Is it wrong to awaken kundalini without the help of a guru?
When the practices of hatha yoga, the shatkarmas, are done, when you practise the mantra given by the guru, then there is no risk in having your kundalini awakened directly. Sooner or later, awakened kundalini will be the destiny of mankind. The next phase of man's evolution will not be cultural or political, it will be spiritual. We are not going to lose our arms or add two more, and we are not going to become taller or shorter, but now evolution has reached a phase where spiritual awareness will grow. Awakening of kundalini is the term to be used for that important stage or phase of human evolution.
How does one decide how many kriyas one should do each day?
One should learn all seventeen kriyas from the guru or his respective teacher. If you have time enough to practise all seventeen, then do so, but if you are short of time, then you should consider maha mudra, maha bheda mudra and naumukhi to be the most important. After practising these three, if you find that you still have time, you can practise vipareeta karani mudra, and if you have more time still, you can practise shakti chalini.
Are the kriyas to be practised in the same order as they are given in your book?
Well, when you are practising all seventeen, they should be practised in the same order, at least for a few months. But after that, if you want to design your own course, then you can change the sequence.
Why is it that in the first half of the kriya yoga practices the eyes are kept open and in the last half they are closed?
In the beginning, if you keep your eyes closed you will become aware of most of your mental problems and worries. When the eyes are closed, the brain is quieter and the subconscious forces are able to come into operation. When you keep your eyes open, however, the brain is functioning more and the unconscious conflicts stay out of the consciousness. Therefore, in kriya yoga the first practices which develop pratyahara are done with the eyes open, but after tadan kriya, dharana begins and you keep your eyes closed.
Must kriya yoga be practised in the morning? Is there any danger in practising at other times of the day?
The right time to practise kriyas, or any other great sadhana, is in the morning, when everything outside and inside is favourable. According to the sciences of spiritual life, the practices done at night are known as rajasic tantric sadhana. The sattvic tantric practices should be performed in the morning, the time of supreme awareness, brahmamuhurta, between four and six a.m.
Should the practices be done after or before meditation?
When you practise kriya yoga, you do not need meditation at all, because in meditation you have to control the mind and in kriya yoga you do not control the mind.
How can an individual determine when he is ready to start practising kriya yoga?
I am very clear about it. If you have practised hatha yoga and pranayama, you can take to the practice of kriya yoga.
How long should we continue with kriya yoga practice?
After three years of regular practice of kriya yoga, the first part, in which you practise with the eyes open, should be stopped and the latter part should be practised. As you become steady in the last three practices of kriya yoga, then you can drop the other practices completely. By this time you will begin to feel the experiences.
What happens if we get stuck at the first practices, and cannot make any more progress?
Yes, I know about this difficulty. It happened to us also. We were coming from Manchester and at one point, the engine of our car lost power. So we put it on the parking line and phoned the AA, and an experienced man came and found that the problem was not very serious. The car had no fuel. There was nothing wrong with the air cleaner, nothing wrong with the clutch or brakes, nothing wrong with the sparkplugs, but there was no fuel, that was all.
Whenever such things occur, you must go to a guru and he will tell you what the problem is.
What is the relationship between kundalini and kriya yoga?
Kundalini yoga is not a practice but a system. Kriya yoga is a practice of kundalini yoga, not a system.
I have heard that people who practise kriya yoga should not smoke, drink or eat meat. Please discuss this.
Since kriya yoga forms a part of tantra, I can assure you that smoking, drinking, meat eating and sexual interaction will not prove an obstacle on the path. I do not eat meat, but the truth has to be told, and it does not mean either that in order to practise kriya yoga you should eat meat, drink or smoke, or that you should go to women or men. I do not mean that, but many people do interpret tantra like this. Tantra does not say 'yes' or 'no'. It says, 'If you want to do it, do it.' Once you start practising kriya yoga and you find that smoking is definitely detrimental to your spiritual evolution, at some point or other, it will drop away. If meat eating is detrimental to your spiritual evolution, it will drop away automatically, and if it is not detrimental to your spiritual practice, then you may like to continue it. You see, it is very difficult to decide what is detrimental to your spiritual evolution because you are bound to beliefs which are related to certain religions, cultures, tribes, taboos, etc.
Vaishnavites do not eat meat, onion or garlic. Therefore, every Vaishnavite will be told, 'Hey, you are practising kriya yoga, don't take onion,' as if not taking onion and garlic is apart of kriya yoga ritual! We have to be free from those taboos created by religions, cultures, tribes, belonging to the east, west, north, south, central, and all regions. We have to go on as we are. You are a housewife, a father, a son. You have your own addictions, your own anxieties, or limitations. Let them be! Just practise kriya yoga, and after a few months, you will find that gradually the transformed quality of your mind is making the decision.
As I told you, Ramakrishna Paramahansa, at the height of his realisation used to smoke hookahs and Christ used to drink wine. You cannot say he did not because at the Last Supper he drank wine and he ate meat, but that does not mean he was not a great man. You have to take out all those taboos from your spiritual rituals. However, from the viewpoint of health, some people should not smoke and some people should not eat meat.