The Devi Gita: Chapter Five
Instruction in Kundalini Yoga
HIMALAYA INQUIRES ABOUT YOGA
O Great Queen, describe that yoga with all its limbs which bestows supreme understanding,
So that by practicing it, I may become fit to see the truth.
THE GODDESS GIVES BRIEF DEFINITION
The goal of yoga is not found in the heavens, nor on earth, nor in the underworld,
But in the union of the individual soul and the supreme Self; thus do skilled adepts define yoga.
Impending the practice of yoga are the obstacles, said to be six, O Faultless One. They are designated as desire and anger, greed and delusion, arrogance and jealousy.
Adept yogis use the limbs of yoga to break through these obstacles and to reach the goal of union. Restraint and observance, followed by posture, breathe control,
withdrawing the senses, concentration, meditation and finally absorption. These, they say, are the eight limbs practiced by adepts in pursuing, yoga.
THE MORAL HABITS AND DISPOSITIONS INVOLVED IN THE FIRST TWO LIMBS
Noninjury, truthfulness, nonstealing, abstinence, compassion, humility, patience, steadiness, moderation in eating and purity, these are the ten restrains.
Austerity, contentment, faith, charity, worshipping the deity, listening to established truths, shame, understanding, recitation and sacrifice,
There I proclaim as the ten observances, O Chief of Mountains.
THE FIVE BASIC POSTURES
The Lotus Posture, the Happiness Posture, the Auspiciousness posture, as well as the Diamond Posture, and the Hero Posture, these in order are renowned as the five basic modes of sitting.
Duly placing the pure soles of the feet upon the thighs, one should catch hold of the big toes with one’s hands crossed behind the back-such is the famous lotus posture, beloved by yogis.
Duly putting the pure soles between the thighs and knees, the yogi should sit with body straight-such is deemed t he Happiness Posture.
Placing the heels firmly on either side of the perineum, one should use the hands to hold tight the heels of the feet beneath the genitals-such is the famous Auspiciousness Posture, well honored by yogis.
Placing the feet alongside the outer thighs, with fingers cupping the knees, one should firmly fix the hands-such is the unsurpassed Diamond Posture.
Putting one foot under the opposite thigh and the other foot upon the remaining thigh, the yogi should sit with body straight-such is the Hero Posture.
THE BASIC PRACTICES OF BREATH CONTROL
Drawing in the breath through the left artery for sixteen counts, the yogi should hold it fully for sixty-four counts, restraining it fully in the central artery; they slowly, for thirty two counts, the excellent knower of yoga should exhale through the right artery-this is breath control, so say those verse in the treatises on yoga.
Again and again, improper order, one should manipulate the breath. Gradually, as is suitable, one should increase the count from twelve up to sixteen.
When breath control is accompanied by mantric repetition and meditations, the wise regard it as having a matrix. When breath control is not so accompanied, they regard it as without a matrix.
Through repeated practice, one progresses from the lowest level of accomplishment when a person’s body begins to perspire, through the middle level when the body trembles to the highest level when one levitates so it is taught.
One should strive constantly until one attains the fruits of the highest level.
REMAINING LIMBS OF YOGA, FROM SENSE WITHDRAWAL TO ABSORPTION
The senses are wont to feed freely upon the objects of sense. Seizing them back from those objects by force is called withdrawal of the senses. On the toes, ankles, knees, thighs, anus, sexual organ, navel, on the heart, neck, throat, soft palate, and nose, between the brows, on the head, on the forehead, and on the crown of the head, as prescribed.
Concentrating the vital breath on these points is called concentration. Composing the mind and abiding inwardly in pure consciousness while meditating on one’s chosen deity within the self is called meditation.
Ever realizing the identity of the individual Self and supreme self is absorption, sages avow. The nature of the eight limbs has thus been described.
ESOTERIC PHYSIOLOGY OF THE KUNDALINI YOGA
Now I shall tell you about the excellent Mantra Yoga.
The body is the cosmos, composed of the five elements, so it is said, O Mountain. It embodies the unity of the soul and Brahman, conjoined with the lustrous essence of the moon, sun and fire.
There are reckoned to be thirty-five million subtle arteries in the body. Among these, ten areas considered major and three are of special significance.
The principal one inside the spinal column embodies the moon, sun, and fire. The “Channel of Comfort” runs on the left side and shines white, embodying the moon.
This artery appears as Shakti herself visibly manifest, embodying the divine ambrosia. The one on the right side is the “Tawny-red Channel,” male in essence, embodying the sun.
Composed of all brilliant light is the “Most Gracious Channel,” embodying fire; in its middle is the “Beautiful, variegated Channel,” characterized by will, knowledge and action.
THE KUNDALINI AND THE PSYCHO-ENERGETIC CENTERS WITHIN THE BODY
Inside is the svayambhu-linga, shining like ten million suns. Above that is the seed mantra of Maya, which begins with ha, r, and conclude with the nasal m.
Above that is the coiled serpent appearing like a flame, blood red in color. She is said to be the very essence of the Goddess, expanding with rapturous passion, O Mountain Chief.
Outside her is the golden, four petaled lotus adorned with the letters va to sa. One should thus visualize this lotus, resembling molten gold.
Above that is the six-petaled lotus resembling fire and radiant like a diamond. Adorned with the six letters ba to la; this is the excellent “Own Abode Center.”
The lowest, root center supports all six lotuses, and thus is known as the ” Root Support Center.” Regarding the “Own Abode Center,” it is so known since it is the “own abode” of the supreme Linga.
Above that is the brightly shining “Jewel-filled Center” in the areas of the navel. It is brilliant like a cloud, like a flash of lightening, composed of great luster.
This lotus shines like a jewel, so it is called the “jeweled Lotus.” It is endowed with ten petals, adorned with the letters from da to pha.
Vishnu resides on this lotus, so that here one is able to attain a vision of Vishnu. Above that is the lotus of the “Unstruck Sound,” shining like the stars and sun.
Its petals are adorned with eh letters from ka to that. In its midst is the Bana Linga shining like ten thousand suns.
This center is composed of Brahman in the form of sound; therein that sound, though unstruck, is perceived. Thus sages call it t he lotus of the “unstruck sound.”
It is the seat of bliss, wherein dwells the Supreme Person. Above that is the sixteen-petaled lotus known as the “Unstained.”
Conjoined with the sixteen vowels, it is smoke-colored and highly effulgent. Since the should here attains purity by seeing the Supreme Self,
It is know as the “Unstained Lotus.” It is also known as ethereal and exceedingly marvelous. Above that is the “Command Center,” wherein dwells the supreme Self.
Commands are received there; thus it is called the “Command Center.” This lotus is two-petaled, adorned with the letters ha and ksa and very charming.
Above that is the “Kailasha Center,” and above that the “Blockade Center.” Thus I have described the supporting centers to you, who are of firm resolve.
Above them, it is said, is the seat of the primal point with its Lotus of a Thousand Petals. And so the entire, unexcelled pathway of yoga has been disclosed.
HOW TO AROUSE AND GUIDE THE KUNDALINI
First, breathing in with yogic control, one should bring the mind to focus on the Root Support. There between the anus and the genitals resides the Shakti Kundalini. Compressing her, one should awaken her.
Then one should lead her to the highest center of the primal point by piercing the mystic emblems in order. One should visualize here that supreme Shakti as united with Siva.
In that union is produced an ambrosial nectar resembling molten red lac, which should be given as a drink to the Shakti Maya, who grants success in yoga.
Satisfying the presiding deities of he six centers by offering them that descending stream of nectar, a wise person will then lead her back by the same path to the Root Support Center.
THE FRUIT OF KUNDALINI
It is certain that by such spiritual practice performed daily, all mantras previously uttered incorrectly will become effective, without fail.
One is freed from the bondage of worldly existence with its miseries of old age, death, and the like. Just such qualities as belong to me, the divine World-mother.
Those very qualities will inhere in the accomplished adept, without fail. Thus have I recounted the excellent practice of concentrating the breath, my child.
THE METHODS OF CONCENTRATION
Now listen attentively to e regarding another concentration practice. Fixing the mind upon me as the Goddess transcending all space and time.
One quickly merges with me through realizing that oneness of he should and Brahman. But if the mind is impure, one will not succeed at once.
Then the yogi should practice the Limb-by-Limb meditation: On my charming limbs, on my hands, feet and so on, O Mountain,
The adept well versed in mantras should focus the mind, mastering each member one by one. With the mind thus purified, the yogi should concentrate upon my whole form.
Until the mind dissolves into me, the Goddess who is divine consciousness, O Mountain, the well-versed adept should continue reciting the approved mantra accompanied by sacrificial offerings.
THE IMPORTANCE OF YOGA AND MANTRA
Through yoga accompanied by mantra practice, one becomes fit to realize all that is to be known. Mantra without yoga is ineffective; yoga without mantra is also ineffective.
Integrating the two leads to realization of Brahman. As a jar in a darkened house may be seen with a lamp,
So may the Self concealed by Maya become evident through the mantra.
Now I have explained the whole practice of yoga with its limbs.
This can be learned only from a teacher’s instruction and not from millions of books.
As I Understand It:
Without the guidance of a guru yoga is pointless, even harmful.
The Goddess describes the goal of the Kundalini Yoga as the union of individual (jiva) and supreme Self (atman). In Jnana Yoga it is the realization of a practitioner of herself as the Supreme Self. The goal of the two yogas is identical but their techniques are different.
In yogic literature the first three obstacles to the liberation of an individual are: desire, anger and greed. The Bhagavad Gita refers to these as the “threefold gate to hell.” Sometimes fear and excessive sleep are included. Some other times faulty breathing and excessive waking or excessive eating are also added. All these impediments stem from humankind’s basic impediment, ignorance. Yogic discipline of body, speech and mind can overcome ignorance.
Right posture is one of the basic tools of the yogas. The novice should hold the body, neck, and head even, unmoving and steady. Posture should be firm and comfortable. It should be practiced in a solitary and undisturbed place so that it is suitable for prolonged meditation. This is the basic requirement for more advanced yogic practices.
Next comes the breath control. Proper breathing calms the mind and readies it for concentration. In an untrained body the breath does not circulate freely. Uncontrolled flow of breath leads to death without liberation. The basic technique of breath control involves three phases: inhalation, retention and exhalation the ratio of three to each other is a standard 1:4:2. Various vital points that entail concentration of breath are followed from the toes to the crown of head. The breath is lead from the lower to the higher regions that result in the feeling of bliss.
Whereas the breath control focuses on the Goddess energy within-in the form of the Serpent Power-the mind also concentrates on the Goddess outside the body-at her lovely form as Bhuvanesvari or as beyond all form. The three goddesses Gayatri, Savitri and Sarasvati are said to embody the three letters of Aum, A-U-M, respectively. During inhalation one may recite A and visualize young girl Gayatri, red in color, holding a staff, mounted on a goose. During retention, one may repeat U and meditate on young woman Savitri, of white complexion, holding a disc, riding a Garuda. And during exhalation, one may recite M, behold Sarasvati as an old women, dark blue, holding a trident while riding a bull.
The ever-deepening levels of mental concentration or absorption flow naturally from the control of breath. When the breath is controlled instead of the mind, the senses become obedient to the mind. When the mind is focused inward, the senses no longer wander externally. Mind comes to rest. Withdrawal of the senses is thus part of a gradual process of mental training that begins in earlier phases. The practice of breath control, concentration and withdrawal of senses complement one another.
One form of concentration is the focus of breath in the spinal column, upper body and head. This is referred to as Kundalini Yoga. This yoga involves arousing of Kundalini (coiled), the Serpent Power, that lies sleeping near the base of the spinal column within the human body. It is the psycho-spiritual power that is a manifestation of the Goddess. Like a serpent, she winds three and a half times around emblem of Siva within the muladhara, the lowest of the psycho-energetic centers. The practitioners of this yoga believe that the human body is an exact replica of cosmos. The spinal column is referred to as Meru, the axis mundi.
The Devi Gita describes the ascent and the descent of the Serpent Power in which internal male and female principles merge and the individual (jiva) unites with the supreme Self. The underlying idea of Kundalini Yoga is that the truth of the universe can be realized in and through the body. The fundamental forces and processes at work in the universe are present within one’s own body, and thus by understanding and mastery of the body one achieves ultimate insight into the mysteries of the universe, including the final liberation.
Brown, C. Mackenzie, The Devi Gita, The Song of the Goddess: A Translation, Annotation, and Commentary, Albany: State University of New York Press. 1998.
___________, The Triumph of the Goddess: The Canonical Models and Theological Visions of the Devi-Bhagavata Purana. Albany: State University of New York Press. 1990.