All the different paths of yoga, Ashtanga yoga, Jnana yoga, Hatha yoga, and others have their common goal as realization of the self. Kundilini yoga is another such path which helps one realize the brahman, or the real self, to the one who progresses on its path. The main goal of all beings who take birth, in different forms, in the world is to strive to realize supreme consciousness, or the real self as only this realization helps break the shackles of the three fundamental pains (sufferings) associated with existence in the universe.
Kundilini yoga is an exact science which deals with the serpent power ( prana energy) Kundilini, the psychic centres ( Chakras) of spiritual energy, the arousing of the sleeping Kundilini and its uninion with lord Sada-Shiva in Sahasrara ( thousand petalled lotus) Chakra. The basic method of awakening Kundilini by Kundilini yoga combines many techniques of Hatha yoga, especially Sukshama pranayama and stable posture with intense deep concentration on the chakras stimulating their arousal by the chanting of Mantras.
Meaning and Nature of Kundilini
Kundilini is the pranic energy in the micro system of the jiva ( being) which corresponds to the cosmic energy ( Isvara) in the macro system of the universe. Thus, Kundilini or Prana Shakti is the cosmic energy which can be termed as the kinetic energy ( force of movement) which comes from the potential energy residing in the Parabrahma, the Pusrusha.
This prana energy or Kundilini lies dormant at the Mooladhara chakra ( plexus) of all beings like a sleeping serpent making three and a half coils. This serpent power should be aroused and awakened and allowed to merge with its origin, the Cidakasa at Ajna chakra loacted between the two eyebrows ( Brumadhya). This prana shakti is commonly mistaken for the air one breaths during respiration. The air one inhales or exhales from the respiratory apparatus is the grossest representation of prana.
Risis of the yore have have gone beyond the realm of the scientific research and investigated to find that this Prana Shakti ( kundilini shakti) has arisen from Atman, or the self, which is the original source of all energies. Kundilini energy can be awakened by the practice of certain yoga techniques, meditation known as kundilini Yoga and with it it awakens the higher faculties, skills of the aspirant, developing which would have otherwise taken hundreds of years of evolution.
Concept of Nadis in Kundilini Yoga
In order to understand the concept of Kundilini yoga one needs to first understand the concept of Nadis present in human body. Nadis are the subtle tubes made of astral matter that carry psychic (prana energy) currents. The Sanskrit word "Nadi" comes from the root " Nad" which means motion. The Pranic energy flows within the body through these very subtle ( sukshma) passages called Nadis.
Being made of subtle ( astral) matter they cannot be perceived with the naked eye or cannot be detected by any scientific experimentation. Yoga Nadis are very different from nerves, arteries, or veins as known to the modern medical science. Though the concept of Chinese meridians as described in the Chinese traditional medicine system is very similar to the concept of Nadis as described with respect to Kundilini Yoga.
The body is filled with a enormous network of Nadis which cannot be counted. As per different estimated by different authors the number ranges anywhere from 72,000 to 3,50,000. The names of the 14 main Nadis are listed here for your reference.
Ida, Pingala, and Sushumna are the most important Nadis from the 14 and Sushumna is the chief Nadi of them all. It carries the highest significance to the Yogins as the Kundilini when awakened by practicing Kundilini yoga passes through the Sushumna nadi as it moves up from the lower edge of the spinal cord ( Mooladhara chakra) towards the head - Ajna Chakra - from where it had originated originally.
For the Pranic energy to flow uninterrupted through the Nadis they need to be pure, thus a lot of Hatha yoga practices like Nadi Shuddhi pranayama are used to purify the Nadis. All the subtle ( sukshma) Prana, Nadis, Chakras have their gross manifestations and operation in the physical body. The location and paths of the gross nerves and plexuses corresponds with the subtle one's, the Nadis and Chakras respectively.
Since the physical centres are closely related to the subtle centres the vibrations produced in the physical centres by the practice of Kundilini yoga have the desired effects on the astral (subtle) centres. The physical body is shaped in accordance with the nature of the astral body. If we compare the physical body to a physical entity like water than the astral body would be the water vapors , the nature of the water corresponds to the water vapors it condenses from.
As water vapors are existent within water, astra body ( sukshama) is existent within the physical body. One must remember that every centre of the gross body has its astral centre. All the Nadis are known to emerge from Kanda. Kanda is an egg shaped membranous entity which is located between the the anus and the root of the reproductive organ.
There is Swayambhu Linga in Mooladhara Chakra, the Sushumna Nadi is joined with the Kanda at the head of this linga. At this juncture ( head of the linga) the mysterious serpent power Kundilini lies with head downwards at the origin of Sushumna. Like the serpent it makes three and a half coils around the linga. The three coils of the Kundilini represent the three qualities (gunas) of the primordial matter Prakriti and half represents the modification ( Vikriti) of nature. THe coils of the Kundilini are the source of world experience.
Significance of Pranayama in Kundilini yoga
By now we understand the term Prana, ayama on the other hand means to control or make something subtle and long. For the Prana shakti - Kundilni - to merge with the self it must be made subtle and long by the disciplined practice of sukshama pranayama. In Kundilini yoga the physiological and concentrative discipline is very severe, that is why Kundilni yoga can be very dangerous to the person who practice it without an experienced teacher.
The practice of suksham ( subtle) pranayama must only be resorted to after gaining sufficient experience in regulating the breath in puraka, rechaka, Kumbhaka pranayama practices, and after purifying the Nadis with the Nadi Shudhi Pranayama. The main aim is to reverse the natural paths of Apana ( sub prana which operates in the lower abdomen and pelvic regions) and Prana ( a sub prana which operates in the thoracic region) from downward direction to upward, mix them up and put them either in Bruhmadhyam ( area between the eyebrows) or the Sahasraara ( Top of the head).
Since Apana, which flows downwards in the direction of gravity, is present where the Prana Shakti (Kundilini) is lying latent it prevents the Kundilini from rising upwards into Sushumna Nadi. Thus, in order for the serpent energy to rise the Apana must be pushed upwards with a force which can override the gravitation pull of Apana, like the minimum force is needed to launch the space shuttle so that it can escape the gravitational pull of the earth. This is what is achieved through Sushma pranayama.
The Sukshama pranayama helps raise the mixed Apana and Prana by the upward sucking action of the Uddiyana bandha and Moolabandha applied together in the lower abdominal region. This creates the force for the Kundilini to rise up in Sushumna when it is ready to do so. Once the mix of Prana and Apana reach the Bruhmadhya it is again lowered down to the pelvic region. This raising and lowering of the Prana and Apana must be done very slowly without any retention ( kumbhaka) taking place in between the two.
This way the body is churned up and down which stimulates the Kundilini energy and pushes it up Sushumna to reach the Bruhmadhya region. It is easy for the Kundilini to enter the Bruhmadhya now as the constant upward and downward churning of the Prana and Apana ( as done in Suksham pranayam) had knocked opened the door of the Bruhmadhya ( Ajna Chakra , are between the eyebrows).
The technique of Sukshma pranayama is not revealed in any yoga literature though it has many benefits of its own. The upward and downward churning motion of this pranayama lubricates the body cells, lungs, intestines, throat, nostrils, and brain along with energizing the body. It also helps calm the mind and help open the Sushumna Nadi without which no spiritual development is possible. The Kundilini when provoked will rise like a serpent and release the mystic psychic powers.
Awakening of the Kundilini
When the latent serpent energy is awakened by practicing Kundilini yoga it uncoils, makes a hissing sound like a serpent beaten with a stick, pierces Mooldhara chakra and rises up through Sushumna passing through all the chakras, from Swadhishthana to the Sahasrara. Sahasrara is supposed to be the abode of Lord Shiva, and Kundilini, being his consort the shakti, violently rushes upwards to meet him. The initial sensation of Kundilini rising is very violent and indescribable.
When Kundilini passes from chakra to chakra it arouses each one in turn, when the Kundilini is at a chakra intense heat is experienced there, and when it leave a chakra it leaves behind the sensation of cold in that chakra. As the Kundilini passes from chakra to chakra the aspirant experiences divine bliss and gets different psychic powers. As the Kundilini ascends from lower to higher chakras the aspirant also ascends from the lower to the higher stage of spiritual perfection.
The movement of the Kundilini through the chakras located in different planes unfolds their secrets and charms tot he aspirant., known and unknown worlds reveal their existence and splendor, and the aspirant gains bliss, knowledge, strength and psychic powers. The mind of the man generally remains around the Mooldhara Chakra, the center of worldly desires and pleasures, this is why the Kundilni remains lying asleep at this chakra. When the man is awoke to the world the Kundilini lies dormant, when Kundilni awakens the man looses all consciousness ( sleeps) of the world.
When Kundilni rises to Swadhishthana chakra the man loses his animal nature, when it reaches Manipura Chakra the man loses his ego, and that is why experiences bliss along with some spiritual power. Manipura Chakra is considered very important in a lot of traditions, like Budhism, as this chakra is the center of transformation where the self ( ego) is immolated like a dead body in a pyre. The Kundilini by passing through this chakra is revealed more in its true nature.
As the Kundilini pierce through the Anahata Chakra it develops love and compassion for all the elements of the world in the aspirant, he experiences bliss and visualizes the form of his personal diety. The feeling of more power and bliss sets in the aspirant as the Kundilini passes through the Vishudhi Chakra. As the Kundilini reaches Ajna Chakra the aspirant realizes the Self and attains Savikalpa Samadhi, where only a slight sense of separateness remains between him and the supreme being.
As the Kundilini hits the Sahasrara Chakra the aspirant attains Nirvikalpa Samadhi, or completely unites with the supreme being. The Sat-Chid-Anand ( Existence-Consciousness-Bliss) and all the senses which were creating separateness dissolve here. The aspirant becomes fully illuminated sage. When the Kundilini Shakti unites with Sada-Shiva at Shasrara chakra it liberates the aspirant which now can enjoy the nector of immortality.
Other Ways of Awakening Kundilini
As a matter of fact all the methods of yoga and meditation which helps an aspirant to progress on the consciousness plane help awaken Kundilini in their own ways. All the spiritual practices in the form of chanting, austerities, prayers, and the practice of all divine virtues l like love, mercy, truthfulness, non-violence, and forbearance eventually help awaken the Kundilini.
A Guru can help waken Kundilini by touch, sight, speech or mere wishful thinking. It can also be awakened by the grace of any divine soul, God, or Godess which exist in subtle or gross form. A Bhakti Yogi can awaken the Kundilini by self surrender and devotion. A Hatha yogi can purify his existence by practicing asana, pranayama, mudras, and bandhas which will eventually lead to opening of the Kundilini.
It can also be awakened by the chanting of mantras, tantric practices, meditation on yantras, mandals, or cosmic meditation. Every mode of practice that leads the aspirant to the super conscious state will help awaken the Kundilini, no super conscious state is possible without awakening the Kundilini.
Prana and its Relationship with Kundilini
The grand total of all cosmic energy that is present in the universe is called Prana ( subtle vital energy or force). Prana is the grand total of all energies lying latent within us and as well as all energies outside us. Electricity, magnetism, heat, light, sound, and all kinetic and potential energies are manifestations of prana. Our breath is the gross manifestation of prana, and we can control the subtle prana inside us by exercising control over the breath.
Since prana is the common energy present within and without the man, he can control or regulate this energy within himself or the energy present around him. The subtle prana present within us is the fuel of the mind which cannot function without it. The Kundilini is related to the subtle prana, the subtle prana is related to the mind through the Nadis and the Chakras, mind is related to the will, individual will is related to the soul, the individual soul is related to the supreme soul ( Purusha), hence, Kundilini is related to the supreme soul, or being.
The practictioners of Kundilini yoga who attain the this union by the arousal of the Kundilini state that the super conscious state attained by this method is more perfect and superior than any other process. When the Kundilini unites with the Sada-Siva the perfect superconscious state is achieved which liberates the aspirant. Such a person gets any psychic powers, enjoys the divine intoxication, develop the power of oration, composes sublime hymns and divine literature involuntarily and understands the real meaning of the scriptures.
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