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What Is the Symbolic Representation of Kundalini?

Updated on April 12, 2020
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Prachi is practicing yoga since the age of 11. Her yoga retreats in India have helped her gain deep insights into self-awareness.

Kundalini energy flow from Mooladhara to Sahasrara through Sushumna Nadi
Kundalini energy flow from Mooladhara to Sahasrara through Sushumna Nadi

Kundalini is an essential part of human existence. It represents the man’s true consciousness. So, it’s important that everyone should be aware of this important element. It is a potent force within the human beings located at the root of the spinal cord. For most of us, it lies in the dormant state in the beginning. In males, it is located in the perineum and in females, it is in the cervix. This is what you call the Mooladhara Chakra i.e. the Earth Chakra. It is a small gland with dormant yet powerful energy.

For awakening kundalini, you need to start with yogic techniques such as pranayama, asanas, meditation, and kriya yoga. This will help you activate the base of kundalini. Then, the dormant energy wakes up within you that moves up through Sushumna Nadi (the central nervous passage in the center of the spinal cord) to the brain.

As the kundalini energy travels upwards, it activates each of the passing chakras. These chakras are interconnected with the silent areas of your brain. This new energy is like an explosion in your brain as it activates the sleeping areas and blossoms them into a thousand-petalled lotus. In short, you can equate kundalini awakening as the activation of the silent areas of your brain.

Kundalini is said to be located in the mooladhara chakra, but each of us is at different stages of development. So, it is possible in many of us this energy has already reached higher levels such as Swadhisthana (second chakra), Manipura (third chakra), or Anahata (fourth chakra). If this is so with you, then any yoga you do will start an awakening in any of the upper chakras.

The experience of awakening differs with different chakras. Once the seventh chakra i.e. Sahasrara (the highest center of your brain) awakens the thousands-petalled lotus blossoms and a new level of consciousness dawns.

Your present consciousness is dependent on information delivered by your senses. In other words, without eyes, you can’t see and without ears, you can’t hear. But, when the superconsciousness strikes, your experience becomes entirely independent, even your knowledge is free from all the material sources.

Lord Krishna in his cosmic form as mentioned in Hinduism text of Bhagavad Gita
Lord Krishna in his cosmic form as mentioned in Hinduism text of Bhagavad Gita

How ancient people discovered Kundalini?

Since the beginning, man has observed varied transcendental events. Sometimes he can read others’ thoughts, notice someone’s predictions turning true, and make his own dream a reality. Also, he realizes how some people can create motivational poems, compose spectacular music while others can’t. Some of them can fight and stay active for multiple days, while some can’t even get rid of their bed. That made him curious to know why people are so different.

In his research, he discovered a special form of energy that exists within each individual. He learned that in some people, this energy was in sleeping mode, while in few others it was in developing mode, and in a minority of people, the energy was in fully activated mode. This incredible energy took many names. It’s in tantra tradition that it came to be known as kundalini.

What are the symbolic names of Kundalini and what do they mean?

Kundal is a Sanskrit word that means a coil and Kundalini means ‘in a coiled form’. This is a traditional belief with a deep meaning. Kundalini originates from Kunda meaning “a deep crater”. It is a concave cavity within the brain with a heavy resemblance to a sleeping and coiled serpent. This is a physical structure and can be seen in a dissected human brain in the form of a coiled snake. This is what Kundalini really is. It’s a power that exists in a dormant state, but on manifestation can take either of the forms of Devi, Kali, Durga, Saraswati or any other. It differs from person to person.

In Christianity, the cross signifies the rise of Kundalini and the dawn of spiritual grace. Due to this, Christians are said to make the cross sign at the Anahata, Ajna, and Vishuddhi chakras. At Ajna, the consciousness rises above and at Anahata, the spiritual grace connects with the world.

Whatever manifests in your spiritual life, it is all due to the awakening of your Kundalini. Even the state of union or nirvana is a result of the Kundalini awakening.

Kali (left) represents uncontrolled consciousness, Durga (right) represents controlled consciousness
Kali (left) represents uncontrolled consciousness, Durga (right) represents controlled consciousness

What is the role of Kali and Durga in Kundalini Awakening?

When you can’t control your awakened Kundalini, it is termed as Kali. When you learn to control it and use it for essential purposes, it is termed as Durga.

Kali is a female deity. She is smoky in color and wears a necklace of 108 human skulls. These skulls signify different births. Her stretched tongue in blood-red color is the symbol of rajas guna (passion, activity, restlessness) and its circular movement drives all sorts of creative endeavors. Her gesture implies the need for sadhakas to wisely handle their rajas guna.

Her left-hand holds a sacrificial sword and a severed head in her right hand. These are the symbols of cessation. This means death and darkness, which means nothing but the pure origin of light and life.

She is worshipped as the source of cosmic power. She is dynamic, the static masculine energy is activated only through her massive power. She rises in anger and roars ferociously, horrifying everyone who comes her way. Her thirst for blood and flesh is enormous. When the thirst reaches its limit, she turns calm and quiet. And she emerges into the higher form, Durga.

Durga is a highly refined and gentle form of an unconscious human being. She’s a mighty goddess seated on a roaring lion. Her eight hands signify the eightfold elements of man. Her necklace of 52 human heads represents her power and wisdom. The number 52 is the number of letters in the Sanskrit alphabet. These letters are the manifestations of Brahma in the form of sound.

Durga is the destroyer of all evil that results from the wrongdoings in one’s life. She is also the giver of power and peace that begins to release from the mooladhara chakra.

The yoga philosophy says Kali is the first indication of the unconscious Kundalini. Your individual soul is overpowered and you may even experience mental instability for a while that gives you illusions of ghosts, unnatural elements, etc. After the full realization of Kali power, Kali goes up to the higher form, Durga. She is the superconsciousness lavishing beauty and glory.

Kundalini coiled 3 and 1/2 times
Kundalini coiled 3 and 1/2 times

What is the symbolic representation of Kundalini?

According to the tantric texts, Kundalini is enriched with primal power, which is said to be lying unconscious in man.

It is depicted as a sleeping serpent, which is coiled three and a half times. Certainly, there’s no real serpent living in the Mooladhara, Swadhisthana or any other chakra. In fact, the serpent is a symbol of powerful consciousness that is in a dormant state within the man. This is relevant to almost every civilization that existed in the world at some point in time. Even this serpent is represented in many of the monuments and ancient artifacts. This concludes Kundalini was known to people across different parts of the world in the past.

You can release Kundalini in any form since prana is dimensionless and formless, the released form is, certainly, infinite.

As I mentioned earlier, Kundalini is present in three and a half times a coiled form. The number 3 symbolizes:

  • 3 mantras of OM related to past, present, and future
  • 3 gunas i.e. tamas, rajas, and sattva
  • 3 states of consciousness i.e. waking, sleeping, and dreaming
  • 3 levels of experience i.e. emotional experience, sensual experience, and no experience

And the 1/2 coil symbolizes the state of spirituality, where none of the above remains.

All power resides within you, you have the potential to do anything and everything.

— Swami Vivekananda

Who can awake Kundalini energy?

Many people have successfully awakened Kundalini. This is not just limited to saints and yogis, but also include writers, painters, warriors, and so many other people. The experience of awakened Kundalini differs in everyone. Some common results are the development of creative intelligence and understanding of oneself. With this awakened energy, you are enriched with the discipline to become anything in life.

Awakening the kundalini is not an accomplishment, but the primary purpose of every human being. All the activities you do are intended to awaken this dormant energy.

Your life takes a massive transformation. It has hardly anything to do with your religious or ethical practices, but rather with your experiences and perceptions. Your mind changes, even your attachments, and priorities change as well. All your karmas are subjected to a process of unification.

In other words, as you grow up from a child to an adult, consciously or unconsciously, your interest and attachments change and you don’t even think about these changes. Similarly, a metamorphosis happens with awakened Kundalini. Even your physical structure is subject to change.

Though these changes are positive, in case your guru is not alert, it can cause negative changes as well. At this awakened stage, your cells are completely energized. This means your whole body undergoes a noticeable transformation.

To start the practice of Kundalini yoga, you need to have a reason for doing so. If your purpose is psychic powers, then your destiny is in your own hands. But, if you want to achieve balance, there’s no obstacle for you. Through this yoga, you are balancing with the natural laws and boosting your physical, mental, and spiritual growth. Once you are successful, your body doesn’t live with a lower mind and energy anymore, you are charged with high voltage energy of Kundalini.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Prachi Sharma

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    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      2 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      I may set aside more time as this is interesting but a bit to long just to pick up and read.

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