Is it possible for an ordinary person to become enlightened without raising Kundalini?

The answer is no.

‘Thus the rousing of the Kundalini is the one and only  way to attaining Divine Wisdom, superconscious perception, realisation of the spirit. The rousing may come in various ways, through love for God, through the mercy of perfected sages, or through the power of the analytic will of the philosopher.’

 [Vivekananda in his book Raja Yoga]

Why is it that Shankara does not lay stress on Kundalini in his philosophical texts (although he does talk about it in Soundarjalahari)?  The answer is given here:

Ashtaka asked, ‘Who amongst these, O king, both exerting constantly like
the Sun and the Moon, first attaineth to communion with Brahma, the ascetic or the man of knowledge?’

 Yayati answered, ‘The wise, with the help of the Vedas and of Knowledge,
having ascertained the visible universe to be illusory, instantly realises
the Supreme Spirit as the sole existent independent essence. While they that devote themselves to Yoga meditation take time to acquire the same knowledge, for it is by practice alone that these latter divest themselves of the consciousness of quality. Hence the wise attain to salvation first. Then again if the person devoted to Yoga find not sufficient time in one life to attain success, being led astray by the attraction of the world, in his next life he is benefitted by the progress already achieved, for he devoteth himself regretfully to the pursuit of success. But the man of knowledge ever beholdeth the indesctructible unity, and, is, therefore, though steeped in wordly enjoyments, never affected by them at heart. Therefore, there is nothing to impede his salvation. He, however, who faileth to attain to knowledge, should yet devote himself to piety as dependent on action. But he that devoteth himself to such piety, moved thereto by desire of salvation, can never achieve success. His sacrifices bear no fruit and partake of the nature of cruelty. Piety which is dependent on action that proceedeth not from the desire of fruit, is, in the case of such men Yoga itself.’

 (Mahabharata,  Adi Parva XCII)

A Jnana Yogi succeeds instantaneously. What would be the point in discussing Kundalini for a Jnana Yogi?

 The Yogic method is to awaken the Kundalini Shakti and lead it step by step into the Sahasrara Chakra and fully activate it. It takes so much time because the Shakti has to pierce 6 Chakras and three granthis or knots and many other difficulties. A Guru is mandatory in this method because such tampering with body’s spiritual energy can be very dangerous. Many Yogis develop ailments that ordinary doctors will not understand.

The Jnana Yogi tries to know himself and thus tries to activate the Sahasrara Chakra directly without taking help from God or anybody else. In this method the Kundalini Shakti is believed to bypass all the 6 lower Chakras and 3 granthis or knots and to directly go to Sahasrara Chakra. This is why a successful Jnana Yogi takes little time compared to Yogis and the method is not dangerous. However, this method can lead to failure if the person attempting it is not fully prepared. For example, if a person is not able to control sexual impulse then he will fail in Jnana Yoga. For such a person the slow but steady Yogic method is recommended. Jnana Yoga texts will not discuss Kundalini because the Kundalini activation of the Sahasrara Chakra will happen automatically if the Jnana Yogi is doing it correctly.

The simplest method is Bhakti Yoga where God does everything including bringing the Kundalini Shakti up to Ajna and Sahasrara Chakras. God also protects the devotee from physical ailments. The Bhakti Yogi does not have to do anything and thus Bhakti scriptures do not talk about Kundalini Shakti. In this path God will even help the person suppress sexual impulses.

You may ask why people do not follow Bhakti Yoga if God does every thing for you. The answer is that the kind of devotion to God  that is demanded here is almost impossible for most people. What would you do if you are not able to love God?
 
You may ask why Kundalini Shakti is necessary at all? To understand this you have to know Vedantic physiology. The Atman is surrounded by a karana sarira (causal body), which in turn is surrounded by sukshma or linga sarira (subtle body) and finally the physical body. Any spiritual practice needs to pierce or bypass the subtle body and the causal body and activate the higher Chakras in order to experience the Atman. The only instrument to do this is the Kundalini Shakti.

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2 Replies to “Is it possible for an ordinary person to become enlightened without raising Kundalini?”

  1. Dear Pradip da,

    This is another excellent and informative article. I would like to point out that there are supposed to be three different types of Kundalini awakenings.

    The (in)famous type of kundalini awakening (as described by Pandit Gopi Krishna), is the prana kundalini awakening. As you explain, this is practiced by the Tantrika/Yoga sadhaka or Raja Yogi. This is supposed to be the "lowest" form of Kundalini awakening and is needed for people of mainly rajasic nature.

    The Jnana Yogi awakens Chit Kundalini, which is different from prana kundalini (like you are saying …opening the sahasrara directly). Ramana Maharshi explains it as finding and then abiding in the spiritual heart center (The crown and heart expand and become one gigantic spiritual heart). This is easy for people with Sattvic nature.

    I find that those who have purified their antahkarana sufficiently, naturally awaken the kundalini without major side-effects. They may or may not need to awaken Prana Kundalini at all.

    The highest kundalini is Para Kundalini, which is said to be the energy of the Universe or Lord Shiva himself. The tantric texts state that this cannot be awakened by a human being with a physical form.

    Thought I'd add a little more to the fascinating topic you have elaborated on.

    Best,

    Dwai

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