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Kundalini (Sanskrit: कुण्डलिनी kuṇḍalinī, pronunciation (help·info), "coiled one"), in Hinduism

is a form of divine energy (or shakti) supposedly located at the base of the spine (muladhara). It
was originally an important concept in Śaiva Tantra, where it was seen as a force or power
associated with the divine feminine, which when cultivated and awakened through tantric
practice, was thought to lead to spiritual liberation. Kuṇḍalinī is associated with Paradevi or Adi
Parashakti, the supreme being in Shaktism, as well as with the goddesses Bhairavi and
Kubjika.[1][2] The term along with practices associated with it, was adopted into Hatha yoga in
the 11th century[3] and other forms of Hinduism as well as modern spirituality and New age
thought.

Kuṇḍalinī awakenings are described as happening through a variety of methods. Many systems
of yoga focus on awakening Kuṇḍalinī through: meditation; pranayama breathing; the practice of
asana and chanting of mantras.[4] Kundalini Yoga is influenced by Shaktism and Tantra schools
of Hinduism. It derives its name through a focus on awakening kundalini energy through regular
practice of Mantra, Tantra, Yantra, Asanas or Meditation.[4][5] The Kuṇḍalinī experience is
frequently reported to be a distinct feeling of electric current running along the spine.[6][7][8]

Contents
 1 Etymology
 2 In Śaiva Tantra
 3 Descriptions
 4 Kundalini experiences
o 4.1 Invoking Kundalini experiences
 4.1.1 Hatha yoga
 4.1.2 Shaktipat
o 4.2 Kundalini awakening while prepared or unprepared
 5 Religious interpretations
o 5.1 Indian interpretations
 6 Western significance
o 6.1 New Age
 7 Psychology
 8 See also
 9 References
 10 Further reading
 11 External links

Etymology
The concept of Kuṇḍalinī is mentioned in the Upanishads (9th – 3rd centuries BCE).[9][verification
needed]
The Sanskrit adjective kuṇḍalin means "circular, annular". It is mentioned as a noun for
"snake" (in the sense of "coiled") in the 12th-century Rajatarangini chronicle (I.2). Kuṇḍa (a
noun meaning "bowl, water-pot" is found as the name of a Nāga (serpent deity) in Mahabharata
1.4828). The 8th-century Tantrasadbhava Tantra uses the term kundalī ("ring, bracelet; coil (of a
rope)").[10]:230[clarification needed]

The use of kuṇḍalī as a name for Goddess Durga (a form of Shakti) appears often in Tantrism
and Shaktism from as early as the 11th century in the Śaradatilaka.[11] It was adopted as a
technical term in Hatha yoga during the 15th century, and became widely used in the Yoga
Upanishads by the 16th century. Eknath Easwaran has paraphrased the term as "the coiled
power", a force which ordinarily rests at the base of the spine, described as being "coiled there
like a serpent".[12]

In Śaiva Tantra

Statues of Shiva and Shakti at Kamakhya temple, one of the oldest Shakti Peethas, important
shrines in Shaktism, the goddess-focused Hindu tradition

Kuṇḍalinī arose as a central concept in Śaiva Tantra, especially among the Śākta cults like the
Kaula. In these Tantric traditions, Kuṇḍalinī is "the innate intelligence of embodied
Consciousness".[13] The first possible mention of the term is in the Tantrasadbhāva-tantra (8th
century), though other earlier tantras mention the visualization of Śākti in the central channel and
the upward movement of prana or vital force (which is often associated with Kuṇḍalinī in later
works).[14] According to David Gordon White, this feminine spiritual force is also termed
boghavati, which has a double meaning of "enjoyment" and "coiled" and signifies her strong
connection to bliss and pleasure, both mundane physical pleasure and the bliss of spiritual
liberation (moksha), which is the enjoyment of Shiva's creative activity and sexual union with
the Goddess.[15]

In the influential Śākta tradition called Kaula, Kuṇḍalinī is seen as a "latent innate spiritual
power", associated with the Goddess Kubjika (lit. "the crooked one"), who is the supreme
Goddess (Paradevi). She is also pure bliss and power (Śākti), the source of all mantras, and
resides in the six chakras along the central channel. In Śaiva Tantra, various practices like
pranayama, bandhas, mantra recitation and tantric ritual were used in order to awaken this
spiritual power and create a state of bliss and spiritual liberation.[2][15]

According to Abhinavagupta, the great tantric scholar and master of the Kaula and Trika
lineages, there are two main forms of Kuṇḍalinī, an upward moving Kuṇḍalinī (urdhva)
associated with expansion, and a downward moving Kuṇḍalinī (adha) associated with
contraction.[14] According to Gavin Flood, Abhinavagupta links Kuṇḍalinī with "the power that
brings into manifestation the body, breath, and experiences of pleasure and pain", with "the
power of sexuality as the source of reproduction" and with:

"the force of the syllable ha in the mantra and the concept of aham, the supreme subjectivity as
the source of all, with a as the initial movement of consciousness and m its final withdrawal.
Thus we have an elaborate series of associations, all conveying the central conception of the
cosmos as a manifestation of consciousness, of pure subjectivity, with Kuṇḍalinī understood as
the force inseparable from consciousness, who animates creation and who, in her particularised
form in the body, causes liberation through her upward, illusion-shattering movement."[14]

Descriptions
When awakened, Kundalini is described as rising up from the muladhara chakra, through the
central nadi (called sushumna) inside or alongside the spine reaching the top of the head. The
progress of Kundalini through the different chakras is believed to achieve different levels of
awakening and a mystical experience, until Kundalini finally reaches the top of the head,
Sahasrara or crown chakra, producing an extremely profound transformation of
consciousness.[6]:5–6

Swami Sivananda Saraswati of the Divine Life Society stated in his book Kundalini Yoga that
"Supersensual visions appear before the mental eye of the aspirant, new worlds with
indescribable wonders and charms unfold themselves before the Yogi, planes after planes reveal
their existence and grandeur to the practitioner and the Yogi gets divine knowledge, power and
bliss, in increasing degrees, when Kundalini passes through Chakra after Chakra, making them to
bloom in all their glory..."[16]

There are many physical effects taken as signs of a Kundalini awakening, though some consider
them as signs rather of chakra awakening.[17] The following are either common signs of an
awakened Kundalini or symptoms of a problem associated with an awakening Kundalini:

 Enlightenment
 Bliss, feelings of infinite love and universal connectivity, transcendent awareness, seeing
truth (third eye opening), euphoria
 Awakened sense of smell, hearing, taste
 No longer controlled by desire/cravings
 Sound heard in the pineal gland (pleasurable/enjoyable)
 Change in the thyroid, sudden ability to sing in perfect pitch, change in voice
 Change in the sex organs
 Change in breathing
 Energy rushes or feelings of electricity circulating the body. This tingly feeling, at first,
might be mistaken for a "shiver."
 Involuntary jerks, tremors, shaking, itching, tingling, and crawling sensations, especially
in the arms and legs
 Intense heat (sweating) or cold, especially as energy is experienced passing through the
chakras
 Spontaneous pranayama, asanas, mudras and bandhas
 Visions or sounds at times associated with a particular chakra
 Diminished or control over sexual desire
 Emotional upheavals or surfacing of unwanted and repressed feelings or thoughts with
certain repressed emotions becoming dominant in the conscious mind for short or long
periods of time.[18]
 Headache, migraine, or pressure inside the skull. Relief of this pressure during an
awakening may be felt as a "popping," depending on the person and their body at the
time the awakening begins to occur.
 Pains in different areas of the body, especially back and neck
 Sensitivity to light, sound, and touch
 Trance-like and altered states of consciousness
 Disrupted sleep pattern (periods of insomnia or oversleeping)
 Vegetarianism or veganism
 Change in body odor (sweetness/natural/healthy)

Reports about the Sahaja Yoga technique of Kundalini awakening state that the practice can
result in a cool breeze felt on the fingertips as well as the fontanel bone area.[19][20] One study has
measured a drop in temperature on the palms of the hands.[21]

In his article on Kundalini in the Yoga Journal, David Eastman narrates two personal
experiences. One man said that he felt an activity at the base of his spine starting to flow, so he
relaxed and allowed it to happen. A feeling of surging energy began traveling up his back. At
each chakra, he felt an orgasmic electric feeling like every nerve trunk on his spine beginning to
fire. A second man describes a similar experience but accompanied by a wave of euphoria and
happiness softly permeating his being. He described the surging energy as being like electricity
but hot, traveling from the base of his spine to the top of his head. He said the more he analyzed
the experience, the less it occurred.[18]

In his book Building a Noble World, Shiv R. Jhawar describes his Kundalini awakening
experience at Muktananda's public program at Lake Point Tower in Chicago on September 16,
1974, as follows: