कुण्डलिनी - kuṇḍalinī

Energy at the base of the spine. Can be awakened  for true spiritual unfoldment in aspirants. (1)

Also known as the “serpent power,” the kundalini is said to lie coiled, serpent-like in the coccyx region of the spine. (1) At the south pole of the human body, the kundalini energy becomes locked in a downward pull. (2) In the state of cosmic delusion, the human soul is pulled toward darkness and ignorance. When the kundalini energy is lifted upward, however, the process of enlightenment begins. (3)

The serpent asleep

In ordinary people, the kundalini is said to be “sleeping.” (1) Ignorant of the force of this energy, the people become overpowered by sex troubles. At the base of the spine, kundalini runs downward in a circular passage into the sex nerves and flows out of the body as life energy in acts of sexual union. In the Bible, for instance, the force tempted the feminine nature of Eve toward sensuality, which in turn tempted the masculine principle of man to lose his self-control in sexual indulgence. (4) The coiled serpent in the coccyx represents man’s dormant energy and his lower states of subconsciousness. (5)

Although the energy is dormant, it is not stationary. Human beings can sink ever deeper into relative unconsciousness, by acting in ways contrary to virtue. If people are unkind, ungenerous, untruthful, then kundalini continues its downward course into dimmer states of awareness. (5) Kundalini is often treated as feminine due to its position at the negative end of the body, and its separation from the positive principle of purusha or supreme spirit. (3)

Raising the spinal energy

In the spiritual aspirant, the kundalini may be awakened. Although it represents on the one hand the entrenchment of man in delusion, it is also the single greatest force for enlightenment. (3) When one’s attachment to material consciousness is released, then kundalini energy is freed to rise toward the positive pole of the body at the top of the brain. (6) One experiences a powerful upward surge in a circular motion, similar to the magnetic field created when electricity passes through a wire. (3)

Energy may be directed progressively upward through the central shaft of the spine known as the sushumna. Passing through each of the chakras or energy centers along the sushumna, the chakra must be opened so that energy can flow upward and not outward. The kundalini can thereby gather force from tributary streams of energy as it makes its way toward the positive pole of the body. (3) In the Bhagavad Gita, the female figure of Draupadi represents the kundalini power, who unites with each of five Pandava brothers, just as energy spiritually awakens five chakras in the spine. (6)

The gradual awakening of kundalini comes about in the stillness of meditation. (3) But Paramhansa Yogananda states that kundalini is “not awakened by techniques alone.” (7) The yogi must correspondingly purify his ego so that energy rising toward the medulla oblongata may be redirected to the spiritual eye rather than fall back toward the base of the spine. All true religions have recognized the need for virtuous deeds and acts such as kindness, generosity, and truthfulness. (5) In order to attain the perfect state of enlightenment, completely liberated from cosmic delusion, one must unite oneself wholly with God. When kundalini reaches the positive pole, the soul experiences salvation. (3)

  1. a b c Revelations of Christ, by Swami Kriyananda. Chapter 18, “The Serpent Power.”
  2. Essence of the Bhagavad Gita, explained by Paramhansa Yogananda. Glossary.
  3. a b c d e f g The Art and Science of Raja Yoga, by Swami Kriyananda. Step 12, “I. Philosophy: The Anatomy of Yoga, Part 1.”
  4. Advanced Course on Practical Metaphysics, by Paramhansa Yogananda. Chapter 12, “Actual Awakening of the Serpent Force or Kundalini.”
  5. a b c Essence of the Bhagavad Gita, by Paramhansa Yogananda. Chapter 21, “Final Liberation.”
  6. a b Essence of the Bhagavad Gita, explained by Paramhansa Yogananda. Chapter 5, “Genesis of the Story.”
  7. The Essence of Self-Realization, by Paramhansa Yogananda. Chapter 19, “General Counsel.”