Ye Man, Tame the Kundalini

Talk given by Swami Satyananda in Drongen, Belgium in May 1977

When I was six years old I had a spontaneous spiritual experience during which I became completely unaware of my body for quite a long time. Again when I was ten the same thing happened, but this time I was old enough to think and rationalise, and I told my father about it. He did not understand and wanted to take me to the doctor, but fortunately there were none in our area at that time. Had there been, perhaps I would have ended up in a mental hospital. But things being what they were, I did not have to undergo treatment and was left unattended. My father had great regard for the Vedas and for his guru. One day this guru happened to visit my native town, so my father took me to him and asked his advice about me. The sage told him that I had had a spiritual experience and should be instructed to lead a spiritual life. My father obeyed his guru and arranged for me to be trained accordingly. Thus at an early age I was dedicated to the spiritual quest.

My family was Hindu, and in Hinduism there are two traditions: one believes in the worship of idols and the other that God is formless. My family belonged to the latter, but still I often used to look at pictures of all the different deities and wonder about them. Durga was mounted on a lion; Saraswati on a swan; Vishnu lay sleeping on a huge cobra; Kali was completely naked, standing on the body of Shiva; Tara too was naked and Shiva was drinking milk from her breast. I couldn't understand what it all meant. Why did Shiva ride upon a bull and have so many snakes wrapped around him, how could the Ganga flow from his hair? Why was Ganesh with his enormous elephantine head and pot belly, riding on a small rat? I thought that there must be some symbolic meaning behind all this, but I only began to understand it through kundalini yoga, which I started practising at the age of fifteen while still at school. Around this time I had another experience. I was sitting quietly when suddenly without any effort my mind turned inwards. I immediately saw the whole earth with its oceans, continents, mountains and cities, crack into two pieces. I didn't understand this vision until a few days later when the second world war broke out. This really made me begin to wonder. How could I have seen this future event symbolically in meditation when, living in a remote area, I had neither heard or read anything about it previously nor had I any way of knowing that it was coming?

By the time I was seventeen, I was asking questions which nobody could answer. I wondered about things like the difference between perception and experience. I talked a lot about such topics with my maternal uncle and my younger sister, but this did not quench my thirst and I knew I had to go. I postponed my departure from home until one day my father pushed me out with ninety rupees in my pocket. Thus my wandering life began.

During my travels I met a very old swami who invited me to stay in his ashram. He had a wonderful knowledge of tantra and taught me many things. Though I knew I would never forget him, he was not my guru and after nine months I left and continued wandering. Soon after this I reached Rishikesh where I heard about Swami Sivananda. I went to him and asked how to experience the highest consciousness. He told me to stay in his ashram and he would guide me. So I followed the monastic life, but still, for a long time I was puzzled about the purpose of my existence. I felt that man was a seeker, yet I really didn't know what I was seeking for and often was left with the terrifying question that man asks himself regarding death.

Sometime later I had another experience while sitting on the bank of the Ganges. I was thinking about some mundane things when my mind spontaneously started going in and in. Suddenly I felt as if the earth was slipping from under me and the sky was expanding and receding. A moment later I experienced a terrible force springing from the base of my body like an atomic explosion. I felt that I was vibrating very fast, the light and currents were terrific. I experienced supreme bliss, like the climax of a man's desire, and it continued for a long time. My whole body was contracting more and more, until the feeling of pleasure became quite unbearable and I lost complete awareness of my body. This was the third time it had happened.

After returning to consciousness I was listless for many days. I could not eat, sleep, or move, even to go to the toilet. I saw everything, but nothing registered. The bliss was a living thing within me and I knew that if I moved, this wonderful feeling would cease; I would lose the intensity of it all. How could I move when bells were ringing inside? This was the awakening of my kundalini.

After a week or so I returned to normal and from then on I started to study tantra and yoga very seriously. At first I was still a bit weak and sick so I practised hatha yoga to purify my whole system. Then I began to explore the fantastic science of kundalini yogi. What is this power which awakens in mooladhara chakra? My interest was aroused and I put much effort into trying to understand this marvelous force. When kundalini rises, the energies ascending along the spinal cord open up all the latent faculties within the human brain. Normally only one tenth of the brain centres are active, and at the present rate of evolution it will take a million years to activate the whole brain. The inactive part of the brain is very important because it contains the super-psychic, ultrasonic, cosmic circuits.

Through yogic practices it is possible to explore and develop our sleeping brain centres during this present lifetime by connecting the root centre to the brain centre. Tantra is the theory of this science and kundalini yoga is the practical aspect. Tantra means expansion of consciousness and liberation of energy. Scientists say that matter, in order to be transformed, must undergo fission and fusion. Then it is converted back into energy. Kundalini yoga subjects the mind to a similar process. The mind is not experience, emotion, memory or knowledge. Mind is awareness. We must not remain on the mundane level; we must transform the mind and raise our consciousness to the universal level. But how to transform our limited view? How to go beyond thought and perception through a mental process? In order to do this we must utilise the energy principle. Here is an example.

Supposing we build many houses and wire them for electricity. Then in every house we install a television, telephone, and all the usual household appliances. However, if the city is not connected with the main power station, people can turn on the light switch but there will be no light, when they turn on the television nothing will happen, if they pick up the telephone no buzzing sound will be heard. The city may have everything: industries, business firms, shopping centres, but nothing will be working unless it is connected to the power station. As soon as the right wires, positive, negative and neutral, are all properly connected, the whole city will be illumined. Televisions, telephones, escalators computers, machinery, everything will be working.

Now the same principle applies to man's inactive brain centres. All the faculties are here, everything is ready, it is only waiting to be connected with the energy. But where is the power station? Mooladhara chakra, the seat of shakti (energy), is the power station. When mooladhara is awakened, the brain is connected with an enormous supply of energy (shakti) via sushumna, the central nadi or psychic nerve that travels up the spinal cord. Then all the dormant faculties within our brain are illumined and start to function.

In the male body mooladhara chakra is situated at the perineum and in the female body at the posterior side of the cervix. Mooladhara is a very small gland, muscle or knot. If you just press it physically, nothing will happen. You have to blast the energy through. If you throw an atom bomb on the floor, nothing will happen. In order to explode it, you must have a system of detonators. Similarly you must utilise specific techniques to awaken the energy principle in mooladhara. When this dormant energy is aroused, it activates all the chakras: swadhisthana, manipura, anahata, vishuddhi, ajna, bindu, on its way to sahasrara where it illumines the highest faculties, uniting man with his god-head. This is how kundalini is awakened.

Many people are afraid of kundalini yoga and say it is dangerous, but even so we must run the risk. After all it is also dangerous to fly from India to Europe, eight hours non-stop, but nobody is afraid. Mountaineers who climbed to the top of Mt. Everest ran great risks indeed, if not how could they have had a chance to succeed? They would have conquered nothing. We have created the H-bomb and the atom bomb, are they not a great risk? Is death not a risk? God knows where we will go from there - to the graveyard where eternal kumbhak is practised, then perhaps we will transmigrate without knowing to which mother we will be born.

Yet people say that kundalini awakening is a risk. Why? Of course there are accidents, you may wind up in a psychiatric hospital for some time. But everything is a risk. Life is one big risk, and man has to be adventurous, a warrior. A commander in chief has to be an adventurer; a politician has to be an adventurer; those who sail the seas or travel by raft down swiftly moving rapids, have to be adventurers. The scientists who experimented on hydrogen, exploding nuclear energy had to be adventurers. Only by being adventurous and risking our life do we gain knowledge.

What will happen if I practice kundalini yoga and go crazy? Then you will start practising, and if you go crazy then someone else will start. Eventually we will tame kundalini. Many generations may pass before man is able to tame kundalini, but that doesn't matter. Fear of kundalini is an infirmity of will power, a deep-rooted insecurity in man. To see kundalini as dangerous shows weakness of mind and attachment to the ordinary, limited views of life. I do not say that awakening the kundalini is not a risky business, I know it is. After all, becoming master of shakti is a high path, but why not give it a try?

Men today have had enough of material conquests, now they want to know something about their inner world. You need not be afraid of your kundalini. There are a number of good books and teachers available. Read and practice, learn the science of kundalini.

Kundalini yoga is the religion of tomorrow. If you are afraid of awakening your kundalini, then the next generation will try it, and if they do not succeed then the next one will try again. Within a million years all men will be masters of kundalini.