I’ve suffered from issues related to Ego, ever since I was a kid. I used to have such a big ego that my parents actually gave me a nickname that is used for teasing people who get offended easily 😦 . Despite the ego, and many other unwanted qualities, I had one particular interest that differentiated me from other kids of my age. Unlike other kids, I was very fond of reading religious and spiritual scriptures (like Ramayana), even though I had to hide this fact from my peers because they would ridicule me for being an ‘uncle’. I guess, I had a spiritual inclination since a very early age!
As I grew older, my interests in books diversified. From Indian comics to English classics, I read them all. It was during those times that I landed upon a book by Linda Goodman and, very soon, observing people became my favorite full-time activity. Nevertheless, it was only recently that I realized – my abilities of understanding people were closely linked to ‘Empathy’. It seems, I’ve been an ‘Empath’ since a very long time….even though I never knew about this term before. Well, don’t blame me – I lost my interest in reading when I entered college! (apparently, college text-books can do wonders 🙂)
Now, the problem is – ‘Empathy’ is often associated with Solar Plexus (or Manipura) chakra but I have been an ‘Empath’ even before I experienced any activity that could be even remotely linked with Kundalini awakening. However, if you search the Internet, you’ll find that the most commonly accepted theory is that – “Kundalini resides at the Muladhara chakra and, upon the Kundalini awakening, the Muladhara needs to be pierced, activated, opened, developed, purified, and fully evolved as a separate partition before Kundalini can move to the next chakras i.e. the Swadhisthana or the Manipura”. So, the question is – If Manipura, or other higher chakras, cannot be pierced, activated, and opened before Kundalini has been awakened and moved past the first two chakras then does that mean that all ’empaths’ (Manipura) or ‘clairvoyants’ (Agya Chakra) are kundalini awakened people? If not, then how come their Manipura or Agya Chakra manage to get open while their Kundalini is still supposed to be sleeping at the Muladhara? Going by the previously mentioned theory, if the Kundalini is not awakened then, forget Manipura, even the Muladhara should not be open and awake, isn’t it?
Furthermore, according to the aforementioned theory, when Kundalini awakens, it is supposed to bring forth the traits of Muladhara and Swadhisthana to the surface first, before the traits of Manipura can be exhibited. However, in reality most of us are already exhibiting the traits of Muladahara and Swadhisthana (like – need for self-preservation, sensual pleasures, financial, material, and emotional security, etc) in our everyday lives, … which begs the question – Are we all Kundalini awakened? If not, the why do we show so many traits of Muladhara and Swadhisthana in our daily life when Kundalini is still supposed to be asleep and, therefore, could not have pierced even the Muladhara yet?
Another question is – If in most humans, the Kundalini is asleep and seated at Muladhara (which is often considered the last chakra in animal evolution and the first one in Human), then, why do different individuals exhibit different levels of spiritual evolution? While, certain tribes have been known to show almost animal like tendencies (even cannibalistic behavior), most modern day humans, although civilized and more refined, still lack any shred of interest in searching for the “self”. On the other hand, many people have already started questioning their ego/spiritual identity (Manipura), and a select few are even capable of demonstrating selfless love (Anahata), even though, in all of them (assuming their Kundalini has not awakened), Kundalini is still meant to be asleep at the same level (i.e. Muladhara). Does that mean that spiritual evolution or the difference between a brutal killer or a non-violent saint is not affected by the level of their Kundalini awakening (since Kundalini is meant to be residing at the same level in all non-kundalini awakened people, whether a kind person or a brutal killer)? If character and spiritual evolution is not affected by the level of Kundalini evolution, then why should we even bother about Kundalini awakening and its progress to higher chakras?
I also wonder, why inflated ego (overactive Manipura) has become so common in so many people these days while selfless love (Anahata) is still an unknown territory for a majority of people, at least until something drastic happens to them…like falling in love for real or holding a newborn baby (at least for the initial few minutes 😉 ). Haven’t you ever wondered where does that selfless and unconditional love, that a mother (usually) feels, probably for the first time in her life, when she holds her baby, come from, if not from an opened Anahata chakra…..and yet people say – Anahata can be opened only after a Kundalini awakening and also, not until the first three chakras (Muladhara, Swadhisthana, and Manipura) have already been opened! Care to explain?
Well, the aforementioned theory attempts to address these issues using the following explanation:
“Chakras are supposed to be strung like beads on a string upon the central channel (the Sushumna Nadi) and while Kundalini can only process the chakras in a sequential manner i.e from the first chakra (Muladhara) to the last chakra, the PRANA (life energy), on the other hand, can stimulate any chakra in any order and hence the activities at higher chakras are caused by Prana operating outside the Sushumna (the central channel or Nadi) rather than Kundalini operating inside the Sushumna.”
Now, the problem with this explanation is:
If Chakras are supposed to be located within the central channel (Sushumna) then how can Prana access and operate on those chakras from outside the central channel? Furthermore, what does one really mean by ‘operating upon the chakras’ or ‘stimulating the chakras’ ? Can the characteristics of chakras be made evident just by outside stimulation even when the chakras themselves are ‘closed’ and ‘enclosed’ within the Sushumna and therefore ‘inaccessible’ ? If the effects of chakras can really be made evident by just their outside stimulation (without the need for chakras to be actually awakened & opened, fully or partially) then why doesn’t Prana stimulate every chakra equally? After all, the flow of Prana is not blocked by any closed chakra or any single closed central channel (Sushumna)…. there are thousands of other channels (nadis) through which Prana can flow!
If Prana is stimulating chakras from outside the Sushumna then it must be flowing through one or more of the other thousands of channels (nadis) or in one of the two major channels (ida or Pingala nadi), other than Sushumna. If this is the case then Prana can indeed operate on any particular chakra through, at least, one of those other channels, and hence stimulate even the Agya or Anahata chakra from outside the Sushumna…. But then, in reality, how many of us can claim to be clairvoyant, empath, intuitive, or have heard a Nada or been in a Samadhi. According to the aforementioned theory all of these are absolutely possible by just the stimulation of chakras by Prana (without the need of chakras to be actually awakened and opened), even though Prana is just operating outside the Sushumna. If this is so then why do, almost all of us, develop at least some of the tendencies associated with the Muladahara, Swadhisthana, and the Manipura chakras (ie. the need for self preservation, sensual pleasures, and ego) almost naturally and spontaneously with age, while the characteristics associated with the higher chakras i.e. Anahata, Vishuddhi, and Agya (i.e selfless love, purity of mind and intuition) are so rarely seen or seen only after a certain level of maturity has been attained? If Prana can really stimulate the chakras by operating outside the Sushumna then why does Prana seem to be so selective in stimulating the lower chakras (Muladhara, Swadhisthana, and Manipura) over the higher ones (Anahata, vishuddhi, and Agya)?
In contrast, some individuals have been known to show characteristics of higher chakras (like Intuition and empathy) even at a very young age; furthermore, such characteristics might even seem to be more pronounced than the characteristics of lower chakras, expected to be normally seen at that age. If Prana is free to stimulate and operate upon any chakra (higher or lower) from outside the sushumna then why is there an evident discrepancy in the activity and manifestation of different chakras in different individuals?
I, personally, find that there are too many loopholes in the aforementioned theory and that it leaves many doubts unanswered, while skipping around unexplained occurrences! Nevertheless, an answer to such doubts and questions can be found in the explanation of Swami Satyananda Saraswati, who says – “Although Kundalini is said to reside in Muladhara Chakra, we are all at different stages of evolution, and in some of us Kundalini may have already reached Swadhithana, Manipura or Anahata Chakra. If this is so, whatever sadhana you do might start an awakening in Anahata or some other Chakra”. Also, “when we talk about awakening we should not confuse awakening of Kundalini with other forms of awakening. Awakening of Chakras is completely different from awakening of Kundalini. Awakening of Sushumna is also quite a different event, and awakening of Muladhara chakra is not awakening of kundalini. Even if all the chakras from Muladhara to Agya are awakened this does not mean that Kundalini is awakened.” (Satyananda Saraswati, Kundalini Tantra, 2002)
Interestingly, this theory not only explains the different levels of spiritual evolution in different individuals, with or without an awakened Kundalini, but it also explains the random activities of partially opened Chakras, far up in the evolutionary ladder even before a Kundalini awakening has taken place (for ex. Clairvoyance or Intuition related with Agya chakra, in a person whose Kundalini is still to be awakened).
Even the words of great siddha and Shaktipat master Swami Vishnu Tirtha (author of the well acclaimed spiritual text – ‘Devatma Shakti’) offer leverage to this theory. In his book ‘Shaktipat’, swami Vishnu Tirtha clearly mentions that – ‘it is not necessary that Shakti will awaken from Muladhara only. Awakening can happen from any chakra. It is also not necessary that chakras will be realized in a sequential manner only. Sometimes one chakra may be active and at other times another. Sometimes kriyas related to 2-3 chakras may occur simultaneously. Same goes with the Koshas….”
Nevertheless, when kundalini awakening occurs in some other chakra (different from Muladhara), the person begins to doubt the validity of their Kundalini awakening….after all most everyone says that Kundalini awakening happens at the Muladhara only, otherwise it may just be a ‘Pranotthana’ or a ‘False Awakening’ at the most!
The same thing happened with me – I had reasons to believe that my Kundalini awakened at the Manipura chakra (as described in Kundalini Experiences – part 4) but, for a long time, I couldn’t find any authoritative validation of my beliefs ….that is, until I read Swami Satyananda Saraswati and Swami Vishnu Tirtha Ji Maharaj!
Update – 16 March 2013
Furthermore, I recently found out that even the Kundalini Yoga (propagated by Yogi Bhajan) also teaches that the seat of Kundalini is in the navel centre. (source – http://mysticyogini.wordpress.com/2014/01/18/whats-up-with-the-navel-point-kundalini-yoga-and-the-navel-enlightenment-starts-here/ )
Some other Links –
Therefore, in the light of all these (and some other) evidences, I have strong reasons to believe that it is not necessary that Kundalini will absolutely always awaken from the Muladhara only and, in fact, Kundalini can indeed awaken from any other chakra (like Manipura) also!
Update – 3rd May 2014
“As swami shivananda says, Kundalini can be aroused from any Chakra, though the simplest is to do so from Muladhara. The great occultist Swami Punyananda meditated on the Devi directly in Sahasraara and achieved Siddhi. However this may not be possible to all. So lets stick to Muladhara, for which the place of concentration is actually the sthanam or kshetram of Ajna.”
Update – July 10, 2015
Source: Saundarya-lahari of Srisamkaracarya with commentaries; English translation and notes by R. Anantakrsna Sastri and Karra Ramamurthy Garu.
Another indication that the labor of awakening/activating Kundalini and moving it through some of the chakras does not go to complete waste, even if the practitioner fails to leads the Kundalini to its final destination (sahasrar) in a given lifetime… so that means the practitioner would begin his kundalini journey from whichever chakra he had last left rather than beginning all over again from the muladhara…