In kriya yoga you learn about the psychic passages, and how to move your awareness through them to the different centres in the body. Now, where is this experience happening? When your awareness begins to move in the psychic passages, it is not the physical body which you are aware of. It is a more subtle frame of reference which we touch by concentrating on certain areas of the physical body, and the chakras are the fundamental contact points in this more subtle body.
Chakra means 'wheel' in Sanskrit. The chakras are vortices of psychic energy and are visualized and experienced as circular movement at a particular rate of vibration. In the practices of kriya yoga you move your consciousness up and down the spine as if you are on a train and the chakras are the different stations on this transcendental railway line. Mooladhara is the most basic, fundamental chakra. It is like the central station in Madras, and sahasrara is like Bombay, and on the way you have all the intermediate stops. Mooladhara is where we commence our evolution and sahasrara is where our evolution is completed.
Mooladhara is the highest chakra that animals have the capacity to awaken; it is their sahasrara. The higher chakras beyond mooladhara are not present in the psychic physiology of animals and their nervous systems reflect this relative deficiency. All life is evolving, and man is no exception. Human evolution, the evolution which we are undergoing relentlessly, both as individuals and as a race, is a journey through the different chakras. As we evolve towards sahasrara, outer experiences come our way in life, and inner experiences come our way in meditation, as different capacities and centres awaken progressively within the nervous system. This occurs as energy flows at higher voltages and rates of vibration through the different nadis in the psychic body.
Now, in kriya yoga, you have to know the different colours and symbols of the chakras. They are alt very beautiful and form an intrinsic part of the awakening of that chakra. Each chakra has a particular colour, mantra, situation and range of experiences associated with it.
In the male body, mooladhara is experienced as a point of awareness behind the scrotum and in front of the anus, in that area called the perineal floor. In the female, the point of awareness of this chakra in the physical body is in the posterior rim of the cervix. At these points, according to the tantric philosophy of yoga, there is an infinite power lying dormant, and this power is called kundalini. Kunda means 'pit, a deep place', and the kundalini shakti is seated right down in the deep pit of mooladhara chakra.
Although kundalini is a very great force, it is dormant. That is why the symbol of this chakra is a serpent, fast asleep. Mooladhara represents everything in its potential state, all that we could realize, express and become. That is the dormant serpent power.
The energy of kundalini is one energy, but it expresses itself differently through the individual psychic centres - first in gross, instinctive ways and then in progressively more subtle ways. Refining of the expression of this energy at higher and more subtle levels of vibration represents the ascent of human consciousness to its highest possibilities.
Kundalini is the creative energy; it is the energy of self-expression. Just as in reproduction a new life is created, in the same way someone like Einstein uses that same energy in a different, more subtle realm, to create a theory like relativity. It is the same energy that is expressed when someone composes or plays beautiful music. It is the same energy which is expressed in ail parts of life, whether it is building a business, fulfilling the family duties or reaching whatever goal you aspire to. These are all expressions of the same creative energy.
Each of the chakras can be visualized as a lotus. There are many different descriptions given in the yogic scriptures. Mooladhara chakra has four petals. This means that the rate of vibration at this chakra is at its lowest. As you move up the chakras, the number of petals and the rate of vibration increase.
Now, within mooladhara there is a red inverted triangle, encompassed by a circle which forms the centre of the four petalled lotus. The triangle is inside a yellow square, and the four corners of the square are touching the circle.
In the centre of the triangle is a smoky black shiva lingam with a sleeping serpent coiled three and a half times around it. This serpent represents the source of energy, which can be awakened by kriya and kundalini yoga. However, in most of us it is dormant. In its awakened state this centre represents our spiritual potential, but in its dormant state it represents that instinctive level of life which supports our basic existence. Both of these possibilities lie in mooladhara.
Next, we shall go straight up to ajna, located in the brain directly behind the eyebrow centre. All of the centres are important, but ajna and mooladhara are the two easiest ones to concentrate on in order to bring about the greatest awakening of energy and release the maximum possibilities and creativity in life. Initially you become aware of ajna at bhrumadhya, the eyebrow centre. This centre is also called the third eye and corresponds to the pineal gland.
The symbol of ajna chakra has some things in common with the symbol of mooladhara. It contains the same inverted triangle inscribed within a circle. Superimposed on the triangle is the symbol of the mantra Om. The lingam is also in the centre of the lotus, but its form is slightly different. In mooladhara, it is smoky and ill defined, just as when we live an instinctive life and have no real concept of ourselves or what we are. In ajna chakra the lingam is much clearer. It is deep black and the outline is very well delineated. Here the awareness of 'what I am' is becoming more sharply defined, and the various capacities are being awakened.
Now, on either side of this circle are two lotus petals, and their colour, according to the scriptures, is very pale. They are described as a light grey colour like a rainy day, not white or grey, or any distinctive colour, but an intangible colour. These two petals represent the two major nadis, ida and pingala, which correspond to the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. The sympathetic, on the right side, known as pingala, or prana shakti, is the solar or vital force, by which we act and move. The parasympathetic, on the left, corresponds to ida, or manas shakti, the lunar force, by which we think and feel.
Ajna chakra is essentially the chakra of the mind, and in the various yoga practices we use it all the time. When we visualize, or when we dream at night, the inner vision that occurs is through this third eye. The various practices and so called superhuman powers such as telepathy, which are currently being investigated, are all powers of someone who has awakened ajna chakra. By concentrating on, or bringing the awareness to mooladhara, you are connecting ajna and mooladhara, trying to bring the infinite energy of mooladhara up into the mind.
Ajna is the chakra by which we are aware. It is the most fundamental chakra, when it comes to the awakening of consciousness. The infinite energy is at mooladhara, but we become aware of it through ajna. If I am eating, sleeping or talking, and I am not aware of it, then ajna is not operating. But if I am talking, and one area of my awareness knows that now I am talking, this knowing, this awareness, is the faculty of ajna.
So we focus on ajna chakra in kriya and kundalini yoga because it is the key. It is also called the guru chakra, the command chakra, because when you take spiritual initiation it is through ajna chakra that the contact with the guru is formed. If you are going to awaken the enormous capacities of the brain, which the psychologists tell us are lying there dormant like a huge city cut off from its power, then it is the guru's energy which is going to enable you to slowly link up the different suburbs and areas. In the awakening of kundalini, the guru plays a fundamental role. Without a guide who thoroughly knows the way, you cannot make head or tail of the path; you do not know whether you are coming or going.