Tantra, an exposition of sri-vidya, is a thread of Vedic tantu. This ray of the light of consciousness folds upon itself as a coil (kundala) forming the coiled energies of the conscious universe, thus becoming Kundalini.
This book looks at Tantra from a different perspective against the common view of it being more associated with its carnal/sexual nature. Tantra is the “art of celibacy”. Human beings are a wave in the ocean of Consciousness and this wave passes through our psycho-physilogical complex compound, forming the personal Kundalini. All sensations in human body are manifestations of the presence of the Kundalini. Our desires are the signals released by the Kundalini. Different psycho-physical apparatuses are plugged into it like electric plugs in different socket.
This volume, while portraying Kundalini from its psycho-physical and spiritual implications and impacts, tries to alleviate some misconceptions about the nature of cakras –the consciousness centres. It deals at length with the phenomena of higher levels of spiritual evolution –“raising the Kundalini” and “opening the cakras” –helping one drop all mental habit patterns to achieve “liberation”.
This book is a “must read” for the practitioners of Yoga and all who want to take their spiritual life to a new realm.
Mahamandaleshwar Swami Veda Bharati (D. Litt.), Chancellor, HIHT University, Dehru Dun is a world visionary, having been known to recite and teach the system of Indian philosophy, language, literature and scriptures from the age of nine. A graduate from the London University, Swamiji is a D.Litt. from the University of Utrecht, the Netherlands. In one of his sojourns in the US, as professor of Sanskrit at the University of Minnesota, Swamiji met Sri Swami Rama of the Himalayas his Gurudeva. Swami Rama, recognizing the potential of Swamiji, intiated him to the highest path of dhyana-yoga.
For the last sixty-eight years, Swamiji has been lecturing on meditation and Yoga, worldwide, and establishing meditation centres across the globe. He has authored numerous books and articles. His two ashrams in Rishikesh are well recognized as the authentic seats for learning the depths of meditation in the tradition of Himalayan Masters.
This presentation first started with attempts to answer some questions from our meditation initiates. Then a number of transcripts of lectures given at various locations were added, amended and edited. It is hoped that the readers will find the common theme of Kundalini through all the chapters of this collection helpful in their spiritual quests.
The thoughts presented are a result of the experiences granted by the grace of my gurudeva, Swami Rama of the Himalayas, and his lineage. Nothing here is imaginary but a reality of inner spaces.
We are confluences of rivers of forces that criss-cross this universe, time, space and consciousness. When we learn to take a sacred dip into this confluence, that is our true identity, we realize that all that was feeble was a fearsome illusion and here now we again our one and only self.
The conscious and unconscious forces that traverse this universe are the building materials of both the universe and our very being. In this, the boundaries between us and the universe are imagined ones, like segmenting a river, giving different names to the segments and engineering conflict among thus named segments of the same river. It is like drawing with a chalk boundaries between my ocean and yours. The waves of forces wipe out the chalk marks in less than an instant. This wiping out of the marks is called love as well as aesthetic appreciation of universal beauty.
A master of Kundalini is a master beautician and an artistic appreciator of the painting called the universe. This painting is on the canvas of the mind. The painting is the mind. The colours are of the mind. Easel and the brush are of the mind. The wall on which the painting hangs is also the mind. So says the unique lyrical philosophical text titled Yoga-Vasistha. The one who appreciates the painting is figure painted as part of the painting. Such is the paradox of our divisions of “I” and “thou”
The confluent Kundalini which we present in this treatise is the only force of which all the other forces are tributaries. It is the river of unity. When one has taken a dip in this sacred confluence, all s/he can see is beauty and love, and exclaims: Oh, what a beautiful loving world!
The all-creation, too, sings with her/him: Oh, what a beautiful loving world!
S/he then proceeds to ensure that nothing happens to stain or mar such a beauty. S/he then proceeds to draw all light-sparks, called souls, to walk the path to this confluence where union is the prime song and separation of dualities is an interesting myth.
May your reading this presentation help you appreciate the beauty of this myth also and then guide you to transcend the same into eternal union. “Many” and the “other” are then abolished. There is no more confluence of many. There is not even one, for one is a number. There is only infinity.
May you be Mono and Solo in such infinity in this very life and no “other” exist thereafter.
Writing on Tantra is like trying to count the atoms in the universe or weigh the salt in the oceans.
Tantra is an exposition of sri-vidya, i.e. the metascience that provides the rules by which all science operate and whereby the universe is governed.
The substance of Tantra is the Vedic tantu, the thread that is stretched throughout the universe – tantum tatam.
Tiraschino vi-tato rasmir esam adhah svid asid upari svid asit
This thread is the ray that folds and unfolds as it is stretched across the universe, below and above.
Yo vidyat sutram vi-tatam yasminn otah praja imah
It is the thread, the sutra, onto which all beings and entities are strung.
As this ray of the light of consciousness folds upon itself, it is seen as a coil, a kundala, forming the coiled energies of the conscious universe, becoming Kundalini. It may also be called tantra, the fabric woven of the thread, the grid of the universe. The primary meaning of the word tantra is a grid of energies by the tantric formula:
The entire universe is comprised of energies and potencies.
The saktis which are all diversifications of one sakti, the maha-sakti.
Yasyonmesa-nimesabhyam jagatah pralayodayau
Tam sakti-cakra-vibhava-prabhavam sankaram namah
By whose outwinking and inwinking the manifestation and dissolution of the universe proceed,
We laud Him who is the generator of peace –sam-kara, the Source and the ruling Lord of the varieties of the wheels of saktis.
Saktayo ‘sya jagat sarvam
The entire universe is His saktis.
Thus all personalities, entities and objects, macrocosmic or microcosmic, are nothing but a continuum of waves – spanda of the One Awesome Tremendous One –bhairava.
Jalasyevormayo vahner jvala-bhangyah prabha raveh
Mamaiva bhairavasyaita visva-bhangyo ni-veditah
Like the waves of water,
Like the flames of fire,
Like the light(s) of the sun
All these forms and entities are saktis of Me,
The Awesome One, presented.
A person initiated into this awareness does not view any parts of this consciousness piecemeal. For such a one, the entire universe is but one sakti.
Whose form is nothing but pervasion through all creative beings –brahmas of countless myriad universes.
Here we need to break all our habits of thoughts. The concepts of “I versus another”, “body other than the soul”, “the earth below against the sun above”, male-female dichotomies, and whatever else separates any cognition-unit from another cognition-unit must be relinquished. All our values about phenomena must be jettisoned. We read in the Yoga-Vasistha:
Na bahir nantare nadho nordhvam arthe na sunyake
Not outside, nor inside, not below, nor above, neither in reality nor yet in the Null.
Here we give an example of how our concepts of space and time are absolutely without any validity. Before embarking on a voyage, a religiously-minded astronaut prays, “Lord in Heaven above, protect me on this journey”. As he lifts his eyes up he sees the moon in the sky. Later he lands on the moon. He now wishes to thank God for the safe journey. He lifts his eyes up to the heavens, and what does he see above? He sees the earth, up in the sky above. Shall he say, “I thank the Lord Who is on the Earth”?
Every notion or every mental association, however seemingly natural, of ours has to be renounced in order to qualify for initiation into the Tantra path.
Thus to say that “there is a Kundalini within us” is erroneous. There is no distinction between within and without. It is the devatma-sakti (the power of the divine self) that is kundalini. That self is all-pervading. A beginning level student often asks: Are the cakras in the spine or in the front?
So long as one asks such a question s/he is not yet initiated. In a magnetic field, is the field in front of the magnet or in the back? A tantric initiate drops these notions of “Kundalini inside us”, of a “cakra in the heart centre in front”, of a “Kundalini in the back, in the spine”. There are no such locations.
Initially we fail to abandon these thought-habits, these artificial imprints, so that one looks for muladhara cakra at the base of the spine. The kundalini’s diosa-morphic representation is the goddess of all gods and goddesses, Parvati.
Parvati yearns for a union with Her eternal Lord and undertakes the most difficult of ascesis (tapasya). She goes on a fast. First she lives on fruits. She abandons those and lives on a diet of leaves, petals. Then the leaves and petals also disappear and only a slim vine-like Parvati remains. She is then called a-parna (the petal-less one). It after such a penance that her Lord appears before her.
We see in the parable that when Parvati has left the fruits of karma behind, fasted only on leaves and petals of cakras and has finally dropped them, She becomes a-parna (without petals). Then the vine of Kundalini is leafless, and what was conceived as line now contracts only to a dot (a bindu) which has no magnitude.
Our present war of thinking about these “internal” events undergoes total alteration as our realizations grow. The way the processes of Euclid are correct for a student in the sixth class at school but inapplicable, invalid, in quantum physics, so also whatever is valid in our daily transactions becomes invalid to the tantric initiate.
Much of our thinking about Tantra these days is guesswork, speculation, and not based on direct knowledge. Until such direct knowledge ensues, all the philosophical discussions and acts of worship are valid and often helpful. But for the true initiate:
Puja nama na puspadyair ya matih kriyate drdha
Nirvikalpe pare vyomni sa puja hy adaral layah
These are just a few of the statements in all the sixty-four Tantras that depict the ultimate in Tantra. All else are steps to be taken by toddlers like ourselves.
Having stated the transcendental goal of Tantra, we come to a few commonly raised questions. Much has been said in the popular press about the so-called sexual or carnal nature of Tantra. Where does that view fit with the goals stated above?
The simple answer from an initiate is: Tantra is the science of celibacy.
At this point, some thrill-seekers may stop reading this chapter. But our statement is accurate. Tantra is the science of total inward absorption of energies. Let us understand here what constitutes sexual or other desires.
What are we? We each are a wave in the ocean of Consciousness. Waves may appear to be separate but try drawing a boundary line between two waves and we find out that it is one continuum. This wave, ray, beam of light passing through our psycho-physiological complex compound, is the “personal” Kundalini. It is she identity of all our energies, differentiated into its various functions.
These functions may be named (a) cit-kundalini (the paths of pure consciousness), (b) citta-kundalini (the paths of the mind flow), and (c) prana Kundalini (the channels of prana).
In Ayurveda, we are taught how these wave paths are distributed through the person’s body in the form of three types of channels, nadis, viz. (a) mano-vaha (the channels of mind’s flow throughout the body), (b) prana-vaha (same for prana), and (c) sroto-vaha (the vessels for the flow of bodily essences). The subtler level nadis control the progressively grosser levels of the same. Warps of consciousness and the mind produce the psycho-physiological warps. By the same token, all sensations in the body are manifestations of the presence of the Kundalini wave, however warped or diluted.
Here we digress to another question. Often a spiritual guide is asked: How do I find my way inwards to the spiritual realm? The answer from an experienced guide would be: The same way that you found your way outwards!
There are not two different doors for you to enter and exit your house, one designated for entry and the other for exiting. The same door through which you came out is the entryway. Thus every sense and every sensation is an entryway inwards to the spiritual realm. Every sensation in the body is a reminder of the presence of the Kundalini wave.
The spiritual energy wave flows outwards from its central core bindu. It energizes all levels and layers of our being. There is no energy in us except spiritual energy, transmuted into various grosser forms in order to fulfil certain purposes to keep this personalized self-running.
The charges of energy released from inside activate our senses. The impulses and sensations, thus produced, generate what we call desires. These desires are nothing but signals given by the Kundalini: I am here, I am here, I am here.
We do not recognize the signals and expend energy outwards in sensations of taste, touch, sight and so forth. Hence, the sexual act. Two (male and female) intertwine with one another, hoping thereby to become one again. But they will never succeed this way. The experience of gender and sex needs to be carefully examined. Bodily sensations should be treated as reminders, that here an entryway, a pathway inwards, exists. Take to that pathway and the inward wave carries you to the interior realm of non-duality beyond the pairs of opposites.
Tantra teaches how we may take our familiar sensations and reverse their flow inwards. Any stimulus must be used as an object of concentration to lead one inwards. There are few rare ones who have mastered this science, yet rarer ones who can actually teach it. They can enter Samadhi by tasting a single sip of orange juice, or feeling the sensation from a tiny touch of a fingertip. For them, there is only one male in the universe, that is, Siva; only one female, that is, Sakti. Such ones have total control over their nadis, channels of awareness. They may choose to flow outwards at will, for example into instant poetry, if that will help liberate others, or they may enjoy themselves within. They need no external props, and all external props to them are stimuli to flow inwards.
Such ones dwell in an inward ecstasy. Their toes curl as they experience the upward flow of Kundalini, from the foundation-centre (muladhara) to Brahman-opening (brahma-randhra). They become incapable of wasting their bindu (the drop of light) whether they are of male or female physical form. They have no interest in that three-second phenomenon when both nostrils flow simultaneously, which is the poverty-stricken experience during a sexual climax. The tantric master’s both nostrils flow evenly for hours naturally in the state of inward absorption, laya. No worldly sensation can compare with that state of bliss.
Those who have not gone through this process of transmuting the outward body sensations continuously waste the messages the Kundalini sends to our outer surfaces, by a cosmic whisper: I am in here, I am in here; come on in!! Why are you running out there mistaking a morsel of cake to be the source of your pleasure, the tiny touch of a bare skin to be the origin of your ecstasy? Come back in.
Listening to that message is Tantra.
What pleasure of sexual union can equal the state described in the tantric text Vijnana-bhairava:
Svavad anya-sarire ‘pi samvittim anu-bhavayet
Apeksam sva-sarirasya tyaktva vyapi dinair bhavet
Cause the consciousness to be experienced in another body just as one experiences it in one’s own. Then one is no longer dependent on one’s own body and will have mastered pervasiveness within a few days.
If such a one gives someone an embrace, s/he transfers a sublime consciousness in the process, for there, only mind embraces mind. The embrace becomes an initiation. Alas, some unscrupulous persons claiming to be great teachers misunderstand the teaching, exploit their disciples for personal exterior pleasure, and call that Tantra!
Here we have explained the principle of Tantra as being the art of celibacy. I wish the monks and nuns of all religions did not have to struggle so much against desires, that they could all be taught this methodical art of celibacy. However, detailed methods for accomplishing this cannot be described here, nor can they be learned in a day. The first prerequisite to be considered a qualification for such a teaching (adhikarin) is a resolve to purity. Purity comes by the spiritual guide raking you over hot coals. Wish to run away from the asrama of such a scrupulous guide? Go ahead. It is your loss.
There are certain misunderstandings also about the nature of cakras.
Apart from all the multi-chrome, beautiful lotuses, which do indeed depict the higher meditational experiences of cakras, what exactly are they?
Think of a high voltage cable running concealed in a wall, with many outlets for plugs. Connect a heater, a cooler, air conditioner, fan, TV, radio, recording apparatus through the different sockets. Each machine draws its power from the same cable. However, the power is transmuted into various forms of energy according to the purpose of the machine and its design. Power becomes heat in a heater or motion in a fan.
So it is with Kundalini. Different forms of psycho-physiological apparatuses are plugged into it. The one and only force is transmuted into various functions. As you read this chapter, close your eyes, mentally probe the region between your eyebrows, then the area of your throat, then the cardiac region, then the navel region, then, the svadhisthana and muladhara regions as well.
Impulses, feelings, sensations and desires at each place are ecpeienced differently. The world seems to present very different faces to each of these centres of consciousness. At the eyebrow and forehead centre, it feels very different from the facet it presents to the heart centre, and so on. The same Kundalini diversifies into all these different interpretations of the world and helps us experience these different aspects and facets.>p> We also know intuitively the functions of these psycho-physiological centres. For deep thinking, we rub our foreheads. For expressing feelings, we place the hand on the chest.
Each cakra, as an above-stated energy centre, also controls the physical organs of the region. There are special meditations and concentrations-not popularly known – for helping correct psychological and physical handicaps and disorders associated with each of these regions.
One hears a great deal about “raising the Kundalini” and “opening the cakras”. Quite often, phenomena popularly associated with these highly spiritual levels of evolution are not what they seem to be. Here, we take three situations.
1. Involuntary movements in the body do not necessarily mean that one’s Kundalini has been raised. Sometimes neuro-cerebral disorders mimic the Kundalini phenomena. Also the involuntary movements show that the lower energy fields and channels have not yet been purified. It is the spiritual guide’s duty to lead the disciple through necessary purifications, and when these have been accomplished, the one simple, single sign of the awakening of Kundalini is not involuntary movements, but total stillness of such a degree that a restless person coming in the presence of such an accomplished one may find his/her emotions and senses effortlessly stilled.
2. The same applies to the feelings of quasi-electrical sensations flowing through the channels of the personality. These sensations may be in the prana and mind channels, and not necessarily in the Kundalini channels. If one truly wishes to make spiritual progress, one needs to be cautious about ego and false romanticism about these phenomena. One whose Kundalini is awakened is so pure that no one’s anger touches him/her, nothing makes his smile fade; no matter what you do to him, there is no diminution of his universal and totally selfless love.
3. As to opening the cakras, once again, a seeker needs to be cautious. Some popularizers of false Tantra make claims about the opening of, say, svadhisthana, and equate it with much sexual activity. In fact, in the world of saktis, unmesa is nimesa and nimesa is unmesa; that is, opening means closing and closing means opening. Opening of cakras means closing their outward and downward gates and channels, and opening them inwards and upwards. Here are few of the symptoms of opening of cakras.
A. Muladhara: Its opening means:
a. One’s meditation asana has become stabilized. One may sit totally immobile for three hours or three days; this immobility must be totally effortless and relaxed.
b. A person whose muladhara is awakened does not exhibit uncontrolled movements of the body and sense such as the eyes.
c. Everything in her/his surroundings becomes stabilized because s/he has dropped all emotional instability and insecurity.
B. One whose svadhisthana is opened becomes truly and naturally celibate. S/he cannot waste the sexual energy downwards; the moment a physical sensation of sexual nature arises, it immediately ascends to the sixth cakra and produces there a tremendous quasi-electric implosion. All sexual sensation becomes an invitation to enter a state of meditation; the path of sensation is reversed, leads into the susumna channel, and thence to the higher centres of consciousness. Married sadhakas also who are properly trained, sometimes receive initiation into such an upward path.
C. One whose manipura cakra is open, masters the prana fires. S/he can channel the prana into whichever organ, to heal and energize oneself even when s/he is enfeebled by physical illness and fatigue through incessant service to others.
D. One whose anahata cakra has opened has developed universal, selfless love for all. S/he needs no emotional support and fulfillment from others but becomes to them whatever they seek him/her to be, becomes everyone’s support. Such a one also masters yoga-nidra, produces delta brain waves at will, can learn any science in the state of conscious sleep.
E. One whose visuddha cakra has opened goes into natural silence. If s/he were to speak, his/her words would reverberate around the planet for 1,000 years. Such a one has mastered the dream state and all creative processes in arts.
F. One whose ajna cakra has opened receives the purest intuitive knowledge, which is not based on guesswork nor on logical processes. Such knowledge arises as a flash non-sequentially. By opening the ajna cakra, one stands at the ladder to guru-cakra, manas-cakra and sahasrara. Of these, we may write at another time.
The signs of the opening of cakras given above are only illustrative and not exhaustive. It is a subject for personal experience under guidance.
If a reader thinks s/he is ready now to pack his bags to get to an asrama to have his/her Kundalini raised and to have the cakras opened, it is not that simple. As we have stated above, a tremendous level of purification is required. For example, because Tantra requires veneration of Sakti, a true teacher of Tantra and Sri-vidya will carefully observe a male disciple’s attitudes towards women. The tantric texts repeatedly and emphatically state that a student of Tantra and Sri-vidya must pay utmost respect to women.
Here are some examples of the attitude and behavior required.
A tantra-disciple must:
1. Not be angry with anyone in the presence of a woman, leave alone being angry with a woman,
2. Speak to women with great respect,
3. Not criticize women in general and any woman in particular,
4. Regard all females as incarnations of sakti and behave with them as with the Devi Herself,
5. Not appear before a woman unkempt and looking disorderly, but should be well dressed and well groomed in their presence, and
6. Regard a woman’s entire being as pure and venerable.
1. If a woman is pleased with him, the Devi is pleased; if a woman is displeased, the Devi is displeased.
2. If one passes some women, strangers, standing and chatting, one should mentally bow and pay homage to them.
It is stated that no rules of purification and discipline are required of women and an initiation given by a woman teacher is ten or 100 times more effective.
Well, these are rules for men; what about women? They should recognize their sakti-being and grant grace and graciousness accordingly.
Bearing the above in mind, how many of us are ready for the teachings of Tantra?
It is abvious that if the teachings of Tantra were taken seriously, the world society, would be very different from what it is today. Let us hope that many can qualify to receive the teachings of Tantra and thereby truly realize that all mental habit patterns must be dropped in order to achieve liberation.
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