In a debate on the practice of yoga, it is often assumed that the practice is related to awakening the power of kundalini. However this is not true. The cakras are not confined to kundalini Jagrti.’ That is one of the most prominent practices of yoga, described in ‘Tantra Yoga.’ In Tantra Sadhana, the power of astacakra is depicted and kundalini is explained as the perfect method to arouse power. In ancient times, many yogis attempted to arouse the power by connecting various yogic practices with kundalini energy. However, the procedure of astanga yoga was not systematical in those days, hence their efforts were not fruitful.
Some practitioners do not accept the theory of astacakra. But one should not misunderstand the astacakra, which are latent power centers.
Astacakra and different methods of yogasadhana
Astacakra are the names of various centers of subtle and invisible energy situated in the body. These cakras in our body are also centers of vital energy, the life-force. They are the center of pranika energy in the body. These energy centers are an integral part of human physiology and they can be elevated and awakened by various sorts of yoga sadhana (spiritual practices), tapas (penance), sahyama (control), sadacara (righteous and ethical conduct) and so on. The awakening of these power centers ‘Astacakra’ and upliftment of energy depends on the piousness and mental status of the person. The more pious the mind of an individual, the higher the level of his Consciousness.
For the awakening of Consciousness, along with seva (services) and sadhana (practices), various techniques of yoga and pranayama are suggested in Patanjali ‘s astanga yoga which are very effective. Many sorts of sadhana and yogic methods are in practice for the awakening of these power centers. Initially in kundalini yoga, kundalini energy awakens at random by the grace of a highly accomplished ascetic guru (guide), but beyond this, to reach the higher realms a sadhaka (seeker) needs more practice (sadhana) and much control, or otherwise this awakened kundalini energy remains in the individual cakra.
In astanga yoga, initially a sadhaka (seeker) has to work hard to progress in sadhana and for the awakening of the energies hidden in the eight cakras, but when he starts progressing, then effortlessly his mind becomes pious and he starts following the path of idealism and moral values in life, and at this stage his vital energy is enhanced. The same inner energy upswings and moves up through manipura, anahata and reaches the visuddha cakra, and at this stage he experiences bliss, becomes energized and feels free from all stress. Inner excitement, energy and enthusiasm increases. Impurities in the form of” mental infirmities and negativity starts cleansing, the mind becomes calm and a sadhaka starts experiencing samadhi.
When the same energy of Consciousness ascends from ajna cakra to manas cakra and sahasrara cakra and stabilizes there, then a sadhaka reaches samprajnata (cognitive) and ammprajndta (ultra-cognitive) samadhi and attains Supreme Bliss. This way the awakening of cakras is possible by sattvika sadhana (astanga yoga), upasana (service and worship), vairagya (detachment from worldly pleasures) and tyaga (renunciation). Hence by yoga sadhana, one’s inner energy awakens and reaches the higher realms from muladhara to sahasrara through svadhisthana, manipura and other cakras. Whichever cakra this energy reaches, once it reaches the higher realms, it does not descend again from that center. With the awakening of energy, a sadhaka becomes unaffected by changes happening in the body and mind.
Astacakra and methods of kundalim yoga
In kundalim yoga, even by small efforts of the practioner (sadhaka), the energy associated in muladhara activates with the grace of a highly ascetic guru (guide). This strength is known as kundalini sakti (serpent’s power).
By practicing kundalini yoga, the power centers can be easily stimulated without much effort, with deep meditation and self control. This is experienced by the feel of energy waves, jerks and many such activities happening within the body, In stimulation of kundalini many great experiences are naturally attained. However, if the sadhaka does not resort to self-restraint, then this power does not ascend and even if this happens, there are greater chances of its moving downward. Here movement is not used in the physical sense.
On stimulation of power by the method of astanga yoga sadhana, external activities are reduced leading to an increase in internal changes. However, in kundalini yoga by kundalini energy, one feels less internal changes in the beginning but physical changes are felt intensely. This is the basic difference between the two methods. The aim for stimulating the kundalini sakti is ‘to realize’ the almighty Lord Shiva (Parama Brahma) by targetting all other cakras through stimulation of kundalini energy in an upward direction. Actually the main target for undergoing both the sadhanas is to realize the bliss of feeling supreme and attaining a blissful state of soul and mind.
(Excerpted from the book ‘A Practical Approach To The Science of Ayurveda: A Comprehensive Guide For Healthy Living’ authored by Acharya Balkrishna)
2015 Kashmir Despatch