Kundalini Yoga is the Yoga of prana. Prana is the life-energy or life-principle of the universe. There are three principal channels through which this life-energy flows. These channels are ida, pingala and sushumna. In Sanskrit these channels are called nadis. Ida, pingala and sushumna are inside our subtle physical body, not inside the gross physical. Ida carries the current of life-energy in the left side of the body. Pingala carries the current in the right side of the body. Sushumna carries the current in the middle of the spinal column. Sushumna is the most important of the three nadis. It receives a ceaseless stream of life-energy from the universal Consciousness-light. There is an inner connection between ida and pingala and the zodiac and planets. Ida has a special connection with the moon and the planet Mercury; hence its main quality is coolness and mildness. Pingala is connected with the sun and Mars hence its quality is powerful and dynamic heat.
Ida rules the left nostril. Pingala rules the right nostril. When we breathe in and out primarily through our left nostril, we have to know that it is ida that is functioning. When we breathe in and out through our right nostril, it is pingala that is functioning. And when both of our nostrils are functioning satisfactorily, we have to know that it is sushumna that is playing its role. It also happens at times that ida breathes in and pingala breathes out.
Ida, pingala and sushumna meet together at six different places. Each meeting place forms a centre and each centre is round like a wheel. Indian spiritual philosophy calls these centres chakras. They are also called lotuses, because they look like the lotus flower. The six centres, as perhaps you know, are muladhara, svadhisthana, manipura, anahata, vishuddha and ajna. There is also another chakra that is inside the brain, called sahasrara. Because it is in the brain, and not along the spinal column, it is not counted with the other six centres. Apart from these six, there are many other chakras in the subtle physical body. Here in the knee we have a chakra; even in the toes and the fingertips we have chakras. But these chakras are minor and are not usually mentioned.
The root chakra, or the lotus muladhara, has four petals, which are red and orange in colour. The spleen chakra, svadhisthana, has six petals. The petals are orange, blue, green, yellow, violet and blood-red. Blood-red is the most prominent colour in this chakra. The navel chakra, manipura, has ten petals. They are pink, orange and green, but primarily green. The heart chakra, anahata, has twelve petals. Here the colour is bright golden. The throat centre, the vishuddha lotus, has sixteen petals. Blue and green are the colours. The brow centre, ajna, has only two petals. But inside each petal there are forty-eight petals. Here the colour is rose. The crown centre, sahasrara, has 1,000 petals, or to be more precise, 972. It has all the colours, but the violet colour is predominant.
The universal Consciousness embodies universal Music. From each chakra, where the life-energy from the universal Consciousness gathers, a musical note is produced. From sahasrara the tone of shadja or sa is produced. In western music, you call this ‘do’. From ajna, rishava or ri is produced: what you call ‘re’. From vishuddha, gandhara or ga is produced: what you call ‘mi’. From anahata, madhyama or ma is produced: what you call ‘fa’. From manipura, panchama or pa is produced: what you call ‘so’. From svadhisthana, dhaivata or dha is produced: what you call ‘la’. From muladhara, nishada or ni is produced: what you call ‘ti’.
There are seven worlds corresponding to the seven chakras. Muladhara corresponds to Bhurloka; svadhisthana corresponds to Bhubarloka; manipura corresponds to Svarloka; anahata corresponds to Janaloka vishuddha corresponds to Tapoloka; ajna corresponds to Maharloka; and sahasrara corresponds to Satyaloka. Each world is symbolised by something. Bhurloka is symbolised by earth, Bhubarloka by water, Svarloka by heat, Janaloka by air, Tapoloka by ether, Maharloka by energy, and Satyaloka by infinite space.
For each centre there is a special MotherPower, which is a manifestation of the Supreme Mother. These Mother-Powers are known as Brahmi, Parameshwari, Kaumari, Vaishnavi, Varahi, Indrani and Chamunda. Each one has a special place of her own. Brahmi is the Mother-Power that embodies and pervades the infinite space. She rules all the chakras. Brahmi stays in the sahasrara, or brain chakra, which is the thousand-petaled lotus. From there she rules the centres that are below her: ajna, vishuddha, anahata, manipura, svadhisthana and muladhara. Parameshwari is located in the ajna chakra, the brow centre. There she rules ajna and the chakras that are below her. Kaumari is located in vishuddha, the throat centre, and rules vishuddha and the chakras below her. Vaishnavi begins functioning from anahata, the heart centre, and rules the others below. Varahi, who stays in the navel centre, rules the lower planes: manipura, svadhisthana and muladhara. Indrani rules svadhisthana, at the spleen, and muladhara, at the base of the spine. And Chamunda rules only over muladhara.
Each centre also has a presiding deity, a cosmic god. Brahma is the presiding deity of muladhara; Rudra is the presiding deity of svadhisthana; Vishnu, of manipura; Ishwara, of anahata; Sadashiva, of vishuddha, Shambhu, of ajna; and Paramashiva is the presiding deity of sahasrara.
These centres can be opened in various ways. The usual method for those who practise Kundalini Yoga is to concentrate firmly on each centre, invoking the Mother-Power or the presiding deity most soulfully. However, all real spiritual Masters, from the very depth of their experience, say that it is better to open the heart centre first and then try to open the other centres. If one opens the heart centre first, there is practically no risk. But if one starts with the muladhara or svadhisthana or ajna chakra, it is very dangerous. Again, there are some seekers who do not follow this method at all. They do not care for occult power; they care only for God’s Love, Light and Truth, They learn how to meditate most soulfully; and when they make considerable progress in their meditation, these centres open automatically. And through the Grace of the Absolute Supreme, these centres may open even without meditation.
If these centres are opened without proper purification, the seeker will encounter great pain. It will be like playing with fire or a sharp knife. He may destroy others or he may himself be destroyed. We have to know that the miraculous powers that one gets when his centres are opened are not actually miraculous or unusual at all in the inner world. The powers that the centres hold are absolutely normal. In the inner world these powers are constantly used by spiritual Masters. There in the inner world they are normal and natural. Only when they are used on the physical plane do they seem unusual or miraculous.
Any real spiritual Master will have these powers. But again, one need not be a spiritual Master of the highest order in order to have them. One need not be even a great seeker. Even someone who leads a normal, ordinary, undivine life can develop these powers.
In India I came across a few seekers—I cannot call them sincere seekers—who had some occult or kundalini power. But most of the time they misused it. They opened their third eye in order to know what their girlfriends were thinking of them. Now this is ridiculous. The same third eye they could have used to destroy their dark, obscure, impure thoughts. They had the capacity, but they didn’t use it. I also know someone who used his occult power to threaten his enemies at night and compel them to do whatever he wanted them to do the following morning. By using his occult power, his third eye, he made his enemies his slaves. But he could have used his third eye to know God’s Will in his own life and in others’ lives. If it had been God’s Will to expedite somebody’s spiritual progress, then he could have used his third eye to help. Each centre has something special to offer when it is properly used. It becomes a veritable boon to the Inner Pilot and to all mankind.
I want to make it very clear that the opening of the centres does not mean that one is realising God or that he is about to realise God. The opening of the centres is not necessarily the precursor of God-realisation. No, not at all! God-realisation has nothing to do with the opening of the centres. No matter how many centres one has opened, even if one has opened all the seven centres, it does not indicate that one is on the verge of realisation or that one is realised. From the highest spiritual point of view, the opening of the chakras is like the games a mother plays with her children in the playground. Children are fond of games and the mother is showing her capacity. It is not her pride, her vanity. No. It is just that the mother knows this will amuse the children. She can give some joy, some pleasure to the children, so she plays these games. It is usually Lord Shiva on the sahasrara plane and his consort, Shivani from the muladhara plane, where the kundalini is fast asleep, who play. When they play with their children in the inner world, the occult powers start functioning.
Now let us start from the beginning: muladhara, the root chakra. When one has acquired mastery over the muladhara centre, one can become invisible at his sweet will. One can conquer all diseases. One can know whatever one wants to know and discover whatever one wants to discover. If one wants to discover God’s Compassion, God’s Light, God’s Love for him, then he is in a position to do so. But if one uses the same power in order to know what is happening in others’ minds or what is going on in their outer life, or if one uses it to discover out of curiosity if a third world war is going to break out, then this power is misused.
When a person with mastery over the muladhara sees that someone has a particular disease, he has to know whether that individual deserves the disease or whether it is the result of a hostile attack. If he has done something wrong, naturally under the law of karma he deserves to pay the penalty. But if the disease is not from the law of karma but rather from the attack of some hostile force, and if it is God’s Will that his disease should be cured, then naturally a spiritual person who has the capacity should cure it. But if he does it at his own sweet will, or if he acts in an undivine way and just shows off, then he breaks the cosmic law. He will cure the person, but this very cure will act eventually against both the healer and the sick person. It will add to their ignorant and self-destructive quality. So the healer has to know if it is the Will of God that the person be cured. Only then will he cure; otherwise he has to remain silent and do nothing. You may ask, how can he see somebody else suffering and still do nothing? If his heart is very big, let him go deep within and see who it is that is suffering in and through the individual. He will see that it is God who is purposely having a special experience in and through that person.
Svadhisthana, the spleen chakra. When one has mastery over svadhisthana, one acquires the power of love. He loves everyone and he is loved by everyone: by men and women and by animals. It is here that people very often fall from the path of Light and Truth. Divine love is expansion and expansion is illumination. Love can be expressed as an expansion of our divine awareness or it can be expressed as pleasure. When the svadhisthana centre is opened, the lower vital, the sex forces will try to lower the consciousness of the seeker. But if at that time he can bring down abundant purity from the anahata centre, the heart centre, then this impurity will be transformed into purity. And purity is eventually transformed into ever-fulfilling and everlasting divinity. But if he cannot bring down purity, then there is real destruction, destruction of the seeker’s life. The lower vital acts most vehemently and powerfully and sometimes it becomes worse than the lower vital in ordinary human beings. An ordinary human being does not enjoy the vital life the way some seekers enjoy it after opening their svadhisthana centre.
Manipura, the navel chakra. If one acquires mastery over this centre, one conquers sorrow and suffering. No matter what happens in his life, he will not feel sad or miserable. But this centre can create a problem like the svadhisthana chakra. This centre is also dangerous. One can create suffering for others if one misuses the power from the manipura chakra and he will thereby incur the world’s curse. This centre, like the ajna chakra, can show the seeker where a relative or dear one has gone after he dies. It lets one see how the person is passing through the vital world and entering into the subtle world and the higher planes. It shows how he passes from one sheath to another after death. This centre also gives one the power of transmutation. One can magnify an object or one can reduce it to an infinitesimal size. In addition, this centre has healing power. As I said before, if one can use this power properly, in accordance with the Will of God, then it is a real blessing. Otherwise it is a curse.
Anahata, the heart centre. Here the power is unbelievable. A seeker with mastery over the anahata centre has free access to both the visible and the invisible worlds. Time surrenders to him; space surrenders to him. If he uses this centre, he can travel to any part of the world in a few seconds in his subtle body. But if he does this, he takes a great risk, Suppose he wants to travel occultly and spiritually to Europe to see what is happening there. If he does not get the proper sanction from the other centres, or if the other centres do not cooperate, then the other centres may not allow the soul to come back to the body after its journey. In India, I know of quite a few cases where Yogis leave their bodies through the heart centre without taking help or getting permission and without even informing the other centres. They feel that the other centres do not have the same special capacity as the heart centre and so they should use the heart centre. Then the other centres become jealous. Jealousy is everywhere, in the outer world and in the inner world as well. Even the cosmic gods enjoy jealousy. So the other centres, because they are jealous, do not let the soul come back. If one uses this power, one has to take permission from the Inner Pilot first. If the Inner Pilot sanctions it, then the other centres cannot do any harm, since the Inner Pilot has infinitely more power than these centres.
In the anahata centre, one can enjoy the deepest bliss of oneness; one can have pure Joy. Any person can look at a flower and get joy, but the intensity of joy that the flower embodies we cannot all enjoy. But if one opens the heart centre and looks at a flower, immediately all the joy, all the beauty that the flower has will become his. If the seeker looks at the vast ocean, inside his heart he is bound to feel the vast ocean. He looks at the vast sky and he enters into the sky, he becomes the sky. Anything vast, pure, divine, sublime that he sees, he can immediately feel as his very own and he can become that thing. There is no yawning gulf between what he sees and what he is. He just becomes in his consciousness what he sees.
This is not his imagination. Far from it! His heart is a divine heart which embodies the universal Consciousness. The spiritual heart is not the heart that we find in our physical body. The spiritual heart is larger than the largest, it is larger than the universal Consciousness itself. We always say that there cannot be anything superior to the universal Consciousness, but this is a mistake. The heart the spiritual heart, houses the universal Consciousness. This centre is very safe when we use it to identify ourselves with the vast, with the beauty of nature. But when we use it to travel outside the limitations of the body, we take a risk.
Vishuddha, the throat chakra. He who has mastery over vishuddha has the capacity to offer divine messages to the world. Universal nature discloses its agelong hidden mysteries to him. Here nature bows to the seeker. He can retain eternal youth. The outer world surrenders to him. The inner world embraces him. We get messages from various planes of consciousness. But when one gets a message from the vishuddha centre, the message is sublime and everlasting. When this centre is open, one receives direct messages from the Highest and becomes a mouthpiece for the Highest. One becomes a poet, a singer or an artist. All forms of art are expressed from this centre. This centre is open in many individuals. It functions according to the degree to which it is open, according to one’s development. There is very little risk in this centre. It is a mild centre; it does not interfere with other centres and the other centres leave it alone.
Ajna, the brow chakra. He who has mastery over the ajna chakra destroys his dark past, hastens the golden future and manifests the present in a supremely fulfilling way. His psychic and occult powers defy all limits; they are endless. The ajna chakra, which is located between and a little above the eyebrows, is the most powerful centre. The first thing one does when his third eye opens, if it is opened properly, is to destroy the unlit, unaspiring and undivine past. Now we see something and we have an experience. But there is a difference between our experience and the thing that we are experiencing. When the ajna centre is opened, however, we experience the thing itself. We become one with the thing that we are experiencing. At that time, seeing and becoming go together. Seeing itself is becoming and becoming is seeing. For this reason the aspirant who has opened his third eye wants to destroy the past from his memory. In this incarnation suppose one has become a Yogi. When he looks back to his previous incarnation, he sees that he was a thief, or something worse. Since he does not now want to enter into that experience again, he will try to destroy that part of his past. He now has the necessary power.
When one realises God, the past is automatically deleted. As I said before, when one opens the third eye or any other centre, it does not mean that one has realised God. When one realises God, the obscure, impure or undivine past is illumined and nullified all at once. At the moment of God-realisation, illumination takes place. It is like coming out of a dark room into an illumined room. It becomes light where before it was all dark. God-realisation is immediate illumination.
With the ajna chakra, the past can be nullified and the future can be brought into the immediacy of today. If one knows that ten years from now he is going to do something, achieve something or grow into something, then by using the third eye he can achieve that very thing today. He does not have to wait for ten, fifteen, twenty years.
But if one brings the future result to the fore, this can sometimes be dangerous. It has happened many, many times that the future of an individual is very bright, very luminous. But when the future is brought right into the immediacy of the present, the enormity of the result puzzles and frightens the seeker. The seeker is like a young elephant. He is growing in strength and in ten years he will be very powerful. But if the power comes right now, there may be no receptivity, no inner receptivity. The power comes, but it cannot be brought under control or it cannot be contained in a safe vessel. At that time power itself acts like an enemy and destroys the person who invoked it. So there is a great danger when one takes the future and brings it into the present.
Let the present grow and play its role. The past has played its role; now the present wants to play its role. Only in some cases, when God wants a seeker to make very fast progress, instead of going systematically he can run extremely fast. It is just like the situation of a student in school. Sometimes a student does not go through all the grades of kindergarten, primary school and high school. Sometimes he skips grades. In the spiritual life also, if it is God’s Will that the future be brought into the present, then there is no danger. But otherwise there is great danger.
With the third eye, one can accomplish much. The third eye has what God, the ultimate Power, is. If the ultimate Power is misused by the third eye, then it is all destruction. But if the third eye uses the ultimate, transcendental Power properly and divinely, then it will be a great blessing, the greatest blessing that humanity can imagine.
Sahasrara, the crown chakra. The sahasrara is the silent one which does not interfere in anything. It is like the eldest member in the family: it does not bother anyone and does not want to be bothered by anyone. When this centre is opened permanently, one enjoys infinite Bliss and becomes inseparably one with the ever-transcending Beyond, One comes to know that he is birthless and deathless. He is always dealing with Infinity, Eternity and Immortality. These are not vague terms for him; they are all reality. This moment he sees himself as Eternity and he grows into Eternity: the next moment he sees himself as Infinity and he grows into Infinity; a few moments later he sees himself as Immortality and grows into Immortality in his consciousness. And at times it happens that Infinity, Eternity and Immortality all go together in his consciousness.
When the sahasrara chakra is open, the Inner Pilot becomes a true friend. Here the Infinite and His chosen son become very good friends to fulfil a specific mission for their mutual manifestation. They share many secrets, millions of secrets, in the twinkling of an eye. On the one hand Father and son are enjoying infinite Peace and Bliss; on the other hand they are discussing world problems, universal problems, all in the twinkling of an eye. But their problems are not problems as such. Their problems are only experiences in their cosmic game.
Of all the centres, the highest, the most peaceful, the most soulful, the most fruitful is sahasrara. There Infinity, Eternity and Immortality have become one. The Source becomes one with the creation, and the creation becomes one with the Source. Here the knower and the Known, the lover and the Beloved, the slave and the Master, the son and the Father, all become one. Together the Creator and the creation transcend their Dream and Reality. Their Dream makes them feel what they are and their Reality makes them feel what they can do. Reality and Dream become one.
by Sri Chinmoy