In the following excerpt from the book “The Doctrine of the Bhagavad Gita” by Pandit Bhavani Shankar (a disciple of the Master K.H. – see “About Bhavani Shankar” at the bottom of the page), a concept is presented which seems to be entirely unknown amongst the masses of spiritual seekers today. That is the distinction between the higher Kundalini and the lower Kundalini.
In the “Theosophical Glossary” H.P. Blavatsky explains that Kundalini is “The power of life; one of the Forces of Nature; that power that generates a certain light in those who sit for spiritual and clairvoyant development. It is a power known only to those who practise concentration and Yoga.”
The Yoga endorsed in Theosophy is a form of Raja Yoga which incorporates Jnana Yoga and never those types of Yoga practice which are so popular nowadays, such as Hatha Yoga and Kundalini Yoga. Theosophy distinctly warns against these types of exercises and methods and as for the practice of Pranayama (the suppression and retention of the breath) it is said that all of the Masters are unanimously opposed to it.
In the article Fohat: The Cosmic Electricity, we said:
“HPB describes Kundalini as being “a fiery electro-spiritual force,” the “Fohatic power” which underlies everything visible and invisible. In “The Voice of the Silence” it is called “The World’s Mother,” the Mother of the World and Mother of the Universe. T. Subba Row says of Kundalini that it is “the power or Force which moves in a curved path. It is the Universal Life-Principle manifesting everywhere in nature. This force includes the two great forces of attraction and repulsion. Electricity and magnetism are but manifestations of it.” … Kundalini is the active power of the Universal Logos. It is the Mother of the manifested Universe. It is omnipresent universal Life, universal Fire, universal Electricity. …
“It should be added here, however, that the practice known as Kundalini Yoga is potentially highly dangerous on all levels – physical, psychological, and spiritual – and that Theosophy always warns people against trying to do things to or with the power of the Kundalini within themselves. The Masters have stated emphatically that this Force can kill just as easily as it can create. There is no need whatsoever for us to be messing about with our Kundalini and those who do so are almost always doing so with selfish motives such as attempting to acquire psychic or spiritual powers or to be able to have amazing spiritual experiences or sensations of bliss for themselves. Desire is the cause of all suffering, as the Lord Buddha always taught, and the desire for spiritual experiences is just as detrimental to the soul as the desire for sensual and carnal experiences. Even mainstream psychiatrists are now beginning to note the increasing number of people becoming seriously mentally ill, often with schizophrenia or similar conditions, as a result of trying to awaken their Kundalini.”
In the Gupta Vidya or Esoteric Doctrine which we call Theosophy, it is only the higher Kundalini to which the student’s attention is called. Most people will maintain that there is only one Kundalini and that it is seated in the Muladhara Chakra at the base of the spine. Hence they attempt to awaken it from its dormant and latent position there and cause it to rise up through all the chakras to the crown of the head.
Theosophy says otherwise. H.P. Blavatsky’s book “The Voice of the Silence” is a translation of three texts – titled “The Voice of the Silence,” “The Two Paths,” and “The Seven Portals” – from an esoteric scripture referred to as “The Book of the Golden Precepts,” belonging to the esoteric Yogacharya School of pure Buddhism, with which the Masters of the Trans-Himalayan Brotherhood are associated.
“The Voice of the Silence” teaches that it is “the inner chamber of the Heart” which is “the abode of the World’s Mother”, Kundalini, and not the base chakra.
It is “from the heart that Power [of Kundalini] shall rise” and not from any centre lower than that. We are led to understand that there is a certain correspondence, not specifically stated in print, between the seven chakras or “energy centres” in the astral body (Linga Sharira) and the Seven Principles of the human constitution. The sevenfold nature of man is divisible into the Higher Triad (Atma-Buddhi-Manas) and the Lower Quaternary (Kama-Prana-Linga Sharira-Sthula Sharira).
The lower Kundalini and the lower chakras relate to those passional, psychic, sensual, animal, material parts of our nature which comprise the Lower Quaternary. It thus becomes apparent why we are implored by the Masters and their Disciples not to have anything to do with these.
The higher Kundalini is something which awakens and arises naturally, safely, and of its own accord, as we develop and advance in spirituality, consciousness, understanding, self-discipline, self-mastery, and self-purification. This is why Bhavani Shankar says below that “the electro-spiritual force called Kundalini is the result of the spiritual development of man and has nothing to do with physical and mechanical processes.” Those misguided individuals who succeed in the practice of the latter are likely to develop psychic clairvoyance, as he says, but this is not spiritual clairvoyance.
The great importance of understanding the distinction and tremendous difference between the psychic and spiritual has been dealt with in the article The Psychic is not the Spiritual.
Since we are only interested in the higher Kundalini, which develops and arises of its own accord when we develop sufficiently in true spirituality, there is little need for us to devote much thought or attention to it, which may be the main reason why the subject of Kundalini is only very rarely and briefly mentioned in the Theosophical teachings. But as this topic is so popular nowadays and as so many thousands of people are unwittingly inviting serious problems and danger upon themselves through unwise and unsafe practices, it was thought necessary to put this article together.
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FROM “THE DOCTRINE OF THE BHAGAVAD GITA” – CHAPTER 3
The light of Ishwara which his Gurudeva had transmitted to him at the time of the first initiation has now by his profound devotion and renunciation been transmuted into electro-spiritual force which is called the higher Kundalini and rises upwards.
It now rises from the heart into the head and there brings into full functioning all the spiritual centres in the brain which upto now it was vivifying, and it passes on to what Shri Shankaracharya calls the Dhi-guha, the cave of the intellect, the space between the brows, and there electrifies Buddhi into a dynamic power resulting in spiritual clairvoyance. It then merges in the great Goddess seated in the centre of the full-blown Sahasrara (thousand-petalled lotus).
And through these higher spiritual centres the initiate subdues and controls the lower Chakras.
According to Hindu books of Yoga, there is in the brain the Sahasrara Chakram. “It is an unopened bud in the ordinary mortal and just as the lotus opens its petals and expands in all its bloom and beauty when the sun rises above the horizon and sheds his rays on the flower, so does the Sahasraram of the neophyte open and expand when Ishwara begins to pour His life into its centre. When fully expanded, it becomes the glorious seat of the Devi (Daivi-prakriti), and sitting on this flower the great Goddess pours out the waters of life and grace for the gratification and regeneration of the human soul.”
H.P.B. refers to this spiritual process in the following passage in the Voice of the Silence and in her notes thereon. “Let not thy ‘Heaven-Born,’ merged in the sea of Maya, break from the Universal Parent (Soul), but let the fiery power retire into the inmost chamber, the chamber of the Heart and the abode of the World’s Mother. Then from the heart that Power shall rise into the sixth, the middle region, the place between thine eyes, when it becomes the breath of the ONE SOUL, the voice which filleth all, thy Master’s Voice.”
In her note on the words “power” and the “world mother” in the above passage she says, “these are names given to Kundalini – one of the mystic ‘Yogi powers’. It is Buddhi considered as an active instead of a passive principle. …” Thus the electro-spiritual force called Kundalini is the result of the spiritual development of man and has nothing to do with physical and mechanical processes.
But there is the lower Kundalini also, seated in the Muladhara Chakra, at the base of the spine, which Hata-yogis try to awaken by Pranayama (restraint of breath). It is a dangerous process and has nothing to do with spirituality. There is another set of teachers who, by external stimuli such as crystal gazing, and focussing the attention and gaze on the Chakra between the eye-brows, advocate the development of clairvoyance, psychic vision, which is quite distinct from spiritual clairvoyance. The tiny serpent seen in this Chakram by the psychic is not the real spiritual power called Kundalini.
The psychic sees different objects in a finer world just as we see here the physical objects, but there is in him the sense of separateness as deep, if not deeper, as in the ordinary man and he accentuates this separateness by setting his false and petty self against the surroundings, and striving for domination over them.
This is a process, the reverse of spiritual, a projection of the lower and false into the higher and the real. Saints and sages have time and oft taught, distinguishing real spirituality from these artificial methods, which are prompted by thirst for power and Siddhis. Thus the great sage Jnaneshwara in his “Dwadashakshari (the well-known twelve syllabled mantra) Abhanga” says: “Awakening the serpent by the control of the nine gates and passing it through Sushumna, which is one of the three Nadis, such is not, say the Munis, the path. The fount of liberation is in ceaseless contemplation of Nara-Hari.”
Similarly does Machhendra teach his disciple Gorakh while telling him the real qualifications of a Chela: “Arousing the Kundalini and forcing it up to the Brahmarandhra (the crown of the head) and thus acquiring the power of walking on water and of prophecy, do not constitute a spiritual man – such is not fit to be a Chela.”
Real spiritual clairvoyance develops in the initiate as naturally as a bud at its proper time blooms into a flower. It is vision and feeling blended into one wherein the separateness of the seer, the seeing and the seen, is altogether absent. It is this spiritual clairvoyance that Shri Shankaracharya refers to in the following sloka in the Aparokshanubhooti. “Vision is to be concentrated there where the triad – the seer, the seeing and the seen, – vanishes, and not on the base of the nose (Agneya-chakra).”
As a result of his harmonising his astral centre with the Adhidaiva centre, the basis of all devatas, through the higher Kundalini, he sees the hierarchies of cosmic intelligences, the Devas, and realises that they and himself are essentially one being – expressions of the one Divine life which, expressing Itself in all these and in himself, transcends all and remains itself.
He has now all the great higher Siddhis which are not so much control acquired over something outside, but knowledge realised of the inwardness of cosmic processes – the expansion of his Buddhi into the cosmic Buddhi. With the possession of all these Siddhis theoutstanding characteristic of the initiate now is his utter humility. His Abhimana, thirst for individual power and glory, has vanished. He is therefore called a Kuteechaka, one who resides in a humble hut of leaves. He has now that power which enables him to appear as nothing in the eyes of men. “Be humble, if thou wouldst attain to Wisdom. Be humbler still when Wisdom thou hast mastered.” (The Voice of the Silence)
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ABOUT BHAVANI SHANKAR
Bhavani Shankar (1859-1936) was one of the most prominent of the last surviving Indian chelas (disciples) of the Masters from HPB’s Adyar days. He is spoken of in glowing terms by the Masters in their Letters and elsewhere and was a chela of the Master K.H.
Neither he, nor any of the other individuals who were objectively proven and known to be chelas of the Masters, ever supported or endorsed in any way the work and teachings of those various later “Theosophists” who claimed (but could never actually prove or demonstrate) to be the chelas of the same Masters, such as Annie Besant, C.W. Leadbeater, and Alice Bailey.
Recalling the written words of one of the Masters that the Adyar Society had become “a soulless corpse,” destined to “fall to pieces” as the inevitable Karmic result of its infidelity to HPB, and seeing how Besant and Leadbeater seemed hell-bent on destroying the legacy and sacrifices of HPB and thoroughly rewriting and altering the teachings of Theosophy beyond all recognition, Bhavani Shankar separated himself entirely from the Theosophical Society and aligned himself instead with the United Lodge of Theosophists (often known simply as the ULT) when B.P. Wadia established it at Bombay.
He felt that here was an association – apparently the only one – which was true to the real Cause and real Teachings of the real Masters of whom he was the faithful disciple and with whom he was personally acquainted. As part of his regular daily sadhana or spiritual practice in the latter part of his life, Bhavani Shankar used to focus on HPB in heartfelt and reverential meditation and invited and encouraged others to do the same.
As for the attitudes and teachings of the likes of Leadbeater, Besant, and Bailey, he described them as “blasphemous talk” and “flippant prattle,” saying that in their books “high names and doctrines have been dragged down to the level of modern ignorance.”
~ Blavatsky Theosophy Group UK ~
SOME RELATED ARTICLES: The Sevenfold Nature of Man, Atman – The Higher Self, The Buddhi Principle, Mysteries of the Astral Body, 12 Things Theosophy Teaches, Understanding the Logos, The Psychic is not the Spiritual, The Whitewashing of Black Magic, The Masters and Madame Blavatsky, Meditation Advice, Helpful Hints for Spiritual Progress, B.P. Wadia on Theosophical Meditation, Practical Theosophy, Damodar and the Hall of Initiation, Maji – The Yogini of Benares, The Theosophical Society is Disloyal to Theosophy, and The Two Paths.