The origin of life remains shrouded in mystery. However, the theory of evolution offers a glimpse into its origin. It suggests that through a gradual process, organisms evolved from simple to many complex forms. The theory explains how man evolved from being a caveman to a rational being. Naturally, the bodily evolution of humans was followed by the evolution of their mind.
Initially, man was only concerned about his survival. The mysteries of the universe remained an enigma to him. Over time, evolution of intelligence gained precedence in his mind. He began to think and theorise. This led him to a rational explanation for his existence. Then, he began evolving spiritually. This gave birth to philosophy and religion.
Along this journey, human beings realised that they possessed an innate potential that could aid them in their spiritual evolution. According to the eastern esoteric philosophy, this innate potential is the Kundalini. It exists in a dormant form at the base of the spinal cord. Tapping into the potential of this energy could lead to a spiritual awakening.
Spiritual guru and mystic Sri M, in one of his articles, writes: “Kundalini, which is considered by the tantras as the manifestation of the infinite supreme energy called Parashakthi or Bhawani, is said to reside in a potent form but not kinetic, inactive but not active form, at the base of the spinal cord of all human beings–coiled like a spring or as a snake turned three and a half times around itself (…)” Some studies even suggest that as Kundalini ends with an ‘i’, it represents feminine energy like Shakti and Prakriti (nature).
Extensive study of this concept and several individuals’ experiences of Kundalini awakening suggest that once an individual taps into this energy, they are known to experience an altered state of mind which is unique to them. It is a heightened state of awareness, also interpreted as a superconscious state of bliss. It is said that when the energy ascends the ajna (the third eye), an individual witnesses an unimaginably bright light and a thousand-petaled lotus.
“The human body consists of 72,000 nadi. They arise from three basic nadi–ida, pingala and sushumna.”
Writer on spirituality and mysticism Swetha R, whose interests lies in understanding the concepts of mysticism and spirituality narrates her experience of Kundalini awakening. “Post my pregnancy, I felt my ajna open and I could see space and solar system. Later, I could see images of different deities.” Swetha says she had this kind of an experience for two long years. “One time I saw a long serpent rising through a huge pipe and pierce a white lotus. I think this must be the thousand-petaled lotus that people refer to,” she adds. The experience was real, but it felt entirely surreal, she confesses as a matter of fact.
Several people are known to have Kundalini awakening. For some, it might be unanticipated, while others are born with an awakened Kundalini. Mystic and yogi Ramakrishna Paramahamsa is said to have been born with an awakened Kundalini. Yoga practitioner and teacher Rajesh Jain agrees. “It might have to do with the concept of reincarnation. Our Kundalini is almost awakened. A little push is all that is required in childhood. As we are continuously hypnotised by our surroundings, our ego is strengthened. It becomes so rigid that it doesn’t let us see anything beyond it.” This doesn’t allow the Kundalini to rise, he adds.
Delving deeper into this concept, one understands how the chakra and nadis (channels through which prana or life force energy travels) are vital to Kundalini awakening. According to the ancient discipline of yogic sciences, subtle energy channels or chakra that connect the brain to the genitals reside along the spinal cord.
Of the 114 chakra in the human body, seven are fundamental to our existence. They are–muladhara (located at the base of the spine), swadhisthana (located between the base of the spine and the naval), manipura (above the naval, called the solar plexus chakra), anahata (in the chest, also known as the heart chakra), vishuddha (at the throat), ajna (in the forehead, called the third eye) and sahasrara (at the top of the head, called the crown centre). Finally, at the base of the spine, in the muladhara, is the Kundalini.
The human body consists of 72,000 nadi. They arise from three basic nadi– ida, pingala and sushumna. Ida is on the left side of the spinal cord, pingala is on the right and sushumna runs through the spinal cord. Ida and pingala are the surya and chandra nadi respectively. They represent the duality of existence – the masculine and the feminine, personified as Shiva and Shakti.
“It is believed that Kundalini awakening changes a person spiritually. When the energy ascends to the ajna, there is a sense of being one with everything in the cosmos.”
When energy ascends from muladhara to sahasrara through the sushumna, an individual is said to attain Kundalini awakening. Sri M writes: “When the sleeping energy–the great Kundalini–is awakened by resorting to the proper means, guided by a proper teacher, then it begins to move up the sushumna channel, touching six centres as it ascends, until it reaches the topmost centre, which is known as the thousand-petaled lotus–the sahasrara chakra–located in the crown of the head. When the Kundalini energy reaches there, then it merges with the Supreme Reality called Shivam and upon this merger, the yogi enters Samadhi, a high super-conscious state, where he realises his own identity with the divine, all-pervading, blissful Supreme Being.”
Does this mean one can awaken his Kundalini only after years of meditation and spiritual practices? Yes and no, says Jain. The number of people who have attained Kundalini with the practice of yoga is not more than people who have awakened it unexpectedly, he admits. “There is no actual link between yoga practice and Kundalini. But you could also practise yoga and awaken the Kundalini.”
For the seeker, there are various methods to awaken the Kundalini. Shakti Path is known as one such method where a guru transfers divine energy to the disciple to awaken his Kundalini. Yogic breathing, devotional singing, fasting, yoga and meditation could also lead to the experience.
Jain talks about Hatha and Kundalini yoga as two means to Kundalini awakening. Hatha yoga focuses on stimulating all body parts. When a body part is stimulated, a signal is sent to the spine. From the spine, the signal is passed on to the brain. Each body part has corresponding areas in the spine and the brain. “Fingertips, lips and genitals occupy maximum space in the brain. As you stimulate other parts of the body, their corresponding areas enlarge, consequently shrinking those of the other three,” Jain explains. When the body is fully stimulated, the signal from the spine shoots up to the brain through the sushumna. This is when the Kundalini awakens.
Kundalini yoga focuses on the spine, along which the chakra lie. Through practice, each chakra is activated. The energy at the muladhara ascends to the sahasrara through the sushumna.
It is believed that Kundalini awakening changes a person spiritually. When the energy ascends to the ajna, there is a sense of being one with everything in the cosmos. Individuals share having experienced a sense of universal consciousness. If practised with the right intent, a Kundalini awakening can be a life-changing experience. As Carl Jung, the founder of analytical psychology, rightly put it: “When you succeed in awakening the Kundalini, so that it starts to move out of its mere potentiality, you necessarily start a world which is totally different from our world. It is the world of eternity.”