Most of us are familiar with the term Kundalini and Chakras. This subject belongs to Tantra Sāstras. Though it is intimately connected to YOGA, the revered sage Patanjali and Sri Krishna (who also propounded YOGA through his Gita) did not mention about the chakras or kundalini at all in their works. To satisfy our hunger, we need not know the chemistry of the food. We just need to know how to cook and eat. This kind of simple instructions of how to live the “life of YOGA” is given by Gita or Patanjali Yoga Sutras. But, to know the chemistry is of no harm and sometimes beneficial too! So, to those who wants to explore more deeper into natures’ mysteries, the tantra sastras expounded on this aspect of KUndalini and chakras. This article aims at summarizing the subject of Kundalini in the most simple way possible (by me). Have a good read!
The Channels and Junctions:
Our Brain and Spinal Column form the most important pair in our body. All the nervous currents are transmitted through this pair. This is in relation to physical observations. Yōgīs of the ancient lore have discovered a counter system which is superimposed on the physical system. That system belongs to subtle planes i.e., one cannot observe them using ‘Physical Senses’. That system is called ‘Nāḍī Maṃḍala’. Nāḍi means that which has a movement or something which is dynamic in nature. If physical electrical currents of the nerves are what we use for our physical activities, the Nāḍi system dynamizes the LIFE currents of our body. It forms a basis for the physical body to exist. It is something like the magnetic lines of force of a magnet. When you sprinkle iron filings on a piece of paper, under which there is a bar magnet, the iron filings form a particular shape showing the magnetic lines of force. Even without the iron filings, we have the lines of force, but are not ‘perceivable’. Similarly, around the subtle body, the physical body is formed. Therefore, we must have nāḍi system as primary system over which, the physical nervous system is superposed. But one must remember that a nāḍi system is a superset i.e., it has more nāḍīs than the physical body has nerves. Depending on the need, necessity or in process of yōga, they manifest physically.
So, a nāḍi is a ‘subtle channel’ that carries in it, certain aspect of LIFE-FORCE. Such channels are plenty (as many as 72,000 have also been discovered by yōgīs). Among those many channels, three take prominent role. They are Iḍa, Suṣumna and Piṃgaḷa. Among these, Suṣumna takes the most prominent role. This Suṣumna is exactly inside our physical spinal column. So, imagine the suṣumna as a subtle pipe running from one end to the other end of the brain-spine system. This pipe has many junctions, just as in physical spine, which give rise to many other channels or nāḍīs. Out of many such junctions, six are primarily noted by the yōgīs, depending on their functions. These cakrās are, starting from the base of the suṣumnā column:
- Ājñā (region behind brow-center)
- Viśuddhi (throat region)
- Anāhata (region of heart-center)
- Maṇipūra (navel region)
- Svādhiṣṭhāna (abdominal region)
- Mulādhāra (base region)
(I took this picture from my forthcoming book on Lalita Sahasranam. So, please do not copy it or use it else where. I will give the permission after the book is published, if asked for. Thanks for understanding)
The Serpent Fire:
In this column, flows an energy of pulsation called ‘Kuṇḍalini’. The meaning of the word is ‘That which is coiled’ or a ‘coiled serpent’. A serpent is symbolic for CONSCIOUSNESS. That is why, its bite/poison (or Māya or illusion) and our consciousness have an intimate relationship. The same (serpent) is depicted to bare the weights of the world (consciousness of the creation) in the form of ‘thousand hooded serpent – Ādi Śēṣha’ in the purāṇās. That is why, the LIFE energy in the column of suṣumna is called a serpent. This serpent is said to be having three and a half coils. The three coils represent our soul’s journey through the the mineral, plant and animal kingdoms over the past lives. The half coil shows the semi evolved ‘human’ stage. It is semi evolved because, we still have to strive to fully evolve. Otherwise, why this wars and why this chaos in our world? So, the aim of the YŌGI is to awaken this sleeping serpent power and let it crawl upwards. Just like water flowing from the holes of a pipe, this energy flows through the junctions as it flows upwards. Thus, each junction is said to be ‘awakened’ on its path.
Chakras and Lotuses (An Important distinction):
Each of the aforementioned junctions, is sometimes called a Cakra/Wheel and sometimes a Padma/Lotus. When a person has these junctions in their dormant mode, they are called ‘Cakrās’. This is because of the cyclic forces that they are characterized with. These cyclic forces are the reason why, we pursue our path of KARMA. Because we are entangled in the circular chains of action-reaction of karma, these junctions act as ‘Cakrās’ or ‘Cyclic Junctions’. But, when the junctions are ‘awakened’, they act as padmās. A lotus has the property of unfolding and evolving from a bud stage to a bloomed flower stage. The same happens to these junctions. The properties of the junctions, which were otherwise dormant, will be awakened and hence evolved like a lotus. That is the reason, they are named “so and so padma”.
At the top of all the six junctions, lies a thousand-petaled LOTUS called ‘Sahasrāra Daḷa Padma’. This exists just above the physical head center. This is like a infinite powerhouse. It is the seat of biṃdu, LALITĀ, ŚIVA, etc. The goal of a yōgi is to rise the kuṇḍalinī from his Mūlādhāra center to Sahasrāra center. When such a connection is established, between this, and the rest of the suṣumna, the circuit becomes complete and thus the divine life force starts to flow in the circuit. Before that, the energy of kuṇḍalinī is what is awakened – which is similar to realizing that we are ‘ĀTMAN’. When the Sahasrāra is activated and circuit is closed, the ultimate POWER house supplies the life-energy and this is akin to realizing that we are ‘PARAMĀTMAN’. Though both are same, they vary in magnitude. If one is a glass of water, the other is an ocean of water.
That is the story of Kundalini and its related Lotuses. Knowing this will help an aspirant to explore further. But this much is the theoretical minimum required to go any further. The further lines of search can be to see the natures of each chakra/lotus, what yogic practices are required to wake our kundalini, etc.
I hope you enjoyed the read 🙂 Thank You.