Why is it said that kundalini is sleeping?
The word ‘sleeping’ is only an expression. Our awareness has been evolving for many millions of years. There are three levels of awareness, the animal or instinct level, the human level and the divine level. This awareness is known as kundalini and it has been evolving right from the beginning of creation. There are also chakras below mooladhara which are not functioning in us because our consciousness has travelled far beyond them. In animals also there are chakras or levels of awareness. Sometimes it happens that there is retardation of awareness down to the lower chakras but mostly not. Mooladhara chakra is the highest chakra of animal evolution and the lowest chakra of human evolution. Sahasrara is the highest chakra of human evolution and the beginning of divine evolution. So there are chakras below and above corresponding to the three lokas: bhu loka, bhuvah loka and suvah loka.
Sleeping means non-active. Little children cannot think; you can say that their consciousness is sleeping and is in a state of dormant potential, just as oil is in the mustard seed, butter in milk, or energy in matter – sleeping or dormant. Sushumna is sleeping. This means it is not active. Even science says that nine parts of the brain are not yet active. Only one tenth of the brain is participating in daily life while nine parts are still lying unused. In a few people, like scientists, poets, artists, discoverers or musicians some part of these nine parts participates but not the whole brain. They say the total brain cannot participate in life because man could not handle it. However, when this part of the brain, which we use now, becomes exhausted, then the other part of the brain will come into operation.
Sushumna nadi, which is connected to the higher centres of the brain and to mooladhara, has practically nothing to do. It is connected, not to sahasrara but ajna. Yamuna is ida, Ganga is pingala nadi, and Saraswati is sushumna. It joins ida and pingala in ajna chakra, and when they join, then a jyoti, the light of the self or enlightenment is created. A higher awareness is created and with that higher awareness you connect with the higher centre called sahasrara. Sushumna in my opinion, and according to the shastras, is the conductor of spiritual awareness. Ida is the conductor of mental awareness and pingala of pranic awareness. The three are mind, prana and atma. When you go deep into dhyana and begin to see your ishta devata, your symbol or vigraha, or you have some sort of experience, sushumna is awake.
Sushumna can become active when you have spiritual experiences or when sushumna is active you can have spiritual experiences. It can work both ways. If you practise pranayama with kumbhaka and bandhas, the moment sushumna becomes active you should meditate. Then you can have spiritual experiences. If you do not meditate when sushumna is active but involve yourself in the world, you are going to be a sort of ‘criminal’. When sushumna is in operation, avoid all worldly activities because the impact of sushumna is either the spiritual experience or the criminal mentality.
There is another important point which is very difficult to explain. It is not necessarily true that everybody’s kundalini is in mooladhara. We say it is in mooladhara in order to explain it to everybody. Due to the sadhana you may have done, or your mother or father may have done in different lives, you may be born with your kundalini in manipura. It means the ascension must take place from manipura and not from mooladhara. Or, due to your practices of yoga in your previous life you may have been a yoga brashta, one who dies before completing the process of yoga. Thus you may be reborn with your consciousness in anahata and you will have to start the whole practice from there.
You forget your previous life and the state of kundalini, that is why the guru teaches that it is sleeping in mooladhara. It may be in anahata but I will always tell you it is in mooladhara and make you do the practices from mooladhara. You might not have any experience. You may get to swadhisthana and not have any experience and to manipura – but the moment you go to anahata, suddenly you will start having experiences.
It is also said that kundalini is mostly in manipura. In sadhakas who are exposed to spiritual life, who do the practices of yoga and have a keen desire to have a guru and follow the pursuits of spiritual life side by side with the little work they have been doing. It means that kundalini is not in mooladhara but somewhere beyond manipura.
When we talk about the chakras we are talking about levels of awareness. We must have some reference point, some mark somewhere, just as an indication, but we do not know what the distance between one chakra and another is. It cannot be measured in terms of meters and inches. It has to be measured in terms of lifetimes. You may evolve from one chakra to another in a second or you may take many lifetimes to do so. Parikshit took seven days, Dhruva took six months and they say Madhusudan Saraswati practised Gayatri anushthana of 504 lakhs. He did that much!
27 January 1982, Trivandrum, Kerala