Prana Shakti

Dr Swami Shankardevananda Saraswati, MB, BS (Syd.)

There has been a lot of talk about energy, prana, kundalini, awakening of higher consciousness. Metaphysical literature is studded with reports of 'auras', fields of light extending outward from living bodies, and with the subjective descriptions of saints, sages and sensitives. But, how do we know that these things even exist? For all we know they may be lies and hoaxes perpetrated by fraudulent individuals whose sole aim is name, fame and a quick buck. Individual experiences are talked about, promises and extravagant claims are made, but these could all be the imaginings of an inventive or malicious mind.

At the same time, what good is it to us if these people really have experienced kundalini? We still live within our old frames of reference, with our sufferings and joys, our petty problems and our trivial idiosyncrasies. Can the yogis and the merchants of higher consciousness really lead us out of our present limited modes of existence into the dawn of a more penetrating and illuminating day? Are we missing out on something? These are the questions we have to ask and consider. Albert Einstein once said: "A thought that sometimes makes me hazy: Am I, or are the others crazy?"

The first proof

The first objective evidence of the existence of the pranic body, or the aura, and the chakras, may have been already obtained by a UCLA (American) study conducted by kinesiologist Valerie Hunt and her associates, assisted by Bruyere, an 'aura reader', and incorporating a number of different measurements.*1 Hunt and her associates utilised electromyographic equipment, which measures the steady, low voltage wave forms representing the electrical activity in muscles.

Electrodes were attached to eight traditional chakra locations and acupuncture sites such as the eyebrow centre (ajna chakra), the crown (sahasrara chakra), the heart (anahata chakra) and so on. The EMG recorded the changes on one tract of a two-tract tape recorder while simultaneously Bruyere recorded on the audio track a description of the colour, size and activity of the auric fields of subjects. Using a second microphone, subjects described their spontaneous experiences and images.

"It was quickly evident that the distinctive wave forms on the oscilloscope correlated reliably with colours reported by the sensitive.

'The possible interpretations are staggering', Hunt acknowledged, adding that these radiations had been taken directly from the body surface, 'quantitatively measured in a natural state... isolated by scientifically accepted data-reduction procedures'.

Whether resolved by wave form, Fourier - frequency analysis or Sonogram, the data produced the same results - and consistently correlated with the reader's colour label."*2

Nadis, chakras and meridians

In terms of proving the existence of nadis (flows of energy in the body), chakras (whirling vortices of energy in the spine) and meridians (energy pathways utilised in the Chinese system of acupuncture) Dr Hiroshi Motoyama, President of the International Association for Religion and Parapsychology, has done considerable research. He states: "By studying a number of books about the nadis and chakras of yoga over the last 2 years, I have been able to establish that asana (posture), mudra (gesture), pranayama (breath regulation), and dharana (concentration) were ingeniously evolved on the basis of knowledge of the nadi system (which is equivalent to the Chinese acupuncture meridian systems or channels of vital 'ki' or 'chi' energy)".*3

Motoyama has shown that acupuncture and the yogic concept of nadis have the same foundations and have affected each other for over 2,000 years. That is, we are dealing with systems that have been in operation for millennia. This in itself is reason to believe that there must be something firm and solid at their foundations for people to have accepted and followed their theories for so long. Systems which do not give results are usually quickly discarded.

To see whether nadis really do exist or not, Motoyama has developed two devices that can measure the energy emitted by the body. He claims that the energy photographed by the Kirlian device is the same as that emitted from acupuncture meridians, for example, in the fingertips. The first machine he calls the AMI (Apparatus for Measuring the Function of the Meridians and the Corresponding Internal Organs). It consists of an electrode box, computer and data printout machine. Special electrodes designed by him are attached to the 28 seiketsu (acupuncture) points on the fingers and toes. He then sends a small electric current of about 3 volts through the electrodes and records the skin current values (GSR) at each point just before and just after the body reacts to the charged voltage.

Motoyama's machine is supersensitive and able to measure minute changes in nervous system activity in the order of 1 to 10 microseconds. The values obtained are compared with those from over 2,000 subjects. If the value is greater then a 'normal' range the meridian is overactive, and if it is less the meridian is under-active. For example, one man whom he studied at Stanford University in America had lung cancer. Instead of the normal value of 1000, this man had a value of only 150, showing a great depletion of energy in that area.

By comparing the results of 'normal' people and those who have a manifested illness and definite symptoms, we have a unique method of measuring body energy, health and the potential for disease in an individual. The value taken before the electrical charge tells us about the long term constitutional state of the body, the degree of metabolism. The value taken at the time of electrical discharge tells us about the body's ability to react to a stimulus, and depends also on weather and climatic conditions. The value after the discharge tells us about the temporary functions of the body and basic tissue resistance.

Motoyama uses acupuncture theory in order to analyse his data. For example, an abnormal lung reading may indicate abnormality in the large intestine meridian because of their yin-yang relationship. The functions of all the organs and their relationship is explained in acupuncture. One can then, according to Motoyama, know disease tendencies before organic disease manifests. This is a boon for preventative medicine, to inform the individual what steps he should take to avoid future problems. It will also save much time and expense for hospitals, who can avoid many unnecessary investigations. A number of hospitals are using the device to screen patients and the Kanagawa Rehabilitation Centre in Japan is comparing the results of X-rays and biochemistry with it.

The second machine Motoyama has developed is called the Chakra Machine, which looks like a telephone booth. It is claimed that this machine can directly measure the vital energy ejected from the human body without attaching electrodes. Using a specially designed preamplifier and a lead and copper shielded room, even the most subtle energy can be detected by the electrodes which slide up and down the frame according to the part of the body being measured. An electromagnetic field is set up between the electrodes, and when the body ejects vital energy it affects the magnetic field. Motoyama has diagnosed cancer using this machine and claims to be able to record chakras in both their awakened and un-awakened states. He presents the data for this claim clearly laid out in his books.*4

In another experiment to see whether nadis and acupuncture meridians actually do exist, Motoyama attached electrodes to specific points on the body, and a common electrode was placed at an arbitrary position. An electric stimulus was applied to one end of an acupuncture meridian. No changes were noted in the electric field of the hand or in the area of the nerves corresponding to the point of stimulation. Only those specific points which have been said since ancient times to have close correspondence with that meridian reacted.

In another experiment the arm was covered with liquid crystals which react to changes in temperature by changing colour. The source point of an acupuncture meridian was stimulated by heat and 3 to 4 minutes later the colour of the crystal along the meridian changed markedly, indicating a rise in temperature.

Kirlian photography applied

We have seen through Kirlian photography that an object, animate or inanimate, produces an energy field whose shape, size and colour depends on the state of the object or individual being photographed and changes as the individual's mood or body state changes. It is believed by scientists, who have repeated the experiments and duplicated them several times, that this energy is visible evidence of a flow of energy, an interaction, between human beings and their environment. The energy is called bio-energy by physicists and prana by yogis. One interesting phenomenon that agrees with yogic descriptions of prana is that shown by plucked leaves. Over a period of time their brilliant energy flares gradually diminish in luminescence until eventually no photo can be obtained. Yogis state that at death prana leaves the body. It could well be that these photographs are showing the death of a leaf. Dr Thelma Moss, in her book The Probability of the Impossible (Plume Books, N.Y., 1975), describes American research on this line:

  1. Dr David Sheinkin and his colleagues at Rockland State Hospital, New York, have been studying patients suffering from respiratory, gastrointestinal and mental illness and have found that the corona (aura) changes radically with different illnesses. When many readings have been made we may be able to tell which patterns go with which disease and predict illness before it starts or progresses into a more serious phase.
  2. John Hubacher and Ted Dunn (a pathologist at the University of Southern California), are comparing rat tails, some healthy, some tumorous, and have found easily distinguishable differences in double-blind studies. Double-blind trials are almost sure proof, but more research is needed before conclusions can be drawn.
  3. Dr Moss, Ken Johnson and metallurgist Dr William Tiller of Stanford University have conducted experiments for the American National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in which a one three-thousandth of an inch fracture in a piece of metal was clearly revealed. The Kirlian photograph revealing the filed off number of a pistol helped the Los Angeles police department.
  4. Dr Moss has studied Kirlian photography, examining the interchange of energy between people. When two people look into each other's eyes until a strong connection is felt and their finger pads are photographed, one of the pair's photograph is missing. This is an interesting observation with great implications for our everyday interpersonal transactions and for the study of emotions and empathic and non-empathic feeling states.
  5. When Dr Olga Worrall, the famous American psychic (pranic) healer, was photographed, it was found that she has the ability to direct her energy at will. Healers have been shown to have abnormally large energy flares when compared with normal people.
  6. In 1978, Rumanian scientists reported the development of a method of body scanning they call electronography.*5 It is similar to the Kirlian method but is more sophisticated, using a variety of recording devices ranging from black and white photography to coloured videotapes. These images are produced by varying an electromagnetic field generated by a unique high voltage field. More than 6,000 people have undergone electronography at the Labor Protection and Hygiene centre in Bucharest and experimental studies have revealed that it is possible to detect differences between healthy and sick tissues.

The light intensity varies, for example, between dark for inflammation, to light for cancer. Using this 'auric diagnosis' is expected to open extensive areas in preventive and therapeutic medicine.

To venture beyond

From the accumulated scientific research it seems that a good case for the existence of prana, nadis, chakras and acupuncture meridians is developing. We are moving towards an age where explanations for previously unexplained phenomena are required, because the energy exists, is being used, and has potentially great benefits for all mankind. The energy is not new to man but has previously only been accessible to a few who, through dint of their own personal hardships and researches in meditation, discovered the vast untapped resources within. It is only today that science has been able to tune into this energy via its advances in technology. The Nobel prize winner Albert Szent-Gyorgy has said, concerning the discovery of X-rays, electrons, radioactivity and the quantum between the years 1895 to 1900 that:

"None of these were, or could be revealed by our senses. They meant that surrounding man there was a world of which he had no inkling before, about which his senses could give him no information." The same applies to the energies being uncovered and explored by people such as the Kirlians and Motoyama. It seems that we are learning to uncover more and more subtle levels of the energy that surrounds us, but which are beyond our sensory capacity. Motoyama has said: "If it is revealed that man does not live only on energy taken from food and air, but also on a kind of psychic energy, we will have to change our attitude and standpoint greatly toward ourselves and our existence."

Such scientific discoveries verify the claims of yogis as to the existence of prana and to their statements that through asanas, pranayama, mudras, bandhas and meditation we can raise our own level of body energy and directly perceive the energies of prana, of the psyche and of the inner universe. A vast and limitless expanse may open for us if we take to heart the statements of the seers and wise men of the past. Science may explore and make the energy available to us via machines, but we can only really satisfy our doubts by the direct experience which comes from practice.


*1,2. "Electronic evidence of auras, chakras in UCLA study", Brain Mind Bulletin, vol.3, no.9, March 20, 1978.

*3. H. Motoyama, "Yoga and Oriental Medicine", Research for Religion and Parapsychology, 5 (1):1, March 1979.

*4. H. Motoyama, "The Mechanism Through Which Paranormal Phenomena Take Place," Religion and Parapsychology, 1975, 2.

*5 "Russians develop dynamic Kirlian-type process", Brain Mind Bulletin, vol. 3, no.10, April 3, 1978.