Kundalini Yoga

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

From the yogic perspective, this external body is comprised of matter. Within this body is a subtle body which is comprised of energy, prana. Within the pranic body is another more subtle body known as the mind. Within the mental body is another body known as consciousness. Finally, within the body of consciousness there is another level of experience, which is spiritual. Yoga sees one body, the individual, as a combination of five experiences of matter, energy, mind, the interactive mind with the senses and the sense objects, consciousness, and spirit.

Kundalini relates to the subtle body of prana, the vital energy, the vital force. From the perspective of yogic philosophy, there are energy centres in the body and at present they are dormant and blocked. Kundalini is an experience of awakening these energy centres. Symbolically, I am using the word 'symbolically', kundalini is defined as a serpent. Of course, when you look at your own body you will not find a serpent there. The serpent is only a symbolic representation of something that exists in the body. With the practice of kundalini yoga, which is comprised of asana, pranayama, concentration and visualization techniques put into one, you are able to activate these psychic centres in the body. As the psychic centres awaken, the corresponding centre in the brain also awakens. According to science, only one-tenth of the brain is active, in every human being at any one time, while the rest is in a state of dormancy.

Awakening the dormant centres

According to psychology, you interact with the world and your life through your conscious mind, which is only one-third of the mind. The subconscious is unknown and the unconscious is unknown. The yogic theory states that the awakening of these dormant centres, chakras, represents the awakening of the dormant brain centres and different states of mind. When these mind and brain centres open, the ability to perceive changes, and you may gain mastery over certain expressions of your mind too. People who have gone through this process of kundalini yoga speak about expanded faculties of the mind in the form of telepathy, clairvoyance, clairaudience, and so on.

For science these faculties are viewed as extrasensory perceptions, ESP, for they are not in tune with them at present. The point is that energy in the form of waves is everywhere. There are radio waves in the environment, however, no one is able to pick them without the right instrument. If one has a radio and tunes it, one can pick up the radio wave and listen to the station.

In the same manner, the body is vibrating with many levels of frequencies and responses of energy, for matter is nothing but compressed energy. The solidity that one sees is in reality not solid. It is perceived as solidity, though in reality it is a form of energy. Within the atom, the nucleus is a form of energy. If one looks at the body through a super-microscope, into bones, into muscles, at the atomic structure, one will see the pulsation of energy, the nucleus. Each pulsation creates frequency and amplitude. The chakras represent that frequency and amplitude.

With the awakening of these dormant centres the mind becomes more awakened. For people who are not at that level, these things can be seen as powers or siddhis, yet for people who are at that level, it is not a power; it is just a natural expression of their mind.

Meditation is preliminary to the practice of kundalini yoga. Meditation forms part of the mental process of raja yoga. Kundalini yoga is one of the higher yogas. It is an advanced yoga that allows one to discover one's creativity and access the dormant centres of the brain and mind.

Science of life

Swami Satyananda and Swami Sivananda, whose tradition we follow, have brought yoga from a spiritual dimension to a more practical and applicable dimension. It is up to the aspirants to choose whether they want to acquire excellence in life, or whether they want to have spiritual experiences. After all what is a spiritual experience? The journey in life is from tamas to sattwa. Tamas means the negative, dissipated, destructive, uncontrolled behaviour, and sattwa is the state of mind that is pure, peaceful, harmonious and balanced. Once one is able to acquire this peaceful state of mind, the distractions and dissipations are gone, and one can become a better human being. That is spirituality.

Spirituality is not awareness of God. I have not seen God, you have not seen God, nobody has seen God, and those who have seen God cannot define what God is. However, if one thinks of God as an experience of one's higher nature, in which limitations of the mind are removed and the expanded awareness is attained, then that leads one to a spiritual realization where one connects with the better qualities of one's life and begins to express them. Instead of jealousy, aggression or hatred, one begins to express cooperation, compassion, love, support and sympathy. In this way one comes to a better and positive state of mind, which is the sattwic state. The journey of yoga is not from materialism to spirituality. It is the movement from the limiting and confining conditions of life into expanded and unlimited creativity in life.

Therefore, yoga is seen by us as a science of life and not as a spiritual science. It has been the principle and philosophy that the Bihar School of Yoga has followed for the last fifty years. The classical teachings of yoga are being given by the Bihar School of Yoga. While there are many forms of yoga, many people teach only the physical form of hatha yoga, many people teach the emotional form or religious bhakti. However, in reality yoga is a process of self-transformation and self-improvement to become qualitatively better in life.

This journey for the betterment of society has to start with our children, for they can be groomed, educated and given the right samskaras to become responsible citizens of our society. Grown-ups have their own set of problems and they are trying to deal with those problems, however, children can be given the opportunity to develop their own creativity. Therefore our work, apart from yoga teaching and yoga propagation, has been with children, as they represent the upcoming generation of our society.

—6 June 2014, Kathmandu, Nepal