Dr Vasant Lad explains the working of the dormant Kundalini, and explains how she rises through the seven chakras and helps one attain bliss when she is awakened.
Kundalini is a Sanskrit term that means a coiled, young, baby serpent in the form of a ring. It represents the dormant potential energy located at the root of the spine of every living being. We will consider, in the case of human beings, how Kundalini performs its functions. According to the Vedic sciences, including Ayurveda, Kundalini is the subtle electrical and radiant energy that governs the activities of all five bodily elements: space (ether), air, fire, water and earth. It also represents the three-and-one-half matras of the cosmic soundless sound, ‘Aum’ or ‘Om’ that is present in the life-breath of the universe and all human beings. The term ‘matra,’ means the subtle vibrations of pranic energy. The first matra is represented by the letter ‘A,’ which denotes creation; the second by ‘U,’ indicating sustenance and the third by the letter ‘M,’ signifying destruction or transformation. The remaining half matra is the fraction of suspension of breath in daily breathing. This half matra suspension is the seat of the Shiva-Shakti union.
The way Om is written in Sanskrit (ॐ) shows the three-and-half matras of Kundalini Shakti potentially present in the breath of every human being. Om means the eternal, pure Self. Om is the first cosmic sound, the ruler of all basic elements and creation. It looks like the head of a happy elephant with a raised trunk trumpeting joyfully and is represented by the Sanskrit script ॐ. This is Lord Ganapati in Hindu mythology, the son of Shiva and Shakti. As a son is the pure quintessence of the parents, so is Lord Ganapati, who is represented by the Sanskrit letter ॐ. This is why Ganapati has the head of an elephant and the body of an innocent, young baby. The body of the baby symbolises the microcosm or man and the head of the elephant, the macrocosm or the universe. Thus, there is a union of the universe and man in the embodiment of Lord Ganapati. He is the monarch of Kundalini and that is why he wears a cobra as a belt around his waist. The root chakra is the seat of the Kundalini and the deity of it is Lord Ganesha or Ganapati. The Kundalini remains dormant in most people but becomes awakened with spiritual development.
Functions of Dormant Kundalini
According to Ayurvedic anatomy, Kundalini is situated at the sacral plexus near the root of the spinal column. It is the neuroelectric energy or the electromagnetic field of the central and autonomous nervous systems. In the normal course of life, it governs the physiological operations of the pelvic organs.
During her quiescent state, Kundalini is influenced by the three gunas — sattva, rajas and tamas. Under the influence of the sattvic quality, a person gets clarity, compassion and love. Owing to rajasic attributes, one becomes egotistical, aggressive, restless and violent. A tamasic nature makes a person dull, heavy, sleepy and lethargic. These individual personality changes are due to expressions of Kundalini through the gunas. She moves the biological elements throughout the body and maintains the normal functions of cells, tissues, organs and various systems. In other words, Kundalini supervises vata, pitta and kapha, the three doshas (bodily humours); rasa, rakta, mamsa, meda, asthi, majja and shukra, the seven dhatus (tissues); and urine, feces and sweat, (the three bodily wastes).
Kundalini creates a strong desire to make love, ejaculate sperm and serves the meeting of the male seed and female egg. Thus, the conception, implantation and growth of a foetus is regulated by Kundalini. During pregnancy, Kundalini remains in the crown chakra of the foetus and keeps the baby in the passive state of a blissful life. There is no consciousness of the physical body at that time. But, during the hour of delivery, Kundalini assists the baby to come out of the womb. Gradually the baby comes out, air touches the baby’s skin, Kundalini stimulates respiration, and the baby breathes. As this is happening, Kundalini moves down to the sacral plexus and brings physical consciousness to the child. The baby forgets its blissful state and starts crying. At this moment, the parents become happy but the child looks unhappy, because it has lost the song of bliss. The crying baby lies on the three-fold lap (the three matras) of the Mother Kundalini. Without her blessings, no one attains the spiritual state of bliss.
In the true sense, Kundalini is the Divine Mother of all creatures. All our happiness, unhappiness, health, ill-health, creativity, passivity and total span of life is managed by Kundalini. In essence, Kundalini is a subtle, spiritual combination of radiant (solar), lunar (water) and electrical (air) energy. It governs digestion, absorption and assimilation of food through the autonomous, sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. It also regulates nutrition by the water of lunar energy. The right sympathetic trunk is called pingala nadi, corresponding to solar energy, and the left trunk, called ida nadi, denotes lunar energy. The central channel of the spinal cord, sushumna nadi, represents electrical or air energy. By activating the pingala nadi, Kundalini gathers solar or radiant energy, she gathers lunar energy through the ida nadi, and electrical or air energy is gathered by activating the sushumna nadi.
Radiant energy relates to agni (the fire element) and pitta dosha. Lunar energy corresponds to water and kapha dosha and electrical energy to the air of vata dosha. When Kundalini enters the right pingala nadi, it stimulates radiant energy and aggravates pitta dosha. It produces hot flashes, hives, rash, acne, acid indigestion and heartburn to the physical body and emotionally, it causes anger, hate and envy. When Kundalini enters the left or ida nadi, it can activate the water element and increase kapha dosha, leading to cold, congestion, cough and water retention along with attachment, greed and possessiveness. When it enters into the central channel of the spinal cord or the sushumna, it stimulates electrical energy and aggravates vata dosha, producing constipation, gas, and bloating with the emotional feelings of anxiety, insecurity and fear. These conditions are stimulated by the dormant Kundalini influenced by the three gunas.
The Process of Awakening the Kundalini
With the grace of the guru, God, spiritual practices, meditation, prayers and a righteous way of living, one can awaken the Kundalini. We can minutely observe what happens when she awakens.
During Kundalini’s dormant stage, we go through a lot of suffering with suppressed emotions that create obstructions in the chakras. First, Kundalini has to clear all these stumbling blocks. When she is awake, she becomes like a glowing red, hot, uncoiled young cobra breathing intensely the fire of light. She moves with the speed of light creating various unstruck sounds in the ears and in the entire body. Through this light and sound, she cleanses the seven dhatus, six chakras, five elements, and the three gunas.
During chakra purification, a person may experience his or her old ailments. He or she may experience anxiety, neurosis, depression or, in some cases, panic attacks. An intense healing crisis takes place in the life of the individual.
During her normal course of awakening, Kundalini uncoils herself and purifies the mūlādhāra, the root chakra. Initially, a person will experience distinctive feelings of movement or vibrations at the tip of coccyx. Apana vayu tries to open the lower opening of the sacral plexus known as the ganglion impar. Kundalini enters into the central channel of the spinal cord and shines like a red, hot rising sun. At that time, a person sees red, glowing light within his or her body. The earth element becomes purified including the bones, nails and muscles, and one’s hair shines like copper. The body becomes light with a peculiar fragrance. At this point, one conquers the earth element and is gifted with a special sense of smell. One can understand the subtle vibrations and knowledge of the earth element. There is a unique feeling of grounding and stability. Physiologically, one can obtain control over the pelvic organs. Sex energy is transformed into pure unconditional love. There are 500 pranic pulsations per minute in this chakra.
After Kundalini purifies the root chakra, it enters into the second chakra, known as svādhiṣṭhāna, which means the place of the lower self. She cleanses the water element of the body including the adrenal glands, kidneys, bladder and blood plasma. The lower self undergoes radical changes of purification. Old, toxic emotions are purified to achieve a happy state of mind. The deity of water is the moon, and the moon governs mental activities. Due to the grace of Kundalini, the mind becomes clairvoyant and you can read thoughts, feelings and emotions. Soft, lustrous skin, watery eyes, wavy hair and extrasensory perception of the tongue are the boons received during this stage. A person can live longer without food as the water element of the body regulates nourishment and life functions. During this stage, a person can remain underwater for a long time. One can experience an orange flush through the body. This seems impossible but these kinds of miracles happen by the grace of Kundalini. About 700 vibrations of prana per minute take place at this chakra.
After doing her homework at the second chakra, Kundalini comes up to the third, maṇipūra, which means city of gems or the solar plexus. The colour of this chakra is a golden yellow. Fire is the predominant element. Here, Kundalini cleanses the stomach, liver, spleen, gall-bladder and intestines. One can become very hungry and digest large amounts of food. One’s eyes look bright and full of lustre as the fire element regulates optical perception. During this stage, a person gets an extrasensory perception of sight. According to Ayurvedic science, there are 72,000 important nadis or pranic currents connected to the maṇipūra chakra, where the foetus is attached to the placenta. All these nadis get cleansed by Kundalini, and a person receives gems of wisdom, hence it is called maṇipūra — the city of gems. About 900 pranic pulsations per minute take place here.
The fourth chakra is anāhata or the heart chakra. It is the seat of unstruck sound. One can listen to celestial music when Kundalini enters into this plexus. Pranic vibrations are about 1,200 per minute. The corresponding element is air and in this chakra, Kundalini purifies the heart, lungs and thymus gland. The individual’s immune system becomes strong and you rarely suffer any health issues. This is the seat of perfect health. As the heart is the home of love, the person loves the entire universe. One goes beyond division and has compassion for all mankind. A person receives insight and intuition as a blessing of Kundalini. The colour of this chakra is green and a person receives healing powers.
Next is the throat or viśuddha chakra, which means purity. This plexus entails cleansing and detoxification of the whole body. The thyroid, parathyroid and vocal cord are the important organs related to this chakra. The colour of this chakra is blue. It makes the body lighter than cotton or a feather and enables one to levitate. Around 1,600 pranic pulsations per minute take place here.
As Kundalini rises into the third eye or ājñā chakra, she brings order in the life of a person. The third eye is the place of the pituitary gland. A perfect hormonal balance is obtained through the grace of Kundalini. There are 2,000 important nadis connected to this chakra and its colour is purple. One gets supreme intelligence and insight. Here Kundalini opens the door to higher consciousness. One can visualise higher realities at this place.
Finally, Kundalini completes her divine journey at the crown chakra or sahasrāra, which means the thousand-petalled lotus. It is the seat of the Higher Self or Shiva and its colour is indigo. There are 21,000 vibrations of prana per minute at this chakra. It is the ultimate, final state of freedom or salvation. Once one attains this place of higher consciousness, which is the kingdom of God, there is no more suffering. Only blissful awareness. Kundalini is the real path to self-realisation. She is the Divine Mother who introduces every aspirant to the Divine Father or God. Without her blessings, no one can attain this blissful state. Kundalini carries the lower self (jiva) from the lower chakras to the higher self, Shiva, in the crown chakra. At that moment, the jiva merges into Shiva.
Kundalini is the way within every individual to attain perfection. The ultimate goal of human life is to make a person whole, a total being, the completion of radical growth, and self-realisation. That is the only true purpose of human life.
Know Your Chakras
|Chakra||Element||Bija Sound||Deity||Bija Sound for Deity||Pranic Pulsations|
|Mūlādhāra||Earth||Lam||Ganesha||Gam||500 per minute|
|Klim||700 per minute|
|Shrim||900 per minute|
|Hrim||1200 per minute|
|Viśhuddha||Ether||Ham||Sarasvati||Aim||1600 per minute|
|Ājñā||Mind||Sam, Ksham||Jivatma||So’ham||700 per minute|
|Sahasrāra||Aum||Paramatma||Aum||16000 per minute|
Rasayana for Kundalini Rising
Various herbs can be used to aid issues arising with the awakening of Kundalini in the related chakras. Although some indications for specific herbs may have a physical action, their mental, emotional and spiritual influences are also important.
Herbs for each Chakra
Mix ¼ tsp of the powdered herb in honey and ghee. Eat morning and evening on an empty stomach (before meditation).
Dr Vasant Lad, BAM&S, MASc, Ayurvedic Physician, is the author of several books and texts on Ayurveda. For further information on Dr Lad’s work, visit The Ayurvedic Institute.