Activating Kundalini; Patanjali's Kriya Yoga


Unless kundalini is active, the deepest meditative states are not available to us. But to activate kundalini, Gurudeva tells us we must invoke the grace of Lord Ganesha and Lord Murugan. "Yoga is internalized worship which leads to union with God." Experience the inside of you in a profound way. This requires dispassion. The popular term "kriya yoga" usual refers to a form of pranayama, but the original kriya yoga is defined by Sage Patanajli as the practice of three of the niyamas: tapas, svadhyaya and Isvarapranidhana. To achieve samadhi we practice yoga, steady restraint of mental activities, austerity, meditation, detachment, self study and worship of God. Communion with the Ishta Devata, the chosen God is a key and also Gurudeva tells us: the Deity chooses you.

Master Course, Dancing with Siva, Lesson 39

Master Course, Merging with Siva, Lesson 5

Patanjali's Yoga Sutras

Unedited Transcript:

Good morning. This is from Gurudeva's lesson of the day, yesterday's lesson to be precise.

Dancing with Siva, Sloka 39.

"What Is the Nature of the Yoga Pada?

"Yoga is internalized worship which leads to union with God. It is the regular practice of meditation, detachment and austerities under the guidance of a satguru through whose grace we attain the realization of Parasiva. Aum.

"Bhashya

"Yoga, 'union' is the process of uniting with God within oneself, a stage arrived at through perfecting charya and kriya. As God is now like a friend to us, yoga is known as the sakha marga. This system of inner discovery begins with asana--sitting quietly in yogic posture--and pranayama, breath control. Pratyahara, sense withdrawal, brings awareness into dharana, concentration, then into dhyana, meditation. Over the years, under ideal conditions, the kundalini fire of consciousness ascends to the higher chakras, burning the dross of ignorance and past karmas. Dhyana finally leads to enstasy--first to savikalpa samadhi, the contemplative experience of Satchidananda, and ultimately to nirvikalpa samadhi, Parasiva. Truly a living satguru is needed as a steady guide to traverse this path. When yoga is practiced by one perfected in kriya, the Gods receive the yogi into their midst through his awakened, fiery kundalini. The Vedas enjoin the yogi, 'With earnest effort hold the senses in check. Controlling the breath, regulate the vital activities. As a charioteer holds back his restive horses, so does a persevering aspirant restrain his mind.' Aum Namah Sivaya."

That's the verse and the commentary.

Gurudeva's making a number of points in the bhashya. One of the important points he's making is we can put in a lot of time practicing meditation but unless the kundalini becomes active, in a sense of the higher chakras, we're not able to experience the deepest part of meditation. In other words, the practice of meditation is always valuable. It's helping us improve our ability to control the mind which is important. But, unless the kundalini is active the deepest states aren't available to us. So therefore, the question arises. What helps the kundalini become activated? I'm glad you asked, yes, glad you asked.

And, Gurudeva gives us the answer. Merging with Siva, Lesson 5.

"To attain even the permission to perform yoga one must have the grace of Lord Ganesha and the grace of Lord Murugan. Lord Murugan is the God of the kundalini, of the advanced yoga practices. Unfoldment all happens within the kundalini and the chakras within our subtle bodies. Once a profound relationship is developed with Lord Murugan, then with the guru's permission and guidance, true yoga may commence. Otherwise, no matter how long one sits in meditation, no matter how hard one tries, it is just sitting, it is just trying. There is no fire there, no shakti, no power, no change. It is the Gods who control the fire and at this stage help the devotee immensely bringing him closer and closer to the supreme God, Siva. Quite often the yogi in his deep internalized state may see in vision the feet or form of God Siva before he begins to blend into the mind of God Siva, called Satchidananda. It is God and Gods in form that help us to find the formless God."

So, those two verses go well together, huh? One develops the point. The second one develops the point made in the first that we need the kundalini to rise and in our tradition, Saiva Siddhanta, that involves a closeness to Lord Murugan. As Gurudeva says, it's a beautiful phrase: "Once a profound relationship is developed with Lord Murugan..." So, that's what we're striving for. And that happens after we've developed a profound relationship with Lord Ganesha. So, we start with Ganesha. When that relationship is really solid we can move on to Lord Murugan.

Another point I wanted to develop is what Gurudeva says at the beginning. "Yoga is internalized worship which leads to union with God. It is the regular practice of meditation, detachment and austerities..." So, we have three practices, three items to do: meditation, detachment and austerities.

I thought we could look at Patanjali for a second to see how he develops that same idea. As you know he defines yoga in his second verse.

[Verse 1.2] "Yoga is the restraint of mental activities."

Mental activities is the translation of chitta-vritti.

[Verse 1.3] "Then awareness abides in itself."

[Verse 1.4] "At other times awareness takes on the form of the activities."

And then in the verses he talks about the five forms of the activities next which we're not reading. Skipping to the next subject.

[Verse 1.12] "The restraint of these activities is achieved through..."

What do you think he says? Practice, right? Gurudeva said: "...practice of meditation, detachment and austerities..."

So he [Patanjali] says:

[Verse 1.12] "The restraint of these activities is achieved through practice and dispassion."

So dispassion and detachment are similar. Similar idea. And he defines it.

[Verse 1.13] "Practice is the exertion to achieve steadiness in the state of restraint."

In other words it doesn't count if you're just sitting there and not controlling your mind. You can sit there for an hour and if your mind is running all over the place that doesn't count as practice. That counts as sitting. So we need steadiness in the state of restraint. So, the mind really needs to be restrained in a serious way in order for it to count as practice.

[Verse 1.14] "This practice becomes firmly rooted when it is cultivated properly and uninterruptedly for a long time."

So this is not a weekend seminar. As enlightenment in Patanjali's approach, a long time. So we need to keep working at it. So practice needs to take place. It needs to be proper, meaning we need training in it so we know that we're doing the right thing, using our time wisely. And then, it needs to be uninterrupted for a long time which means we don't do it for a month and then drop it for a month. Do it for another month and drop it for two months. It needs to be uninterrupted in order to have the benefits.

And he moves on to dispassion.

[Verse 1.15] "Dispassion can be recognized to have been mastered by those who have no desire for what is seen or heard about."

So when we're under the influence of passion, raga, which is one of the tapas, right there in the middle, the 36 tapas. When we're under the influence of raga we're strongly attracted to external objects. And we're strongly attracted on the basis that we think the object will make us happier than we are right at the moment. And as we know, Madison Avenue, advertising agencies, they work on that raga. Dangle all these things in front of us, a new car, a new this, a new that. And if we only had we'd be happier.

So, it's a strong tendency in the instinctive mind to want to look outside our self to become more fulfilled instead of looking inside.

So the amount of dispassion differs between the family person and the monastic person. If the family person has too much dispassion it won't work. Have to have certain amount of passion toward family members and so forth. But the monk can even have, not have that. But the main thing that applies to both is to give up that false concept that something outside of us is going to make us happier than something inside of us. That's what we need to give up.

[Verse 1.16] "The non-thirsting for the gunas which arises when the purusha realizes its own nature is the supreme state of dispassion."

That just means when you experience the inside of you in a profound way, it's more fulfilling than the outside. So, if you've done that you're naturally detached. You're naturally dispassionate. That's what he's saying.

This goes along with our lexicon definition of dispassion which the Sanskrit word is:

"Vairagya: Freedom from passion. Distaste or disgust for worldliness because of spiritual awakening."

Not because something didn't go right in the world. It's because of spiritual awakening. We've found something inside of us that is more fulfilling than something outside of us and therefore we're not attracted to the something outside of us. Well it's a natural phenomena when what, when we realize the inside of us strongly enough.

And Gurudeva mentioned practice of meditation, detachment and austerity. So to develop the austerity point is next.

Patanjali has the niyamas which is traditional but he also pulls three of them out and calls them kriya yoga which is very unusual. That focuses on what's called kriya yoga. Kriya yoga in its most popular usage today refers to a pranayama. This isn't that meaning of kriya yoga. It's meaning kriya just in the sense of action. The word kriya means action like the word karma means action. So, the yoga of action, we're doing something. In other words we're not just sitting there in deep meditation. We're doing something external. Call that kriya yoga.

So the Sanskrit is tapas, svadhyaya and Isvarapranidhana. Isvarapranidhana is similar, it means the same thing as Ishvarapujana which is our term. Worshiping God, doing your own puja, learning atmartha puja, worshiping. So the English is:

[Verse II.1] "The yoga of action is comprised of austerity, (meaning tapas) self-study (svadhyaya) and devotion to Ishvara." (Isvarapranidhana.)

[Verse II.2] "This yoga has the purpose of achieving samadhi and attenuating the kleshas."

The kleshas we won't go into at the moment. We mentioned them before but it's basically the, the programming of our personality to look outward. We get attached to some things and become, and have aversion toward others. We have aversion toward that which give us pain and attachment to that which gives us pleasure. So, seen through that whole mechanism is what he calls the kleshas.

Then he goes through each one which is the interesting part. So remember Gurudeva said austerity. So, what's the importance of austerity? Well Patanjali explains:

[Verse II.43] "Through austerity, (tapas) due to the dwindling of impurity, perfection of the body and its sense organs is acquired."

So we punch away impurity. It's the symbol of fire. Fire, Yogaswami once said, these went fast: "Why do you scold people so much?"

He was pretty fiery.

And he said: "Isn't the fire needed to burn rubbish? "

So likewise our inner rubbish is burned by our inner fire. So, our tapas, when we catch on fire on the inside, burns up our inner rubbish or impurities.

[Verse II.44] "Through self-study (svadhyaya) communion is established with one's chosen Deity."

So self-study in this tradition, Patanjali only has five niyamas. So, he includes japa. So under svadhyaya according to the commentators. So svadhyaya means scriptural study but also japa. So, if you're chanting the mantra of a Deity you get close to that Deity. Or you have communion with that Deity. So, you know, we were talking about being close to Lord Murugan before. So this is the same idea, just Ishta Devata, chosen Deity.

[Verse II.44] "Through self-study (in scripture and japa) communion is established with one's chosen Deity."

So that's the same idea Gurudeva was saying. You know, through having a profound relationship, meaning communion, with Lord Murugan then the kundalini awakens. So, Patanjali has that right there.

Then the last one is:

[Verse II.45] "Through devotion to Ishvara samadhi is attained."

That sounds pretty good. So, Patanjali is a Monistic Theist. He's trying to achieve samadhi inside himself and he says we need the blessings of Ishvara outside ourselves to do that. So, he's right in our tradition there.

And I have one last, two last quotes from Gurudeva to round it out.

Gurudeva states: "The Hindu believes in the law of karma, the ability to earn one's rewards as well as punishments. All this we can do ourselves with the help of our Gods and our personal relationship with our Ishta Devata, the individual God that we have chosen, (listen to the next part) or rather that God who has chosen to love, guide and protect us through an incarnation"

So, usually we think of the choice as being ours, Ishta Devata. I choose this Deity. This is saying the Deity chooses you. So both sides of Ishta there. Chosen. Ishta means chosen.

On austerity: "Austerity is the fire... (So this is inner fire, sadhana awakens.) Austerity is the fire that straightens the twisted life and mind of an individual, bringing him into pure being, giving a new start in life, awakening higher consciousness and a cosmic relationship with God and the Gods, friends, relatives and casual acquaintances."

So, thank you very much. Have a wonderful day.

Om Namasivaya.

Photo of  Gurudeva
If difficult things are happening to you and your mind is disturbed because of them and you have mental arguments within you because you can't accept your own karma, go to the feet of Lord Siva in your mind.
—Gurudeva