Kundalini Shakti and the subtle body

All beings are different forms of the universal cosmic energy. This infinite cosmic power appears in a dynamic state during the creative process and after having accomplished its creation conceals itself along with its infinite potential in static residual form at the base psycho energetic centre of the creature. In this residual form it is known as kundalini or “the coiled one” since it lies coiled at the base of the spine. The word shakti (normally meaning force) refers to the feminine aspect of the primordial energy.

When the residual coiled power is aroused it resumes its upward journey to unite with its origins. When awakened it guides the aspirant during his spiritual path.

In the process called Shaktipat, the Guru transmits a spark of the highest potentiality into the astral body of the aspirant and sets ablaze his spiritual journey. The life force, prana, then works actively like a divine mother on all 3 planes, physical, astral and causal.

Kundalini is more than just potential energy. It is a conscious aware force.

The subtle body.

The subtle body that may be witnessed during the yogic process is not visible to the ordinary eye nor are the psycho-energetic centers or chakras detectable by mechanical means. The subtle body is seen as a shimmering energy flow of various colours often seen as an aura.

This subtle body possesses many pathways called nadis through which prana flows. The yoga scriptures say that there are 72,000 nadis in all. The nadis most commonly referred to are the ida, pingala and sushumna. The sushumna is the central pathway which runs from the base of the spine to the crown of the head. To the left of the sushumna is the ida nadi and to the right is the pingala nadi. The word sushumna means “she who is most gracious”. The word ida means pale and pingala means reddish. The ida and pingala are also referred to as the lunar and solar channels and the reason for their colours now becomes apparent. The ida represents lunar forces and pingala solar energies.

At various points along the sushumna lie the 7 chakras or psycho-energetic centres.

The aim of kundalini practice is to unleash the kundalini shakti which moves upwards with enormous force through the sushumna and pierces each chakra to reach the seventh.

Various texts also make the 5 elements or panchbhutas correspond to certain chakras. The five elements being earth, water, fire, air and ether.

The chakras or psychoenergetic centres:

The seven chakras from the base upwards are:

  1. Muladhar: From mula or root and adhara or support. This chakra is the lower most chakra situated at the base of the spine.This chakra is associated with the earth element and is represented and seen as a four petaled lotus.
  2. Svadhisthaan: From sva or own and adhishthan or base. Located at the genitals this chakra represents the water element and is seen as a 6 spoked wheel.
  3. Manipura: From mani jewel and pur or pura meaning city. Thus called the jeweled city and represented by a ten petaled lotus. It is located at the nabhi or navel and also referred to as the nabi chakra. It is associated with the third element, fire element.
  4. Hridaya or Anahata chakra. The Sanskrit word hridaya refers to the heart and anahat translates to “unstruck”. Situated at the heart. At this level the music of the cosmos can be heard. Called unstruck because the cosmic vibration can be heard without any object being struck. Element -air.
  5. Vishuddha: From shuddha meaning pure. This chakra is located at the throat. Element ether. At this level one receives a taste of soma ras or the nectar of immortality which is produced at a location just behind this chakra. Element – ether. Seen as a 16 petalled lotus.
  6. Ajna or the command wheel. This chakra is the third eye. The chakra is referred to as the command wheel or guru chakra because this is the psycho-energetic centre through which telepathic communications from the guru are received. Seenas a two petalled lotus. At this level the aspirant has moved beyond the five elements.
  7. Sahasrara or the thousand petalled one. Location- the crown of the head. At this level the yogi is immersed in universal consciousness.

As the kundalini awakens and rises through the central channel, the chakras bloom one by one with the manifestation of higher and higher level of consciousness. Ultimately at the level of the Sahasrara, Shakti unites with Shiva or God.

The journey:

An example of a yogi’s journey is that of Yudhistar’s described in the Bhagavad Gita:

He offered his speech as oblation to his mind.
Then his mind to Prana (life force).
Prana to Apana (the other).
Apana to death.
Then death to the 5 principles or Bhoothajaya. Earth, water, fire, air and ether.
The 5 to the triad. Rajas, Sattva, Guna.
Then finally the 3 to the Mahatattva.

Unleashing the kundalini:

In a person at the normal level of human consciousness the prana travels through the ida and the pingala nadis. The kundalini is often depicted as a serpent whose head blocks the entrance to the sushumna. The process of unleashing the kundalini involves redirecting the prana to flow through the central channel rather than the lunar and solar channels. The beginning process involves asanas, pranayama and dhyana on the subtle body and chakras. The process has to gently guide the kundalini through each level, chakra by chakra.

This is not a process to be undertaken without the guidance of an enlightened guru. The kundalini when released often has unimaginable power akin to a tornado unleashed. In its upward journey it pierces the 6 chakras to reach the sahasrara at the crown of the head. The process, if not properly understood, can lead to unimaginable damage to the body and mind. But guided properly it leads to yoga -or union- with the Absolute.


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