KUNDALINI SHAKTIPAT INITIATION
Awakening through a Guru is called Shaktipat. In this method, “divine energy” passes directly from the Guru to the initiate. The initiation can be performed in four ways: through touch, sight, mental concentration, and a mantra. The easiest way of understanding how these four processes work is through an example. A bird affects the growth of the chick inside an egg by sitting on it or touching it with its body. In the same way, the Guru awakens the power of the disciple by his/her touch. As a fish nourishes its children through its sight, so, the Guru passes the energy to the disciple by his/her sight or look. As a tortoise brings out the children from the eggs under the ground by concentration and determination, so, the Guru awakens the energy in the disciple through mental concentration. A Guru can also awaken the energy by speaking and passing on a mantra to the disciple. A mantra contains the subtle seeds of divinity and is not just a combination of words or letters. Traditionally, the divine power of mantra is realized when it passes from the Guru to the initiate.
It is the duty of the Guru to determine the ability of the practitioners — in terms of their prior preparation with Hatha yoga and the degree of their faith and surrender — before initiation. The desirable effects in the practitioner are brought forth through Shaktipat. Once activated, Shakti will first purify and transform the practitioner, and then the automatic movements will come into manifestation.
Sometimes Kundalini Shaktipat is activated but its manifestation takes time. Activation and manifestation are two different things. To make Kundalini manifest either the Guru has to impart additional Shakti or the practitioner has to engage oneself in spiritual discipline. Inactive Shakti can be caused by a number of reasons.
Nervous disorders or the continuous loss of seminal fluid can cause inactivation. Energy activates quickly in a sound body.
Since the organs and senses become weak with age, activation is faster among younger practitioners.
Because women tend to be more in tune with their emotions, they have a greater chance of activating the energy.
Indifference or annoyance on the part of the Guru towards the disciple can impede the process.
High spiritual values and a pure heart trigger activation. Impurities of any kind slow the process down.
Evil deeds or impure thoughts such as theft, murder, or a determination to harm someone in any way will impede the process of activation.
However, the practitioner has no reason to worry if he/she has truly surrendered to the Guru, since the Guru’s additional supply of energy will guide the practitioner through. Ultimately the practitioner is responsible for his/her own actions and intentions. Given the initiate’s karmic history, a Guru can only act as a catalyst for what is ready to be reborn. No Guru can short circuit karma, and for this reason each person who is intending to awaken Kundalini — either with or without a Guru — must take the responsibility and karmic consequences of such actions.
Sometimes Shakti may manifest more intensely, affecting how a person behaves in public. There may be imbalances in walking, trembling, or perhaps crying at holy places. When this happens, the Guru should be consulted. The Guru has the power to slow or accelerate Shakti manifestation. The practitioner should continue to practice yoga and avoid going to public places since the transmigration of energy into non-initiates can result in automatic movements by the unknowing bystanders. This surprising experience can result in the need for hospitalization of the unprepared.
If the Guru dies there is no need to be afraid that the grace of the Guru will be lost, since the activation of Shakti in the practitioner is permanent and will always be a part of his/her experience. The power comes from God since the Guru, inner Guru, Universal Consciousness, and God are one. If the practitioner dies before the achievement of the final result, the activated Kundalini continues in the next incarnation. The process continues until the achievement of samadhi. The spiritual force then merges into the cause, that is, the Soul. In some cases the successor of the Guru, usually appointed by him/her before his death, continues to help practitioners toward the goal.
Kundalini Shaktipat – LIBERATION
Traditionally, Shakti-Kundalini, when awakened, transforms the seeds of past actions into automatic movements which results in reduced passions. The thought currents of Chitta (mind-stuff) transform themselves from disturbing ones to calm ones, ultimately losing their power. Similarly, the mind is also freed of desires. The vices of lust, anger, passion, attachment, pride, and jealousy are transcended. These vices are veils of ignorance which delude the mind. The awakened Shakti destroys the veil of Maya (illusion). Shakti originates in the Soul, by which Chitta appears to be conscious and is responsible for the creation of the veil of Maya, which when shattered, returns and reunites with the Soul. Thus, the identification of Chitta with Soul is broken, and with the destruction of the Chitta activity, the state of Self-realization is attained. In this way the individual soul attains the state of super-consciousness.
As the automatic movements become progressively subtler, the aspirant experiences greater joy from these movements. For example, one may experience jerking, vibrating, rolling, or rigorous yogic postures in the beginning, with little or no peace and bliss. In later stages vibrations become rhythmic and soft, with experiences of light and sound and entering into trance. The aspirant is inwardly absorbed in bliss and after the initiate’s mind has been purified the movements disappear. The practitioner now experiences oneness with Ultimate Reality.
EXPERIENCES ON AWAKENING
Because yoga is practiced widely and produces results felt by everyone, it is not surprising that the personal experiences of hundreds are being recorded as their Kundalini Shakti awakens and becomes active. Through pranayama or meditation or through Shaktipat the inner power awakens and the indicators described below are observed in the practitioner. However, no two practitioners experience the same thing. The symptoms are not permanent and their intensity is proportional to the karmic balance of the practitioner. They fade away with acquired maturity. A practitioner who has less karmic debt is likely to have milder indicators than one who has more karma to work through. At the end of the process, only the feelings of inner bliss and intuitive knowledge are left. Everything else vanishes.
I witnessed the manifestation of kriyas (automatic movements) at the annual conference of Kundalini Research Network in Philadelphia in 1995 for the first time. The person was a male practitioner from Rishikesh, India. For almost one minute he called out the name of the holy river Ganges and made movements with his hands, while he was seated on the ground. Immediately his movements looked to be taken over by some invisible controller and he began to perform various yoga postures, one after the other. Many of the postures he performed were not ordinarily possible and he demonstrated some pain while performing them. But the genuineness of the performance was felt and appreciated by everyone present. As was said earlier, a practitioner will automatically go into those movements which are necessary for his/her development. One has no control or authority over them. After about half-an-hour the practitioner came back to normal and reported feeling fine. The next demonstration I saw was in India by some practitioners in the presence of their Guru.
Here are some more examples of differing indicators of awakening:
Nan was a college student in the Midwest in the 1960s. She had been a drug addict, but later lived in an ashram in India where she meditated for up to eight hours a day and did not eat much. Nan frequently experienced kriyas such as making sounds, humming, jerking her body, rolling around on the floor, and falling over. She said: “I experienced twisting-snaking energy that was blissful, moving from the lower back or base of the spine upward, that caused my body to writhe around, moaning and groaning, twisting, swaying, falling forward or backward and then having a sudden backward jerk of the head accompanied by the sound of ‘hum.’ There was also an arching backward until falling over.” Sometimes she fell over and rolled on the ground or moved into asanas or mudras, and once she danced in a trance of ecstasy. (Greenwell 1990, p. 189–190)
Karen, a slim and graceful college professor in her 40s, studied Self-Realization Fellowship courses of Yogananda and practiced Kriya Yoga. She began Jungian analysis, and had lucid dreams. One night she began spontaneous rapid breathing and felt like jumping into an abyss. She saw an image of a door opening and some kind of energy passing through her. Another time, vibrations and tremors passed through her legs, spine, and face and she performed yoga asanas (postures) spontaneously for about three hours. Energy streamed upwards and vibrations shook her entire body. She felt that the energy wanted to do things with her body that she was unable to do, and her body felt like clay. She was pulled into extreme postures — she fell backward and upside down, her fingers rigid; she performed a headstand; she stood up with a full body vibration and went forward to the ground; she heard the words “siddha yoga” and her head jerked from side to side; she had a sense of a butterfly body living within her as if her body was its cocoon. It seemed to break out as a new body through her back with still wet wings beginning to unfold; an unusual breathing pattern took over; she began growling and pawing at the floor and said, “I am a leopard; I’m a South-American leopard.” (Greenwell 1990, p. 208–209)
ORDER OF EXPERIENCES
When the awakening of Kundalini is first experienced, the practitioner feels that the body, mind, and prana have become powerless, since all activities are stilled. When Kundalini receives light from Shakti, the practitioner feels the active energy of prana in one’s consciousness. Later, one hears an internal Sound but cannot find the origin of the Sound. When Kundalini assumes the form of nada (unstruck continuous sound) then one begins to hear its form very faintly. Next the practitioner begins to see divine lights that gradually take the form of a fine flame, whereupon the nada takes the clear form of sounds from the violin, flute, humming of bees, and other similar sounds. Finally nada takes the form of OM or AUM, which is Brahman Itself, and then whatever one determines comes to pass. The subtle form of OM eradicates sin and the deeper form of OM provides liberation. All other forms of automatic movement cease and only the sound of OM remains. One is sightless, only the state of peacefulness and single-pointed concentration remains. On physical death one attains the Brahma-lok or the plane of the residence of Brahman, the final achievement.
As the consciousness becomes pure one sees the Guru, Brahman, and various demi-gods or saints clearly. One may also have visions of the spiritual identities one is most familiar with, such as Krishna, Buddha, Jesus, Mother Mary, formless Light, or any other representations of pure and compassionate energy — they are seen by the practitioner either in dreams, visions or in trance states. Their appearance indicates successful spiritual practice. One may witness such things while walking, sitting or in spiritual practice.
One experiences divine flavors, divine smells, and divine touches, too. The enjoyment of worldly pleasures by people without divine knowledge leads them to grief and suffering, while spiritually perfected individuals receive everything to enjoy without longing and attachment and remain ever happy.
MY OWN EXPERIENCES
I have passed through most of the experiences described above. I wrote about them in chronological order and gave complete details in Kundalini for Beginners. I first saw the manifestation of Light in 1984 and the appearance of Sound in 1987, which exists today. I have also experienced Soul-travel to Higher Realms continually since 1987. I can vouch by my own experiences that it is not necessary to cut oneself off from life to achieve them. One can be successful in yoga while living a practical conventional life. These two things are inclusive and they do not interfere with each other. On the contrary, yoga practices generate the energy necessary for success in the world while also enjoying life more fully. By enjoying life’s experience in full one achieves liberation and breaks the cycle of death and rebirth, once and for all. By the grace of God, I have received a number of initiations from respected Gurus but I also worked as a professor of mathematics for more than 30 years. After experiencing Kundalini in 1987, I retired in order to devote myself completely to my spiritual path in 1994.
I have seen the manifestation of kriyas in some practitioners in the presence of the Guru. This same Guru initiated me, although I had my Kundalini awakened many years ago. When I asked about the purpose of this initiation (since I already had an awakened Kundalini) the Guru told me that although my Kundalini was awakened it was not active. The Guru passed his power into me by his touch. For the next three days I underwent automatic movements of my body, although the movements were gentle and rhythmic and not as violent and varied as in the case of some beginners. I also experienced fast and deep inhalations and exhalations accompanying the movements. After 30 to 45 minutes of movements I would go into a trance witnessing inner bliss and oneness with the Reality. For the rest of the day I was filled with an inner happiness and was indifferent to the outer world. Afterwards and for the next two weeks I had an itchy back and burning in my spine. Gradually these symptoms disappeared.
When Kundalini is both awakened and active for some time, and the Shaktipat becomes stabilized in the practitioner, he/she becomes a Guru him/herself and begins to help others raise their Kundalini. I saw that some practitioners who had spent time preparing themselves would go into samadhi when I touched their third eye. An Australian couple came to see me after reading Kundalini for Beginners. The man had been practicing Hatha Yoga and Pranayama for several years. In the morning he came for lessons. I gave him instruction in performing asanas and touched him. He began to perform several yogic postures perfectly and effortlessly, which he could not do earlier. His eyes were closed all the time, and he did not see what he was doing. After about half-an-hour of this performance he became still and normal, and was looking very peaceful and happy. He told me that he had some kriyas in the past but not as intensely as that day.
Although the art of Shaktipat is the easiest and most direct method of awakening Kundalini, its use is uncommon and rare in the present age. The teachings of Shaktipat had been secret, passed from mouth to ear, and were not written. They were almost lost in antiquity. To look for a Master, practitioners searched the Himalayan caves for many years with little success. Nevertheless, for some, there has always been and will continue to be the Guru-initiate Shaktipat.
Authors Details: Kundalini Shaktipat for Beginners Ravindra Kumar, Ph.D.