According to ancient Hindu religious teachings and yoga
science, a latent force in the human organism responsible for
sexual activity and (in a sublimated form) higher consciousness.
In Hindu mythology kundalini—from the root word kundala
meaning coiled—is personified as a goddess, sometimes with
the aspect of Durga (a creator) and sometimes Kali (the destroyer)
or Bhujangi (the serpent). Kundalini is often described
as a serpent that sleeps at the base of the spine and, when
aroused, darts upward, bringing enlightenment or pain. According
to classical literature, signs of awakened kundalini are
grouped into three categories vocal, physical and mental signs.
Kundalini is also believed to be connected with certain psychic
powers, known to yogis as siddhis.
The traditional Hindu yoga texts state that kundalini can be
aroused by a combination of hatha yoga positions, pranayama
(breathing exercises), meditation, and spiritual practices. It is
said much of the yogic practice is designed to release knots or
blockages in the body which prevent the flow of kundalini energy.
However, kundalini may emerge within one who has never
performed traditional kundalini rising practices. Often it is not
a matter of the seeker grasping Enlightenment, but Enlightenment
snaring the seeker.
Some claim when kundalini is incorrectly aroused, physical
disability or even death can result. Students are often frightened
when they experience signs of kundalini if they have not
been properly instructed because the characteristics of the kundalini
episode can be frightening. The signs are similar to a
manic or psychotic episode spontaneous vocal expression,
trembling, shaking, spontaneous postures, periods of elation or
fear, visionary or hallucinatory episodes, and feelings of bliss
or anxiety.
The Panchastavi is an esoteric Hindu scripture in which kundalini
is addressed as the mother of all beings. The arousal of
kundalini for mystical enlightenment is described in ecstatic
‘‘Flawless, exceedingly sweet and beautiful, soul-enchanting,
fluent speech manifests in all ways in those [devotees] blessed
with genius who keep Thee, O Shakti [power] of Shiva, the deEncyclopedia
of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. Kundalini
stroyer of Kamadeva [god of love] constantly in mind, as shining
with the stainless luster of the moon in the head. . .’’ (3-12).
‘‘O Goddess, rising from the cavity of Muladhara [chakra or
center at the base of the spine], piercing the six lotuses
[chakras] like a flash of lightning, and then flowing from the
moon into the immovable sky-like center [in the head] as a
stream of Supreme nectar, Thou then returnest [to Thy
abode]’’ (4-6).
These descriptions, in context, indicate that kundalini is
considered to be the creative force expressed in procreation. It
is also responsible for mystical enlightenment when sublimated
by rising up the spine through the chakras, or psychic centers,
to the highest center in the head. These centers are located in
the physical vicinity of primary nerve and glandular centers
which govern actions and responses of the body. From bottom
to top, the chakras are commonly identified as
Muladhara–The earth or root chakra is located at the base
of the spine. It is said to be the chakra most connected with
the earth, mother nature, the human animal, and the base
Svadhisthana–Also known as the sexual chakra, svadhisthana
is found in the area of the reproductive organs. It is
concerned with sexual energy, procreation, erotic feelings,
and interactions.
Manipura–The third chakra is the power chakra, identified
with action, will, anger, laughter, and courage. It is said to
be located in the naval and the solar plexus. It is said to be
‘‘the energy of the solar system radiating in our personal
Anahata–The heart chakra is located in the center of the
chest and is associated with compassion, acceptance, and
unconditional love. As it is located equidistant between the
highest and lowest chakras, it acts as the mediator among the
Visuddha–The throat chakra, is situated in and around the
larynx and therefore is known as the communication chakra.
It is associated with the powers of speech, communication,
and expression and is the center for mantras and other vocalizations
associated with kundalini.
Ajna–The sixth center, located at the base of the nose between
the eyebrows, is also known as ‘‘The Third Eye.’’ It
governs the principles of wisdom, knowing, intuition, and
psychic abilities. It is where God speaks to one directly during
Sahasrara–Sahasrara, the mystic chakra, is located in the
crown of the head, in the cerebrum. The mystic chakra is said
to control the brain’s pineal gland, unrecognized in modern
medicine, but known by yogis for thousands of years. The
mystic chakra is the spirit, the higher self, the connection
with the Brahman. It is said to be beyond human comprehension
and gurus warn again attempting to attain seventhchakra
consciousness until the nervous system is fully prepared.

There are foreshadowings of the biblical story of the Garden
of Eden in the poetic myth of the serpent and the tree with the
fruit of knowledge or of sexual force, and there are similar
myths in many ancient religions, suggesting a lost secret of the
relationship between sex and mysticism. Esoteric groups in
many countries have guarded this secret. There is evidence of
meditation systems in ancient Egypt, China, and Tibet that,
under one name or another, taught the arousal of the serpent
like force for higher consciousness instead of procreation.
Many other religions have emphasized a relationship between
sex and mysticism by enjoining celibacy for priests and monks.
In the nineteenth century B. D. Basu of the Indian Medical
Service, in a essay entitled ‘‘The Hindu System of Medicine’’
(Guy’s Hospital Gazette, London, 1889), identified kundalini and
the chakras with nervous energy and the main plexi of the
human body. This theory was elaborated by Dr. Vasant G. Rele
in his book The Mysterious Kundalini (1927).
The controversial psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich, originally
a pupil of Freud’s, developed a theory of orgone energy expressed
in different segments of the human body, closely paralleling
the course of kundalini through the chakras. Reich also
associated this energy with sexual activity. However, he was
strongly opposed to yoga, which he mistakenly considered
merely a system of fixed physical positions with rigid musculature.
In the twentieth century the ancient concept of kundalini
has been revived and spread in the West by several Indian
teachers, such as Pandit Gopi Krishna of Srinagar, India. Gop
Krishna aroused this legendary force and claimed to experience
a continuing state of higher consciousness. He describes
his experience in Kundalini The Evolutionary Energy in Man
(1970) and a number of other books. Among other modern
Hindus who claimed to have aroused kundalini is Swami Muktanada,
who was said to have the power to communicate this
arousal by touch, a technique traditionally known in India as
Pandit Gopi Krishna believed that kundalini is an evolutionary
force that will play an increasingly important part in the development
of the human race and its goals, indicating new directions
for both science and religion. Unfortunately, his
followers have not been able to see his goal realized. Following
up on the writings of Gopi Krishna, Karan Singh, union minister
of health in India, announced in 1974 an ambitious kundalini
research project, to be sponsored by the All-India Institute
of Medical Science, to research the ‘‘Kundalini concept
and its relevance to the development of higher nervous functions.’’
The project failed, however, to secure official funding
following a general election and change of government. Meanwhile,
sympathizers with the work of Gopi Krishna founded the
Central Institute for Kundalini Research at Srinagar, Kashmir,
India, but it too became inactive following the death of Gopi
Krishna in 1984.
There are now several organizations concerned with kundalini.
The Kundalini Research Association International is
located at Gemsenstrasse 7, 8006 Zürich, Switzerland. In the
United States the Kundalini Research Foundation’s address is
P.O. Box 2248, Darien, CT 06820. In Canada the FIND
(Friends in New Directions) research trust publishes books and
audio tapes on the work and thought of Gopi Krishna. It may
be reached at R.R. 5, Flesherton, Ontario, Canada, NOC IEO.
Through the Dhyanyoga Centers, located in California, Massachusetts,
Connecticut, and Maine, Shri Ananda Ma directs
yogis who direct students in the awakening of kundalini. The
Dhyanyoga Centers can be contacted through their website at
Avalon, Arthur [Sir John Woodroffe]. The Serpent Power. Madras,
India, 1922.
Condron, Barbara. Kundalini Rising Mastering Creative Energies.
Windyville, Mo. SOM, 1992.
Gopi Krishna. The Awakening of Kundalini. New York E. P.
Dutton, 1975.
Greenwell, Ph.D, Bonnie Energies of Tranformation A Guide
to the Kundalini Process Saratoga, Calif. Shakti River Press, 1995
———. The Biological Basis of Religion and Genius. New York
Harper & Row, 1972.
———. Kundalini The Evolutionary Energy in Man. Boulder,
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Keutzer, Kurt, ‘‘Kundalini Frequently Asked Questions and
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of Gopi Krishna. New York Bantam Books, 1988.
Madhusudaandasji, Shri Dhyanyogi. ‘‘The Path of Kundalini
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Shakti. Risikesh, India N. K. Prasad, 1950.
Kundalini Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed.
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Wash. Timeless Books, 1978
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