The word “Kundalini” is a familiar to many students of Yoga. It is well known as the power, in the form of a coiled serpent, at Muladhara Chakra; the first of the seven Chakras, the other six being Swadhishthana, Manipura, Anahata, Vishuddhi, Ajna and Sahasrara in order.
What is Kundalini – The term Kundalini as coiled serpent refers to as such in the texts of Tantra. This idea has been very popular that’s why most people believe the term in this way. The Kundalini is the source of energy which is named differently in different branch of Yoga. In Tantra it is called as Kundalini, in Raja Yoga as chitta, In Jnana Yoga as analytical will, in Karma Yoga as unattached dynamism, in Bhakti Yoga as love and so on. It’s the same energy that reflects in various ways. Whichever path an individual follows sincerely, he comes to realize the one and only reality that belongs to all paths. The Kundalini experience is the same reality. Therefore, we should look at Kundalini as divine experience reflecting differently by following different paths to the seekers of the truth.
Kundalini in Tantra – The great tantrik text “Shiva Samhita” describes Kundalini in the following way –
“Two digits above the rectum and two digits below the sex organ is the Adhara lotus (Mooladhara Chakra), having a dimension of four digits. In the pericarp of the Adhdra lotus there is the triangular, beautiful yoni, hidden and kept secret in all the Tantras. In it is the supreme goddess Kundalini of the form of electricity, in a coil. It has three coils and a half (like a serpent), and is in the mouth of Sushumna (Central Nadi). It represents the creative force of the world, and is always engaged in creation. It is the goddess of speech whom speech cannot manifest and who is praised by all gods.”
Importance of Kundalini energy by Swami Vivekananda – Rousing of the Kundalini is the one and only way to attaining divine wisdom, superconscious perception and realisation of the spirit. The rousing may come in various ways, through love for God, through the mercy of perfected sages or through the power of the analytic will of the philosopher. Wherever there was any manifestation of what is ordinarily called supernatural power or wisdom, there a little current of Kundalini must have found its way into the Sushumna. Only, in the vast majority of such cases, people had ignorantly stumbled on some practice which set free a minute portion of the coiled-up Kundalini. All worship, consciously or unconsciously, leads to this end. The man who thinks that he is receiving response to his prayers does not know that the fulfilment comes from his own nature, that he has succeeded by the mental attitude of prayer in waking up a bit of this infinite power which is coiled up within himself. What, thus, men ignorantly worship under various names, through fear and tribulation, the Yogi declares to the world to be the real power coiled up in every being, the mother of eternal happiness, if we but know how to approach her.
Prophets of the world and Kundalini – All prophets of the world had awakened their Kundalini by following different paths. Jesus as a trained Yogi awakened Kundalini by prayers and Yoga techniques, Buddha did it by meditation, Ramakrishna Paramhamsa had Kundalini awakening by intense love to the Goddess Kali, Mohammad stumbled upon Kundalini awakening and likewise all prophets had this special experience of Kundalini. We see in the life of all these prophets that they demonstrated tremendous powers and love. The science behind all the miracles that they could perform was the Kundalini power that they had awakened and brought up to Sahasrara Chakra. Therefore, Kundalini awakening is the one and only way to attain enlightenment and freedom.
Modern scientific explanation of Kundalini –
- Autonomous nervous system theory – An Indian doctor Varant G. Rele writes in his book “The Mysterious Kundalini” (published in 1927), that the upward movement of Kundalini can be identified with the activation of the right vagal nerve. Another Indian doctor, Professor Udapa (Udupa, 1982), considers the basis of Kundalini awakening to be the stimulation of the plexuses of the autonomous nervous system.
- Special energy theory – Dr. Motoyama considered Kundalini to be the life force called ‘chi’ in Acupuncture and Chinese medicine. It moves along certain acupuncture channels or meridians. He claimed that it is possible to measure it and depict it with electronic equipment (Motoyama, 1981). According to his theory, Kirlian photography has been considered to be able to picture and measure the level of ‘energy’ in living beings too (Bluen and Holstock, 1981).
- Psychoanalytic theories – Sigmund Freud proposed the word “sublimation” to describe the transformation of sexual impulses and their indirect expression in art or creative work. Psychoanalysis mostly depends upon introspection for understanding human mind.
- Biomedical model by Bentov – In 1977 Bentov described a typical sequence of symptoms of Kundalini awakening and its journey from the left foot to the spine, the head and down to the front of the body. The theory emphasises the resonance of the vibrations by the heart-aorta system. He says that the vibrations may be harmonised and even attuned with vibrations of the Earth and other planets.
- Silent brain awakening theories – According to Cn. Hills, Kundalini awakening happens in the brain but it is projected to other parts of the body. Many experts in science agree that Kundalini awakening activates the silent/unused areas of the brain.
Experiences of Kundalini awakening – The words of great saint Sri Ramakrishna Paramhamsa is very important on the subject. During His talks with His disciples, he spoke the followings –
“The mind of a worldly man generally moves among the three lower centres: those at the navel, at the sexual organ, and at the organ of evacuation. After great effort and spiritual practice, the Kundalini is awakened. According to the Yogis there are three nerves in the spinal column: Ida, Pingala, and Sushumna. Along the Sushumna are six lotuses, or centres, the lowest being known as the Muladhara. Then come successively Swadhisthana, Manipura, Anahata, Visuddha, and Ajna. These are the six centres. The Kundalini, when awakened, passes through the lower centres and comes to the Anahata, which is at the heart. It stays there. At that time the mind of the aspirant is withdrawn from the three lower centres. He feels the awakening of Divine Consciousness and sees Light. In mute wonder he sees that radiance and cries out: ‘What is this? What is this?’
“After passing through the six centres, the Kundalini reaches the thousand petalled lotus known as the Sahasrara, and the aspirant goes into samadhi.
“According to the Vedas these centres are called in Sanskrit bhumi; planes. There are seven such planes. The centre at the heart corresponds to the fourth plane of the Vedas. According to the Tantra there is in this centre a lotus called Anahata, with twelve petals.
“The centre known as Vishuddhi is the fifth plane. This centre is at the throat and has a lotus with sixteen petals. When the Kundalini reaches this plane, the devotee longs to talk and hear only about God. Conversation on worldly subjects, on ‘woman and gold’, causes him great pain. He leaves a place where people talk of these matters.
“Then comes the sixth plane, corresponding to the centre known as Ajna. This centre is located between the eyebrows and it has a lotus with two petals. When the Kundalini reaches it, the aspirant sees the form of God. But still there remains a slight barrier between the devotee and God. It is like a light inside a lantern. You may think you have touched the light, but in reality, you cannot because of the barrier of glass.
“And last of all is the seventh plane, which, according to Tantra, is the centre of the thousand-petalled lotus. When the Kundalini arrives there, the aspirant goes into samadhi. In that lotus dwells Satchidananda Siva, the Absolute. There Kundalini; the awakened Power unites with Siva. This is known as the union of Siva and Sakti.
“Can one attain knowledge of God by merely repeating the word ‘God’? There are two indications of such knowledge. First, longing, that is to say, love for God. You may indulge in reasoning or discussion but if you feel no longing or love, it is all futile. Second, the awakening of the Kundalini. As long as the Kundalini remains asleep, you have not attained knowledge of God. You may be spending hours poring over books or discussing philosophy but if you have no inner restlessness for God, you have no knowledge of Him.
“When the Kundalini is awakened, one attains Bhava (Deep feelings), Bhakti (Deep devotion), Prema (Intense love) and so on. This is the path of devotion.”
Different kinds of Kundalini rising experience – In the Gospel of Ramakrishna (Ramakrishna Vachanamrita), Ramakrishna Paramhamsa speaks to his disciples the five ways in which the Kundalini rises. He says –
A sadhu from Rishikesh visited here. He said to me (Ramakrishna), ‘How wonderful! I have seen five kinds of samadhi in you.
- Monkey – The spiritual current jumps like a monkey in the tree of the body, from one branch to another, leading to samadhi.
- Fish – Just a fish swims swiftly in water, the spiritual current moves up within the body and brings samadhi.
- Bird – Just like a bird it is sometimes on this branch of the tree of the body and sometimes it hoops to another branch.
- Ant – The spiritual current creeps up slowly like an ant. When it reaches the Sahasrara Chakrs one attains samadhi.
- Snake – The spiritual current moves in a wriggling motion like a snake and brings samadhi when it reaches the Sahasrara Chakra.
These above five ways are real experiences explained in ancient scriptures and exactly how Ramakrishna Paramhamsa experienced in His life which were witnessed by many wise people of the time.
Practices for Kundalini awakening – According to Swami Satyananda Saraswati, Kundalini awakening happens by birth, Mantra chanting, Tapasya; austerity, Soma (herb), Raja Yoga, Pranayama, Kriya Yoga (mental practices like Asana, Pranayama, Mudra, Bandha and visualisation), Tantric initiation, Shaktipat; transfer of spiritual power and self-surrender. He mentions also other practices such as Kirtan, music, selfless service, Karma Yoga, moral livings and rituals. Classical texts like Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Shiva Samhita and Gheranda Samhita mention various techniques such as Pranayama, Bandha, Mudra, meditation and Guru’s grace through which Kundalini awakens.
What are not Kundalini practices and experiences – All that are taught now a days in the name of Kundalini such as noisy stuffs, jumping, howling, beating drums for excitement, herbal intakes like LSD, Ayahuasca, things like touching forehead by so called gurus, energy work, any quick method and bizarre approach spread all around the world is not at all Kundalini practices. Many people explain experiences of Kundalini as feeling electric shock, energy flow in the spine, hallucination, visions and similar things like that which do not relate to Kundalini rising experience. They are mostly signs of nerve weaknesses and mental degeneration. We should be very aware of these things and carefully approach towards Kundalini study and practices.
Discussions on Yoga, Kundalini and Kundalini experiences
1. Do LSD and other drugs help in the awakening of Chakras or Kundalini?
Ans – In Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, we can find a hint about it. In Chapter 4, Sutra – 1, Patanjali says that the powers/perfections come from birth, herbs, mantra, austerity and samadhi (deeper concentration). In the ancient time herbs were used to activate certain silent areas of brain and subtle body as well. But this science is almost extinct now a days. The use of drugs brings certain experiences because they disconnect the motor and sensory cortex. If we take any drug like LSD, Marijuana or things like, they actually induce some forms of hypnosis. Awakening and hypnosis are two different things. In hypnosis there is elimination of consciousness but in awakening there is expansion and explosion of consciousness. There has been no evidence so far recorded that those who have used these drugs have received powers or transformation as Yogis of the past. I know one of my friends in India who began Yoga and Meditation with me. Soon he started having psychic experiences like receiving special fragrance but in some kind of association, he started using Marijuana for many years. Gradually he lost powers of brain and behaved abnormally. We cannot gain spiritual experiences and enlightenment with the use of drugs. Individual experience of imbalances, hangovers, dizziness, some kind of visions and beautiful or fearful experiences are no evidences. The proof of Chakra or Kundalini awakening result in some kinds of special powers such as telepathy, clairvoyance, clairaudience or rise of noble qualities like love, kindness, sympathy, discipline and so on. Knowledges, powers and sense of freedom is the result of awakening. If we have different experiences, then we must know that these drugs are not very useful and in some cases it may be injurious as well. Some of these drugs may have some medicinal properties which should be used only with the advice of a qualified medical expert. I have heard from some people that they experienced some visions or feeling of bliss and happiness with the intake of Ayahuasca and some kinds of plant-based psychedelics. But do these things improve the quality of their lives? Do these things cultivate divine properties in them? Do these things make them evolved humans. During sleep we forget ourselves and we are cut off from all experiences of life but as soon as we are awake and back to our consciousness, we are the same person. Therefore, using drugs for evolution many be an individual choice but the highway is already explored by the ancient sages which is the path of Yoga, prayer, meditation, cultivating divine properties, serving fellow beings as well as other beings and so on.
2. Does Kundalini awakening always start from Mooladhara Chakra?
Ans – Not necessarily. It can start from any chakra. We can begin concentration on Ajna chakra. If we are able manage the awakening there, then the relevant area in the brain will be enlightened. Because of our different levels of evolution, we all have certain chakras more sensitive than others. Someone may be able to awaken Manipura chakra more easily than Anahata chakra. It is always advisable to practise awakening of Mooladhara Chakra first as the experiences of Mooladhara are not so intense. And then gradually we should go up to the higher chakras because the experiences of higher Chakras are sometimes very intense to stand. If we stimulate the centres from the lower to the higher then we are easily able to adapt to the relevant psychic experiences.
3. Do Chakra have positive or negative qualities?
Ans – Kundalini awakening through the chakras manifest positive and negative traits. These traits are not based in the Chakras. They are inherent in mind (personality) of the practitioner. During Kundalini awakening matters, memories and qualities from subconscious and unconscious mind is released. If our past impressions (Karmas) are divine (Sattvic) then the experiences will be positive. If our past impressions (Karmas) are mundane (Rajasic) and confusing (Tamasic) then the experiences may be negative. Therefore, before Kundalini awakening, we should work on developing the sattvic life and try to free ourselves from mental errors through Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and other Yogic disciplines.
4. Do we get any benefits from our efforts to awaken Kundalini if the body is not purified?
Ans – We should first work towards purification of body, mind, diet and way of living. We should do Hatha Yoga practices, chanting of mantra, moral living and other Yogic disciplines to gain little bit of awakening. Only then we should go for more intense practices for Kundalini awakening. If awakening happens without proper purification of body and mind then we may have uneasy experiences like dizziness, low energy, instability, sudden anger, high or low temperament and so on. Physiological disorders like digestive problems may also occur. Some of the practitioners also experience eruptions on the body. There are more things to this record. Therefore, purification is an important part of Kundalini program.
5. Does activation of Chakras happen without Kundalini awakening?
Ans – Yes Chakras can be active through practice of Yoga. Sudden stimulation of Chakra can also happen because of emotional upsurges and intense passion etc. The stimulation of Swadhisthana Chakra is very common to many of us. In many cases, Swadhisthana Chakra becomes active before Mooladhara. When Manipura Chakra becomes active then sensations of burning heat may be felt. Anahata and Vishuddhi are rare to be found active in any practitioner.
6. Does someone have Kundalini awakening and he does not know anything about what is happening with him?
Ans – Many people awakened their Kundalini without knowing anything about it. A few of them, even behaved like insane. It is possible only for an enlightened person or highly evolved someone to recognise what is actually happening with someone in terms of Kundalini awakening. Swami Satyananda had Kundalini awakening experience when he was only 6 years. His parents felt that something wrong had happened with him. They took him to many evolved people of the time but no one could find out what had happened to him and how to help. Finally, his father took him to Anandamayi Ma (an enlightened Yogini) who was giving some religious discourses with her disciples in the same area. When she saw Swami Satyananda, she spoke to his father, “the snake is leaving its skin in his boy. He is very fortunate. His life is for renunciation.” She then touched his lower spine which gave him experience of strong electric shock which stood for 2 or 3 weeks. Later he became normal and at the age of 18 with the permission of his father, he left home in search of his guru. He met his Guru Swami Sivananda in Rishikesh. During his wandering life Swami Satyananda, once met a boy of twelve or thirteen years. His family members considered him mad. They threw him out so he was just wandering everywhere. One evening when Swami Satyananda was camping underneath a mango tree, he came and sat down beside him. He was unaware of his shabby dresses and behaved almost like a mad. After sometimes Swami Satyananda felt very strong vibrations from the boy. He realised that he had awakened some of his higher psychic centres which he did not know how to handle. He took him to the river for a bath and then put him into a hypnotic trance. Then he became normal. Afterwards he guided him to find his own guru (spiritual master) who could help him gain control over his awakening experiences. During my wandering life, I visited Nepal many times. Once in a small village of Nepal, I was living at the house of a household couples. The couples knew only the local language so the communication by bodily jestures was the only way. One evening the man (name – Visnu) came to see me when I was resting in a small room. The man sat near my feet and touched my toes with his forehead which I did not feel appropriate about but he was insisting. I agreed to this to just be polite. I closed my eyes in politeness to avoid seeing what actually he did. In a while I heard strange sound of breathing with abrupt noise. When I opened my eyes, I saw him sweating, making abrupt sound through breath and totally lost of body awareness. I was startled to see him this way. This lasted for around 90 minutes. During the time, I tried to move his body, shaked him by holding some parts of his body like hands so that he might come back to body consciousness. After around 90 minutes, he began to move his body like fingers loosening, hands turning other way around, neck movements, body movements and breath becoming calm – all happened very slowly. In around 30 minutes he regained his body awareness and felt like saying something to me. The man had no idea of what had happened to him during the 2 hours duration. Later when I told his wife about all these things by my jestures only, then she explained somehow by her jestures which meant that he did some kinds of meditation for some years afterwards he became like this most often. Even while talking, in the toilet, while walking and during normal activities of life he lost the body awareness. Therefore, she said that she never left him alone. I experienced this event several times with him there in Nepal at his house and sometimes in India as well when he travelled with me. This is a special experience which can happen to someone even though he has not studied about it.
7. Does Chakra awakening experiences stay always with the practitioner?
Ans – Once a certain Chakra awakens, it may become dormant again. Sometimes the awakening experience continues for a very long time like centre of telepathy or clairvoyance may open up. This experience may stay for sometimes only or it can be there forever.
8. How to proceed for Kundalini experiences?
Ans – The awakening of Kundalini is a very important experience of human life. It is better to experience a little awakening of the Chakra centres before Kundalini experience happen. We should proceed with Hatha Yoga practices like Asana, Pranayama, Mudra and Meditation practices. In addition, we should do Karma Yoga, practice moral disciplines, cultivate divine virtues and live a simple life. In course of time Chakra stimulation and Kundalini awakening take place.
9. Please tell us a bit about purifying the body with a vegetarian diet?
Ans – Vegetarian food and Yogic discipline can help purify the bodily systems like digestive, respiratory, circulatory, muscular and nervous systems. Purification of brain depends upon our thinking process also. The glands secrete certain hormones according to our thinking which sometimes can be poisonous also. Some emotions like anger, attachments, infatuation, worry, hatred and jealousy produce harmful secretions in the brain. They disturb the mind. Therefore, we need to cultivate peace, love, happiness and generosity to purify the brain and nervous system.
10. What experiences come in the actual Kundalini awakening?
Ans – Different people have different kind of experiences during Kundalini awakening. The most common experience is the flash and release of energy like electrical shock in the spine as if spinal cord becomes made of lightening. One can feel electrical currents in the root of spine. Before this happens, one may hear a continuous sound without a source which signifies that Kundalini awakening may happen soon. There are also other kinds of experiences like hearing the sound of a flute or a peacock, sitting in the middle of a monsoon shower, visions of dark clouds continuously moving, sound of thunder and so on. There are many more experiences recorded in the ancient texts of Yoga.
11. How should we start Yogic life for Yoga and Kundalini practices?
Ans – It is always a matter on Individual level. Everybody is different and has different level. If someone is more evolved then he would need different kind of guidance compared to someone who does not have any experience so far. But in general, we all can begin with something like practising Hatha Yoga Asana, Pranayama, Meditation, Yoga Nidra, Karma Yoga practices, Bhakti Yoga practices, maintaining certain disciplines, cultivating moral virtues like love and kindness, helping others, going for pilgrimage, Chanting, Prayers and so on. According to scriptures, at the time we are living in Kaliyuga (one of the time periods of universal cycle). In this era chanting of God’s name and doing help to others are the prescribed methods for higher experiences of Yoga, Kundalini awakening and God’s vision. This does not mean we should not do any Asana or Pranayama. We must try to do other disciplines like Asana, Pranayama and Meditation as they have their own effect on our physiology but the prescribed practices of a particular age work the best. This is the mandate of the scriptures of Yoga and enlightened people of the past and present.
With Love and Gratefulness (Founder Rohit Kumar)
Source – Shiva Samhita, words of Ramakrishna Paramhamsa, Swami Vivekananda, Swami Satyananda, personal study and experiences.
Hari Om Tat Sat!