Dr. V.K.Maheshwari, M.A(Sociology, Philosophy) B.Sc. M. Ed, Ph. D
Former Principal, K.L.D.A.V.(P.G) College, Roorkee, India
The cosmic force or universal energy is flowing. There are numerous authoritative texts and explanatory commentaries which expound the energetic secretes in Tantra shastra. But what is really important to understand in this awakening process is that it is your subtle energy field that is erupting and unraveling and producing all the changes.
The functions and the potentialities of the Kundalni and chakras have been acknowledged in various traditions both in the East and the West. They were known to many Christian mystics and to the Sufis. They find a mention in the Egyptian tradition and Theosophist literature also.
Kundalinī Serpent Power
The term “KUNDALINĪ” is based on several words, and therefore has several meanings.
The word-ending “ī” indicates that it relates to the feminine principle and deals with a form of SHAKTI (energy) and PRAKRITI (nature).
• KUNDA is a hole or well into which all debris and rubbish is thrown. In time the rubbish loses its original form and disintegrates into a formless mush in which the individual components are no longer recognisable. In a similar way our impressions from earlier lives lie like an amorphous substance deep in the unconscious (Mūlādhāra Chakra).
• KUNDALA means ring (generally earring). A ring or a circle has neither a beginning nor an end. It is infinite and that is why it is a symbol of creation. Cosmic energy is circling constantly; we do not know when the Universe began and how long it will last.
Kundalini is a mystical power located at the base of the spine, sometimes referred to as “the serpent power”. It is a female force, connected with the Mother Earth, and in some eastern traditions is revered as a Goddess. Whether we are aware of this power or not – whether we believe in it or not – we are completely dependent upon it. Everything we do, we are only able to do thanks to kundalini. The main, if not the only reason, we are here on Earth is to learn to control this power, and raise it, in its entirety, up the spine. As it rises, it activates the chakras, explained briefly above.
In most people a part of kundalini rises up the front of the body, which results in emotionalism, among other things. Whereas a very advanced yogi (practitioner of yoga) is able to raise kundalini in its entirety up the spine through each chakra in turn. A yogi capable of such a feat will develop tremendous psychic abilities which have to be controlled – either by being used in service to others, or by being rejected. As a result, the yogi can enter the higher states of consciousness, as described in The Nine Freedoms, of enlightenment, and, beyond this, ultimately – of cosmic consciousness .
Two other roots of “KUNDALINĪ” are KUNDALIN, serpent, and KĀLA, time or death. What is the connection between these terms? The symbol of the snake has many meanings: ignorance, energy, unhappiness or happiness, death, time and change. In Indian mythology Lord Vishnu rests on a thousand-headed snake and sends out the first vibration (Sphurna), from which the entire Universe evolves.
THE “AWAKENING OF THE KUNDALINĪ” MEANS THE AWAKENING OF INNER KNOWLEDGE. The path of the Kundalinī proceeds from the Mūlādhāra Chakra at the lower end of the spinal column up to the Sahasrāra Chakra at the top of the head. But its awakening is not a physical occurrence; it consists exclusively of a development in consciousness. This becomes more noticeable as our perceptions of cosmic vibrations and radiant energy (Tattvas) become more sensitive, and our understanding of the connections and laws within the Universe deepens.
Occasionally in Yoga literature Kundalinī is connected with Tantra and occult powers and is considered as something dangerous. Kundalini is the name for a living symbol of the latent divine power in the human system lying dormant and curled up like a snake in the region of the spine.
Hence the name Kundalini (meaning ‘coiled up’) or the Serpent Power. The symbol of the snake also refers to the poison and danger that lies in ignorance. Ignorance is as poisonous and deadly as a cobra. But poison can also heal and even have a life saving influence. Knowledge about its correct application and dosage is the important thing. So just as the power to heal is contained in poison, supreme knowledge lies dormant in the “ignorance” of the unconscious. Just as a snakebite can suddenly change our life, when the Kundalinī awakens our consciousness changes fundamentally and we reach another dimension of time and space.
The signification of the word ‘serpent’ is purely figurative or symbolic. “It could very well be translated in scientific terminology as ‘potential power’ ” . Just as a coiled up or wound spring is a source of potential energy, which can be transformed into kinetic energy, Kundalini indicates the presence of a reservoir of tremendous untapped power within man.
Philosopher like Sri Aurobindo’s concept of Kundalini is that it is an all-pervasive force that accompanies the growth and the perfect evolution of the new consciousness, that of the Superman. He dwells upon it in The Integral Yoga: This force is the Yoga – Shakti. It is here coiled up and asleep in all the centres of our inner being (Chakras) and is at the base what is called in the Tantras the Kundalini Shakti. But it is also above us, above our head as the Divine Force – noi, there coiled up, involved, asleep, but awake, scient, potent, extended and wide; it is there waiting for manifestation and to this Force we have to open ourselves – to the power of the Mother.
Distinct planes or layers of consciousness in an individual
One who succeeds in rousing k’undalini and realizing the true nature of the Divine Mother, transcends the phenomenal world of Time and Space. Man is a multiple personality, in the view of Tantra. There are distinct planes or layers of consciousness in an individual which interpenetrate, co-ordinate and blend to constitute a harmonious unit of the entire being. Each of these planes is governed by a number of conscious centres or sources of dynamic power which function as focal points for the Pure Consciousness to operate. At the same time, within us resides a subtle system of channels (nadis) and centers of energy (chakras) which look after our physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual being. Chakras, meaning “wheel”, are psychic centers that lie along the axis of the spine as consciousness potentials. They are usually represented as lotuses. The chakras are not materially real and are to be understood as situated, not in the gross body, but in the subtle or etheric body. Repositories of psychic energies, they govern the whole condition of being. These centres are picturesquely portrayed as chakras signifling wheels of power, or padmas or lotuses found in our subtle body, arranged in an ascending series along the spine.
In Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga, they signifies different levels of consciousness, or the degree of our mental purity and spiritual elevation, which lead us to a greater awareness of Time and Space.
When kundalini is struck, she awakens, uncoils and begin to rise upwards like a fiery serpent, breaking upon each chakra as she ascends, until the Shakti merges with Shiva in sahasrara chakra.
As kundalini reaches each chakra, that lotus opens and lift its flower; and as soon as she leaves for a higher chakra, the lotus closes its petals and hangs down, symbolizing the activation of the energies of the chakra and their assimilation to kundalini. The dynamization of kundalini when it passes from one chakra to another is an unfoldment of spiritual consciousness stage by stage and is said to enable the acquirement of yogic powers called siddhis.
The increasing number of lotus petals, in ascending order, may be taken to indicate the rising energy or vibration-frequencies of the respective chakras, each functioning as a transformer of energies from one potency to another. Each of the 50 petals of the first 6 chakras are associated with one of the letter of the Sanskrit alphabet.
Each of the chakras, according to the Tantras, corresponds to one of the elements of which the known world is compounded. Muladhara represents solidity; Svadhisthana, liquidity; Manipura, the gaseous; Anahata, the aerial; Vishuddha, the etheric, or space. One can see the whole process as a progressive transformation of the elements, with an increase of volatility. Each of the elements of the first five chakras are associated with a sound: Lam, Vam, Ram, Yam, Ham.
This ascent through the chakras can be viewed as an upward journey through the self which refines and subtilizes the energy that is the kundalini, until at the sixth chakra, the Ajna, center of command, a qualitative change has taken place. The chakras are centers of transformation of psychic or mental energy into spiritual energy
THE FOUNDATIONAL CHAKRA- The Muladhara
The first chakra is situated below the sacrum bone in which resides the Kundalini At the base of the spine is the foundational chakra, muladhara, which holds you into a sense of having a body, of being a separate person, a connection and agreeement that spirit is making with existence. The Muladhara is the seat or basic receptacle of the presiding energy. This chakra “governs the physical down to the subconscient”
It is main aspect is the innocence. Innocence is the quality by which we experience pure, childlike joy, without the limitations of prejudice or conditionings. Innocence gives us dignity, balance, and a tremendous sense of direction and purpose in life. It is nothing but simplicity, purity and joy.
Three qualities are rooted here — the tendency to lethargy (tamas), activity (rajas)or harmonious balance (sattva). We each have a mix of these. Sometimes you can see them clearly in the temperament of a new-born infant. Here also our spirit becomes identified with the limitation of time and space, and we know we are part of the earth. Our life force is rooted here and active, because we feel we are alive and pranic energy is moving throughout our body. Kundalini is said to be the residual energy that is stored here, holding us in stasis, unless or until it is jolted into awakening and winding upward through our bodies.
THE SEXUAL AND PROCREATIVE CENTER- Swadishthan Chakra
The second chakra, swadhisthana, is related to the sexual organs — the drive to procreate, or the desire for pleasure originates here. This chakra is active but in many people it is out of balance, causing obsessions with sex or the opposite dynamic — fear, frigidity, condemnation of the body or of life. On the physical level it looks after our liver, kidneys, and the lower abdomen. When we think too much, this center gets drained of energy and diseases like diabetes or blood cancer can occur when this chakra goes completely out of balance ‘
This area is believed to be the seat of all desires, and the storehouse of the collective unconscious, holding all the darker energies in the deep subconscious. Because of this a person might become obsessed with terror or demonic images, and move through a sexual or fear crisis as kundalini moves into and amplifies this chakra. For this reason many spiritual traditions emphasize opening or awakening chakras in the upper body first. When this deep unconscious material is cleared out a person is said to be free from lust, anger and greed, to feel integrated, calm and fearless, and able to have a strong will and dedication to their spiritual life.
This chakra is the chakra of creativity, pure attention and pure knowledge. It is the one which connects us to the inner source of inspiration, and enables us to experience the beauty around us.
The pure knowledge given by this chakra is not mental, but it is direct perception of the Reality, that can be felt in our palms and indicates our subtle blockages. Also this is the center of pure, steady attention and power of concentration.
THE SEAT OF POWER– Manipura Chakra
The 3rd chakra, Manipura, located at or slightly below the naval, is where our sense of a personal identity lives. It is the power center, concerned with survival and accumulation. The third chakra is the one that gives us the sense of generosity, complete satisfaction and contentment.
On the left side, the main quality of this center is peace – clearing this chakra can relieve stress and tensions. On the right side, it looks after our liver which is the organ of our attention and power of concentration.
When enlightened by the Kundalini, this Nabhi chakra gives us our spiritual ascent, righteousness and inner sense of morality, and complete balance at all levels in our life.
We have both upper and downward flowing pranic energy flows in our bodies that circulate in the 3rd chakra center and kundalini yogis believe that for good health and spiritual growth these energies need to be rerouted to move in tandem upward through the body, so some yogic practices are designed to accomplish this.
When this chakra functions well the body will be healthy and probably long-lived. When this chakra is fully awakened by kundalini the sense of a separate identity is seen as illusory, and there is a profound change in how the will, spiritual intuition, and intention is experienced. This is a major turning point in a spiritual awakening, and after manapura is awakened the kundalini is said to no longer fall into the lower chakras.
The quality of energy here has a great impact on our digestion, the fire and energy that moves through all our organs, and our general psychological and physical health. When out of balance a person may be arrogant and demanding, feel driven and be overbearing. At the opposite extreme they may feel weak, ineffectual, depressed, energy deficient and helpless.
Sometimes benevelent psychic powers may arise when the chakra is awakened. One also begins to see beauty in the world and envision new possibilities in their life. Biases, and prejudices fall away. It is an important time to learn to listen to the deeper intuition and become aligned with your authentic sense of expression in the world.
Some people in a spiritual awakening or spiritual crisis feels chronic fatigue, listlessness, and even being bedridden for a long period. This indicates that energy has either burned out or become depleted in this area.
It takes time and self-valuing to repair any damage in Manapura and yogis say a sincere spiritual commitment can also help to stabilize .
AWAKENING THE HEART- Anahata Chakra
The 4th chakra, Anahata, is in the center of the chest in the spine, parallel to the heart. On the physical level, this chakra looks after our heart and lungs . The fourth chakra, the chakra of the heart, is the place where resides our Spirit, our true Self, which is eternally pure and unaffected by anything, like a shining diamond hidden within us which witnesses all our actions. Surrounding the second and the third chakra is the Void which stands for the principle of mastery (guru principle) within us. In Sahaja Yoga you become your own guru, your own spiritual guide since you can feel on your fingertips all your subtle problems and have the power to cure them using your own Kundalini
In many spiritual traditions, this area is the “ocean of illusions” that needs to be crossed with the help of a spiritual guide. When the Kundalini is awakened and passes through the Void, this principle of mastery is established within us.
. The heart chakra is associated with our creativity, our love of life, appreciation of nature and other people, compassion and empathy. To the extent these are available our heart chakra is balanced and open. When kundalini does its transformation here we may find that life flows smoothly, what we need appears, and we are emotionally balanced. For many people an initial spiritual awakening is at the level of the heart, triggered by a profound love of another person or relationship with a guru. Sometimes being in the presence of a realized person will spontaneously open and activate the heart chakra, or paradoxically, an experience of deep grief will open us.
If we could move through life with no disappointments and no loss or grief, then our heart chakra might stay open and loving in the world, but every pain or contraction creates armoring, protectiveness and defensiveness . During the opening of this chakra you may hear voices or sounds from other realms, hear buzzing or humming sounds and the music of a flute, and feel great sensitivity to the feelings of others. You may temporarily have clairvoyant or psychokinetic experiences, or even a capacity to heal. You may become detached from worldly things, and find old pleasures meaningless. As the energy is working waves of old grief might arise to be released. You can feel unusual sensations in the heart, or have a sudden rising of unconditional love or compassion. It can be like an emotional roller coaster for a while, but as the work here settles out there is a deep peace and internal happiness.
Moreover, establishing this center helps us get rid of all our habits, laziness, gross attachments, and everything that enslaves us in a way or another: we become our own master. After Self Realization, everything can be cured through the purifying power of the Kundalini in meditation.
After Self Realization, our attention becomes for the first time connected to our Spirit and we gradually become aware of it. Our misidentifications with our ego or conditionings drop and we start becoming identified with our Spirit, which is our true nature.
It is from our heart that the compassion and love manifests, and also the heart chakra is the one that gives us the sense of responsibility and pure behaviour towards others. The heart chakra manifests in the center (at the level of the sternum bone) as complete security and confidence.
All our worries, doubts and fears are destroyed when the heart chakra is fully enlightened by the Kundalini.
AWAKENING TO THE OPPOSITES- Vishuddhi Chakra
The 5th chakra, Vishuddhi, is in the cervical plexus behind the throat, and impacts throat, ears and hearing. The fifth chakra is the chakra of diplomacy, of pure relationships with others, and of playful detachment.
Shuddhi means to purify, but the work here goes beyond clearing because when the chakra transforms it brings one to terms with the opposites and allows consciousness to understand and accept both the light and dark aspects of life. This brings the mind harmony, inner peace, compassion and a wise perspective. One begins to realize that all the challenging experiences of life are here to teach us.
This chakra is emphasized in yogas that use sound i,e, shabd and nada yoga, and can be opened through mantras, music, and chanting, especially if the person is very devotional. It is believed that people with remarkable speaking skills, or beautiful singing voices were born with vishuddhi open and active.
If there are psychic intrusions the person can handle them with discrimination and not become distracted or overwhelmed. Greater creativity, and insight into spiritual teachings, bliss and a long life are other reported benefits of awakening this chakra, as well as the occasional ability to read another person’s thoughts.
When vishuddhi is out of balance or blocked the thyroid can be damaged, and ears throat and hearing may be challenged. It can be difficult to express thoughts and feelings. Sometimes there are random movements or periodic shaking of the neck and head
It removes all our guilts and remorses when it is opened by the Kundalini, and gives us a kind and compassionate voice. Also, the Vishuddhi is the chakra which gives us the connection with the whole, enabling us to feel our oneness and the fact that we are all part and parcel of the whole.
AJNA: THE 3RD EYE- Ajna Chakra / Agnya Chakra
While the two physical eyes symbolise the cognizance of the physical world of ordinary Time and Space, the third eye, located at the Ajna, represents the expansion of vision in the human consciousness.
Evidently, at this level of consciousness, there is a tremendous upsurge of visionary perception and an intuitive seeing of all times and all spaces. : “It symbolizes the stage when one has deeply realized the world with its past, present and future aspects . According to Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga, the Ajna is the highest centre of consciousness within the human body or “mortal Space” . It is from here that man begins to break free of the bondage of human existence and transcend the temporal – spatial tiers of mundane creation. “This centre is the channel of communication between the Higher Consciousness and the inner mind as also the outer mind . On reaching this plane, the sadhak becomes one with the Supreme Soul, the witness of the universe.
Ajna means to know or follow and this chakra, located between and slightly above the eyebrows, is considered the command center of the entire subtle body system. It has been associated with the pineal gland, which evidently begins to shut down when children are 9 or 10.
The sixth chakra is the chakra of forgiveness and compassion. Forgiveness is the power to let go of anger, hatred and resentment and to discover, in humility, the nobility and generosity of the Spirit.
It is the one that dissolves all our ego, conditionings, habits, and all our misidentifications. It is the narrow gate which opens the way for our consciousness to ascend to its final destination, which is the seventh center.
There are many esoteric and meditation practices that emphasize putting attention on this 3rd eye, with the belief that this will purify the mind and prepare one to awaken their entire energy system with fewer problems.
A series of spiritual events have been attributed to this chakra, especially flashes of great light, falling into light or bliss, visions, profound stillness, and psychic revelations. It is at this transformational opening one glimpses the unreality of the personal identity, and may feel detached from the senses. As energy moves upward from here, the subtle body may rise or sink into states of samadhi, and you may feel merged with the universe, or lose all consciousness of separation from the cosmos.
However, the opening of Ajna does not mean the end of the energy process. It generally sends energy back down through the lower chakras to further clear deep-seated conditions and toxins and to strengthen the system. If you have done no preparatory work, and have chakras that have not yet opened fully, the entire kundalini process may activate and bring out personal and collective unconscious material.
A THOUSAND PETALS IN SAHASRARA- Sahasrara Chakra
The seventh center integrates all the chakras with their respective qualities. It is the last milestone of the evolution of human awareness.
Sahasrara chakra is likened to a thousand-petal lotus, and is located either at the top of the head or above it. Tantra sees this as symbolizing unlimited possibilities and the full realization of Truth — a vast knowledge of nothing and everything, or merging with the wholeness of all.
The samadhi experience here is an ego death, a movement forever out of the mundane and limited human awareness. Perspectives of life and one’s role in it are profoundly altered. Some esoteric systems say there are numerous spiritual chakras beyond the crown which allow one to enter other dimensional experiences and relationship, but these are beyond the scope of my interest and expertise.
As energy and conscious move into the brain there is still another level of clearing that is triggered, along with the opening of latent brain centers.
Some spiritual traditions do not see completion in the blessing of a samadhi state, but encourage instead an embodiment — bringing Truth back into the body – and learning to live from the perspective absorbed in those moments. There are practices that bring energies back through the physical and subtle bodies, promoting a final clearing of deep unconscious material, and grounding a person into the willingness to live with the whole of life — to be ordinary and be of service.
Each of the seven chakras has several spiritual qualities. These qualities are intact within us, and even though they might not always be manifest, they can never be destroyed.
Thus, through regular meditation, we become automatically very dynamic, creative, confident and at the same time very humble, loving and compassionate. It is a process which starts to develop by itself when the Kundalini rises and starts to nourish our chakras.