Experiences of Prana

Paramahamsa Niranjanananda

The total human personality is composed of energy or prana shakti. This energy, in its various manifestations, provides a different type of insight into many dimensions of consciousness. The resulting insight into new areas of the personality and the utilisation of the faculties become the aim of Yoga for creative expression.

Every kind of pranic experience carries with it an audible sound, a visual experience, and also the experiences of touch, smell and taste (the five senses). Just as we talk about divine sound or divine light, in the same way, there is also the experience of divine fragrance, divine touch, divine taste, and it is not uncommon. In fact, this is often the process during shaktipat, the direct transmission of energy from one person to another, whether it is by touch, sound, fragrance or vision.

However, one thing is very clear. If this inner experience is happening spontaneously, it is because you have progressed to a certain point in your sadhana. For example, there are many streams which cross the road. As you start walking, you cross one stream, then another, then the third. However, just by standing in one place, you cannot cross all the streams. So, the progress which one makes in sadhana ensures that there is mental and psychic purification and a positive and creative mental attitude.

Very rarely is there any regression from that stage. So, if one has the vision of a divine light, or the experience of divine sound, touch, fragrance or taste, it means that the consciousness has already evolved to a point where it is now experiencing different things on a psychic level.

There are two ways to go about developing the internal experience. If one is leading the life of a renunciate, sadhu or sannyasin, who does not have any kind of worldly or social attachment or involvement, one can continue to stay in that same state of consciousness. Then that becomes an experience of samadhi. However, those people who have obligations, responsibilities, and commitments in life, are automatically pulled by the extrovert nature of the ego, the self-identity, or by the mind itself, and then the link with that state of consciousness is broken.

In yogic terminology, divine sound is known as anahad nada (unstruck sound), and the divine light is known as darshan, a, visual impression or contact which comes from within. According to Yoga, as the consciousness evolves from one stage to another, it experiences different kinds of sounds, visions etc. , and this has also been described in the science of Kundalini yoga. If you look at the physiology and the description of the chakras, you will find that each chakra has a corresponding colour which represents the spectrum of light, and a corresponding sound, smell, and many other things such as deities, elements and animals.

All the experiences which are associated with the chakras begin to manifest with the awakening of prana. Let us consider a chakra in the form of a room, having many petals or windows. Each petal or window represents an entry point and an exit point of pranic energy. So, if prana is flowing through one entrance channel or nadi, into the chakra, then the areas around that flow will be affected more than the areas which are at a distance from it, just as when you open a window, you feel a direct current of air flowing into the room. Although the circulation of air can be felt in the room, you will experience it more directly if you stand near the window.

So, these different entry and exit points in a chakra correspond to the different mental and emotional states, behaviour patterns and deep-rooted impressions in the form of samskaras and karmas. If, for example, my mooladhara chakra is activated by the flow of prana from one nadi, and that nadi controls the centres of unconscious fears, inhibitions, complexes and deep-rooted ambitions, then that will be the area which I will begin to experience most in my life. If the flow of prana is from another channel, then I might experience something entirely different, because that area may control the expressions of harmony, love, universality, compassion and so forth.

While I am having all these different experiences in mooladhara chakra, I will also be aware, due to the sensitivity of my consciousness, of certain sounds and visions. It might happen naturally in sleep that I suddenly have a vision in the form of a dream or I might have a vision while meditating. While simply sitting I might smell something, but when I search for that smell I will not find its source. It has happened to many people that sometimes during meditation they smell a fragrance, and they do not know from where it is coming.

At times we hear music, actual orchestrated music, but we do not know the source of it. I can say with emphasis that that does happen, because similar things have happened to me when I was practising sadhana. I have heard music in the middle of the desert, with nobody around for miles and miles. The car radio was turned off; everything was off, but I could hear music floating on the air.

I have seen different kinds of lights where there was absolute darkness. I saw actual lights, visually; it was not just my imagination. I used to ask Paramahamsaji, "What is all this? Why does it happen? When will it happen and when not?" From these experiences and from what he told me I came to understand that such experiences are manifestations of the awakening of prana.

In my opinion, they are all experiences of prana, and they will change, but if the final experience of prana takes place in the region of sahasrara, then there is no coming back. No matter who you are, whether you are the prime minister or president of some country with all your obligations that you have to do tomorrow, there is no returning. The consciousness totally merges with that experience. Then you go beyond the mind, emotions, intellect and ego, so there is nothing that can pull that awareness back to the gross level.

If you have heard that divine sound or seen that light, and have returned to your normal state of consciousness, then it is simply an expression of the pranic energy at the level of evolution which corresponds to that chakra. Your level of evolution may be mooladhara, manipura or anahata. Everybody has a different chakra awakened or functioning predominantly. When the mind becomes introvert, different experiences are manifested from that level, but when the mind becomes extroverted again those experiences simply remain in the background.

If you hear the inner sound and then you come out of that state, and sometimes you hear it, and sometimes not, then the only way to establish that state is through sadhana. Gradually, that will increase the sensitivity of your consciousness. In the course of time, the atomic explosion will take place. Then you will experience a full display of sound, light and colour, and there is no turning back from there.