens in mooladhara, it goes directly to sahasrara, to a particular center in the brain. Similarly, from swadhisthana the shakti passes directly to sahasrara, from manipura it goes straight to sahasrara and so on. Kundalini can be awakened in an individual chakra or it can awaken throughout the whole network of chakras collectively. From each chakra, the awakening shock moves up to the top of sahasrara. However, the awakening is not sustained and those centers in the brain return to dormancy. This is what is meant by the return of kundalini to mooladhara.
If kundalini awakens in an individual chakra, the experiences which are characteristic of that chakra will be brought into consciousness. This may also occur when one does the practices for an individual chakra. For example, swadhisthana practices will raise joy; manipura practices will increase the self-assertion; anahata stimulation will expand the love; vishuddhi practices will awaken discrimination and wisdom, and ajna practices will increase the flow of intuition, knowledge and perhaps extrasensory abilities and so on.
If the nervous system is highly aroused, we may have other faculties opening because of the general arousal of the brain. This probably results from stimulation of an area in the lower end of the brain called the reticular formation. The function of this area is to rouse the whole brain or to relax it, as in sleep.
The reticular formation and related areas have an inherent rhythm which is responsible for our sleeping/waking cycles, but it is also largely activated by sensations from outside – by light, sound, touch, etc., and from inside via the autonomic nervous system. It is the latter which seems to account for the more general arousal caused by the kundalini practices and other powerful yoga practices such as kumbhaka or breath retention.
Kundalini – energy or nerve messages?
There are a number of schools of thought as to what kundalini really is. Many yogis say that kundalini is a flow of pranic energy along an esoteric pathway (sushumna) associated with the spinal axis. They consider that it is part of the flow of prana within the meshwork of the pranic body and that there is no anatomical counterpart. Other yogis relate their perceptions of kundalini to the flow of messages along the nerve fibers. These arise in the networks of the autonomic plexuses and ascend along tracts in the spinal cord to definite anatomical centers in the brain.
These schools of thought use different descriptions to convey the experience of kundalini, but they all agree that the experience of kundalini is a total psychophysiological event which centers around the spinal cord.
Within the spinal cord there is a very important fluid, the cerebrospinal fluid. When, through practices such as pranayama, awakening occurs in mooladhara chakra, this fluid gets excited. We cannot really say what happens to it because even the scientists are not exactly sure, but by studying the experiences of kundalini awakening, one thing is apparent. When the cerebrospinal fluid moves through the vertebral column, it alters the phases of consciousness and this is a very important process as far as evolution is concerned.
It is the chitta or consciousness which undergoes evolution in man. Chitta does not have a location point in the body, it is psychological in nature, but it is controlled by the information supplied by the indriyas or senses. While chitta is being constantly supplied with information, its evolution is blocked, but if you prevent the passage of information from the indriyas, chitta
will evolve very quickly. That is to say, if you isolate chitta from the information being relayed through the eyes, nose, ears, skin and tongue, chitta is then compelled to experience independence.
When the cerebrospinal fluid is affected during pranayama, the senses become dull and their messages are relayed to chitta very slowly. Sometimes, when the cerebrospinal fluid is highly stimulated, all sensory impulses are suspended and experiences take place within the chitta. Sometimes these experiences are fantastic, you might see light, feel the whole earth trembling or experience your body as if it were as light as a piece of cotton. These and others are the experiences of chitta as a consequence of the cerebrospinal fluid’s reactions.
One world renowned scientist, the late Itzhak Bentov, put forward the theory that kundalini is an effect caused by the rotation of nerve impulses around the cortex of the brain during meditation. He considered that this is caused by rhythmical pressure waves which result from the interaction of the heart beat, breathing, and the fluid inside the skull, thereby causing the brain to oscillate up and down which stimulates specific nerve currents in the brain.
Unlocking the storehouse of cosmic consciousness
Although there are varying views about kundalini, one thing is certain – kundalini has the ability to activate the human consciousness in such a way that the person can develop his most beneficial qualities, can enter a much more intimate relationship with nature about him, and can become aware of his oneness with the whole cosmos.
All the great miracles of the remote and recent past, and the ones yet to come, have sprung from what is known as the storehouse of cosmic consciousness, the golden egg, the golden womb, the hidden hiranyagarbha within the structure of the human brain. This particular center in us is not sleeping or inactive, but it is unconscious, only because we are not conscious of it. What came as revelation to the ancient rishis, to Newton and Einstein and to many other great seers, is existing in us also, but it came to their conscious plane while it does not come to ours. This is the only difference between the inspired artist and the common man.
The aim of kundalini yoga is not really to awaken the power of man, but rather to bring the power down to earth or to bring the power of the unconscious or higher consciousness, to normal consciousness. We have no need to awaken the consciousness, for it is ever awake.
We have only to gain complete control over our higher conscious forces. By means of kundaiini yoga we just try to bring the centers from mooladhara to ajna into operation so that the higher knowledge will be gradually revealed to us.
Today, man has mastered the material dimension, the energy of prakriti and discovered the mysteries of nature. Now, through the process of kundalini, man should become master of the spiritual dimension.
Methods of Awakening
According to the tantras, kundalini can be awakened by various methods which can be practiced individually or in combination. However, the first method cannot be practiced, because it is awakening by birth. Of course, it is too late for most of us to take advantage of this particular method, but some of us may be instrumental in producing children who have awakened kundalinis.
Awakening by birth
By a favourable birth, if your parents were highly evolved, you can have an awakened kundalion. It is also possible to be born with an awakened sushumna, ida or pingala nadi. This means that from the time of birth your higher faculties will be operating either partially or
fully. If a child comes with partial awakening, he is called a saint, and if he comes with full illumination, he is known as an incarnation, avatara or son of God.
If one is born with an awakened kundalini, his experiences are very much under control.
They take place in him right from the beginning in a natural way, so he never feels that something extraordinary is happening to him. A child with an awakened kundalini has clarity of vision, a high quality of thinking and a sublime philosophy. His attitude of life is somewhat unusual as he has total detachment. To him, his parents were only his means of creation, and therefore he is unable to accept the normal social relationship with them. Although he may live with them, he feels as if he were just a guest. Such a child exhibits a very matured behaviour and he does not react emotionally with anything in life. As he grows he becomes aware of his mission and purpose in life.
Many of us may wish to give birth to a yogi or an enlightened child but it is not such a simple matter. Every marriage or union of parents cannot produce a yogi, even if the man and woman practice yoga morning and night. It is only under certain circumstances that a higher being can be produced. In order to usher a highly evolved soul into this world, one has first to transform one’s gross desires into spiritual aspirations.
It is very difficult to convince people of the west that a child can be born in an enlightened state, because they have the moral attitudes of a particular religion deeply ingrained in their minds and their faith. For them, the union between a man and a woman is sin. If you explain to them that a yogi can be produced as a result of the sexual union, they say, “No! How can a yogi be born out of sin?”
It is possible that у new generation of supermen will be produced in this way. Through the practices of yoga you can transform the quality of your genes. If genes can produce artists, scientists, inventors and intellectual geniuses, then why not awakened kundalinis? You have to transform the quality of your sperm or ova by firstly transforming your whole consciousness. Neitheк drugs nor diet will transform your genes, but if you change your consciousness, you can then effect the elements of the body and ultimately change the quality of the sperm and ova. Then you will have children with awakened kundalinis. They will become the yogis and spiritual masters of the house who set things right for you. They will say, “Mummy, you are not the physical body.” “Pара, drinking is no good.”
Those of you who enter married life should go into it keeping in mind that the purpose is not just pleasure, or to produce offspring, but to create a genius. All over the world, people who marry for progeny should try for higher quality children.
The second method of awakening kundalini is through steady regular practice of mantra.
This is a very powerful, smooth and risk-free method, but of course it is a sadhana which requires time and a lot of patience. First you need to get a suitable mantra from a guru who knows yoga and tantra, and who can guide you through your sadhana. When you practise the mantra incessantly, it develops in you the vision of a higher force and enables you to live amidst the sensualities of life with indifference to them.
When you throw a pebble into a still lake, it produces circular ripples. In the same way, when you repeat a mantra over and over again, the sound force gathers momentum and creates vibrations in the ocean of the mind. When you repeat the mantra millions and billions of times, it permeates every part of your brain and purifies your whole physical, mental and emotional body.
The mantra must be chanted loudly, softly, on the mental plane and on the psychic plane. By practising it at these four levels, kundalini awakens methodically and systematically. You can also use the mantra by repeating it mentally in coordination with the breath or you can sing it aloud in the form of kirtan. This creates a great potential in mooladhara and awakening takes place.
Closely related to mantra yoga is the awakening through sound or music – nada yoga. Here the sounds are the bija mantras and the music consists of particular melodies corresponding to particular chakras. This is a most tender and absorbing way of awakening.
The third method of awakening is tapasya, which means the performance of austerities.
Tapasya is a means of purification, a burning or setting on fire so that a process of elimination is created, not in the physical body, but in the mental and emotional bodies. Through this process the mind, the emotions and the whole personality are cleansed of all the dirt, complexes and patterns of behavior that cause pain and suffering. Tapasya is an act of purification. It should not be misunderstood to involve standing naked in cold water or snow, or observing foolish and meaningless austerities.
When you want to eliminate a bad habit, the more you want to get rid of it, the more powerful it becomes. When you abandon it in the waking state, it appears in dreams, and when you stop those dreams, it expresses itself in your behavior or manifests in disease. This particular habit must be destroyed at its psychic root, not only at the conscious level. The samskara and vasana must be eliminated by some form of tapasya.
Tapasya is a psychological or psycho-emotional process through which the aspirant tries to set in motion a process of metabolism that will eradicate the habits that create weakness and obstruct the awakening of willpower. ‘I must do this but I can’t.’ Why does this difference between resolution and implementation arise in the mind of the aspirant? Why is it so great? It is due to a deficiency of will; and that weakness, that distance or barrier between resolution and execution can be removed through regular and repeated practice of tapasya. Then the willpower makes a decision once and the matter is finished. This strength of will is the fruit of tapasya.
The psychology of austerity plays a very important part in the awakening of man’s latent power. It is not well understood by modern man who has unfortunately accepted that man lives for ‘the pleasure principle’, as propounded by Freud and his disciples. The psychology of austerity is very sound and certainly not abnormal. When the senses are satisfied by the objective pleasures, by the comforts and luxuries, the brain and nervous system become weak and the consciousness and energy undergo a process of regression. It is in this situation that the method of austerity is one of the most powerful and sometimes explosive methods of awakening.
Here the manifestations are tremendous and the aspirant has to face his lower instincts in the beginning. He confronts a lot of temptations and the assaults of the satanic and tamasic forces. All the evil or negative samskaras or karmas of many, many incarnations rise to the surface. Sometimes fear manifests very powerfully or attachment to the world comes with a great force. In some people, sexual fantasies haunt the mind for days together, while others become lean and thin, or even sick. At this juncture, siddhis can appear. One develops extrasensory perceptions, he can read the minds of others, he can suppress others by a thought, or his own thoughts materialize. In the beginning, black forces manifest and all these siddhis are negative or of a lower quality. Tapasya is a very, very powerful method of awakening which everybody cannot handle.
Awakening through herbs
The fourth method of awakening is through the use of specific herbs. In Sanskrit this is called aushadhi, and it should not be interpreted as meaning drugs like marijuana, LSD, etc.
Aushadhi is the most powerful and rapid method of awakening but it is not for all and very few people know about it. There are herbs which can transform the nature of the body and its elements and bring about either partial or full awakening, but they should never be used without a guru or qualified guide. This is because certain herbs selectively awaken ida or pingala and others can suppress both these nadis and quickly lead one to the mental asylum. For this reason, aushadhi is a very risky and unreliable method.
In the ancient vedic texts of India, there are references to a substance called soma. Soma was a juice extracted from a creeper which was picked on special days of the dark lunar fortnight. It was placed in an earthen pitcher and buried underground until the full moon.
Then it was removed and the juice was extracted and taken. This induced visions, experiences and an awakening of higher consciousness.
The Persians knew another drink, homa, which may have been the same as soma. In Brazil and some of the African countries, people used hallucinogenic mushrooms and in the Himalayan regions marijuana or hashish were taken with the thought that they might provide a shortcut in arousing spiritual awakening. From time to time, in different parts of the world, other things were also discovered and used, some being very mild in effect and others being very concentrated.
With the help of the correct herbs, purified aspirants were able to visualize divine beings, holy rivers, mountains, sacred places, holy men and so on. When the effects of the herbs were more concentrated, they could separate the self from the body and travel astrally. Of course it was often illusory, but sometimes it was a real experience as well. People were able to enter a state of samadhi and awaken their kundalini. In this particular field of awakening, the sexual instinct was completely eliminated. Therefore, many aspirants preferred this method and have been trying to discover the appropriate herbs for many centuries.
With aushadhi awakening the body becomes still and quiet, the metabolism slows and the temperature drops. As a result of this, the nerve reflexes function differently and in most cases the aushadhi awakening is a permanent one. However, the aushadhi method of awakening is no longer practiced because it was misused by the ordinary people who were neither prepared, competent nor qualified. As a result, knowledge of the herbs was withdrawn and today it is a closely guarded secret.
Everyone is craving kundalini awakening, but few people have the discipline and mental, emotional, physical and nervious preparation required to avoid damage to the brain and tissues. So, although no one is teaching the aushadhi method of awakening today, its knowledge has been transmitted from generation to generation through the guru/disciple
tradition. Perhaps some day, when the nature of man changes and we find better intellectual, physical and mental responses, the science may again be revealed.
The fifth method of inducing awakening is through raja yoga and the development of an equipoised mind. This is the total merging of individual consciousness with superconsciousness. It occurs by a sequental process of concentration, meditation and communion; experience of union with the absolute or supreme.
All the practices of raja yoga, preceded by hatha yoga, bring about very durable experiences, but they can lead to a state of complete depression, in which you do not feel like doing anything. The raja yoga method is very difficult for most people as it requires time, patience, discipline and perseverance. Concentration of mind is one of the most difficult things for modern man to achieve. It cannot be undertaken before the mind has been stabilized, the karmas deactivated and the emotions purified through karma and bhakti yogas. It is the nature of the mind to remain active all the time, and this constitutes a very real danger for the people of our time, because when we try to concentrate the mind we create a split.
Therefore, most of us should only practice concentration up to a certain point.
Following the awakening through raja yoga, changes take place in the aspirant. He may transcend hunger and all his addictions or habits. The sensualities of life are no longer appealing, hunger and the sexual urge diminish and detachment develops spontaneously. Raja yoga brings about a slow transformation of consciousness.
The sixth method of awakening kundalini is through pranayama. When a sufficiently prepared aspirant practises pranayama in a calm, cool and quiet environment, preferably at a high altitude, with a diet only sufficient to maintain life, the awakening of kundalini takes
place like an explosition. In fact, the awakening is so rapid that kundalini ascends to sahasrara immediately.
Pranayama is not only a breathing exercise or a means to increase prana in the body; it is a powerful method of creating yogic fire to heat the kundalini and awaken it. However, if it is practiced without sufficient preparation, this will not occur because the generated heat will not be directed to the proper centers. Therefore, jalandhara, uddiyana and moola bandhas are practiced to lock the prana in and force it up to the frontal brain.
When pranayama is practised correctly, the mind is automatically conquered. However, the effects of pranayama are not that simple to manage. It creates extra heat in the body, it awakens some of the centers in the brain and it can hinder the production of sperm and testosterone. Pranayama may also lower the temperature of the inner body and even bring down the rate of respiration and alter the brain waves. Unless you have practised the shatkarmas first and purified the body to a degree, when these changes take place, you may not be able to handle them.
There are two important ways of awakening kundalini – one is the direct method and the other is the indirect. Pranayama is the direct method. The experiences it brings about are explosive and results are attained very quickly. Expansion is rapid and the mind attains quick metamorphosis. However, this form of kundalini awakening is always accompanied by certain experiences, and for one who is not sufficiently prepared mentally, philosophically, physically and emotionally, these experiences can be terrifying. Therefore, although the path of pranayama is a jetset method, it is drastic and is considered to be a very difficult one that everybody cannot manage.
The seventh method of inducing awakening is kriya yoga. It is the most simple and practical way for modern day man as it does not require confrontation with the mind. Sattvic people may be able to awaken kundalini through raja yoga, but those who have a tumultuous, noisy, rajasic mind will not succeed this way. They will only develop more tensions, guilt and complexes, and may even become schizophrenic. For such people kriya yoga is by far the best and most effective system.
When you practise kriya yoga, kundalini doesn’t wake up with force, nor does it awaken like a satellite or as a vision or experience. It wakes up like a noble queen. Before getting up she will open her eyes, then close them again for a while. Then she’ll open her eyes again, look here and there, turn to the right and left, then pull the sheet up over her head and doze. After some time she will again stretch her body and open her eyes, then doze for a while.
Each time she stretches and looks around she says, ‘Hmmm’. This is what happens in kriya yoga awakening.
Sometimes you feel very grand and sometimes you don’t feel quite right. Sometimes you pay too much attention to the things of life and sometimes you think everything is useless. Sometimes you eat extravagantly and sometimes you don’t eat for days together. Sometimes you have sleepless nights and at other times you do nothing but sleep and sleep. All these signs of awakening and reversion, awakening and reversion keep coming every now and then. Kriya yoga does not create an explosive awakening. However, it can bring visions and other very mild and controllable experiences.
This eighth method of awakening kundalini through tantric initiation is a very secret topic. Only those people who have transcended passions, and who understand the two principles of nature, Shiva and Shakti, are entitled to this initiation. It is not meant for those who have urges lurking within them or for those who have a need for physical contact. With the guidance of a guru, this is the quickest possible way to awaken kundalini.
There are no extraordinary experiences or feelings and there’s no neurosis; everything seems quite normal, but at the same time, without your knowledge, awakening is taking place. Transformation takes place and your awareness expands, but you don’t know it. In this particular system, awakening and arriving at sahasrara are the same event. It takes just three seconds. However, who is qualified for this path? Few people in this world have completely transcended the sexual urge and overcome their passions.
The ninth method of awakening is performed by the guru. It is called shaktipat. The
awakening is instant, but it is only a glimpse, not a permanent event. When the guru creates this awakening you experience samadhi. You can practise all forms of pranayama and all asanas, mudras and bandhas without having learned them or prepared for them. All the mantras are revealed to you and you know the scriptures from within. Changes take place in the physical body in an instant. The skin becomes very soft, the eyes glow and the body emits a particular aroma which is neither agreeable nor disagreeable.
This shaktipat is conducted in the physical presence or from a distance. It can be transmitted by touch, by a handkerchief, a mala, a flower, a fruit or anything edible, depending on the system the guru has mastered. It can even be transmitted by letter, telegram or telephone.
It is very difficult to say who is qualified for this awakening. You may have lived the life of a renunciate for fifty years, but still you may not get it. You may be just an ordinary person, living a non-spiritual life, eating all kinds of rubbish foods, but the guru may give you shaktipat. Your eligibility for shaktipat does not depend on your social or immediate conduct, but on the point of evolution you have reached. There is a point in evolution beyond which shaktipat becomes effective, but this evolution is not intellectual, emotional, social or religious. It is a spiritual evolution which has nothing to do with the way you live, eat, behave or think, because generally we do these things, not because of our evolvement, but according to the way we have been brought up and educated.
We have discussed the nine established methods of awakening kundalini, but there is a tenth way – don’t aspire for awakening. Let it happen if it happens: “I am not responsible for the awakening, nature is accomplishing everything. I accept what comes to me.” This is known as the path of self-surrender, and in this path, if you have a strong enough belief that your kundalini will indeed awaken, twenty thousand years can pass in the twinkling of an eye and kundalini will awaken instantly.
Effects of the different methods of awakening
When the awakening of kundalini takes place, scientific observations have revealed
different effects. Those who have awakened kundafini from birth do not register any emotional changes. They are like blocks of wood. Those who have awakened kundalini through pranayama have a great quantum of electrical charges in the spinal column and throughout the body, and momentarily they could manifest schizophrenically.
Karma yoga and bhakti yoga are considered comparatively safe and mild methods of awakening, but the tantric methods are more scientific than the non-tantric methods, because in tantra there is no scope for suppression or dispersion of energy. In non-tantric methods there is antagonism – one mind wants it and the same mind is saying no. You suppress your thoughts, you want to enjoy, but at the same time you think “No, it is bad.”
I am not criticizing non-tantric methods. They are the mild methods which do not bring you any trouble. They are just like beer – you drink a little bit and nothing happens, drink four to ten glasses and not much will happen. But tantric methods are like LSD, you have a little and it takes you right out. If something is wrong, it is wrong; if something is right, it is right.
Preparing for the Awakening
Without a guru you can practise any form of yoga, but not kundalini. This is an extremely powerful system. Kundalini yoga does not start suddenly or with fits. You don’t have to make any substantial changes in your way of life, but you must begin to practise. Do not start with advanced practices; for some time you should train and prepare the physical body, then go to the mind and gradually explore the deeper levels. Before commencing the practices which bring about the actual awakening of kundalini, you must prepare yourself step by step on the physical, mental and emotional planes. If you are patient and prepare correctly, awakening of kundalini will definitely take place.
Adequate preparation is necessary to ensure that one has the strength to bear the impact of full awakening of the mighty potential force within. Most of us do not even have control over our physical manifestations and behaviors. Supposing you were given a sleep inducing injection, you would become drowsy whether you wanted to or not. This is because you have no control over the processes and actions of your brain and you do not know how to control sleep. Similarly, if you have a headache, you are unable to exert control over it. When physical manifestations such as sleep and pain are not under your control, what would happen if other manifestations began to occur in your brain? You wouldn’t be able to control them.
Therefore, before kundalini awakens, it is important that you are able to manage the mind.
If you can maintain a balanced mind in the face of mental and emotional conflicts and you can endure anger, worry, love and passion, disappointment, jealousy, hatred, memories of the past, sufferings and sorrows, you are ready for the awakening. If you can still feel joy when the scales are heavily loaded against you, you are an aspirant for kundalini yoga. Before you bring into use a generator of five megawatts, you must have a factory ready to utilize the energy. In the same way, before you awaken kundalini shakti, you must be able to merge yourself with the higher spirit and you must know how to utilize the creative energy of kundalini.
Therefore, if you want to follow the path of kundalini yoga, it is absolutely essential to have a guru with whom you feel intimate. Many people say the guru is within, but are they able to communicate with him, understand him and follow his intricate instructions? If so, it is possible to proceed with this internal guidance, but few people have such a relationship with the inner guru. They need an external guru first. He will connect them with the inner guru. If you have a guru he will help you to prepare for kundalini awakening, he will be there if you need any advice and he will guide you through the crisis of awakening.
Usually, because we are religious minded people, our relationship with guru is based on a sort of formality. To us he is worshipful, respectable, superior and supreme, but at the time of awakening, all these attitudes to guru must be set aside. At this time you must evolve a more intimate attitude, as if your relationship was based on love, not merely devotion and worship. When you serve your mother you do so with an attitude of love, not respect and veneration. With this same attitude you should serve the guru, then his direct influence is upon you. Then, if there is excitement in any chakra, the relationship with guru will balance it.
The relationship between guru and disciple is the most intimate of relationships; it is neither a religious nor a legal relationship. Guru and disciple live like an object and its shadow. The guru is the best thing in spiritual life, and if you have a guru you are very fortunate. However, it is sometimes difficult to find a guru. If you haven’t a guru, you can cultivate a mental picture of him, try to feel his guidance and continue practising faithfully. You will surely succeed.
The time factor
Preparation is not the job of one lifetime. Man strives spiritually life after life. In fact, this body is given to you only for that purpose. For eating, sleeping and sexual interaction a human body is not necessary, so in our lower stages of evolution we had an animal body.
However, even with this human body, we still have animal in us, so these natural urges follow us. Let them, but remember, this body is not for their fulfillment alone. In this human body the consciousness is the most important point. Man is aware of his awareness and he does not only think, he knows that he thinks. The evolution of his awareness has been going on life after life. And what you have been practising for your spiritual life in the last five to ten years is in addition to what you have already done.
Supposing your children are studying in primary school and you are transferred to another city. Where will your children begin their education in the new city? Right from the beginning? No, from the point where they left their studies. The same thing happens in reincarnation. That is why, even though you may have brothers and sisters born of the same mother and father, they will be different from you. In your previous incarnation your preferences were different from theirs. May be after a few incarnations they may come to the point where you are now. So we can’t say how long preparation takes, because this life is one of those milestones and you have left behind many, many milestones.
However, if you are eager to awaken kundalini and the chakras, you should not be in a hurry. Set apart twelve years of your life for this purpose. This is not to say that the awakening cannot be brought about within one, two or three years – it can be. Total awakening can even take place in a month, or the guru can give you awakening in one day, but you will be unable to hold and sustain the awakening. When one is in possession of a weak mind which cannot sustain even a little bit of cheerfulness or excitement, or bear the death of a spouse or separation from a loved one, how can he sustain the tremendous force of an awakened kundalini? Therefore, the twelve years are not for the actual awakening, but for preparation so you can hold and sustain the awakening.
Where to begin
The practices of kundalini yoga are intended to create the awareness, not necessarily to
awaken kundalini. First of all we have to decide whether kundalini is already awakened. It may already be on the way and you are opening the garage and there is no car because it is already on the highway. When you go to satsang, do some kirtan or lead a yogic lifestyle, you begin to have experiences and you realize something is happening to you. Then, when you discuss kundalini and the chakras with a guru you start to understand.
The practices that you do develop your awareness and help you to remember your connection with your past evolution. They remove the veil which separates this current incarnation from the previous one. I’ll give you a very gross example.
There was a boy who was the only son of a very rich man. The boy went crazy and was sent to a mental hospital. He ran away and used to go from house to house begging for food. He did not know that his parents had died and he had inherited a large estate, cars and shops and a lot of money in fixed deposits. One day his uncle found him and had him treated properly. The boy recovered from his mental illness and remembered everything about his heritage. Similarly, there is a process of remembering, and when it takes place, you know exactly where you stand.
So, practices are necessary to remove the veil in front of the consciousness which separates the two lives. Once you know that your kundalini is already in the process of transition, then practices are of no real use. If you are practising, it is because you are forced to, and if you are not practising, it is because you are forced not to. During the period of transition of kundalini the practices are not useless, but your efforts to practise them are of no use. However, if there is no awakening, if kundalini is in mooladhara or swadhisthana or in between the two, then that’s the time for the practices which are enjoined in the books.
It is very important that you awaken sushumna before kundalini. This essential point has not been stressed clearly in any books, but Swami Sivananda hinted at it in his writings. If sushumna is not opened, where will the shakti go ? It will pass through either ida or pingala and complications will arise.
You must also undergo purification of the tattwas or elements and purification of the chakras and nadis. Otherwise, when kundalini awakens there will be a traffic jam. Asanas, pranayama and the hatha yoga shatkarmas provide the best means of purification. Surya namaskara and surya bheda pranayama purify pindala nadi and the shatkarmas and pranayama will purify and awaken sushumna. There are specific asanas that are very important for purifying the nadis and inducing a mild awakening in the chakras. So, start with purification of the tattwas by the hatha yoga cleansing techniques. Take up asanas next and then pranayama. Later you can practice mudras and bandhas and then begin kriya yoga.
Awakening before preparation
If experience commence before you are properly prepared, you should immediately start to prepare yourself. The first thing to do is start fasting or switch to a light diet. You should also live quietly and avoid social interactions, reading books and magazines. Of course, during this period you must not take any drugs or medicines and you must guard against introducing any chemicals into the body.
If you minimize your interactions with the world outside, the experiences will subside after five or six days and you can resume your normal life. You should then start searching for someone who can give you further guidance.
Proceed to an ashram
When you know that kundalini is arousing, as soon as you can, you should retire to a congenial place. As far as I know, the only congenial place is an ashram, where you can be with a guru and like-minded people. An ashram is a community where the inmates have plenty of work, no attachments, no hatred or prejudices, a simple life, little to eat, no comforts nor luxuries, only the bare essentials. There are no social expectations and pressures in an ashram, there’s no fashion, no show and no useless conversations and gossip. People don’t interfere with each other.
If you live in an ashram the awakening of kundalini can be streamlined and if a mental crisis occurs, you are free to experience whatever happens. If you don’t want to eat, it’s o’key; if you can’t sleep and you just want to sit, it’s alright; if you have emotional problems or no emotions at all, people will understand and leave you alone.
If you stay with your family during the crisis period, they may send you off to a mental hospital. If you don’t feel like eating they’ll say, ‘Not eating today?’ And when they see you haven’t eaten for a few days, they’ll say, ‘Something is wrong with him’, and they’ll try to get you to see a doctor. Or of you are married, when your behaviour seems a little strange, your partner might be ready to divorce you. So it is much better to get out of these places. That is why there are so many monasteries and ashrams all over the world.
What to practise in the ashram
In the ashram you should practise purification of the physical body through the shatkarmas, to balance the acid, wind and mucus in the body. Physical and mental purification will also take place on account of the pure and simple ashram diet. The physical body must be kept very, very light and made sattvic and entirely free of toxins.
If you are a bhakta by temperament, spend your time in prayer, kirtan or bhajan. If you are an intellectual, then read books, talk minimum, practise hatha yoga and fast from time to time. If you are a very active person, work hard and dedicate yourself to karma yoga.
It is also necessary to perfect the sitting posture, as you must be able to sit comfortably in one of the three postures: siddhasana/siddha yoni asana, padmasana or vajrasana. The best and most powerful of these is siddhasana/siddha yoni asana.
Some people think they should practise a lot of meditation or pranayama when kundalini is ascending so it will go straight to sushumna. However, I don’t think meditation is necessary anymore, because when kundalini is in the process of transition, you can do nothing with your mind. If it is quiet, it is quiet, nothing can disturb it. If your mind is agitated, you can do nothing about it because that is the effect of the awakening of kundalini. It is not the effect of your practice.
The movement of consciousness during the transition of kundalini is spontaneous, whether it is depression, a state of trance, an experience or visions a feeling or sensation in the body; you can’t alter any of them. They will continue because they are forced on you, they are evolving in you because you are passing through that stage. But if you live in the non- agitating ashram environment and partake of ashram food and share in the karma yoga, there will not be disturbances in your experiences.
Regarding pranayama or kriyas, when the experience is moving onwards, pranayama happens by itself, you don’t have to think what to do. Sometimes kevala kumbhaka takes place, or you automatically begin to practise bhastrika or ujjayi. Moola bandha or vajroli happen by themselves, or you begin to do asanas spontaneously. So you don’t have to worry, just follow the flow of experience and take care of your environment and food, and make sure nobody disturbs you.
The role of karma yoga
Karma yoga is a very important part of spiritual life. Even if you practise austerity or mantra, use herbs, practise pranayama, undergo tantric initiation or get shaktipat, or are born with awakened kundalini, if you do not follow the path of karma yoga, your evolution will definitely be retarded at some point.
If you have a good, strong automobile but the road is bumpy and covered in rocks, pebbles and marsh, try to accelerate and see what happens. It is very important that the mind is prepared and the personality is rendered ready. Samskaras, positive and negative, must be exhausted, awareness must be extended to every level, dedication or consecration must be perfected, your attachments, illusions and infatuations must be spotted, scrutinized and analyzed. All that is not possible without doing karma yoga.
Karma yoga is not directly responsible for the awakening of kundalini, but without its practice, kundalini cannot budge even one centimeter. Therefore, you can understand how important karma yoga is in the life of a disciple. You must read a lot about karma yoga in the Bhagavad Gita. Perhaps that is the only philosophical and yogic explanation of karma yoga.
The need of discipline
Some people who have awakened kundalini look quite abnormal, and they behave in a peculiar way. They are very disorganized, unsystematic and totally confused, and you can’t understand what they are doing. Therefore, in yoga you are advised to discipline yourself
right from the beginning, so that when kundalini wakes up you remain disciplined. Otherwise you might go out to the street and just lie down there in a heap.
Sometimes I used to feel like this. When I was living in Rishikesh with my guru, I decided to visit the Ganga each morning and cross it five times, swimming through the icy cold water. One day Swami Sivananda called me and said: “Are you going to continue your swimming or am I going to put you out of this ashram?” This brought me back to my senses.
Life has to be disciplined, so that when kundalini awakens you can remain unconfused.
You have to go to the office, bank, shops, and drive a car as well. Everybody cannot become a swami or stay in an ashram.
If the awakening of kundalini takes place through birth, pranayama, tantric initiation or shaktipat, you don’t have to know anything. In these situations everything is beyond control; whether things go right or wrong; you are helpless. But when awakening takes place through the other methods, there are certain steps to take.
Except in tantric initiation, the sexual obligations have to be kept at bay. Food should be minimum, light and pure. One must have a guru and seek his guidance. Isolation from people is also very important.
Often when kundalini awakens in a person, he develops some sort of power. Some aspirants can materialize things, see clairvoyantly, hear clairaudiently Or read the minds of others. And when you are amongst many people, it becomes a great temptation to exercise these powers. This can be dangerous. Whereas some people will not care if you can read their mind, others will feel it is a great impingement on their privacy and they may even want to shoot you. You see, people get scared at the exhibition of siddhis, so if you are facing any psychic manifestations, you will have to control them by force.
You know the great Tibeten yogi, Milarepa? He learned certain forms of magic and when he developed powers, he took revenge on his uncle and relatives. He created hailstorms that destroyed crops, huts and even lives, because he was then an ordinary man with love and
hatred, friends and enemies. As long as you have likes and dislikes, you must not know what psychic powers you have. Milarepa had to perform penance for his misdeeds and suffer a lot at the hands of his guru.
Awakening by mantra and the need for seclusion
When awakening takes place by mantra, you will have to adjust your diet and retire from sexual obligations, not permanently, just for a while. From time to time it is also beneficial if you enter total seclusion. Twice a year is sufficient. In the beginning, start with one complete day. Then increase to three days, and when you are used to it, extend to a maximum period of nine days. It is preferable if you practise seclusion when it is neither too hot nor too cold.
During your first day of seclusion, observe silence and take only very light food and very little. Do not meditate or try to concentrate. From morning until evening, with a few breaks here and there, only practise your mantra on a mala. Don’t do it with exertion or strain, and if you become introverted, stop it. Maintain your mental concept with the external experiences; do not aspire for an introverted meditative state. If introversion forces itself, keep your eyes open. Practise this for twelve hours, but not in one stretch. And for the last hour you must sit in meditation.
Next time you enter seclusion, go for three to nine days. During this period, devote as much time as possible to the repetition, resolution and reflection of the mantra. On the last day, at the end of the process, sit quietly for one hour of meditation.
Seclusion is actually recommended for all who are undergoing awakening of kundalini. At that time it is best to retire from active life and family environments for at least 45 days.
Unless you are in semi-seclusion from the world at the time of awakening, as well as having strange experiences and hallucinations, you may have peculiar doubts, fears, anger and strong passions.
Sadhus live in seclusion because when there are interactions with people, so many thought currents move in the mind. Mixing with people, talking and gossiping create crosscurrents of love, hatred, infatuation, likes and dislikes, restlessness, worry and anxiety, desires and passions. Therefore, if you are practising a lot of sadhana or you are facing the awakening of kundalini, do not have very much interaction with people. Then you will be spared a lot of mental turmoil.
Diet for Kundalini Awakening
When the awakening of kundalini takes place it is important to have the correct diet, as food influences the mind and your nature. At the time of awakening, certain physiological changes occur in the body, particularly in the digestive system, and the digestive process is frequently disturbed, or hunger vanishes completely. Therefore, a kundalini aspirant has to be very careful about his diet.
Scientific observations have shown that the awakening of kundalini is generally accompanied by a state of nervous depression. The inner body temperature undergoes erratic changes and drops so much that it becomes much lower than the outer body temperature.
Metabolism slows down and sometimes it even stops completely. Consumption of oxygen also falls. Therefore, when you are experiencing kundalini awakening your diet must be very light and easy to assimilate.
The best diet for a kundalini yogi is boiled food. Crushed wheat, barley, lentils and dal are excellent foods, particularly when they are in a liquid form. Fats and greasy foods should be avoided and protein should be kept to a minimum. This will take any strain off the liver, because when the mind undergoes a crisis, the liver is overtaxed.
It is good to increase the carbohydrates in your diet, eg. rice, wheat, maize, barley, potato, etc., because carbohydrates help to maintain the inner body temperature and they do not require much heat to digest. Eggs, chicken and other heavy foods do not produce much heat themselves, but they require heat for digestion.
The yogic diet is macrobiotic, it is simple, plain and relatively bland. From time to time, fruits and roots can also be taken, but they are not essential.
A great misunderstanding has taken place in the last twenty to thirty years, and that is that a yogi should only take milk, fruit and raw vegetables. On the basis of personal observations, trials and errors, I can never accept that this is correct. There are certain foods which are not meant for the human body at all. If you analyze your digestive and salivary secretions and the durability of the mucus membranes in the alimentary canal, you will find that they are not really meant for digesting meat and uncooked foods. Whereas carnivorous animals have short intestines so their food can be expelled quickly, before fermentation takes place, we have very long intestines (36 feet in length) and our food should take eighteen hours to pass through the body. Because well cooked vegetarian food is less likely to ferment, and we can keep it in our intestines for a full eighteen hours, it is the best for the human digestive tract.
Of course, this is not to say that people who take a non-vegetarian diet cannot awaken their kundalini, as history indicates otherwise. There have been many Christian, Tibetan and Sufi saints who awakened their kundalini although they took a meat diet. And we can’t say what Christ, Moses, Mohammed and Buddha ate because we haven’t seen. However, from scientific observations made in the event of kundalini awakening, we know what is likely to occur in our body. At certain periods we may not be able to digest raw foods and there may be days when the body cannot even accept water. Therefore, during the period of kundalini awakening, please take a diet which can be easily assimilated and eat the bare minimum for existence. Do not live to eat, but eat to live.
The essence of food
The food we eat is not merely to satisfy our taste. Every food item has an essence in it, and in yoga we call this sattva. Sattva means the ultimate essence of food, but please do not mistake this for vitamins or minerals. Sattva is the more subtle form of food. When you eat for the sake of taste or enjoyment, instead of attaining the sattva you only get the gross things. That is why the yogis and saints of all traditions have always lived on the minimum possible food during periods of sadhana.
When we overeat we create a burden for the digestive system, and when the digestive system is overburdened we are unable to extract the sattva from the food. Sattva is a substance which nourishes the thoughts and nervous system. When the thoughts are fed with sattva they are more refined and pure, and one is able to live in higher consciousness. Therefore, it is beneficial for a sadhaka to fast from time to time. When the body is kept light and pure it is far more capable of extracting the sattva from food.
The use of condiments
In the diet for kundalini aspirants, condiments have a very important role to play.
Condiments such as coriander, cumin seeds, tumeric, aniseed, black pepper, green pepper, cayenne, cloves, mustard seed, cardamom, cinnamon and so on are also called digestives as they aid digestion. These substances are not spices for taste; they are condiments which have the same properties as the enzymes in the body, and by helping to break down the food for digestion, they conserve vital energy and help to maintain the body’s internal temperature.
When we talk about diet, let us not talk about it in terms of puritanism. We must remember only one thing in this case, to be sure the body is capable of digesting all the food. Having made a thorough study of natural foods and having tried them on myself, I have come to the conclusion that a combination of natural and macrobiotic foods is best. I have also discovered that instead of cooking the food in your stomach, it is best to cook it properly in the pan. Five or six condiments should be added during cooking to liberate the enzymes and chemicals which enhance digestion. The combination of heat, condiments and enzymes breaks down the food into smaller and more basic components, thus making it easier to digest.
Yoga and diet are independent sciences
Although diet is an independent science, it is definitely related to every system of yoga. Of course the ideal diet varies from yoga to yoga. A hatha yogi practising shankhaprakshalana will not be able to eat lots of red peppers and black peppers or he’ll die. The diet regime for a karma yogi, a bhakta yogi, raja yogi, hatha yogi and kriya yogi will not be the same.
A bhakta yogi can eat all types of sweets and confectionary, consume cheese, butter, milk, etc. and he can eat and eat because his metabolism is very fast. Similarly, a karma yogi can take cheese, coffee, raw foods or cooked food, and even a little bit of champagne, because he is working hard physically and his metabolism is also very fast. But in raja yoga and kundalini awakening, the metabolism becomes slow and you have to be very careful about your diet and how much you consume.
Over the years I have done a lot of work on food because I run ashrams where I have to manage all the affairs in relation to money, labor and the spiritual welfare of the ashram inmates. As it is not possible to provide different types of diets for the various aspirants of yoga, I have evolved two wonderful foods which suit everybody. One is for those who like rice and the other is for those who prefer wheat. You either cook the rice with dal (pulses such as lentils), vegetables and a few condiments, or you pound the wheat, add all the same ingredients to that and cook it well. I call this integrated kichari. You can add anything to it and it’s alright. This is the cheapest and most nutritious of all the foods I have eaten in any part of the world. You can also eat as much kichari as you want without any fear, because it digests so smoothly. This diet is suitable for all yoga practitioners and it is ideal for those who are ranging high in spiritual life and are about to merge into the ultimate state.
For one who is serious about yoga and spiritual aspirations, diet is as important as yoga, but if you are only worried about your diet and are not practising yoga, then you are a fanatic.
Risks and Precautions
The awakening of kundalini is a very important, pleasant and historical experience in the life of man. If you can see and experience something more than what you can generally see and experience through your senses, you are indeed fortunate. But at the same time, if you have such experiences without adequate preparation, you may be startled, frightened and
confused. Therefore, before the actual awakening of kundalini occurs, it is better to experience some mild awakenings in the chakras first.
Nowadays, if you travel by motor car at a very high speed, you do not really feel anything unusual, but if a man did it a hundred years ago when there was no adaptation to speed, he would have felt very giddy. Similarly, if a sudden awakening takes place and you are not used to the experience, you may become disoriented. You will not be able to cope with the radical changes in perception or with the contents of the unconscious mind welling up into the consciousness. But if you have been practising hatha yoga and meditation, and have experienced slight awakenings previously, you will be better able to cope with it.
When the body in totality is purified by the practices of shatkarmas and hatha yoga, when the mind is purified by mantra, when the pranas are brought under control through the practices of pranayama and the diet is pure and yogic, at that time, awakening of kundalini takes place without any danger or accident. But with those who are in a hurry to awaken kundalini and who take to any practice in a haphazard manner without going through the preliminaries, and who do not take care of their diet, there will be some problems because they do not know how to control and utilize the fantastic energy they are unleashing.
The question of risk
There are so many whispers about the dangers of awakening and dark hints about people going crazy or developing disturbing powers. But everything in life is risky and there are far more dangers in ordinary daily life than you will encounter on the path of kundalini. Every time you walk across the street or travel by car or plane, you take a risk. In the pursuit of desires, passions and ambitions, people take great risks every day without thinking twice about it. Yet they allow the relatively minor risks of kundalini to deter them from pursuing the supreme goal of higher consciousness.
When a woman discovers she is pregnant, does she think it might be dangerous for her to have a child? She might die! She may have to have a cesarian! She may lose her figure for life! She may become seriously ill! Does a woman think like this and decide she doesn’t want a child at all? No. Then why to think like this about kundalini?
Awakening of kundalini is the birth of Christ, Krishna, Buddha or Mohammed. It is one of the greatest events of human life, just as for a mother, to have a baby is one of the major and
happiest events of her life, no matter what the consequences. In the same way, awakening of kundalini is one of the greatest events in the life of a yogi. It is the destiny of mankind, so why not go ahead with it?
Without involving yourself in a risk, nothing great in life can be achieved. Every great yogi, scientist, explorer and adventurer has faced risks. And so he has invented, discovered or made progress. Those people who are thinking and talking about risks are cowards, and such people should not even practise yoga. It is better that they eat, drink, be merry and die unenlightened.
Kundalini practices are certainly no more dangerous than many of the activities people engage in for the sake of thrills, sport or altered states of consciousness. The risks are not nearly as great as those associated with LSD, hashish, marijuana and alcohol, which are commonly used by many people in their everyday life. Those who practise kundalini yoga are assured of attaining states of expanded consciousness which are safer, smoother, more comprehensible and longer lasting than anything that can be obtained through the use of psychedelics.
The science of kundalini yoga has its own inbuilt safety mechanisms. If you perform asanas or pranayama incorrectly, nature will immediately send a warning and compel you to stop practising. In the same way, when kundalini awakening takes place and you are not prepared to face it, nature puts obstacles in your way. If ever you become scared and want to stop the process of kundalini awakening, all you have to do is revert to a gross lifestyle. Just revise all your passions, dreams and worldly ambitions.
Unless you are an extremely introverted person, you can proceed along the path of kundalini yoga without fear. If you are hypersensitive, have difficulty communicating with others and live within a sort of fantasy world, you will find kundalini yoga upsetting and even dangerous. Such people should not practise kundalini yoga or any techniques for exploring the inner world until they have developed the ability to strike fearlessly and confidently through the outer world. This also applies to timid and dependent people. For all these individuals, karma yoga is the way. They should lead a life of unselfish service in the world and develop non-attachment and maximum awareness.
Fear of mistakes
Some people worry about kundalini ascending through the wrong nadi, but there is no danger here, because if kundalini enters through any other nadi, the whole circuit will fuse. If kundalini has awakened but a chakra is blocked, say swadhisthana, then kundalini will only roam about in mooladhara and all the instincts of that chakra will develop. You will become a high class animal for a while and may develop some siddhis. If there is any obstruction in the chakras beyond that, the energy will be blocked for a long time, affecting the psychological constitution. And if kundalini enters into the pranic nadi, pingala, it could set the whole brain into turmoil. However, this doesn’t usually happen. Nature intervenes, and unless sushumna is clear, the chakra will not open and the energy will not be able to move further.
Mistakes do occur, but not in average individuals, because they are scared of something wrong happening somewhere. If they are practising and suddenly they feel they’re going crazy, they will discontinue their practices immediately. So, every individual possesses a sort of fear. Before anything wrong can happen totally, man takes care of himself. However, there are some blockheads and very stuffy people who plod on no matter what happens. They don’t care about the consequences and these are the people who generally get themselves into trouble.
Kundalini awakening and illness
If you take care of all the requirements, then no illness will come to you. However, many people are very hasty and impatient. When they want to make money, they want to make it overnight, quickly, and the same psychology is transferred into spiritual life; quick money and quick realization. With this impatience, sometimes we overstep the necessary prerequisites.
Some people develop weakness of the lower limbs because they have not trained their body through hatha yoga. Some people develop digestive disorders because they have not understood the relationship between food and the temperature of the body. Therefore, the prerequisites have to be observed. Those who suffer do so not because of the kundalini awakening, but because they have not harmonized the nervous system.
Through hatha yoga you must create a balance between the two forces in the physical body, the pranic and the mental. Even in modern times we say that a balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems is absolutely essential to develop the higher faculties of the brain. When there is an imbalance between these two forces, that is, if one is predominant, the other is subservient, then you are supplying one energy in excess and the other energy is deficient. This inevitably leads to sickness.
Airing the unconscious
In the course of your practices there may be isolated awakenings in ajna chakra, in which the awareness enters the realms of the unconscious mind and you see figures, symbols and even monsters or benevolent beings. You may hear or experience many inexplicable things, but they are all simply products of your own unconscious mind and should be regarded as nothing more. With the awakening of psychic consciousness, the symbols belonging to your own personality come out. When this happens you may have a problem understanding, but just remember, these kinds of expressions are simply parts of your being which have been lying in reserve and they have to ‘come out for airing’.
You should not be afraid of kundalini awakening but you must be prepared for the events that may occur. Otherwise, if you have a weak mind and are confronted by fear, it could lead to mental derangement. So, before you attempt kundalini awakening you should undergo a process of thought purification and develop understanding of your way of thinking.
When the prerequisites for kundalini awakening are followed properly, psychological and psycho-emotional symptoms do not occur. In fact, all these things happen before the actual event of kundalini awakening. But of course, when the awakening takes place, if the aspirant is not maintaining the proper discipline that is required, he is bound to get into some psychological cobwebs.
The awakening of kundaiini should never be equated with obsessions or neurosis. When an explosion takes place it brings out whatever was in you. If you have a personality full of obsessions and mental blocks, that’s going to explode. Therefore, before one attempts awakening of kundalini, he must have arrived at a point of purity of consciousness or clarity of mind, chitta shuddhi.
Purity of consciousness is not a religious terminology. You may have pure thoughts in your mind but you may not be pure at all. You may be thinking about purity, chastity, compassion, charity and generosity, but in the subterranean plane of your personality there may be conflicts or other unresolved mental problems. When the mind enters into meditation or samadhi, this subterranean level comes up to the surface. You begin to see all the debris and you feel it and enact it. This can happen at any time, when you’re dreaming, when you are in a state of craziness and when kundalini is waking.
That is why a relentless effort should be made to render the mind free from all the disturbing archetypes or samskaras before you try to handle this project. An integration of karma, bhakti and raja yoga, tempered with hatha and gyana yoga, must be adopted first.
Purity and impurity
Although I recommend chitta shuddhi, I know that many people have an obsession about purity and impurity. They keep thinking they are impure and therefore they shouldn’t try to awaken kundalini. But when the sun rises, what happens to the darkness? Purity and impurity are ethical and moral concepts created by society and religion. Awakening of kundalini is awakening of the great light in man. It rises like the sun, and when it can be seen on the horizon there will be no darkness, no pain, suffering, disappointment or impurity.
Siddhis and the ego factor
When one has been practising kundalini yoga for a couple of years and suddenly he starts having beautiful experiences, he tends to think he is superior to everybody else and may even consider himself as godly. To protect yourself from this, you must place yourself in the caliber of chela or disciple. A disciple remains a disciple, there is no promotion for him. Many people think that after twelve years of discipleship they will be promoted to guruhood, but this is not so.
In the path of kundalini yoga it is very important that you live the life of a disciple even after the awakening of kundalini, and not only after that, but even when Shiva and Shakti have united.
Kundalini yoga is the means for attaining supreme awareness and enlightenment, but if you get lost in the beauty of kundalini, you may not reach enlightenment. When at a certain stage the mind becomes very efficient and siddhis such as telepathy, clairvoyance, hypnotism, spiritual healing, etc. manifest, some aspirants take that to be a divine accomplishment and begin to think ‘Now I am God.’ Then, in the name of good to everybody, they start doing all
sorts of funny magic. This feeds the ego, and in the course of time, their ignorance becomes very great.
There is extreme danger here and many aspirants get caught. Their ego becomes tremendously gross and they develop a strong feeling of grandeur. And that’s as far as they get. Although there is nothing really wrong with psychic powers, those who seek them must know that they can completely destroy their spiritual consciousness if they are not disciplined. You can become lost in these powers just as some people get lost in money, beauty, intellect and so on. These parapsychological attainments are momentary; they live with you for only a short period of time and then you lose them. They are only additional properties to be experienced and left behind in the wake of the dawning of supreme awareness.
It is important to remember what Patanjali has said in the Yoga Sutras – “All these psychic manifestations are obstacles which block the free flow of consciousness towards samadhi.”
Two opposing forces
In the realms of higher consciousness, there are both divine and demonical forces. Both these forces can be brought down to earth by the same techniques. Without higher awareness, when the awakening of the chakras begins, the knowledge and destructive energy of the atom bomb might be unleashed rather than the wisdom and spiritual power of the rishis. When kundalini awakens in a person with no dispassion and discrimination, who does not seek liberation and does not know the reality of this world, the consequences can be disastrous.
Ultimately, that person will destroy himself, and possibly many others in the process.
Therefore, a kimdalini aspirant must constantly work towards the development of higher awareness. To be conscious of the unconscious is very difficult. When your awareness is heavy and burdened with tension and confusion, it cannot survive for long in the unconscious state. But when your consciousness is light and clear, it can penetrate into the unconscious like a sharp and speedy arrow, successfully navigating past all the danger zones and emerging with higher knowledge.
Anyone who has the urge to expand his or her awareness is a pioneer. In this we are emerging from the confines of a mental prison in which the human race has been incarcerated for millennia. It is the privilege of each one of us to participate in this historic adventure, and we must be prepared for any eventuality. Kundalini yoga, if practised with dedication,
patience and appropriate guidance, is the safest and most pleasant way of awakening that can ever take place in our lives.
With the awakening of kundalini, life becomes smooth. Plans and projects become clear, decisions become accurate, and the personality becomes dynamic and powerful. Therefore, do not be afraid of any risk. Once the awakening takes place, all your limitations will be overcome, because darkness can never exist in the face of light and limitations can never exist in the face of kundalini.
Kundalini and Madness
Many individuals who experience the awakening of kundalini behave in a peculiar way; they think in a different style or pattern. They may see auras and visions, feel peculiar in the body, hear strange sounds and talk all sorts of nonsense. In society our brains are structured in a certain way; there is discipline and control which inhibit us from expressing ourselves freely. When the awakening of kundalini takes place, this conditioning is withdrawn and the lid is completely lifted from the mind. That is why the actions and words of those people who are undergoing kundalini awakening appear so nonsensical, deviant and oftentimes mad to the ordinary man.
During kundalini awakening and madness, people may manifest the same symptoms, but on closer examination a difference can be detected. Similarly, if you film a man laughing out of madness and a man laughing with his friends, they will look almost the same, but they are different. Most of us have probably read stories about the avadhoots and fakirs of India and the Sufi and Christian mystics. Externally, these God-intoxicated ones looked crazy, but if you were with them, they would have appeared and proved to be very clear. The inner consciousness of such people is absolutely lucid, organized and disciplined.
A great misunderstanding
Mystics throughout the ages have been persecuted for their experiences, which to the normal mundane consciousness are insanity, yet to the sage are ecstasy. Socrates was poisoned because he did not behave normally. Christ was crucified on the cross because his teachings were not understood. Al-Hallaj, the Sufi saint, was skinned alive because he spoke the truth without fear of the society, Joan of Arc and the witches of Salem were burned at the stake, as were many others. All have been persecuted and harassed by the mundane populace for their vision, which arose as a result of inner work. Due to this lack of understanding, many of the esoteric doctrines were hidden from the majority of people.
Of course, this was long ago. We live in a more enlightened world today, far from the barbarous atrocities of the past, or do we? War and poverty still exist, as do insanity and madness. People who are shown to be crazy, relative to the norms of our society, are locked up until they are ‘better’. Yet, by what criteria are they judged insane? How do we know the difference between insanity and the ecstasy of enlightenment? Is it by the superficial external appearances that we sense with our limited sensory apparatus, or is it by some deeper inner fear that we are motivated to judge others insane because they do not behave like the majority? Some of the people in the west who are locked up as insane would be recognized in the east as having undergone higher spiritual experiences. Therefore, it is now up to science to determine some definite, concrete and reliable ways to differentiate between the broken, insane mind and the opening, enlightened mind.
Spiritual experiences in the east and west
Knowledge of the spiritual experience has been lost in the west. During the last lew centuries, many unfortunate people whose kundalini had awakened were sent to mental hospitals and given drugs, electric shocks and other inappropriate treatments. The scientists and doctors believed that the awakening was an abnormal kind of behavior, and no one was able to accept or handle it, not even the person’s immediate family or closest friends. That is why, in the last two hundred years, there have been so few great personalities in the west; they have all been committed to mental hospitals or they have remained quiet to avoid that fate.
In India the situation is quite different. There, when an individual expresses some abnormal symptoms, makes some very peculiar gestures or speaks of extraordinary dreams, it is understood that he is experiencing events beyond the mind. The Hindu belief is that the consciousness is not the finished product of nature, but is subject to evolution, and between
one state of being and the next, there is a crisis. And when strange symptoms occur in someone, they believe he is experiencing that crisis and that his consciousness is undergoing evolution. If a child’s total personality is devoted to God and he can experience things beyond the mind, then his whole family is purified and such a child is universally respected.
A spiritual awakening or madness?
Though the process of spiritual awakening usually occurs without incident or interruption, it may happen that blockages and impurities in the body create symptoms which mimic various neurological and psychiatric conditions. These problems necessitate careful diagnosis to differentiate kundalini arousal and pathology.
It is actually very simple to distinguish between a mental or psychic phenomenon and a mental sickness, however much the symptoms may overlap: mental illness never develops in people who are free from conflict. If a person is undergoing a problem in his personal life, perhaps due to a death, loss of property or emotional breakdown, psychotic behavior can develop. Fantasies can take form and one’s own psychological volition can manifest in the form of psychic energy. On the other hand, if there are no conflicts, anxieties or strong crosscurrents in a person’s life, he cannot possibly have any mental disease. Suppose you have no apparent problems, no personal or social difficulties, but still you are having some strange suprasensual experiences. In a case like this, there should be no doubt about what is taking place.
A mad person doesn’t have a constant and consistent flow of experience and his awareness is very dissipated. He is both disorganized externally and completely blinded internally. On the other hand, the awareness of a person who is awakened is constant and consistent.
Whereas a person with an awakened consciousness can make accurate decisions and judgements, a crazy person cannot. Madness and spiritual awakening may both be characterized by a certain lack of control, but the spiritually awakened person is guided by a higher consciousness while the mad person is not.
When some suprasensual experience is taking place, it is important to consult an experienced person who has knowledge of illumination and also knows about madness. A guru can make the correct judgement and determine whether the brain has begun a process of regression or is actually progressing along transcendental lines. If there is some organic damage in the brain, it can be treated, but if the symptoms are spiritual, the person is initiated and given something to practise so his behavior is streamlined. He will not be forced into
married life or any other social roles which are unsuitable for him. Instead, he will be exposed to saintly personalities and teachings.
If this type of guidance and support for the experience is not obtained, it is very easy to end up in a mental hospital, or even a prison. However, scientists are now broadening their description of the spectrum of human behavior and they are discovering that behavior can be psychic or spiritual in origin as well as psychological or physical. Everybody should understand one very important point. Awakening of kundalini should never be equated with abnormal psychological behavior because awakening of kundalini is a process of jumping out of the mind.
Four Forms of Awakening
When we talk about awakening we should not confuse awakening of kundalini with other forms of awakening. Awakening of the chakras is completely different from awakening of kundalini. Awakening of sushumna is also quite a different event, and awakening of mooladhara chakra is not awakening of kundalini. Even if all the chakras from mooladhara up to ajna are awakened this does not mean that kundalini is awakened.
In the systematic process of awakening kundalini, the first step is to purify ida and pingala nadis and create harmony in their functioning. Next, all the chakras have to be awakened.
Then sushumna nadi is awakened, and when there is a clear pathway for its ascent, kundalini can be awakened.
If the first three steps have been taken, awakening of kundalini will only have positive effects. But if they have been neglected and kundalini awakens, there will definitely be some negative results. Supposing you have awakened kundalini before sushumna awakening has taken place, then the shakti will not find a channel towards Shiva. It will remain obstructed in mooladhara chakra and will create tremendous sexual and neurotic problems. This is a
negative result because you wanted to unite with Shiva and have higher experiences, whereas now you are experiencing the grosser things. And if the chakras are not awakened before kundalini, the shakti will get blocked in one of the chakras and remain stagnant, possibly for years. Some siddhis may develop and you may not be able to transcend them at all. This is also a negative effect.
Each form of awakening has its own psychic potential. Every nerve and fiber of your body is psychic; it is capable of producing psychic manifestations. There is a possibility of awakening the entire physical body. Every cell of the body is one individual. You are the macro-cosmic body for that microcosmic individual.
Step I: Disciplining ida and pingala
Ida and pingala nadis are responsible for the mundane existence. Pingala conducts the life that is in your body and ida conducts the consciousness. These two nadis respectively feed the two hemispheres of the brain which in turn control every activity of the body. It is not awakening of these nadis we aim towards, but discipline. As you know, ida and pingala function alternately and directly influence the temperature of the body, digestive and hormonal secretions, the brainwaves and all the bodily systems.
Ida and pingala function according to a natural cycle, but on account of poor eating habits and inharmonious lifestyles, the natural cycle is often disturbed. Sometimes one nadi predominates and the other is suppressed. This leads to mental and physical imbalances and generally results in disease. Therefore, ida and pingala must be disciplined or made to function according to the laws of nature. Only when there is harmony between these two nadis can sushumna be awakened.
So, through the practices of hatha yoga, pranayama and raja yoga, the nadis should be purified and disciplined. The best practice for this is actually nadi shodhana pranayama – nadi purifying pranayama.
Step 2: Awakening the chakras
From incarnation to incarnation the yoga we have been practising may have already awakened the lower chakras. Although most of us try to awaken mooladhara, swadhisthana, etc. it may not be necessary to awaken them because we may have evolved even beyond manipura on account of our efforts in a previous life. It is even possible that kundalini may have ascended through the chakras but you don’t know it because you haven’t noticed any symptoms. However, in any case, it is essential that all the chakras must be awakened before we make an attempt to awaken sushumna.
If the chakras are not purified, then purification of the nadis will not serve any purpose. If the electrical junctions are not connected or properly organized, even if you have the best wiring available, how will the electrical energy be distributed? The chakras are the junctions from which the nadis, like cables, transmit the energy to different parts of the body.
Every point, speck or fiber of the body is directly related to one of the chakras. If you experience pain in any part of the body, the sensation will go to the chakra related to that particular area. This means your whole body is connected with one of the chakras. For example, the urinary, excretory and reproductive systems are fed by swadhisthana chakra. Besides this, the sexual organs are connected to mooladhara chakra. The digestive system, small intestine, large intestine, appendix, pancreas, duodenum, stomach and liver are all connected to manipura chakra. The heart and lungs are fed by anahata chakra.
However, in most people, the chakras beyond manipura are dormant. Because mooladhara chakra is the highest chakra in animal evolution, it is already functioning in most people. That is why everybody has a very acute sexual awareness and sex has become one of the most important events in man’s life. Therefore, most of our social traditions are based upon this particular human requirement. The mere fact that today’s society is utilizing the five tattwas of tantra (meat, fish, wine, grain and sexual interaction) in everyday life means that in most people, kundalini is somewhere between mooladhara and swadhisthana. Once kundalini leaves swadhisthana and ascends to manipura and anahata, you no longer need the five tattwas.
If you are stuck in mooladhara or swadhisthana, you will need to purify the higher chakras and bring them into operation. There are many ways of doing it. For those who are strong in mind, there are some higher practices. By concentration on bhrumadhya you can awaken one chakra, by the practice of uddiyana bandha you can awaken another, by practising mantra, your mantra or any bija mantra, you can awaken almost all the chakras one by one, and as a result of this awakening, you can have very good psychic experiences which you can easily handle. In my opinion, it is safer to awaken the chakras by the mild methods.
The asanas are intended to create mild awakening in the chakras. For example, sarvangasana will awaken vishuddhi, matsyasana will awaken anahata and bhujangasana will awaken swadhisthana. By awakening the chakras mildly, you will not have any jolting experiences. Sometimes, when a chakra awakens suddenly, you can have the experience of lower lives. This means you can be assailed by fear, anxiety, greed, passion, depression, etc.
Each chakra is symbolized by a certain animal, indicating a type of animal consciousness, and if sudden awakening of a chakra takes place, you may exhibit some of the animal emotions in either a mild or very strong way. For instance, fear is not a human emotion, nor is infatuation or violence. Of course, man is trying to expel the animal from him, but at the same time he is maintaining it. Therefore, care must be taken not to give an explosive manifestation to the awakening of the chakras.
Step 3: Awakening sushumna
In order to purify and awaken sushumna, a lot of work has to be done and you must be ready to cope with experiences that are more intense than those associated with chakra awakening. These experiences are beyond logic. They are not even real and they cannot be explained or properly understood. If the chakras are awakened, ida and pingala are balanced and the other nadis are also purified, but there is an obstruction in sushumna, then the awakening of kundalini will not fulfil its purpose.
Actually, I don’t believe ida and pingala nadis are inferior to sushumna. Awakening of pingala nadi will awaken one portion of the brain and awakening of ida will awaken another portion. However, when kundalini enters sushumna, it affects the whole brain.
In the ancient texts of tantra it has been clearly indicated that it does not matter if kundalini enters another passageway. If there is an awakening in pingala, one becomes a healer or a siddha, one who has control over nature, matter and the mind. When there is awakening in ida, one can predict things; he becomes a prophet. But when sushumna awakens, kundalini ascends straight to sahasrara and one becomes a jivanmukta, a liberated soul.
So, hatha yoga and pranayama are prescribed for the awakening of sushumna. There are also other ways, but kriya yoga is the best, particularly the practices of maha mudra and maha bheda mudra. For awakening of sushumna, ida and pingala have to be suppressed. Thus you
can see the importance of practising kumbhaka, breath retention. When both nadis are suppressed in kumbhaka, immediately after you’ll find that both nadis are flowing simultaneously. It is at this time that kundalini should awaken.
The Descent of Kundalini
Everybody talks about the ascent of kundalini, but few ever discuss the descent. When the descent of kundalini occurs, it means the lower mental plane of the human being is no longer influenced by the ordinary mind, the supermind takes over instead. This higher form of consciousness rules the body, mind and senses and directs your life, thoughts and emotions. Kundalini is henceforth the ruler of your life. That is the concept of descent.
The whole process after union
When Shiva and Shakti unite in sahasrara, one experiences samadhi, illumination occurs in the brain and the silent areas begin to function. Shiva and Shakti remain merged together for some time, and during this period there is a total loss of consciousness pertaining to each other. At that time a bindu evolves. Bindu means a point, a drop, and that bindu is the substratum of the whole cosmos. Within that bindu is the seat of human intelligence and the seat of the total creation. Then the bindu splits into two and Shiva and Shakti manifest again in duality. When ascension took place it was only the ascent of Shakti, but now, when descension takes place, Shiva and Shakti both descend to the gross plane and there is again knowledge of duality.
Those who have studied quantum physics will have a better understanding of this as it is difficult for everyone to understand from the philosophical point of view. After total union there is a process of corning down the same pathway you ascended. The gross consciousness which became fine, again becomes gross. That is the concept of divine incarnation or avatara.
The non-dual experience of samadhi
When one attains the highest pinnacles of samadhi, purusha and prakriti, or Shiva and Shakti are in total union and only adwaita exists, non-dual experience. At this time, when there is no subject/object plus distinction, it is very difficult for one to differentiate. He may look like an idiot and not know it, or he may appear to be a great scholar and not be aware of that. Whether he is talking to a man or a woman he does not know, he sees no difference. He may even be associating with spiritual or divine people without being aware of that, because at this point of time his consciousness is reduced to a level of innocence just like a baby.
So, in the state of samadhi you are a baby. A baby can’t tell the difference between a man and a woman because he has no physical or sexual distinction. He can’t distinguish a scholar from an idiot and he may not even see any difference between a snake and a rope. He can hold a snake just as he holds a rope. This only happens when union is taking place.
When Shiva and Shakti descend to the gross plane, that is mooladhara chakra, they separate and live as two entities. There is duality in mooladhara chakra. There is duality in the mind and senses and in the world of names and forms, but there is no duality in samadhi.
There is no seer or experiencer in the state of samadhi. There is nobody to say what samadhi is like because it is a non-dual experience.
Why Shiva and Shakti both descend
It is very difficult to understand why Shiva and Shakti both descend to the gross plane after having attained the highest union. What is the use of destroying the world and then creating it again? What is the point of transcending the consciousness if you have to come back to it again? Why bother to awaken kundalini and unite with Shiva in sahasrara if you have to come down to mooladhara again? This is something very mysterious and we can well ask, ‘Why awaken kundalini at all?’
Why build a mansion if you know you will have to burn it down when it is completed? We actually create a lot of things that are ultimately going to be destroyed. So why do it at all? It seems so crazy! We do so much sadhana to transcend the chakras and ascend from earth to heaven. Then, when we reach paradise and become one with that great reality, we suddenly decide to come back down. And not all alone, we bring the great one with us. It would be easier to understand if Shakti came back alone and Shiva remained in heaven. Maybe when Shakti is about to leave, Shiva says, ‘Wait, I’m coming with you.’
A new existence on the gross plane
When kundalini descends, you come down to the gross plane with a totally transformed consciousness. You live a normal life, associating with everybody and discharging your worldly obligations like other people do. Maybe you even play the game of desires, passions, cravings and such things. Maybe you play the game of victory and defeat, attachments and infatuations, but you just play a game. You know it; you do everything as an actor. You are not involved in it life and soul.
It is at this time the genius or the transformed consciousness manifests through you. You don’t have to think or plan how to perform miracles. You have to remember that you have come down as a transformed quality of consciousness. You must remember that you are now connected with those areas of the brain which were previously silent. And you must also remember that you are linked with those reservoirs of knowledge, power and wisdom which belong to the realm of the higher cosmos.
Until the descent is complete, such a man lives a very simple life, unnoticed and unattended. Once the descent is complete he begins to play the game and people recognize him as a divine incarnation. They see he is something special compared to everybody else and they call him a guru. Such a person is actually a junior god.
Dealing with the issues of reality
When Shiva and Shakti descend to the gross level of awareness there is again duality. That
is why the self-realized man is able to understand pain and all the mundane affairs of life. He understands the whole drama of duality, multiplicity and diversity. Sometimes we ordinary mortals are at a fix to understand how this man with the highest attainment is able to cope with the hopeless dualities of life.
When I was about thirteen, I was also puzzled by this. There was a great lady saint who was supposed to have attained the very highest state and I used to visit her with my elders. I used to hear her discussing all the mundane and ordinary things of life – “How are you? How is your child? Is he sick? Are you giving him medicines ? Why do you fight with your wife?” I used to think, “If she is an enlightened lady she shouldn’t talk about duality. How can she understand duality if she is in unity?”
I never got an answer, but every man has his moments of experience in life and I have not been an exception to that. I came to understand that Shiva and Shakti live on both planes and this gross plane of duality is an expression and manifestation of the correlation of Shiva and Shakti. This is precisely the reason why the great saints and mahatmas talk about charity, compassion, love, etc. However, there is a period when they don’t understand these things and they don’t care what happens to the world. They don’t even know what is going on, who is happy and who is suffering. But finally there is a great transformation. Shakti rules the matter and Shiva rules the consciousness, and when they descend to the gross plane, Shakti continues to rule the matter and Shiva, being consciousness, gives an understanding to the whole world.
Therefore, if ever we see a self-realized person discussing the trivialities of life and dealing with the issues of reality, we should not be surprised.
The Experiences of Awakening
The awakening of kundalini is like a great explosion which transports a person into another plane of being. No matter which spiritual path you follow, you must eventually reach this domain. Ordinary consciousness and transcendental consciousness cannot be maintained at the same time; it is necessary to pass through an intermediate zone of change, where perceptions, feelings and experiences undergo a transformation. The adventure is always the same; it is a journey through the border region between the known and the unknown. At this time it is very important to recognize that this explosion signals a profound alteration in consciousness. The complete process of awakening is comprised of several stages, as the kundalini rises and passes through the various chakras. It takes quite some time to become fully stabilized, but if one has a good understanding, the transition process can be managed without any serious difficulties.
The preliminary awakening of kundalini is followed by the experience of light in bhrumadhya, the eyebrow center. Usually this develops in a very mild way over an extended period of time, and therefore does not precipitate any sudden agitation or disturbance. After some time, the appetite for food and sleep gradually decreases and the mind becomes quieter.
There is another prior warning which heralds the awakening of kundalini. In yoga and tantra it is very clearly indicated that when ida and pingala flow simultaneously for a long period of time, and sushumna begins to flow, then it is time to prepare for a spiritual event.
Therefore, one should be conversant with swara yoga, the science of the breath cycle, and keep a close watch over the breathing process. The breathing pattern in the nostrils normally changes every fourth day, according to the cycles of the moon, but when both nostrils have been functioning equally well for at least fifteen days, that is an advance warning of an impending spiritual breakthrough.
An onslaught of experiences
When the actual awakening occurs there is an explosion in the realm of experience and there are symptoms which are sometimes very difficult to understand. The most unique and common experience is the release of energy like an electric shock from the bottom of the spinal cord, as if it were connected to an electrical power point. This may be accompanied by a burning sensation in mooladhara chakra and energy passing up and down through sushumna. Sometimes you hear drums, flutes, bells, birds, celestial music, or you may even think you can hear peacocks singing. You may have a very momentary sensation of sitting
outside in the middle of a monsoon shower, and there can also be the sensation of dark clouds in continual movement overhead and the sound of thunder.
At times your body feels so light and you may even visualize your spinal cord as a fluorescent light. It is common to feel illumination within, as if hundreds of little lights were burning inside your body. This is one side.
The other side is that all the anger, passions and suppressions come out. Sometimes you are so filled with fear that you can’t sleep, sometimes for days together you have nothing in your mind but sex, at other times you can’t think of anything but food. However, all these symptoms pass within a few days or weeks.
Some people obtain psychic powers. They develop clairvoyance, telepathy, clairaudience, psychotelekinesis, the ability to heal, etc., and this brings a lot of temptations. However, this is a phase and it will pass away.
Sometimes you don’t feel like eating for days together. You may not have any appetite for fifteen to twenty days, and even if people try to force you to eat, you just can’t. There is sometimes a feeling of nervous depression, and you may just want to sit, or you may feel restricted and closed in. There is a detachment from the normal emotions of life; for days together you may live a life of utter dispassion. Nothing is interesting in life and everything and everybody seems as dry as a desert. But at the same time, the mind becomes very dynamic and appears to be formless. Various sensations, poetic emotions and artistic perceptions also occur, such as visions of angels and divinities. All kinds of things can emerge from the depths of the mind. However, these are just a few of the symptoms you may experience, but all of them pass away quickly.
The storm always settles and then the yogi lives a very normal life. Externally his life seems the same as anybody else’s but his inner awareness is far greater and more vast.
Headaches and insomnia
Some aspirants experience terrible headaches when kundalini is awakening, however, this does not mean that all headaches are related to kundalini. And not everybody will have
headaches. Generally, those who have had married life do not have this experience. It is usually only those who have not had any kind of sexual interactions who experience headaches with the advent of kundalini awakening.
There is also another explanation about headaches. One-tenth of the brain is active and nine-tenths are not. In some cases, when the silent areas of the brain begin to wake up, the first symptom is headache. People have equated this experience with labor pain. Just as a woman experiences labor pain when she is about to give birth to a child, when the silent areas of the brain are about to become active and you are giving birth to spiritual consciousness, there is also pain.
Therefore, one has to bear with this pain for some time, but it will inevitably settle down.
Of course you can reduce the pain by adjusting your diet and lifestyle, but under no circumstances should you use sedatives, aspirins or pain relieving pills.
It is also likely that an aspirant will experience insomnia. However, yogis don’t call it insomnia. They say, ‘Why should I sleep?’ If you love a person very much and he stays with you and does not allow you to sleep, will you call that insomnia? So, all the people who do not sleep are not yogis. Only those people are yogis who do not sleep and are happy about it, because yogis have an entirely different attitude. They say one-third of life is wasted in sleeping.
So, when kundalini awakens in a yogi and consciousness is constant and consistent, and there is no waking, sleeping and dreaming, they are very happy about it. Therefore, insomnia does not usually bother a person who has awakened kundalini. However, if you are disturbed by your inability to sleep, you should never resort to sleeping pills or tranquillizers. It is also not necessary that you practise yoga to induce sleep. Just accept your sleeplessness and enjoy it. You can do japa or meditation or just do some spiritual reflection. If this is not possible, just lie down and let it happen as it will.
Experiencing the threefold awakenings
Each of the three forms of awakening – nadis, chakras and sushurnna is accompanied by its own set of experiences. Many aspirants have psychic experiences and they think they indicate the awakening of kundalini, but this is not so.
When the chakras are awakening, the experiences one has are not so frightening and critical. They are usually of a fantastic nature, very pleasant, hallucinating and comfortable. Even if you have an experience of fear or terror, it does not shake your mind. When we have experiences of our ishta devata or guru, or we have some experience in meditation or during kirtan, and it feels very nice, that represents chakra awakening and not kundalini awakening. When you experience a chakra awakening it is rather beautiful and leaves a comfortable or blissful feeling. That is to encourage you to go further.
When awakening takes place in sushumna, you may feel or see a rod of light, or your spinal cord may seem to be fully illumined from within. Such experiences are described by the saints of different religions in their poems, songs and stories, which are unfortunately understood by very few people today.
The awakening of sushumna can also bring some mind exploding experiences which are sometimes very confusing. You can smell pleasant and unpleasant odors, you will hear shrieks and screams as if the ghosts are crying, and there is a feeling of heat, creeping sensations and pain in different parts of the body. You may get a high fever or manifest the symptoms of some common disease or some baffling illness which medical experts find difficult to analyze.
At the time of sushumna awakening, the quality and experience of the mind begin to change. One has the experience of depression, anorexia and loneliness. You begin to realize the inner essence. Matter appears to be nothing, and even your body feels as if it were only made up of air. Or you may feel that you are not part of this physical body, you are someone else. When you look at people, animals and the objects of nature – the flowers, trees, rivers and mountains, etc., you feel a communication with them.
At this time, you also experience prophetic vision, but your visions or forewarnings may not be clear and you only foresee the bad things – imminent perils, accidents, disasters and catastrophies. Throughout the awakening one generally has an aversion to work and can’t really apply himself to anything.
It is actually best if an aspirant is near his guru at this time of awakening so he can explain what is happening. The sadhaka is not merely making a transition from one state of mind to another, he is actually jumping from one state to another. It is also very difficult for even an expert guru to handle these matters unless the disciple has totally accepted him as his guru.
Differentiating the experiences
You must remember that when you have certain visions and fantastic experiences, they do not necessarily represent the awakening of kundalini or even sushumna nadi. They may indicate chakra awakening or they may just be the expression of your archetypes or samskaras. Because of your sadhana, concentration or one-pointedness, you may be allowing an outlet for your deep-rooted samskaras to express themselves.
These experiences and those that accompany chakra awakening do not mean anything when you try to assess them. I will give you an example. Many years ago, I was meditating on the bank of the Ganga in Rishikesh and suddenly I had a very vivid experience. I saw the whole earth split into two. It was a very clear vision, and I remember it even today, but this vision had nothing to do with reality; I just had it. This was an experience of chakra awakening.
When the actual awakening of kundalini takes place, it is a great event in man’s life. Every experience has a tangible proof, whether it is awakening of extrasensory perceptions or the awakening of a particular kind of genius. It may be in the form of a philosophy you are able to deliver to the people, a transformation in the physical elements of the body that you are able to materialize, or a magnetic influence that you are able to cast on the masses of people as a politician, musician or saint.
The awakening of kundalini has tangible, positive and concrete proofs. You cannot believe your kundalini is awakened if you have no proof, because when the awakening of kundalini takes place, you completely transcend the normal categories of mental awareness and the scope of your knowledge becomes greater.
A scientist who jumped beyond the mind
There was a scientist named Eddington, and he was observing the determined laws of electrons and trying to formulate a system, a law. He succeeded, the result being the law of determinancy.
However, once when he was studying the electrons, his vision changed entirely. He found that the electrons were behaving in a very anarchical manner.There was no logic, system or hypothesis behind their behavior. That was his vision, and he called it the law of indeterminancy.
Once he was asked, ‘What is this law which you have discovered behind the mathematical and logical behavior of electrons?’ He replied, ‘It cannot be explained.’ Someone asked, ‘How can you say that a movement in matter cannot be explained?’ Eddington answered, ‘It can be explained if you can jump over the mind.’
The process of transition
There is a natural process of transition in which a man’s consciousness evolves over the course of millions of years. It takes place in the same way that a baby develops into a child, a child into a young man, a young man into a middle-aged man, a middle-aged man into an old man. Suppose a child of five suddenly transformed into an old man and he found he was tall, grey haired and speaking like an old person. It would be very difficult for him to handle the situation and to connect both the areas of his life. This is what generally happens with those who awaken kundalini.
Their experiences are often imbalanced and extremely difficult to understand. Just imagine how it would be if you felt your whole body burning as if it were in flames, or you kept feeling that a snake was crawling through your body. Imagine what it would be like to look at somebody’s face and instead of seeing the person you see a ghost. You’d start to think you were crazy! These are just a few of the bizarre experiences you could be confronted with.
However, with the awakening of kundalini, there is also an awakening of vairagya, detachment. And when vairagya develops the turbulence settles, the awakening becomes peaceful and the transition is smooth.
The Path of Kriya Yoga
Awakening of kundalini is very difficult. You can try the various yogic and religious practices that have evolved throughout the ages, but they require a lot of self-discipline and demanding austerities. There are so many do’s and dont’s that the average person finds unpalatable. Therefore, the rishis of the tantric tradition evolved a series of practices that could be easily adopted by every type of aspirant regardless of his lifestyle, habits, beliefs, and so on. Of course there are many practices belonging to tantra, but of them all, kriya yoga is considered to be the most powerful and suitable for the modern day man who is enmeshed in this world.
For many years, knowledge of this system of yoga was revealed to very few. The practices were mentioned in the tantric texts, but they were never clearly defined. Through a tradition, the practices were handed down from guru to disciple. They were given to both householder and monastic disciples, who soon discovered that through these techniques, kundalini became a reality and a real experience in their lives.
The ultimate purpose of kriya yoga is to create awakening in the chakras, to purify the nadis, and finally, to awaken the kundalini shakti. The kriyas are intended to awaken the kundalini in stages and not abruptly. When kundalini awakens abruptly, the experiences you have are very difficult to handle and you cannot understand what is happening to you. The techniques of kriya yoga offer a smooth and relatively risk-free means of expanding your awareness and awakening the dormant areas of the brain. Also, this system of kriya yoga provides a means whereby you do not have to tackle the mind directly. Its practices are based on hatha yoga, which aims at controlling the prana. Mind and prana interact with each other and thereby, by controlling the prana, we can gain control of the mind.
Kriya yoga offers a unique approach
Kriya yoga means ‘the yoga of practice, movement or action’. Unlike the various religious, mystical or yogic practices which demand mental control, the special instruction in the system of kriya yoga is, ‘Do not worry about the mind.’ If your mind is dissipating or if there are
distractions in your mind and you are not able to concentrate even for one second, it does not matter. You have only to continue with your practices, for even without confronting, controlling or trying to balance the mind, you can still evolve.
This is an entirely new concept in spiritual life, and most people have probably never even considered it. When they take to a religion, commence spiritual practices or go to gurus, the first thing they are told is to control the mind. ‘You should think like this. Don’t think like that. You should do like this. Don’t do that. This is good. This is bad. That is evil. Do not sin.’ And so on.
People think that the mind is the greatest barrier in spiritual life, but this is a very wrong and dangerous concept. The mind is a bridge between this and that, so how can it be a barrier? An idiot thinks it is a barrier and he tries to destroy that bridge. Then when he has destroyed it, he wonders how he’ll get to the other side. This is the ironical fate of most people, and unfortunately it is the religions, ethics and morality that are responsible. The people who are less aware of ethics and morality have no mental problems. They are very good, happy-go- lucky people.
The seers and rishis of kriya yoga have said, ‘Control of mind is not necessary. Just go on practising the kriyas and let the mind do what it wants. In the course of time, the evolution of consciousness will take you to that point where the mind will no longer trouble you.’
Dissipation of mind is not necessarily the fault of the mind. Distractions can be due to hormonal imbalances, bad digestion, low influx of energy in the nervous system and so many other things. Never blame the mind for its restlessness, and don’t consider yourself to be an impure, bad or inferior person because your mind jumps all over the place, thinking negative things and what you consider to be evil thoughts, etc.
Everybody has negative thoughts and distractions of mind, even a compassionate and charitable person, a peaceful man, a chaste and pure person. Dozens of factors could be the cause of a distracted mind. Suppressing the mind and calling it back again and again is not the way to concentrate the mind, it is a way to the mental hospital. After all, who suppresses or calls back who? Are there two personalities or two minds in you? Is there one bad mind which keeps wandering off and one good mind which tries to bring back the bad mind? No, there is only one mind and you should not create a split by antagonizing the mind. If you do this, one part of the mind becomes the dictator and controller and the other part becomes the victim.
Then you’ll develop a great gap between two aspects of your mind and personality and within a very short time you’ll become totally schizophrenic.
It is necessary to understand this point very well, because our religions, philosophies and ways of thinking have not been very systematic, loving and tender in their approach to the mind. We have always been led to believe that the mind is very mischievous, but this is a grave mistake. Therefore, please try to redefine the mind and approach it scientifically.
Mind is not a psychological stuff, nor is it a thought process. Mind is energy. Anger, passion, greed, ambition, etc. are waves of that energy. Through kriya yoga you are trying to harness the energies of the mind, but you should not try to suppress this energy because it will explode. And the more you suppress this energy the greater will be the ultimate explosion.
Kriya yoga is very clear in its approach to the mind. It emphasizes that you do not try to do anything with the mind. If your body protests about maintaining a fixed posture, change it. If your mind objects about closing the eyes, keep them open. But you must continue with the kriya yoga practices because they have a direct effect on the deeper processes of the body which are responsible for the state of your mind. Remember that the body affects the mind and the mind affects the body.
We should not consider the techniques of kriya yoga as practices of concentration or meditation as their aim is not mental control. The beauty of kriya yoga is that you have only to remain relaxed and let the mind move naturally and spontaneously. Inner awareness will then awaken, and in time, your mind will automatically become one-pointed.
A path for all
As you know, we are all aspirants of a different caliber. Some of us are tamasic, some are rajasic and a very small number are sattvic. Of course we are not purely sattvic, rajasic or tamasic. Predominantly we are one of these, but we retain traces of the other two gunas. The tamasic mind has traces of rajo guna, and as it evolves, it retains traces of tamas, but it is now predominantly rajasic. It also develops traces of sattva. As it evolves further, it becomes more rajasic and may or may not have traces of tamas and sattva. Next, it becomes predominantly sattvic, with traces of rajo and tamo gunas here and there. And then in its fifth stage of evolution, the mind becomes totally sattvic, manifesting rajo and tamo gunas very rarely.
These five stages are like rungs on a ladder, representing the evolution of chitta or the mind. The lowest rung is known as the inert mind. The second rung is the scattered mind, the
third is the oscillating mind, the fourth is the one-pointed mind and the fifth is the controlled mind.
Now, if you belong to one of the first three categories, and most of us do, after practising hatha yoga, you should take to kriya yoga. If you belong to one of the last two categories, then after hatha yoga, you can take to kriya yoga if you want, or you can follow the path of raja yoga or any other path which asks you to concentrate through willpower. When you are at the sattvic level you can deal with the mind through the mind, but when you are at the tamasic or rajasic level, if you try to deal with the mind through the mind, you will cause a mental crisis.
In this world, there are very few sattvic people. Most of us have a very restless and distracted mind, and we find it impossible to focus on one object or theme for very long. You know what happens if you light a candle when the wind is blowing? The same thing happens when most people try to concentrate. The fluctuations of the mind totally annihilate the one- pointedness. So, the kriya yoga practices were designed for those people who are unable to control, concentrate or stabilize their mind and for those who cannot sit in one posture for a prolonged period of time.
Whether you are sattvic, rajasic or tamasic, the practices of hatha yoga should be taken up first. A tamasic person needs hatha yoga to awaken his mind, body and personality. A person who is rajasic needs hatha yoga to balance the solar and lunar energies in his body and mind. And a person who is sattvic by temperament needs hatha yoga to help him awaken kundalini. Hatha yoga is for everybody. And if you have been practising asanas, pranayama, mudras and bandhas consistently for two years or more, then you are ready for kriya yoga. Hatha yoga is the basis of kriya yoga.
There are many kriya yoga practices, but a combination of 20 is considered very important and powerful. These 20 practices are divided into two groups. One group is to be done with the eyes open, that is the first 9, and the other group, comprised of 11 practices, is to be done with the eyes closed. For the first group of practices, the central instruction is, ‘Do not close your eyes.’ Even though you feel very relaxed and have a tendency to go within, you must not close your eyes. You can blink, you can rest, you can stop the practices for a minute, but each practice must be done with the eyes open. This is a very important instruction for kriya yoga practice.
The first practice in kriya yoga is called vipareeta karani mudra. Vipareeta means reverse, karani means action, so vipareeta karani mudra is a method for creating a reverse action. In Hatha Yoga Pradipika and in the tantric texts, there is a wonderful statement regarding this reverse action:
“From the moon the nectar emanates. When the sun consumes the nectar, the yogi becomes old. His body decays and he dies. Therefore, by constant practice, the yogi should try to reverse the process. The nectar which is flowing from the moon (bindu visarga) towards the sun (manipura chakra) should be reversed and sent back to the higher centers.” What will happen then? Hatha Yoga Pradipika continues: “When you are able to reverse the flow of amrit or nectar, it will not be consumed by the sun. It will be assimilated by your pure body.”
When your body has been purified by hatha yoga, pranayama and a pure diet, this nectar is assimilated by the body, and as a result of this, you experience a high mental state. When the nectar returns to its source in the higher centers of the brain, and is not consumed by the sun, you begin to feel a sort of calmness and quietness. Even if your mind was distracted, confused, wandering and vacillating a few moments before, suddenly all these activities come to an end and you feel total brightness. Your eyes are open, you can hear sounds and see everything around you, but the mind does not move. It appears as if time, space and object have ceased and the whole universe has stopped functioning.
The main hypothesis or contention here, is that you can influence the structures of the body; you can create a change in the energy forces. And by creating a change in the physical secretions, by altering the chemical proportions and the energy proportions in the body, you can create an effect on the mind which you may call shanti, dharana, dhyana or samadhi. This means that even when your mind is totally undisciplined and you cannot handle it for a second, if you are able to create the correct proportion of secretions in the different areas of the body/mind, then the higher state can be achieved.
You know what happens if you take a dose of ganja (marijuana)? Take a few puffs and see what happens to your mind. It slows down and the brain waves change from theta to beta, from alpha to delta. Suddenly you feel calm and quiet. What happened to your mind? You didn’t fight with it. I’m not advocating the use of ganja, I’m just giving you a very gross example of how kriya yoga works on your mind. By infusing ganja or some hallucinogenic drug, the chemical properties of the gross body change. The heart slows down, the breathing rate changes, the brain waves alter and the mind becomes calm and still. Is it not possible to arrive at the same point through kriya yoga? Yes; this is exactly what is accomplished through kriya yoga.
The various practices of kriya yoga, particularly vipareeta karani mudra, amrit pan, khechari mudra, moola bandha, maha mudra, maha bheda mudra, etc. regulate the nervous system. They harmonize the pranic forces in the body and equalize the quantity and effects of the positive and negative ions. More than that, they help you to attain a state of peace and tranquility without beating, kicking and abusing the mind. All this is a result of having induced the flow of certain unused and natural chemicals of the body. Amrit is one of those chemicals and through a practice known as khechari mudra, it can be made to flow.
Khechari mudra is a simple but very important technique which is utilized in most of the kriya yoga practices. It involves folding the tongue back and placing it against the upper palate. In the course of time the tongue gets elongated and can be inserted into the nasal orifice. Then certain glands which are connected with the cranial passage and bindu visarga are stimulated, and as a result, amrit or nectar begins to flow. When amrit is released you experience a special type of’high’ or intoxication.
It might take you a few years to perfect khechari mudra and to stimulate the flow of amrit, but it is well worth the effort. When you sit for meditation the mind is perfectly still, it cannot move and you cannot think. There is shoonyata, an experience of total nothingness. If you are practising mantra you feel that somebody else is practising and you are only witnessing it.
This is considered a very important experience because it puts you in touch with the external and internal experiences at the same time and you are completely aware of yourself. You attain a state where you are simultaneously aware of the world of mind, senses and objects, and the world of inner peace, tranquility and relaxation. When there is perfect harmony in the nervous system, coronary behavior is in inertia, body temperature is low and alpha waves are predominant in the brain, how can the mind move? This is the philosophy of kriya yoga.
Readiness for kriya yoga
If through the yoga practices you have been doing, you have reached a point where you find that although concentration has been achieved, inner peace has been experienced and you can maintain total quietness of body, mind and spirit for a prolonged period, but still you feel there is something more to achieve, you are definitely ready for kriya yoga.
Peace of mind, relaxation and proper understanding, which are the fruits of spiritual life, are not an end in themselves. The ultimate purpose of yoga is to change the quality of experience and to change the quality of the mind and its perception. What man has aimed to achieve through yoga is expansion of mind and liberation of energy, and in essence, that is tantra, and that is the ultimate goal of kriya yoga.
Vama Marga and Kundalini Awakening
Sexual life has always been a problem for mankind. From the beginning of history, the primal energy has been misunderstood. Religious teachers and moralists have denounced it. But still sexual life has continued, not because man respects it, but because he needs it. He may give it up, but he cannot remove it from his mind, for this is one of his most powerful urges.
In the context of yoga and tantra the common definition of sexual life has no relevance. It is absolutely unscientific and incorrect. This definition has created a society and a nation of hypocrites. It has led thousands of young people into mental asylums. When you want something which you think is bad, all kinds of guilt complexes arise. This is the beginning of schizophrenia, and all of us are schizophrenic to some extent.
Therefore, the yogis have tried to give a correct direction to the sexual urge. Yoga does not interfere with sexual life. Normal sexual life is neither spiritual nor aspiritual. But if you practise yoga and master certain techniques, then sexual life becomes spiritual. Of course, if you lead a celibate life, that is spiritual too.
Left hand tantra
The science of tantra has two main branches, which are known as vama marga and dakshina marga. Varna marga is the left path which combines sexual life with yoga practices in order to explode the dormant energy centers. Dakshina marga is the right path of yoga practices without sexual enactment. Previously, due to the barriers in sexual life, the path most widely followed was dakshina marga. Today, however, these barriers are rapidly being broken, and the path most sought after by the people everywhere is vama marga, which utilizes sexual life for spiritual development.
According to tantra, sexual life has a threefold purpose. Some practise it for procreation, others for pleasure, but the tantric yogi practises it for samadhi. He does not hold any negative views about it. He does it as a part of his sadhana. But, at the same time, he realizes that for spiritual purposes, the experience must be maintained. Ordinarily this experience is lost before one is able to deepen it. By mastering certain techniques, however, this experience can become continuous even throughout daily life. Then the silent centers of the brain are awakened and they start to function all the time.
The energy principle
The contention of vama marga is that the awakening of kundalini is possible through the sexual interaction between man and woman. The concept behind this follows the same lines as the process of fission and fusion described in modern physics.
Man and woman represent positive and negative energy. On a mental level they represent time and space. Ordinarily, these two forces stand at opposite poles. During sexual interaction, however, they move out of their position of polarity, towards the center. When they come together at the nucleus or central point, an explosion occurs and matter becomes manifest. This is the basic theme of tantric initiation.
The natural event that takes place between man and woman is considered as the explosion of the energy center. In every speck of life, it is the union between the positive and negative poles that is responsible for creation. At the same time, union between the positive and negative poles is also responsible for enlightenment, and the experience which takes place at the time of union is a glimpse of the higher experience.
This subject has been thoroughly discussed in all the old scriptures of tantra. Actually, more important than the energy waves that are created during the mutual union, is the process of directing that energy to the higher centers. Everybody knows how this energy is to be created, but nobody knows how to direct it to the higher centers. In fact, very few people have a full and positive understanding of this natural event which almost everybody in this world experiences. If the conjugal experience, which is generally very transitory, could be extended for a period of time, then the experience of enlightenment would take place.
The elements that are brought together in this process of union are known as Shiva and Shakti. Shiva represents purusha or consciousness and Shakti represents prakriti or energy. Shakti, in different forms, is present in all creation. Both material and spiritual energy are known as Shakti. When the energy moves outwardly, it is material energy and when it is directed upwards it is spiritual energy. Therefore, when the union between man and woman is practised in the correct way, it has a very positive influence on the development of spiritual awareness.
Retaining the bindu
Bindu means a point or a drop. In tantra, bindu is considered to be the nucleus, or the abode of matter, the point from which all creation becomes manifest. Actually, the source of bindu is in the higher centers of the brain. But due to the development of emotions and passions, bindu falls down to the lower region where it is transformed into sperm and ova. At the higher level, bindu is a point. At the lower level, it is drop of liquid, which drips from the male and female orgasm.
According to tantra, preservation of the bindu is absolutely necessary for two reasons.
Firstly, the process of regeneration can only be carried out with the help of bindu. Secondly, all the spiritual experiences take place when there is an explosion of bindu. This explosion can result in the creation of a thought or of anything. Therefore, in tantra, certain practices are recommended by which the male partner can stop ejaculation and retain the bindu.
According to tantra, ejaculation should not take place. One should learn how to stop it. For this purpose, the male partner should perfect the practices of vajroli mudra as well as moola bandha and uddiyana bandha. When these three kriyas are perfected, one is able to stop ejaculation completely at any point of the experience.
The sexual act culminates in a particular experience which is reached only at the point of explosion of energy. Unless the energy explodes, the experience cannot take place. But this experience has to be maintained, so that the energy level remains high. When the energy level falls ejaculation takes place. Therefore, ejaculation is avoided, not so much to preserve the semen, but because it causes a depression in the level of energy.
To make this energy travel upwards through the spine, certain hatha yoga kriyas have to be mastered. The experience which is concomitant of energy has to be raised to the higher centers. It is only possible to do this if you are able to prolong and maintain that experience.
As long as the experience continues, you can direct it to the higher centers. But as soon as the energy level undergoes depression, ejaculation will inevitably take place.
Ejaculation brings down the temperature of the body and at the same time, the nervous system undergoes depression. When the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems undergo depression, it affects the brain. That is why many people have mental problems.
When you are able to retain the semen without ejaculating at all, the energy in the nervous system and the temperature in the whole body are maintained. At the same time, you are free from the sense of loss, depression , frustration and guilt. Retention will also help to increase the sexual frequency, and that is better for both partners. The sexual act does not have to create weakness or dissipate the energy, on the contrary, it can become a means of exploding the energy. Therefore, the value of retaining the bindu should not be underestimated.
In hatha yoga there are certain practices which must be perfected for this purpose. You should begin with asanas such as paschimottanasana, shalabhasana, vajrasana, supta vajrasana and siddhasana. These are beneficial as they place an automatic contraction on the lower centers. Sirshasana is also important because it ventilates the brain so that all of one’s experiences will be healthy experiences. When these postures have been mastered, shambhavi mudra is perfected in order to hold the concentration steadily at bhrumadhya. Then vajroli mudra has to be practised together with moola bandha and uddiyana bandha in kumbhaka.
Practice of kumbhaka is necessary while the ejaculation is being held. Retention of the breath and the bindu go hand in hand. Loss of kumbhaka is loss of bindu, and loss of bindu is loss of kumbhaka.
During kumbhaka, when you are maintaining the experience, you should be able to direct it to the higher centers. If you are able to create an archetype of this experience, perhaps in the form of a serpent or a luminous continuity, then the result will be fantastic. So, in spiritual life, bindu must be preserved at all costs.
The female experience
In the female body, the point of concentration is at mooladhara chakra, which is situated at the cervix, just behind the opening of the uterus. This is the point where space and time unite and explode in the form of an experience. That experience is known as orgasm in ordinary language, but in the language of tantra it is called an awakening. In order to maintain the continuity of that experience, it is necessary for a buildup of energy to take place at that particular bindu or point. Usually this does not happen, because the explosion of energy dissipates throughout the body through the sexual medium. In order to avoid this, the woman must be able to hold her mind in absolute concentration on that particular point. For this, the practice is known as sahajoli.
Actually, sahajoli is concentration on the bindu, but this is very difficult. Therefore, the practice of sahajoli, which is the contraction of the vaginal as well as the uterine muscles, should be practised over a long period of time.
If girls are taught uddiyana bandha at an early age, they will perfect sahajoli quite naturally with time. Uddiyana bandha is always practised with external retention. It is important to be able to perform this in any position. Usually it is practised in siddhayoni asana, but one should be able to do it in vajrasana or the crow posture as well. When you practise uddiyana bandha, the other two bandhas – jalandhara and moola bandha occur spontaneously.
Years of this practice will create a keen sense of concentration on the correct point in the body. This concentration is more mental in nature, but at the same time, since it is not possible to do it mentally, one has to start from some physical point. If a woman is able to concentrate and maintain the continuity of the experience, she can awaken her energy to a high level.
According to tantra, there are two different areas of orgasm. One is in the nervous zone, which is the common experience for most women, and the other is in mooladhara chakra. When sahajoli is practised during maithuna (the act of sexual union), mooladhara chakra wakes up and the spiritual or tantric orgasm takes place.
When the female yogi is able to practise sahajoli for say 5 to 15 minutes, she can retain the tantric orgasm for the same period of time. By retaining this experience, the flow of energy is reversed. Circulation of blood and sympathetic/parasympathetic forces move upward. At this point, she transcends normal consciousness and sees the light. That is how she enters the deep state of dhyana. Unless the woman is able to practise sahajoli, she will not be able to retain
the impulses necessary for the tantric orgasm, and consequently she will have the nervous orgasm, which is short-lived and followed by dissatisfaction and exhaustion. This is often the cause of a woman’s hysteria and depression.
So, sahajoli is an extremely important practice for women. In uddiyana, nauli, naukasana, vajrasana and siddha yoni asana, sahajoli comes naturally.
The practice of amaroli is also very important for married women. The word amaroli means ‘immortal’ and by this practice one is freed of many diseases. The practice of amaroli over a prolonged period also produces an important hormone known as prostaglandin which destroys the ova and prevents conception.
Just as in the scheme of creation, Shakti is the creator and Shiva the witness of the whole game, in tantra the woman has the status of guru and the man of disciple. The tantric tradition is actually passed on from the woman to the man. In the tantric practice, it is the woman who initiates.
It is only by her power that the act of maithuna takes place. All preliminaries are done by her. She puts the mark on the man’s forehead and tells him where to meditate. In ordinary interaction, the man takes the aggressive role and the woman participates. But in tantra, they switch roles. The woman becomes the operator and the man her medium. She has to be able to arouse him. Then, at the right moment, she must create the bindu so he can practise vajroli. If the man loses his bindu, it means that the woman has failed to carry out her functions properly.
In tantra it is said that Shiva is incapable without Shakti. Shakti is the priestess. Therefore, when vama marga is practised, the man must have an absolutely tantric attitude towards the woman. He cannot behave with her as men generally do with other women. Ordinarily, when a man looks at a woman he becomes passionate, but during maithuna he should not. He should see her as the divine mother, Devi, and approach her with an attitude of devotion and surrender, not with lust.
According to the tantric concept, women are more endowed with spiritual qualities and it would be a wise thing if they were allowed to assume higher positions in social affairs. Then there would be greater beauty, compassion, love and understanding in all spheres of life. What we are discussing here is not patriarchal society versus matriarchal society, but tantra, particularly left hand tantra.
Path of yogis not bhogis
In tantra, the practice of maithuna is said to be the easiest way to awaken sushumna, because it involves an act which most people are already accustomed to. But, frankly speaking, very few are prepared for this path. Ordinary sexual interaction is not maithuna. The physical act may be the same, but the background is totally different.
In the relationship between husband and wife, for example, there is dependency and ownership, but in tantra each partner is independent, one unto himself. Another difficult thing in tantric sadhana is cultivating the attitude of passionlessness. The man has to virtually become brahmacharya in order to free the mind and emotions of sexual thoughts and passion which normally arise in the presence of a woman.
Both partners must be absolutely purified and controlled internally and externally before they practise maithuna. This is hard for the ordinary person to comprehend because for most people, sexual interaction is the result of passion and physical or emotional attraction, either for progeny or pleasure. It is only when you are purified that these instinctive urges are absent. This is why, according to tradition, the path of dakshina marga must be followed for many years before the path of vama marga can be entered. Then the interaction of maithuna does not take place for physical gratification. The purpose is very clear – awakening of sushumna, raising the kundalmi energy from mooladhara chakra, and exploding the unconscious areas of the brain.
If this is not clear when you practise the kriyas and sushumna becomes active, you will not be able to face the awakening. Your head will get hot and you will not be able to control the passion and excitement, because you have not tranquilized your brain.
Therefore, in my opinion, only those who are adepts in yoga qualify for vama marga. This path is not to be used indiscriminately as a pretext for self-indulgence. It is meant for mature and serious minded householder sadhakas, who are evolved, who have been practising
sadhana to awaken the energy potential and to attain samadhi. They must utilize this path as a vehicle of awakening, otherwise it becomes a path of downfall.
Section 2 – THE CHAKRAS
Introduction to the Chakras
The subject of chakras is not going to be an easy one. Many scientists and philosophers are confronted with a great difficulty when it comes to accepting and explaining the existence of the chakras. They do not know whether the chakras are to be found in the physical body or in the subtle body. If they exist in the physical body, where are they? And of course the subtle body is not the matter of modern anatomical science.
In the past, doctors and scientists used to ask me: ‘We have witnessed many operations, why have we never seen the chakras?’ At the time, the only reply I could give them was, ‘Can you show me the sound waves in a transistor radio? I have opened up radios but I have never found the BBC there.’ This answered their questions, but it didn’t really satisfy them.
Scientists want a scientific explanation, and for this, new areas of research are being developed.
An eminent Japanese scientist, Dr. Hiroshi Motoyama, has invented sensitive machines for measuring the vital energy of the body. One apparatus measures the functioning of the nadis and their corresponding body organs, and this machine is now being used in some Japanese hospitals to diagnose disease tendencies before they actually manifest.
Another invention is ‘the chakra machine’, which records the impulses that emanate from the psychic centers in the spinal cord. On this machine it is possible to register definite impulses from these areas in individuals who have been practising yoga for many years, and who have awakened their psychic faculties. For example, when a subject practises pranayama with kumbhaka and maha bandha – contraction of the perineum, abdomen and thyroid, the machine registers changes in the impulses emanating from the psychic centers.
This research shows that energy is definitely activated by the yoga practices. However, we still have a lot of research to do in order to provide more scientific explanations.
At the same time, there are quite a lot of different interpretations on the science of chakras.
Of course the differences are not that great, but they are there. The thinkers of theosophical movements and their predecessors have their own interpretations of the chakras, their location points, colors, etc. The Rosicrucians and others may say something completely different and the tantric texts may present entirely different concepts.
The chakras, kundalini and the mind have subtle aspects on all levels of vibration. This is extremely complicated and most of the realization of these levels must be very personal. Even then, different people see these occult aspects from different points of view. For instance, if they have realizations about the chakras, these will be colored by their own personal tendencies. Some concentrate on their more subtle mystical aspects, some on their energy and pranic manifestations, some on their functional reality, some on their psychological effects, and still others on their physical concomitants. These are usually all correct and when various authorities get together, they find that they are talking about the same things but from different points of view. If we look at a man through binoculars he looks large. If we look at him by ordinary vision he looks the usual size. If we view him through an X-ray screen we see his skeleton, and if we look through a gastroscope we see the inside of his stomach. Same man – different viewpoints.
In the same way, whereas a mystic or yogi will describe the chakras in a spiritual or symbolic way, the surgeon may describe the chakras as bunches of nerve fibers making up what he calls the plexuses, and a clairvoyant will describe the energy manifestations of the chakras in yet a different way. These people may have disagreements, but actually they are seeing the same thing from different viewpoints. Discrepancies are largely semantic due to
differing cultural, educational and personal understandings. This is a common problem amongst men when they try to communicate in words any idea or experience.
Whereas I have great respect for the tantric concept, I have my own experience, and therefore, in my descriptions of the chakras I’ll make references to both. However, rather than trying to understand the chakras through the written or verbal descriptions of others, you must experience them for yourself and gain your own personal knowledge. Tantra is essentially a practical science rather than an intellectual one, and only practice leads to true experience and real understanding.
If you are practising kundalini yoga or kriya yoga, you will need to know the different colors and symbols of the chakras. They are all very beautiful and form an intrinsic part of the awakening of the individual chakras. Each chakra has a particular color, mantra, situation and range of experiences associated with it.
Whereas the various esoteric cults and spiritual systems use different symbols to represent the chakras, in tantra and yoga the chakras are symbolized by lotus flowers. As a symbol, the lotus is very significant. Man must pass through three clear stages in spiritual life, which represent his existence on three different levels: ignorance, aspiration and endeavor, and illumination. The lotus also exists on three different levels – mud, water and air. It sprouts in the mud (ignorance), grows up through the water in an effort to reach the surface (endeavor and aspiration) and eventually reaches the air and the direct light of the sun (illumination).
Thus the lotus symbolizes man’s growth from the lowest states of awareness to the higher states of consciousness. The culmination of the growth of the lotus is a beautiful flower. In the same way, the culmination of man’s spiritual quest is the awakening and blossoming of human potential.
So each of the principal chakras can be visualized as a lotus flower with a specific color and number of petals as follows:
Mooladhara – 4 petalled deep red lotus Swadhisthana – 6 petalled vermilion lotus
Manipura – 10 petalled bright yellow lotus Anahata – 12 petalled blue lotus Vishuddhi – 16 petalled violet lotus
Ajna – 2 petalled silver-grey lotus
Sahasrara – 1000 petalled multicolored or red lotus.
In each chakra six things are combined : 1) the chakra color, 2) the petals of the lotus flower, 3) the yantra or geometrical shape, 4) the bija mantra, 5) the animal symbol, 6) the higher or divine symbol. Each chakra contains an animal and divine beings. The animals represent your previous evolution and instincts, and the divine beings represent higher consciousness.
In my exposition of the chakras I may say a chakra is a particular color, but if you are a good yogic aspirant and in your concentration on that chakra you realize another color, that is the truth for you. Your experiences are just as valid as mine, but one thing is definite, as you move up through the chakras, the frequencies of the colors become more subtle and more powerful.
In many of the practices of kundalini yoga we have to concentrate or focus our awareness on the chakra trigger points in the spinal cord. However, many people find it easier to concentrate on the chakra kshetram located on the front surface of the body. In kriya yoga particularly, the chakra kshetram are utilized in many of the practices. The kshetram can be regarded as reflections of the original chakra trigger points, and when we concentrate on them it creates a sensation which passes through the nerves to the chakra itself and then travels up to the brain.
Mooladhara does not have a kshetram, but swadhisthana, manipura, anahata, vishuddhi and ajna have physical counterparts directly in front of them on the same horizontal plane. Swadhisthana kshetram is at the level of the pubic bone in front of the body just above the genital organ. Manipura kshetram is at the navel, anahata kshetram is at the heart and vishuddhi kshetram is located on the front surface of the throat pit in the vicinity of the thyroid gland. Ajna kshetram is bhrumadhya, the mid-eyebrow center.
There are three granthis (psychic knots) in the physical body which are obstacles on the path of the awakened kundalini. The granthis are called brahma, vishnu and rudra, and they represent levels of awareness where the power of maya, ignorance and attachment to material things is especially strong. Each aspirant must transcend these barriers to make a clear passageway for the ascending kundalini.
Brahma granthi functions in the region of mooladhara chakra. It implies attachment to physical pleasures, material objects and excessive selfishness. It also implies the ensnaring power of tamas – negativity, lethargy and ignorance.
Vishnu granthi operates in the region of anahata chakra. It is associated with the bondage of emotional attachment and attachment to people and inner psychic visions. It is connected with rajas – the tendency towards passion, ambition and assertiveness.
Rudra granthi functions in the region of ajna chakra. It is associated with attachment to siddhis, psychic phenomena and the concept of ourselves as individuals. One must surrender the sense of individual ego and transcend duality to make further spiritual progress.
Besides functioning as control centers, the chakras work as centers of interchange between the physical, astral and causal dimensions. For instance, through the chakras, subtle energy from the astral and causal dimension can be transformed into energy for the physical dimension. This can be seen in yogis who have been buried underground for long periods of time. Through activation of vishuddhi chakra, which controls hunger and thirst and enables one to subsist on subtle energy in the form of amrit or nectar, they have been able to maintain their existence.
It is further contemplated that physical energy can be transformed into subtle energy through the action of the chakras and that physical energy can be converted into mental energy within the physical dimension.
Thus the chakras are seen to be intermediaries for energy transfer and conversion between two neighboring dimensions of being as well as facilitating the energy conversion between the body and mind. As the chakras are activated and awakened, man not only becomes aware of the higher realms of existence, but also gains the power to enter those realms, and then in turn, to support and give life to the lower dimensions.
Evolution through the Chakras
All life is evolving and man is no exception. Human evolution, the evolution which we are undergoing relentlessly, both as individuals and as a race, is a journey through the different chakras. Mooladhara is the most basic, fundamental chakra from where we commence our evolution, and sahasrara is where our evolution is completed. As we evolve towards sahasrara, outer experiences come our way in life, and inner experiences come to us in meditation, as different capacities and centers awaken progressively within the nervous system. This occurs as energy flows at higher voltages and rates of vibration through the different nadis in the psychic body.
Mooladhara is the first center in human incarnation, but it is the highest chakra that animals have the capacity to awaken. It is their sahasrara. The higher chakras beyond mooladhara are not present in the
psychic physiology of animals and their nervous systems reflect this relative deficiency.
Below mooladhara there are other chakras which represent the evolution of the animal kingdom. They are only related to sense consciousness and not to mental awareness. When your consciousness was evolving through these chakras your mind was only associated with sense consciousness. There was no individual awareness, no ego; it began from mooladhara. These lower centers are no longer functioning in us because we have transcended them.
In the animal body, these inferior chakras are situated in the legs, and so are the nadis. The nadis flow to their confluence point at mooladhara chakra just as the nadis in the human body flow to ajna chakra. The names of the lower chakras are atala, vitala, sutala, talatala, rasatala, mahatala and the lowest is patala. Just as mooladhara is the lowest chakra in the human body, patala is the lowest in the animal kingdom. It is the dimension which represents total darkness, where nature is not functioning and matter is completely dormant and static.
Above sahasrara there are also other chakras which represent the higher divine consciousness. So mooladhara chakra is the highest in animal evolution and the first in human evolution. Sahasrara is the highest in human evolution and the first step in the highest divine evolution.
As you read more about the chakras, you will come to realize that kundalini actually controls every affair of life. When this shakti was passing through the animal stages of our evolution, it was influencing the whole species with avidya or ignorance. On account of its influence,the animal kingdom was compelled to follow the path of eating, sleeping, fearing and mating. This represented the tamasic phase oi evolution. From mooladhara onward we pass through the rajasic phase and from sahasrara onward we enter the sattvic.
Spontaneous and self-propelled evolution
Up to mooladhara chakra evolution takes place automatically. Animals do not have to practise pranayama and japa yoga. They don’t have to find a guru, take sannyasa and become chelas. They don’t have to do anything and they can eat whatever they want. Nature controls
them completely. Because they don’t think, nature is benevolently responsible for every phase of their evolution.
However, once kundaiini reaches mooladhara chakra, evolution is no longer spontaneous, because a human being is not completely subjected to the laws of nature. For example, animals only mate in particular seasons. At other times, even if they live together they will not mate. But, because man is free from the laws of nature, he can mate whenever he wants.
Man has awareness of time and space, and he has an ego. He can think, he can know that he is thinking and he can know that he knows that he is thinking. This is because of the evolution of ego. If there is no ego there will not be double awareness. Animals do not have double awareness. If a dog is chasing another dog, it is under nature’s compulsion. It doesn’t know it is chasing and the other dog doesn’t know that it is running. It runs because instinct compels it to.
So, man has a higher consciousness, and once he has it he has to work towards its evolution. That is why it is said that kundaiini is sleeping in mooladhara chakra. It can’t progress beyond this point unless it is pushed.
Discovering your point of evolution
Of course, when the shakti awakens suddenly in mooladhara, it cannot rise immediately. It may wake up and sleep again many times. You know how your children are in the morning; you have to wake them several times because they keep going back to sleep. Kundaiini behaves in the same way. Sometimes it even ascends to swadhisthana or manipura only to return to mooladhara again to sleep. However, once the shakti goes beyond manipura chakra there is no going back. Stagnation in a chakra only occurs when there is an obstruction in sushumna or one of the chakras. Kundalini can remain in one chakra for many years, or even for a whole lifetime.
Sometimes, when kundalini gets blocked in a chakra during transit, you begin to exhibit some of the siddhis or psychic powers associated with that chakra. Then you may not have self-control and understanding of the fact that you are only on the road. When one attains siddhis he is tempted to display them. He may think he is using them for the good of humanity, but this only feeds the ego and clouds him in a thick veil of maya or ignorance, hindering his further progress.
If one is manifesting siddhis, he can assume that he has evolved to that chakra which is associated with those siddhis. However, siddhis don’t usually manifest when kundalini passes through all the chakras quickly, and if they do, they will not stay long. For a few days you may be able to read the thoughts of others, but then that ability will pass away. For a few days you may be able to heal people, but that will also pass. Psychic powers usually only linger when kundalini gets blocked in a chakra.
Of course, some of our lower chakras may already be functioning without our knowledge. We are all at different levels on the scale of evolution, and therefore it may not be necessary to start the process of awakening from mooladhara. We say kundalini is in mooladhara in order to explain the whole concept, but due to your progress in previous lives, or the sadhana your mother or father may have done, you might have been born with your kundalini in manipura. If that is the case, the ascension must take place from there. However, as you can’t remember your previous life, similarly you also forget about the state of your kundalini. That is why the gurus teach that it is sleeping in mooladhara. It may be in anahata, but I will always tell you it is in mooladhara and make you do the practices from mooladhara. You might not have any experience of it there. You may go to swadhisthana and manipura and not have any experiences there either. But the moment you go to anahata you suddenly start having experiences.
So, before you commence the practices of kundalini yoga, you should try to find out at which point your ascension will actually start. In order to do this, the best method is to concentrate on mooladhara daily for 15 to 30 minutes. Then swadhisthana for 15 days, manipura for 15 days and so on up to sahasrara. You will soon discover your point of evolution.
Some people will find concentration on anahata easiest, so that is likely to be their center. Others will find ajna chakra very powerful and attractive to them, whereas other people will find it easiest to relate to mooladhara, while the higher chakras seem almost impossible to locate. Ultimately you will be able to decide which is your most sensitive chakra, and you will be ready for the next step – awakening.
However, there is one important point to add. Even if a higher chakra such as anahata has awakened at random, you must try to awaken the lower chakras also. The purpose of awakening kundalini and ascending it through all the chakras is to awaken them and their related parts of the brain. Therefore, in order to awaken the whole brain, all the chakras must be awakened.
Awakening the chakras
Awakening of the chakras is a very important event in man’s evolution. It should not be misunderstood for mysticism or occultism, because with the awakening of the chakras, our consciousness and our mind undergo changes. These changes have significant relevance and relationship with our day to day life.
Our present state of mind is not capable of handling all the affairs of life. Our love and hatred, our relationships with people, they are the consequences of the quality of our present mind. And it appears that our sufferings, our agonies and frustrations are not so much due to the circumstances of life, but more to the responses of our mind. Therefore, the purpose of awakening the chakras, sushumna and kundalini should be related to our day to day life.
Thousands of people are born with awakened chakras and kundalini, and these people virtually rule the whole world. I’m not talking about governing or ruling a country; I’m saying that they are superior people in every aspect of life. They are the great musicians, artists, builders, scientists, research scholars, inventors, prophets, statesmen, etc.
There are many children born with awakened chakras and kundaini and as they grow up they show different manifestations. However, our materialistic societies consider these manifestations as abnormal and those who display them are subjected to psychoanalysis and psychological scrutiny and treatment.
It is not regarded as abnormal if you undergo personal conflicts in relation to family or work events, but as your mind and consciousness expand, you become very alert and sensitive to all that is happening in your mind, your family, colleagues, society and country, and you can’t ignore even the tiniest things of life. By ordinary people, this is not regarded as normal, but it is a natural consequence that follows awakening of the chakras. One’s consciousness becomes very receptive because the frequencies of the mind change.
The manifestation of higher qualities
Every form, every sound and every color has a certain frequency. All sounds, colors and forms do not have the same frequency. In the same way, every thought has a frequency, some are of a low frequency and some are of a high frequency. I’ll give you an example of a high frequency idea.
Once the great scientist Isaac Newton was sitting in a garden and he watched an apple fail from a tree. We may have also seen apples fall from trees and because it doesn’t seem strange to us, we have not given any thought to the process. But Isaac Newton had what we could call philosophic attention. This was a quality of his mind and personality and because of it, when an apple fell before him, he discovered the theory of gravitation.
Why shouldn’t you tell lies? Maybe you think there’s no harm in it if you can make money, rule a nation or suppress people. The whole contingent depends on the frequency of your consciousness. At a lower frequency of consciousness you’ll say there’s no harm in telling lies, but when the frequency is raised the mind operates at a different level and you can’t really accept that anymore. Many people say, ‘Why should we not kill? After all, when we kill an animal we may be liberating it and enabling it to get a better birth quicker.’ Our attitudes and way of thinking are a result of the quality of our mind and the particular frequency at which it is functioning.
Once Lord Buddha went hunting with his cousin Devadatta. Devadatta shot an arrow at a pigeon and it fell, injured by the arrow. Lord Buddha felt the pain of that bird and immediately rushed to remove the arrow. But Devadatta did not feel the pain, he was very pleased with himself because he had struck his target. Buddha’s consciousness had attained a higher frequency vibration and as a result of that he was sensitive to the bird’s pain and was manifesting compassion.
Therefore, the higher qualities of a man, such as love, compassion, charity, mercy, etc. are the expressions of a mind which is influenced by awakened chakras. This is precisely the reason why so much importance is given to the awakening of anahata chakra. Of course every chakra is very important and each chakra confers certain abilities, but you will find that all the scriptural texts place great emphasis on the awakening of anahata, ajna and mooladhara chakras. Yogis emphasize ajna and mooladhara chakras and all mankind gives emphasis to anahata chakra. When anahata is awakened we have a sublime relationship with God, with our family members and with every being.
When the chakras are awakened the mind automatically changes. Your values in life also change and the quality of your love and relationships improve immensely, enabling you to balance out the disappointments and frustrations in life. Therefore you are able to live a little
higher than you do now, and your attitude towards yourself and towards this life is much better.
If awakening of the chakras can bring about unbreakable unity in your family, what more do you need? Do you need a happy family or another husband or wife? Frankly, man needs a happy mind and a happy family. It doesn’t matter what he does or what his children are. Does it really matter if there’s little to eat? Happiness and inner contentment are above all. And as far as I can see, true contentment can only be gained by a systematic awakening of the chakras.
Our reflection on the psychic centers begins from ajna chakra. According to tradition, mooJadhara is generally designated as the first chakra since it is the seat of kundalini shakti. However, there is another system in which consideration and study of the chakras commences from ajna.
Ajna chakra is the point of confluence where the three main nadis or forces – ida, pingala and sushumna merge into one stream of consciousness and flow up to sahasrara, the crown center. In mythology, these three nadis are represented by three great rivers – Ganga (ida), Jamuna (pingala) and Saraswati (a subterranean current which represents sushumna). They converge at a place called Prayag or Triveni, which is near present day Allahabad. Hindus believe that every twelve years, when the sun is in Aquarius, if one takes a dip at the point of confluence, he or she will be purifiedю This place of confluence corresponds symbolically to ajna chakra.
When the mind is concentrated at this conjunction, transformation of individual consciousness is brought about by the merging of the three great forces. Individual
consciousness is mainly comprised of ego, and it is on account of ego that we are aware of dualities. As long as there is duality there cannot be samadhi; as long as you remember yourself you cannot get out of yourself.
Although there are experiences of trance in other chakras, there is no merger of the individual ego with the cosmic ego. All throughout you find you are trying to assert yourself behind all the experiences you are having, but when ida and pingala unite with sushumna in ajna chakra, you lose yourself completely. I don’t mean that you become unconscious. Your awareness expands and becomes homogeneous. Then individual awareness falls flat and you completely transcend the realm of duality. Thus ajna chakra is a very important center, which you must experience in order to bring about purification of the mind. Once the mind is purified the experience and awakening of the other chakras can proceed.
There is a certain problem with the awakening of the other chakras. Each one contains a store of karmas or samskara, both good and bad, positive and negative, painful and pleasant. The awakening of any chakra will definitely bring to the surface an explosion or expression of these karmas, and of course, not everybody is prepared or ready to face them. Only those who have reason and understanding are able to cope. Therefore it is said that before you start awakening and manifesting the great force, it is best to purify the mind at the point of confluence. Then, with a purified mind, you can awaken the other chakras. For this reason we begin our exposition of the chakras with ajna.
The center of command
The word ajna comes from the Sanskrit root which means ‘to know, to obey or to follow’. Literally, ajna means ‘command’ or ‘the monitoring center’. In astrology ajna is the center of Jupiter, which symbolizes the guru or preceptor. Amongst the deities, Jupiter is represented by Brihaspati, the guru of the devas and preceptor of the gods. Therefore, this center is also known as ‘the guru chakra’.
Ajna is the bridge which links the guru with his disciples. It represents the level at which it is possible for direct mind to mind communication to take place between two people. It is in this chakra that communication with the external guru, the teacher or preceptor takes place.
And it is here that the directions of the inner guru are heard in the deepest state of meditation, when all the sense modalities are withdrawn and one enters the state of shoonya or void.