The word YOGA comes from the root Yuj which means to join, and in its spiritual sense, it is that process by which the human spirit is brought into near and conscious communion with, or is merged in, the Divine Spirit, according as the nature of the human spirit is held to be separate from (Dvaita, Visishtadvaita) or one with (Advaita) the Divine Spirit. As, according to Vedanta, the latter proposition is affirmed, Yoga is that process by which the identity of the two (Jivatman and Paramatman)—which identity ever exists, in fact—is realised by the Yogin or practitioner of Yoga.
It is so realised because the Spirit has then pierced through the veil of Maya which as mind and matter obscures this knowledge from itself. The means by which this is achieved is the Yoga process which liberates the Jiva from Maya. So the Gheranda-Samhita says: “There is no bond equal in strength to Maya, and no power greater to destroy that bond than Yoga.” From an Advaitic or Monistic standpoint, Yoga in the sense of a final union is inapplicable, for union implies a dualism of the Divine and human spirit. In such case, it denotes the process rather than the result. When the two are regarded as distinct, Yoga may apply to both. A person who practises Yoga is called a Yogin. All are not competent to attempt Yoga; only a very few are. One must, in this or in other lives, have gone through Karma or selfless service and ritualistic observances, without attachment to the actions or their fruits, and Upasana or devotional worship, and obtained the fruit thereof, viz., a pure mind (Chittasuddhi). This does not mean merely a mind free from sexual impurity. The attainment of this and other qualities is the A B C of Sadhana. A person may have a pure mind in this sense, and yet be wholly incapable of Yoga. Chittasuddhi consists not merely in moral purity of every kind, but in knowledge, detachment, capacity for pure intellectual functioning, attention, meditation and so forth. When by Karma Yoga and Upasana, the mind is brought to this point and when, in the case of Jnana Yoga, there is dispassion and detachment from the world and its desires, then the Yoga path is open for the realisation of the ultimate Truth. Very few persons indeed are competent for Yoga in its higher form. The majority should seek their advancement along the path of Karma Yoga and devotion.
There are four main forms of Yoga, according to one school of thought, namely Mantra Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Laya Yoga and Raja Yoga; Kundalini Yoga is really Laya Yoga. There is another classification: Jnana Yoga, Raja Yoga, Laya Yoga, Hatha Yoga and Mantra Yoga. This is based on the idea that there are five aspects of spiritual life:-Dharma, Kriya, Bhava, Jnana and Yoga; Mantra Yoga being said to be of two kinds according as it is pursued along the path of Kriya or Bhava. There are seven Sadhanas of Yoga, namely Sat-Karma, Asana, Mudra, Pratyahara, Pranayama, Dhyana and Samadhi, which are cleansing of the body, seat postures for Yoga purposes, the abstraction of the senses from their objects, breath-control, meditation, and ecstasy which is of two kinds—imperfect (Savikalpa) in which dualism is not wholly overcome, and perfect (Nirvikalpa) which is complete Monistic experience–the realisation of the Truth of the Mahavakya AHAM BRAHMASMI—a knowledge in the sense of realisation which, it is to be observed, does not produce Liberation (Moksha) but is Liberation itself. The Samadhi of Laya Yoga is said to be Savikalpa Samadhi and that of complete Raja Yoga is said to be Nirvikalpa Samadhi. The first four processes are physical, last three mental and supramental. By these seven processes respectively certain qualities are gained, namely, purity (Sodhana), firmness and strength (Dridhata), fortitude (Sthirata), steadiness (Dhairya), lightness (Laghava), realisation (Pratyaksha) and detachment leading to Liberation (Nirliptatva).
What is known as the eight-limbed Yoga (Ashtanga Yoga) contains five of the above Sadhanas (Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dhyana and Samadhi) and three others, namely, Yama or self-control by way of chastity, temperance, avoidance of harm (Ahimsa), and other virtues; Niyama or religious observances, charity and so forth, with devotion to the Lord (Isvara-Pranidhana); and Dharana, the fixing of the internal organ on its object as directed in the Yoga-practice.
Man is a microcosm (Kshudra Brahmanda). Whatever exists in the outer universe exists in him. All the Tattvas and worlds are within him and so is the Supreme Siva-Sakti. The body may be divided into two main parts, namely, the head and trunk on the one hand, and the legs on the other. In man, the centre of the body is between these two, at the base of the spine where the legs begin. Supporting the trunk and throughout the whole body there is the spinal cord. This is the axis of the body, just as Mount Meru is the axis of the earth. Hence, man’s spine is called Merudanda, the Meru or axis-staff. The legs and feet are gross which show less signs of consciousness than the trunk with its spinal white and grey matter; which trunk itself is greatly subordinate in this respect to the head containing the organ of mind, or physical brain, with its white and grey matter. The positions of the white and grey matter in the head and spinal column respectively are reversed. The body and legs below the centre are the seven lower or nether worlds upheld by the sustaining Sakti or Powers of the universe. From the centre upwards, consciousness more freely manifests through the spinal and cerebral centres. Here there are the seven upper regions or Lokas, a term which means “What are seen” (Lokyante), that is, experienced, and are hence the fruits of Karma in the form of particular rebirth. These regions, namely, Bhuh, Bhuvah, Svah, Tapa, Jana, Maha and Satya Lokas correspond with the six centres; five in the trunk, the sixth in the lower cerebral centre; and the seventh in the upper brain or Satyaloka, the abode of the Supreme Siva-Sakti.
The six centres are: the Muladhara or root-support situated at the base of the spinal column in a position midway in the perineum between the root of the genitals and the anus; above it, in the region of the genitals, abdomen, heart, chest and throat, and in the forehead between the two eyes, are the Svadhishthana, Manipura, Anahata, Visuddha and Ajna Chakras or lotuses respectively. These are the chief centres, though some texts speak of others such as the Lalana and Manas and Soma Chakras. The seventh region beyond the Chakras is the upper brain, the highest centre of manifestation of consciousness in the body and therefore, the abode of the Supreme Siva-Sakti. When it is said to be the “abode”, it is not meant that the Supreme is there placed in the sense of our “placing”, namely, it is there and not elsewhere! The Supreme is never localised, whilst its manifestations are. It is everywhere both within and without the body, but it is said to be in the Sahasrara, because it is there that the Supreme Siva-Sakti is realised. And, this must be so, because consciousness is realised by entering in and passing through the higher manifestation of mind, the Sattvamayi Buddhi, above and beyond which is Chit and Chidrupini Saktis themselves. From their Siva-Sakti Tattva aspect are evolved Mind in its form as Buddhi, Ahamkara, Manas and associated senses (Indriyas) the centre of which is above the Ajna Chakra and below the Sahasrara. From Ahamkara proceed the Tanmatras, or generals of the sense-particulars, which evolve the five forms of sensible matter (Bhuta), namely, Akasa (ether), Vayu (air), Agni (fire), Apah (water) and Prithvi (earth). The English translation given does not imply that the Bhutas are the same as the English elements of air, fire, water, earth. The terms indicate varying degrees of matter from the ethereal to the solid. Thus Prithvi or earth is any matter in the Prithvi state; that is, which may be sensed by the Indriya of smell. Mind and matter pervade the whole body. But there are centres therein in which they are predominant. Thus Ajna is the centre of mind, and the five lower Chakras are the centres of the five Bhutas; Visuddha of Akasa, Anahata of Vayu, Manipura of Agni, Svadhishthana of Apah, and Muladhara of Prithvi.
In short, man as a microcosm is the all-pervading Spirit (which most purely manifests in the Sahasrara) vehicled by Sakti in the form of mind and matter, the centres of which are the sixth and following five Chakras respectively.
The six Chakras have been identified with the following plexuses commencing from the lowest, the Muladhara; the sacrococcygeal plexus, the sacral plexus, the solar plexus, (which forms the great junction of the right and left sympathetic chains Ida and Pingala with the cerebro-spinal axis). Connected with this is the lumbar plexus. Then follows the cardiac plexus (Anahata), laryngeal plexus, and lastly the Ajna or cerebellum with its two lobes. Above this is the Manas-Chakra or middle cerebrum, and finally, the Sahasrara or upper cerebrum. The six Chakras themselves are vital centres within the spinal column in the white and grey matter there. They may, however, and probably do, influence and govern the gross tract outside the spine in the bodily region lateral to, and co-extensive with, that section of the spinal column in which a particular centre is situated. The Chakras are centres of Sakti as vital force. In other words these are centres of Pranasakti manifested by Pranavayu in the living body, the presiding Devatas of which are names for the Universal Consciousness as It manifests in the form of those centres. The Chakras are not perceptible to the gross senses. Even if they were perceptible in the living body which they help to organise, they disappear with the disintegration of organism at death. Just because post-mortem examination of the body does not reveal these Chakras in the spinal column, some people think that these Chakras do not exist at all, and are merely the fabrication of a fertile brain. This attitude reminds us of a doctor who declared that he had performed many post-mortems and had never yet discovered a soul!
The petals of the lotuses vary, being 4, 6, 10, 12, 16 and 2 respectively, commencing from the Muladhara and ending with Ajna. There are 50 in all, as are the letters of the alphabet which are in the petals; that is, the Matrikas are associated with the Tattvas; since both are products of the same creative Cosmic process manifesting either as physiological or psychological function. It is noteworthy that the number of the petals is that of the letters leaving out either Ksha or the second La, and that these 50 multiplied by 20 are in the 1000 petals of the Sahasrara, a number which is indicative of infinitude.
But why, it may be asked, do the petals vary in number? Why, for instance, are there 4 in the Muladhara and 6 in the Svadhishthana? The answer given is that the number of petals in any Chakra is determined by the number and position of the Nadis or Yoga-nerves around that Chakra. Thus, four Nadis surrounding and passing through the vital movements of the Muladhara Chakra, give it the appearance of a lotus of four petals which are thus configurations made by the positions of Nadis at any particular centre. These Nadis are not those which are known to the Vaidya. The latter are gross physical nerves. But the former, here spoken of, are called Yoga-Nadis and are subtle channels (Vivaras) along which the Pranic currents flow. The term Nadi comes from the root Nad which means motion. The body is filled with an uncountable number of Nadis. If they were revealed to the eye, the body would present the appearance of a highly-complicated chart of ocean currents. Superficially the water seems one and the same. But examination shows that it is moving with varying degrees of force in all directions. All these lotuses exist in the spinal columns.
The Merudanda is the vertebral column. Western anatomy divides it into five regions; and it is to be noted in corroboration of the theory here expounded that these correspond with the regions in which the five Chakras are situated. The central spinal system comprises the brain or encephalon contained within the skull (in which are the Lalana, Ajna, Manas, Soma Chakras and the Sahasrara); as also the spinal cord extending from the upper border of the Atlas below the cerebellum and descending to the second lumbor vertebra where it tapers to a point called the filum terminale. Within the spine is the cord, a compound of grey and white brain matter, in which are the five lower Chakras. It is noteworthy that the filum terminale was formerly thought to be a mere fibrous cord, an unsuitable vehicle, one might think, for the Muladhara Chakra and Kundalini Sakti. More recent microscopic investigations have, however, disclosed the existence of highly sensitive grey matter in the filum terminale which represents the position of the Muladhara. According to Western science, the spinal cord is not merely a conductor between the periphery and the centres of sensation and volition, but is also an independent centre or group of centres. The Sushumna is a Nadi in the centre of the spinal column. Its base is called Brahma-Dvara or Gate of Brahman. As regards the physiological relations of the Chakras all that can be said with any degree of certainty is that the four above Muladhara have relation to the genito-excretory, digestive, cardiac and respiratory functions and that the two upper centres, the Ajna (with associated Chakras) and the Sahasrara denote various forms of its cerebral activity ending in the repose of Pure Consciousness therein gained through Yoga. The Nadis of each side Ida and Pingala are the left and right sympathetic cords crossing the central column from one side to the other, making at the Ajna with the Sushumna a threefold knot called Triveni; which is said to be the spot in the Medulla where the sympathetic cords join together and whence they take their origin—these Nadis together with the two lobed Ajna and the Sushumna forming the figure of the Caduceus of the God Mercury which is said by some to represent them.
How is it that the rousing of Kundalini Sakti and Her union with Siva effect the state of ecstatic union (Samadhi) and spiritual experience which is alleged?
In the first place, there are two main lines of Yoga, namely, Dhyana or Bhavana-Yoga and Kundalini Yoga; and there is a marked difference between the two. The first class of Yoga is that in which ecstasy (Samadhi) is obtained by intellective processes (Kriya-Jnana) of meditation and the like, with the aid, it may be, of auxiliary processes of Mantra or Hatha Yoga (other than the rousing of Kundalini) and by detachment from the world; the second stands apart as that portion of Hatha Yoga in which, though intellective processes are not neglected, the creative and sustaining Sakti of the whole body is actually and truly united with the Lord Consciousness. The Yogin makes Her introduce him to Her Lord, and enjoys the bliss of union through her. Though it is he who arouses Her, it is She who gives knowledge or Jnana, for She is Herself that. The Dhyana Yogin gains what acquaintance with the Supreme state his own meditative powers can give him and knows not the enjoyment of union with Siva in and through the fundamental Body-power. The two forms of Yoga differ both as to method and result. The Hatha Yogin regards his Yoga and its fruit as the highest; the Jnana Yogin may think similarly of his own. Kundalini is so renowned that many seek to know her. Having studied the theory of this Yoga, one may ask: “Can one get on without it?” The answer is: “It depends upon what you are looking for”. If you want to rouse Kundalini Sakti, to enjoy the bliss of union of Siva and Sakti through Her and to gain the accompanying powers (Siddhis), it is obvious that this end can be achieved only by the Kundalini Yoga. In that case, there are some risks incurred. But if Liberation is sought without desire for union through Kundalini, then, such Yoga is not necessary; for, Liberation may be obtained by Pure Jnana Yoga through detachment, the exercise and then the stilling of the mind, without any rousing of the central Bodily-power at all. Instead of setting out in and from the world to unite with Siva, the Jnana Yogin, to attain this result, detaches himself from the world. The one is the path of enjoyment and the other of asceticism. Samadhi may also be obtained on the path of devotion (Bhakti) as on that of knowledge. Indeed, the highest devotion (Para Bhakti) is not different from Knowledge. Both are Realisation. But, whilst Liberation (Mukti) is attainable by either method, there are other marked differences between the two. A Dhyana Yogin should not neglect his body, knowing that as he is both mind and matter, each reacts, the one upon the other. Neglect or mere mortification of the body is more apt to produce disordered imagination than a true spiritual experience. He is not concerned, however, with the body in the sense that the Hatha Yogin is. It is possible to be a successful Dhyana Yogin and yet to be weak in body and health, sick and short-lived. His body, and not he himself, determines when he shall die. He cannot die at will. When he is in Samadhi, Kundalini Sakti is still sleeping in the Muladhara, and none of the physical symptoms and psychical bliss or powers (Siddhis) described as accompanying Her rousing are observed in his case. The ecstasy which he calls “Liberation while yet living” (Jivanmukti) is not a state like that of real Liberation. He may be still subject to a suffering body from which he escapes only at death, when if at all, he is liberated. His ecstasy is in the nature of a meditation which passes into the Void (Bhavana-samadhi) effected through negation of all thought-form (Chitta-Vritti) and detachment from the world—a comparatively negative process in which the positive act of raising the Central Power of the body takes no part. By his effort, the mind which is a product of Kundalini as Prakriti Sakti, together with its worldly desires, is stilled so that the veil produced by mental functioning is removed from Consciousness. In Laya Yoga, Kundalini Herself, when roused by the Yogin (for such rousing is his act and part), achieves for him this illumination.
But why, it may be asked, should one trouble over the body and its Central power, the more particularly as there are unusual risks and difficulties involved? The answer has been already given. There is completeness and certainty of Realisation through the agency of the Power which is Knowledge itself (Jnanarupa Sakti), an intermediate acquisition of powers (Siddhis), and intermediate and final enjoyment.
If the Ultimate Reality is the One which exists in two aspects of quiescent enjoyment of the Self, and of liberation from all form and active enjoyment of objects, that is, as pure spirit and spirit in matter, then a complete union with Reality demands such unity in both of its aspects. It must be known both here (Iha) and there (Amutra). When rightly apprehended and practised, there is truth in the doctrine which teaches that man should make the best of both worlds. There is no real incompatibility between the two, provided action is taken in conformity with the universal law of manifestation. It is held to be false teaching that happiness hereafter can only be had by absence of enjoyment now, or in deliberately sought for suffering and mortification. It is the one Siva who is the Supreme Blissful Experience and who appears in the form of man with a life of mingled pleasure and pain. Both happiness here and the bliss of Liberation here and hereafter may be attained, if the identity of these Sivas be realised in every human act. This will be achieved by making every human function, without exception, a religious act of sacrifice and worship (Yajna). In the ancient Vaidik ritual, enjoyment by way of food and drink was preceded and accompanied by ceremonial sacrifice and ritual. Such enjoyment was the fruit of the sacrifice and the gift of the Devas. At a higher stage in the life of a Sadhaka, it is offered to the One from whom all gifts come and of whom the Devatas are inferior limited forms. But this offering also involves a dualism from which the highest Monistic (Advaita) Sadhana is free. Here the individual life and the world life are known as one. And the Sadhaka, when eating or drinking or fulfilling any other of the natural functions of the body, does so, saying and feeling “Sivoham”. It is not merely the separate individual who thus acts and enjoys. It is Siva who does so in and through him. Such a one recognises, as has been said, that his life and the play of all its activities are not a thing apart, to be held and pursued egotistically for its and his own separate sake, as though enjoyment was something to be filched from life by his own unaided strength and with a sense of separatedness; but his life and all its activities are conceived as part of the Divine action in Nature (Shakti) manifesting and operating in the form of man. He realises in the pulsating beat of his heart the rhythm which throbs through and is the song of the Universal Life. To neglect or to deny the needs of the body, to think of it as something not divine, is to neglect and deny the greater life of which it is a part, and to falsify the great doctrine of the unity of all and of the ultimate identity of Matter and Spirit. Governed by such a concept, even the lowliest physical needs take on a cosmic significance. The body is Shakti; its needs are Shakti’s needs. When man enjoys, it is Shakti who enjoys through him. In all he sees and does, it is the Mother who looks and acts, His eyes and hands are Hers. The whole body and all its functions are Her manifestations. To fully realise Her as such is to perfect this particular manifestation of Hers which is himself. Man when seeking to be the master of himself, seeks so on all the planes physical, mental and spiritual nor can they be severed, for they are all related, being but differing aspects of the one all-pervading Consciousness. Who, it may be asked, is the more divine; he who neglects and spurns the body or mind that he may attain some fancied spiritual superiority, or he who rightly cherishes both as forms of the one Spirit which they clothe? Realisation is more speedily and truly attained by discerning Spirit in and as all being and its activities, then by fleeing from and casting these aside as being either unspiritual or illusory and impediments in the path. If not rightly conceived, they may be impediments and the cause of fall; otherwise they become instruments of attainment; and what others are there to hand? And so, when acts are done in the fight feeling and frame of mind (Bhava), those acts give enjoyment; and the repeated and prolonged Bhava produces at length that divine experience (Tattva-Jnana) which is Liberation. When the Mother is seen in all things, She is at length realised as She who is beyond them all.
These general principles have their more frequent application in the life of the world before entrance on the path of Yoga proper. The Yoga here described is, however, also an application of these same principles, in so far as it is claimed that thereby both Bhukti and Mukti (enjoyment and liberation) are attained.
By the lower processes of Hatha Yoga it is sought to attain a perfect physical body which will also be a wholly fit instrument by which the mind may function. A perfect mind, again, approaches and, in Samadhi, passes into Pure Consciousness itself. The Hatha Yogin thus seeks a body which shall be as strong as steel, healthy, free from suffering and therefore, long-lived. Master of the body he is—the master of both life and death. His lustrous form enjoys the vitality of youth. He lives as long as he has the will to live and enjoys in the world of forms. His death is the death at will (Iccha-Mrityu); wheh making the great and wonderfully expressive gesture of dissolution, (Samhara-Mudra) he grandly departs. But, it may be said, the Hatha Yogins do get sick and die. In the first place, the full discipline is one of difficulty and risk, and can only be pursued under the guidance of a skilled Guru. Unaided and unsuccessful practice may lead not only to disease, but death. He who seeks to conquer the Lord of death incurs the risk, on failure, of a more speedy conquest by Him. All who attempt this Yoga do not, of course, succeed or meet with the same measure of success. Those who fail not only incur the infirmities of ordinary men, but also others brought on by practices which have been ill-pursued or for which they are not fit. Those again who do succeed, do so in varying degrees. One may prolong his life to the sacred age of 84, others to 100, others yet further. In theory at least those who are perfected (Siddhas) go from this plane when they will. All have not the same capacity or opportunity, through want of will, bodily strength, or circumstance. All may not be willing or able to follow the strict rules necessary for success. Nor does modern life offer in general the opportunities for so complete a physical culture. All men may not desire such a life or may think the attainment of it not worth the trouble involved. Some may wish to be rid of their body and that as speedily as possible. It is, therefore, said that it is easier to gain Liberation than Deathlessness! The former may be had by unselfishness, detachment from the world, moral and mental discipline. But to conquer death is harder than this, for these qualities and acts will not alone avail. He who does so conquer, holds life in the hollow of one hand and, if he be a successful (Siddha) Yogin, Liberation in the other hand. He has Enjoyment and Liberation. He is the Emperor who is Master of the World and the possessor of the Bliss which is beyond all worlds. Therefore, it is claimed by the Hatha Yogin that every Sadhana is inferior to Hatha Yoga!
The Hatha Yogin who works for Liberation does so through Laya Yoga Sadhana or Kundalini Yoga which gives both enjoyment and Liberation. At every centre to which he rouses Kundalini he experiences special form of Bliss and gains special powers. Carrying Her to Siva of his cerebral centre, he enjoys the Supreme Bliss which in its nature is that of Liberation, and which when established in permanence is Liberation itself on the loosening of Spirit and Body.
Energy (Shakti) polarises itself into two forms, namely, static or potential (Kundalini), and dynamic (the working forces of the body as Prana). Behind all activity there is a static background. This static centre in the human body is the central Serpent Power in the Muladhara (root-support). It is the power which is the static support (Adhara) of the whole body and all its moving Pranic forces. This Centre (Kendra) of Power is a gross form of Chit or Consciousness; that is, in itself (Svarupa), it is Consciousness; and by appearance it is a Power which, as the highest form of Force, is a manifestation of it. Just as there is a distinction (though identical at base) between the Supreme Quiescent Consciousness and Its active Power (Shakti), so when Consciousness manifests as Energy (Sakti), it possesses the twin aspects of potential and kinetic Energy. There can be no partition in fact of Reality. To the perfect eye of the Siddha the process of becoming is an ascription (Adhyasa). But to the imperfect eye of the Sadhaka, that is, the aspirant for Siddhi (perfected accomplishment), to the spirit which is still toiling through the lower planes and variously identifying itself with them, becoming is tending to appear and an appearance is real. The Kundalini Yoga is a rendering of Vedantic Truth from this practical point of view, and represents the world-process as a polarisation in Consciousness itself. This polarity as it exists in, and as, the body is destroyed by Yoga which disturbs the equilibrium of bodily consciousness, which consciousness is the result of the maintenance of these two poles. The human body, the potential pole of Energy which is the Supreme Power, is stirred to action, upon which the moving forces (dynamic Shakti) supported by it are drawn thereto, and the whole dynamism thus engendered moves upwards to unite with the quiescent Consciousness in the Highest Lotus.
There is polarisation of Shakti into two forms—static and dynamic. In the mind or experience this polarisation is patent to reflection; namely, the polarity between pure Chit and the Stress which is involved in it. This Stress or Shakti develops the mind through an infinity of forms and changes in the pure unbounded Ether of Consciousness—the Chidakasa. This analysis exhibits the primordial Shakti in the same two polar forms as before, static and dynamic. Here the polarity is most fundamental and approaches absoluteness, though of course, it is to be remembered that there is no absolute rest except in pure Chit. Cosmic energy is in an equilibrium which is relative and not absolute.
Passing from mind, let us take matter. The atom of modern science has ceased to be an atom in the sense of an indivisible unit of matter. According to the electron theory, the atom is a miniature universe resembling our solar system. At the centre of this atomic system we have a charge of positive electricity around which a cloud of negative charges called electrons revolve. The positive charges hold each other in check so that the atom is in a condition of equilibrated energy and does not ordinarily break up, though it may do so on the dissociation which is the characteristic of all matter, but which is so clearly manifest in the radioactivity of radium. We have thus here again, a positive charge at rest at the centre, and negative charges in motion round about the centre. What is thus said about the atom applies to the whole cosmic system and universe. In the world-system, the planets revolve around the Sun, and that system itself is probably (taken as a whole) a moving mass around some other relatively static centre, until we arrive at the Brahma-Bindu which is the point of Absolute Rest, around which all forms revolve and by which all are maintained. Similarly, in the tissues of the living body, the operative energy is polarised into two forms of energy—anabolic and catabolic, the one tending to change and the other to conserve the tissues; the actual condition of the tissues being simply the resultant of these two co-existent or concurrent activities.
In short, Shakti, when manifesting, divides itself into two polar aspects—static and dynamic—which implies that you cannot have it in a dynamic form without at the same time having it in a static form, much like the poles of a magnet. In any given sphere of activity of force, we must have, according to the cosmic principle of a static back-ground—Shakti at rest or “coiled”. This scientific truth is illustrated in the figure Kali, the Divine Mother moving as the Kinetic Shakti on the breast of Sadasiva who is the static background of pure Chit which is actionless, the Gunamayi Mother being all activity.
The Cosmic Shakti is the collectivity (Samashti) in relation to which the Kundalini in particular bodies is the Vyashti (individual) Shakti. The body is, as I have stated, a microcosm (Kshudrabrahmanda). In the living body there is, therefore, the same polarisation of which I have spoken. From the Mahakundalini the universe has sprung. In Her Supreme Form She is at rest, coiled round and one (as Chidrupini) with the Siva-bindu. She is then at rest. She next uncoils Herself to manifest. Here the three coils of which the Kundalini Yoga speaks are the three Gunas and the three and a half coil are the Prakriti and its three Gunas, together with the Vikritis. Her 50 coils are the letters of the Alphabet. As she goes on uncoiling, the Tattvas and the Matrikas, the Mother of the Varnas, issue from Her. She is thus moving, and continues even after creation to move in the Tattvas so created. For, as they are born of movement, they continue to move. The whole world (Jagat), as the Sanskrit term implies, is moving. She thus continues creatively acting until She has evolved Prithvi, the last of the Tattvas. First She creates mind, and then matter. This latter becomes more and more dense. It has been suggested that the Mahabhutas are the Densities of modern science:—Air density associated with the maximum velocity of gravity; Fire density associated with the velocity of light; Water or fluid density associated with molecular velocity and the equatorial velocity of the earth’s rotation; and Earth density, that of basalt associated with the Newtonian velocity of sound. However this be, it is plain that the Bhutas represent an increasing density of matter until it reaches its three dimensional solid form. When Shakti has created this last or Prithvi Tattva, what is there further for Her to do? Nothing. She therefore then again rests. At rest, again, means that She assumes a static form. Shakti, however, is never exhausted, that is, emptied into any of its forms. Therefore, Kundalini Shakti at this point is, as it were, the Shakti left over (though yet a plenum) after the Prithvi, the last of the Bhutas, has been created. We have thus Mahakundalini at rest as Chidrupini Shakti in the Sahasrara, the point of absolute rest; and then the body in which the relative static centre is Kundalini at rest, and around this centre the whole of the bodily forces move. They are Shakti, and so is Kundalini Shakti. The difference between the two is that they are Shaktis in specific differentiated forms in movement; and Kundalini Shakti is undifferentiated, residual Shakti at rest, that is, coiled. She is coiled in the Muladhara, which means ‘fundamental support’, and which is at the same time the seat of the Prithvi or last solid Tattva and of the residual Shakti or Kundalini. The body may, therefore, be compared to a magnet with two poles. The Muladhara, in so far as it is the seat of Kundalini Shakti, a comparatively gross form of Chit (being Chit-Shakti and Maya Shakti), is the static pole in relation to the rest of the body which is dynamic. The working that is the body necessarily presupposes and finds such a static support, hence the name Muladhara. In sense, the static Sakti at the Muladhara is necessarily coexistent with the creating and evolving Shakti of the body; because the dynamic aspect or pole can never be without its static counterpart. In another sense, it is the residual Shakti left over after such operation.
What then happens in the accomplishment of this Yoga? This static Shakti is affected by Pranayama and other Yogic processes and becomes dynamic. Thus, when completely dynamic, that is when Kundalini unites with Siva in the Sahasrara, the polarisation of the body gives way. The two poles are united in one and there is the state of consciousness called Samadhi. The polarisation, of course, takes place in consciousness. The body actually continues to exist as an object of observation to others. It continues its organic life. But man’s consciousness of his body and all other objects is withdrawn because the mind has ceased so far as his consciousness is concerned, the function having been withdrawn into its ground which is consciousness.
How is the body sustained? In the first place, though Kundalini Sakti is the static centre of the whole body as a complete conscious organism, yet each of the parts of the body and their constituent cells have their own static centres which uphold such parts or cells. Next, the theory of the Yogins themselves is that Kundalini ascends and that the body, as a complete organism, is maintained by the nectar which flows from the union of Siva and Sakti in the Sahasrara. This nectar is an ejection of power generated by their union. The potential Kundalini Sakti becomes only partly and not wholly converted into kinetic Sakti; and yet since Sakti—even as given in the Muladhara—is an infinitude, it is not depleted; the potential store always remains unexhausted. In this case, the dynamic equivalent is a partial conversion of one mode of energy into another. If, however, the coiled power at the Muladhara became absolutely uncoiled, there would result the dissolution of the three bodies—gross, subtle and causal, and consequently, Videha-Mukti, bodiless Liberation—because the static background in relation to a particular form of existence would, according to this hypothesis, have wholly given way. The body becomes cold as a corpse as the Sakti leaves it, not due to the depletion or privation of the static power at the Muladhara but to the concentration or convergence of the dynamic power ordinarily diffused over the whole body, so that the dynamic equivalent which is set up against the static background of Kundalini Sakti is only the diffused fivefold Prana gathered home—withdrawn from the other tissues of the body and concentrated along the axis. Thus, ordinarily, the dynamic equivalent is the Prana diffused over all the tissues: in Yoga, it is converged along the axis, the static equivalent of Kundalini Sakti enduring in both cases. Some part of the already available dynamic Prana is made to act at the base of the axis in a suitable manner, by which means the basal centre or Muladhara becomes, as it were, oversaturated and reacts on the whole diffused dynamic power (or Prana) of the body by withdrawing it from the tissues and converging it along the line of the axis. In this way, the diffused dynamic equivalent becomes the converged dynamic equivalent along the axis. What, according to this view, ascends is not the whole Sakti but an eject like condensed lightning, which at length reaches the Parama-Sivasthana. There the Central Power which upholds the individual world-Consciousness is merged in the Supreme Consciousness. The limited consciousness, transcending the passing concepts of worldly life, directly intuits the unchanging Reality which underlies the whole phenomenal flow. When Kundalini Sakti sleeps in the Muladhara, man is awake to the world; when she awakes to unite, and does unite, with the supreme static Consciousness which is Siva, then consciousness is asleep to the world and is one with the Light of all things.
The main principle is that when awakened, Kundalini Sakti, either Herself or Her eject, ceases to be a static Power which sustains the world-consciousness, the content of which is held only so long as She sleeps; and when once set in movement is drawn to that other static centre in the Thousand-petalled Lotus (Sahasrara) which is Herself in union with the Siva-consciousness or the consciousness of ecstasy beyond the world of form. When Kundalini sleeps, man is awake to this world. When She wakes, he sleeps—that is, loses all consciousness of the world and enters his causal body. In Yoga, he passes beyond to formless Consciousness.
Glory, glory to Mother Kundalini, who through Her Infinite Grace and Power, kindly leads the Sadhaka from Chakra to Chakra and illumines his intellect and makes him realise his identity with the Supreme Brahman! May Her blessings be upon you all!
SRI SWAMI SIVANANDA A DIVINE LIFE SOCIETY
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