We will have some serious apprehensions about cohesion between kuṇḍalinī and psychic chakras, benefits of activating chakras and the possible changes at emotional and physical levels during different stages of kuṇḍalinī meditation. Since kuṇḍalinī is the subtlest aspect of human life, any wrong practice could lead to serious repercussions. Therefore, it is necessary that one should have the first hand knowledge on kuṇḍalinī and its associated subjects. This article discusses about the following subjects.
1) Cohesion between kuṇḍalinī and psychic chakras:
The word cohesion seems to be more appropriate here as cohesion is explained as sticking together. Though kuṇḍalinī, the vital force and psychic centres already exists, they are not activated unless, kuṇḍalinī is activated. As discussed earlier, the best way of activating kuṇḍalinī is absolute love for Her. Love for Divine is the ultimate stage in spiritual path, the penultimate stage being unstinted devotion for the Divine. Transformation of devotional state of mind to the pervasion of absolute love for Her happens only in the emotional level; however this transformation gets reflected in physical level also.
Psychic centres are inherently not active fully; but at the same time, each chakra is active to a certain extent, as when we inhale and exhale, prāṇa enters through both iḍa and piṅgala, which is normal in human being. If one is able to manipulate prāṇa through certain practices, prāṇa enters the spinal cord, known as suṣumna. When prāṇa enters through suṣumna, these psychic centres are energised by fixing our consciousness on the psychic centres due to the combined effect of prāṇa and consciousness. These chakras are activated on their own, if one is blessed to receive the descent of Divine Grace. Descent of Divine Grace is possible only when devotion transforms into love for the Divine.
Iḍa is the left nostril, which represents moon and is considered as feminine in nature. Piṅgala is the right nostril, which represents sun and is considered as masculine in nature. Under normal circumstances, one nostril is active for certain period during a day and the other nostril is active for the rest of the time. Though both nostrils are active throughout the day, single nostril alone is predominant at a given time. Iḍa starts from the big toe of the right foot and piṅgala starts from the big toe of the left foot. Through thighs, they enter the perineum and for the first time they meet each other at mūlādhāra and ascends up to the top of the skull crisscrossing each chakra. Their crisscrossing is extremely powerful in two chakras, maṇipūraka and anāhata (navel chakra and heart chakra). Even lymphatic system has a very strong presence in these two chakras. They proceed towards sahasrāra outside suṣumna. Iḍa controls the right brain and piṅgala controls the left brain. Iḍa controls antaḥkaraṇa comprising of mind, intellect, consciousness and ego and they together (antaḥkaraṇa) control the subtle body, which is required for the physical body to exist. Further, when inhalation is made through the left nostril, as the breath uses iḍa nāḍi, the prāṇa that travels through this nāḍi works on vijñānamaya kośa and manomaya kośa and controls the mind. This is one of the reasons for saying that moon is responsible for mind. If inhalation is done through left nostril and exhaled through the right nostril when the mind is disturbed, mind attains its composure after a few rounds of breathing. Similarly piṅgala is instrumental in causing modifications in the gross body. Piṅgala controls annamaya kośa, ānandamaya kośa and prāṇamaya kośa. As piṅgala controls prāṇa, it produces heat which in turn heats up prāṇa, which makes the dormant kuṇḍalinī to ascend. It is more or less like vaporisation of liquid when heated. Thus, when inhalation is made through the left nostril, mind is calmed down and when the inhalation is done through the right nostril, kuṇḍalinī is activated. In order to effectively activate kuṇḍalinī, proper breathing practice as discussed in Part 3 of this series is to be followed, along with other techniques, that will be discussed later in this series. With perfect breathing practice along with certain postures, mudras, bandhas, etc, prāṇa enters into suṣumna blocking the passages of iḍa and piṅgala. When their passages are blocked, inputs to sensory organs are also blocked, intensifying the level of concentration, which in turn induces samādhi. When kuṇḍalinī is activated, it ascends through suṣumna passing through five chakras - svādhiṣṭhāna, maṇipūraka, viśuddhi, anāhata and ājñā to enter sahasrāra. Chakras can be effectively activated only if prāṇa enters through suṣumna.
Thus chakras can be activated only if prāṇa enters through suṣumna, establishing a clear relation between prāṇa, kuṇḍalinī and psychic chakras.
2) Benefits of kuṇḍalinī meditation while pursuing spirituality:
Ascension of kuṇḍalinī is directly related to several factors, such as one’s karmic account, spiritual evolvement, Guru’s Grace and above all Her Grace. If kuṇḍalinī ascends on Her own, it means that his karmic account accumulated over several births is going to be exhausted in this birth; he is going to be liberated at the end of this life.
Even if one begins to practice kuṇḍalinī meditation, it also signifies his elevated spiritual level, but to a far lesser extent. Unless one is spiritually evolved, perfection in kuṇḍalinī meditation cannot be attained. The level of spiritual evolvement is directly related to activation of higher chakras, through practice. If one is not spiritually evolved, granthi-s cannot be pierced easily. Spirituality is not related to dualism or external worship. Spirituality is the state of mind where one is able to realise the Self beyond all material forms as well as his own body. It is the path of realizing the Self within, which is explained as “I am Brahman” or “I am That”. Only realizing the Self within alone leads to liberation. Getting liberated at the time of death is the ultimate stage and he is not reborn again to undergo the pains of transmigrations. Therefore, it is highly important that one should not practice kuṇḍalinī meditation as long as his mind sticks to duality. Even if he practices, ascension of kuṇḍalinī to higher chakras like anāhata, ājñā and sahasrāra will not be possible. If one feels that his or her kuṇḍalinī is activated due to vibrations in these higher chakras, it could be only deceptive activation. These vibrations are realized due to movement of prāṇa mostly in iḍa and piṅgala. This also means that his or her suṣumna is not yet opened at mūlādhāra and the prāṇa moves up and down only through iḍa and piṅgala. Unless these two channels are closed, prāṇa cannot enter into suṣumna. Though, one practices various methods to activate the kuṇḍalinī, activations will not be perfect if all dualities are not annihilated.
Depth of devotion is possible due to recitation of mantras initiated by a Guru. Mantras cause subtle vibrations on the psychic body and these vibrations intensify the heat at mūlādhāra which cause subtle vibrations in kuṇḍalinī and this vibration of mūlādhāra is noticed at ājñā and sahasrāra. However, this is not kuṇḍalinī ascension. These subtle vibrations at mūlādhāra will impact the sleeping kuṇḍalinī, which in turn cause modifications of the mind by annihilating all types of dyads. Further, when there are vibrations in kuṇḍalinī, the effect of these vibrations are felt at pineal gland, which is also known as the gland of spirituality, which is posited behind ājñā chakra, in the midpoint between back head and forehead. Though kuṇḍalinī has not yet began its journey towards sahasrāra, its awakening from the slumber is realized at ājñā chakra, which in turn works on pineal and pituitary glands by making the practitioner to look for the Self within. Thus, intensity of spiritual evolution works on awakening kuṇḍalinī.
There are other methods of awakening such as tantric awakening, which is almost instantaneous. In these cases, ascension is almost like a blast happening within the body, when kuṇḍalinī is awakened and reaches sahasrāra in no time. But this depends upon various factors, such as stability of the mind, detachment, devoid of addiction, etc. In Tantric awakening, one’s kuṇḍalinī should not be totally sedentary. This involves ‘maithuna’ which means more than one person. But, this is not the way to awaken kuṇḍalinī and the whole procedure is often misinterpreted and quoted out of context. This procedure is not meant for sadhāka-s like us and needs to be condemned strongly. Whether these practices are discussed in Tantra Scriptures, whether this is right or wrong are different sets of questions that will never have proper answers. There are other methods too to forcefully awaken kuṇḍalinī by using certain drugs that work on central nervous system. Activation of kuṇḍalinī without devotion and love for the Divine will only be a futile exercise, leading to severe physiological problems.
3) Changes in emotional and physical levels during different stages of kuṇḍalinī meditation:
Generally changes can be observed under three categories – kriyāyoga (action), layayoga (absorption) and jñānayoga (knowledge).
Awakening of kuṇḍalinī is also related to several extraneous factors, which cannot be completely described, as most of the factors vary from person to person. For example, the energy level prevailing in a particular place, phases of the moon, climatic conditions, surroundings, cosmic influences, etc will vastly influence kuṇḍalinī ascension. It would be ideal to practice kuṇḍalinī meditation in a hill, river side, one’s home, an aśram, Guru’s place, etc, as these places will have immense positive energy. Full moon days and new moon days are the best days to practice kuṇḍalinī meditation. There should not be any human or animal movements in the place, where kuṇḍalinī meditation is practiced. There should be enough natural ventilation and the air should not be artificially controlled, as this air will be devoid of potent and pristine prāṇa.
Changes happening in emotional and physical levels of a person during and after kuṇḍalinī ascension are significant. However, most of these changes vary from person to person. In the mental and emotional planes, changes are almost the same in everyone. When kuṇḍalinī begins to make Her ascension, passing through every chakras, the qualities of these chakras are reflected in the mind of the practitioners. The first of significant change happens in anāhata (heart chakra) and the aspirant with this chakra fully activated, becomes an embodiment of universal love and compassion. When kuṇḍalinī moves to throat chakra (anāhata), he gains powers to compose poems, etc. In other words, he becomes master of letters, mantras, etc. When kuṇḍalinī reaches ājñā, the practitioner completely controls his mind and acquires immense knowledge. In this stage, he establishes astral connection with his Guru. Finally when kuṇḍalinī reaches sahasrāra, he becomes a yogi; he is a yogi because he has merged his individual consciousness with Cosmic Consciousness. Such a yogi always stays calm and composed without any aspirations for name and fame. He is not concerned with the material world; he does not have desires and always remains in the state of complete satisfaction. His sensory organs are under his complete control.
In the physical body, there could be lot muscular twitching, cramps, body twisting, trembling, itching, frowning, contraction or expansion of abdominal muscles, emotional outbursts resulting in tears, etc. In particular, there could be high velocity tingling sensation in the left leg. There could be immense heat in the feet, due to auto grounding (diabetic feet will also produce heat in the feet and it is difficult to differentiate). In the beginning stage, there could be purging, indigestion, dryness, fatigue, excessive sweat, excessive heat in the perineum, etc. There could be twin protrusions above eye brows and at sahasrāra. In exceptional cases, protrusion in sahasrāra could turn red, which will make birds peck it. This is one of the reasons for having matted hair at the top of the head covering the sahasrāra. There could be many more symptoms which could vary from person to person. In certain cases, nectar flows down from sahasrāra even in ordinary state. There could be serious disturbances in sleep.
Laya means disappearance or absorption. This is the mental state of practitioner, where his ego is annihilated and as a result of which, he perpetually stays connected with Her. His individual consciousness merges with Supreme Consciousness, dissolving his individual indentify. When this happens, the practitioner begins to have inner visions and the nature of visions could be anything from light to vision of his favourite deity, vision of great sages and saints, etc. There could be inner sound like blowing a conch, ringing a bell, stringed musical notes, sound of cracks in the skull. Etc.
Many myths of spirituality are revealed to him. He attains the highest spiritual wisdom. His level of understanding and his level of interpretation become deeper. He composes poems in praise of Divinity. He transcends religious afflictions. His level of concentration becomes very high and he attains mastery over spirituality. At this stage, he becomes eligible to teach others. He transforms into a perfected Guru.
With this, theoretical aspect of kuṇḍalinī is completed. Subsequent parts will deal with practical aspects.