Madan Gautam



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Fast Facts
DSC01067.jpg
Other Names and Nicknames: 
Yogi Madan Gautam
Function: 
Yogi
Traditions: 
Siddha Maha Yoga
Main Countries of Activity: 
India
Date of Birth: 
26-11-1968
Place of Birth: 
Delhi, India
In His/Her Body ("alive"): 
Yes
Other Related Gurus: 
Swami Gangadhar Tirth, Swami Narayandev Tirth, SH.SH. Yogender Vigani ji, Swami Vishnu Tirth, Pandit Harbanse Lal Sharma, Swami Shiv OM Tirth, SH.SH.Devender Vigani ji,Sh.Deepak Yogi

Biography

Yogi Madan Gautam is disciple of Sri Deepak Yogi Ji who was the great yogi in Siddha Lineage (Siddha maha Yoga) / kundalini shaktipat. Yogi Madan Gautam is Successor of Sri Deepak Yogi Ji and is giving Shaktipat deeksha / Mystic Initiation for awakening of Kundalini Shakti to truth seekers from all over the world for achieving Enlightenment.

Teachings

KUNDALINI - FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS AND SELECTED REFERENCES

Copyright Kurt Keutzer, 1996

This FAQ gives a background on the phenomenon of kundalini and is assumed material before reading the other related articles:
Siddha Mahayoga FAQ
Kundalini Yogas FAQ
The Siddha Mahayoga Tradition of Swami Shivom Tirth

I bow to the vibrant source of my innermost bliss.

What is kundalini?

What is the difference between prana and kundalini? What is the difference between qi (or chi) and kundalini?

If kundalini is universal why do some kundalini yogins seem to have more kundalini-energy than others ?

What does kundalini have to do with spiritual enlightenment? What is the goal of kundalini yoga?

Does everyone agree that kundalini awakening is necessary for enlightenment?

Can I just use kundalini yoga simply to improve my health?

Is there any scientific basis for kundalini and the cakras? Do I really have to believe that all these cakras physically exist?

Is Chinese qi gong a kind of kundalini yoga?

What about Tibetan Buddhism - has kundalini been known in Tibet?

Are there any other traditions that show awareness of kundalini?

So how do I awaken kundalini?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of using effort to awaken kundalini?

What are the signs of an awakened kundalini?

Are these methods of awakening kundalini dangerous? What about Gopi Krishna's books?

But even if kundalini is dangerous, isn't it a faster way to enlighenment?

There have been many scandals among kundalini yoga teachers - particularly sexual scandals. Is there a correlation between sexual scandals and kundalini yoga practice?

If my kundalini is awakened will I need to change my lifestyle? Do I need to be celibate?

Where can I learn more?

What is kundalini?

``Kundalini'' literally means coiling, like a snake. In the classical literature of hatha yoga kundalini is described as a coiled serpent at the base of the spine. The image of coiling, like a spring, conveys the sense of untapped potential energy. Perhaps more meaningfully kundalini can be described as a great reservoir of creative energy at the base of the spine.
It's not useful to sit with our consciousness fixed in our head and think of kundalini as a foreign force running up and down our spine. Unfortunately the serpent image may serve to accentuate this alien nature of the image. It's more useful to think of kundalini energy as the very foundation of our consciousness so that when kundalini moves through our bodies our consciousness necessarily changes with it.

The concept of kundalini can also be examined from a strictly psychological perspective. From this perspective kundalini can be thought of as a rich source of psychic or libidinous energy in our unconscious.

In the classical literature of Kashmir Shaivism kundalini is described in three different manifestions. The first of these is as the universal energy or para-kundalini. The second of these is as the energizing function of the body-mind complex or prana-kundalini. The third of these is as consciousness or shakti-kundalini which simultaneously subsumes and intermediates between these two. Ultimately these three forms are the same but understanding these three different forms will help to understand the differerent manifestations of kundalini.

What is the difference between prana and kundalini? What is the difference between qi (or chi) and kundalini?

First let us try to relate to concepts from the same tradition - prana and kundalini. Prana has been translated as the ``vital breath'' and ``bio-energetic motility''; it is associated with maintaining the functioning of the mind and body. Kundalini, in its form as prana-kundalini, is identical to prana ; however, Kundalini also has a manifestations as consciousness and a as a unifying cosmic energy. One could ascribe these same aspects to prana as well so past a certain point these become distinctions without differences.

From the subjective standpoint of an individual actually experiencing the awakening of kundalini I have found three completely different opinions:

The first opinion is that a pranic awakening is only a prelude to a full kundalini awakening. Tibetan yogins that I have encountered consider the activation of prana (Tibetan: rlung) as merely a prerequisite for the activation of kundalini (Tibetan: gTummo). What's attractive about this viewpoint is that it explains the difference between the experience of simply having pleasant sensations in the spine and the much more powerful experience of having a ``freight-train''-like full kundalini experience.

The second opinion, espoused by Swami Shivom Tirth for example, is that prana and kundalini are absolutely equivalent and that it is not meaningful in any way to describe a difference between kundalini rising and prana rising. When posed with question as to how to distinguish between pleasant sensations that show some pranic-activity in the spine and the much more powerful experience Swami Shivom Tirth said that the difference is not in the nature of the activity but in the consciousness that observes it. If the consciousness that experiences the pranic activity is seated within the spine (or more correctly, the central channel, known as the sushumna), then the experience is felt much more powerfully.

The third opinion, espoused by the modern hatha yogin, Desikaran, is that pranic awakening is the true experience to be aimed for and kundalini is actually an obstruction. Desikaran sees the kundalini as a block in the central channel and thus the kundalini must be ``killed'' to make way for the prana. This is the most unusual view of the three.

The Chinese concept of qi (or chi) can be safely identified with the Indian concept of prana.

If all this seems confusing - don't worry, you're in good company. My conclusion is that these are all different terminologies for dealing with a common set of experiences. Any one of these viewpoints is adequate for describing the full range of experiences. What is probably more relevant is to distinguish two different experiences which are often confused. In one an individual experiences some pleasant energizing electric energy running along the spine. This experience itself brings about a wide range of experiences and results in vitality and sensitivity.

Another very distinct experience is the experience of kundalini entering the sushumna and rising up the spine. As soon as kundalini enters the sushumna this experience will completely overwhelm ordinary waking consciousness. From the moment that kundalini enters the sushumna there will no longer be a distrinction between the subjective consciousness which experiences and the object of experience. This experience much more profoundly transfigures consciousness.

If kundalini is universal, why do some kundalini yogins seem to have more kundalini-energy than others?

It's an intriguing question. If an individual's kundalini is viewed as simply a personal reservoir of a cosmic energy then why would one person appear to have more of a reservoir of kundalini energy than another? Nevertheless, this does appear to be the case. This is probably another advantage of the viewpoint that prana (or qi) is the same as kundalini.
Some Chinese texts distinguish between ``innate qi'' or ``pre-natal qi'' that one is born with and ``cultivated qi'' that can be developed. Clearly some people simply have more ``innate qi.'' This manifests as a stronger more resilient body and greater general vitality.

Through training those that have relatively weak ``innate qi'' may surpass those who have strong ``innate qi'' but do not train. There are many stories in the Chinese literature of Qi Gong about people who took up Qi Gong in order to improve their poor health became powerful martial artists or great qi gong masters. Of course those that have strong ``innate qi'' and also train their qi may develop the strongest qi of all.

What does kundalini have to do with spiritual enlightenment? What is the goal of kundalini yoga?

First we need a few concepts: In yogic anatomy the sushumna is the central channel and conduit for the kundalini energy that runs along our spine and up to the crown of our head. Along this channel are placed additional channel networks called cakras. These cakras are associated with major aspects of our anatomy - for example our throat, heart, solar plexus, and in turn these aspects of our anatomy are related to aspects of our human nature.
According to the literature of kundalini yoga our experience of these centers is limited due to knots which restrict the flow of energy into these centers. Three knots are particuarly important. The knot of Brahma which restricts the center at the base of the spine. The knot of Vishnu which restricts the heart center and the knot of Rudra which restricts the center between the eyebrows. These knots form an important framework in yogic thinking and the stages toward enlightenment are articulated in terms of breaking through these knots in the yogic classic the Hatha Yoga Pradipika as well as in some of the yoga upanishads. Specifically, four stages of progress are described:

arambha
ghata
parichaya
nishpatti

Arambha is associated with breaking the knot of Brahma and the awakening of kundalini.

Ghata is associated with breaking the knot of Vishnu and and with internal absorption.

Parichaya the absorption deepens and in

nishpatti the knot of Rudra is pierced and the kundalini may ascend to the center at the crown of the head. In this state transcendence is integrated and, according to the yogic liteature, the yogi has nothing more to attain.

Putting these elaborate physiological decriptions aside, the goal of kundalini yoga is the same as the goal of any legimitate spiritual practice: To be liberated from the limited bounds of the self-centered and alienated ego. In kundalini yoga this is associated with internal manifestations of the kundalini but the external manifestations should be similar to any other legitiimate spiritual practice.

So does everyone agree that kundalini awakening is necessary for enlightenment?

The view that kundalini awakening is necessary for enlightenment is held in the diverse literature of Kashmir Shaivism and in other Hindu Tantric literature. It is found in the literature of the Hatha Yogis and the Nath Sampradaya. You will find similar views in many Buddhist Tantric works. In addition this view is held by recent spiritual figures such as Shri Ramakrishna, Swami Sivananda, Paramahamsa Yogananda and Swami Vivekananda and of course by contemporary kundalini yogins themselves.

Nevertheless there are some dissenters from this view. These include Sri Chinmoy, Da Free John and Gurdjieff. Dissent can take a number of different forms. For Gurjieff kundalini is associated only with a binding force that leads us to be more attached to the world. Such a view of kundalini is not entirely inaccurate but only reflects the functioning of kundalini in the lower energy centers. For Sri Chinmoy kundalini is an amplifying function that may make an individual more powerful but not more enlightened. From my perspective this also only addresses the impact of kundalini while it operates in the lower energy centers.

Da Free John (born Franklin Jones, a. k. a. Da Love Ananda) has a much more fundamental criticism of kundalini. As far as I understand his position, for him enlightenment cannot be the result of an experience; it is a cognitive transformation. Kundalini may evoke a wide variety of experiences but these are not in and of themselves enlightening. This is an interesting perspective but it seems to assume that the raising of kundalini is an experience in which an ego-consciousness experiences a separate object known as kundalini. Again, this view is consistent with the experience of kundalini in the lower energy centers in which the ego is detached from the movement of kundalini and kundalini experiences are precieved as separate from oneself. However, I would argue that as kundalini rises the ego-consciousness becomes infused in a more fundamental consciousness of cit-shakti-kundalini and this experience does in fact produce a fundamental cognitive change.

Finally, there are many other spiritual practices, such as Zen, Vipassana meditation that consider kundalini irrelevant. Some practitioners or even teachers of these paths, such as Jiyu Kennet, may have kundalini experiences but generally kundalini is not a pivotal part of these paths.

Can I use kundalini yoga simply to improve my health?

Yoga exercises which were traditionally used to purify the body in preparation for awakening the kundalini can also be used simply to improve the health. To practice techniques aimed at actively awakening kundalini with the goal of simply improving your health seems to be a misuse of these powerful techniques.

There are those that teach kundalini yoga principally emphasizing its benefits on health without much discussion of the spiritual benefits. This is how hatha yoga has been taught in the west for some time. The affect of this approach depends on the attitude of the student. There is certainly nothing wrong with trying to improve your health but there is a tension between awakening an energy that will ultimately burn up the ego and trying to shape that energy to simply fulfill an ego-oriented motive.

Is there any scientific basis for kundalini and the cakras? Do I really have to believe that all these cakras physically exist?

Research on kundalini is especially spotty. There is no compelling work to show that the system represents insights into actual human anatomy. But it's important to understand that kundalini and its network of channels and cakras is simply how yogins have chosen to explain their experience and that yogins from many cultures have arrived at similar, though not identical, concepts. The true physical mechanisms underlying these experiences may be very different from those described. Izaak Benthov has proposed a model to explain kundalini in terms of micro- motion in the brain. In this model experiences are associated with parts of the body, such as the heart, because the part of the brain associated with that part of the body is stimulated by micro-vibrations. His model is treated in ``The Kundalini Experience'' by Sannella referenced below. From a practical perspective the key thing is our subjective experience and that the roadmap of these subjective experiences has been mapped out.

Is Chinese qi gong a kind of kundalini yoga?

If there is any contemporary teaching that is even more diverse in approach than kundalini yoga it must be qi gong. As a result it is hard to compare kundalini yoga to qi gong. From my limited exposure to qi gong it is clear there are many qi gong practices that are identical to kundalini yoga practices. What is also clear is that may qi gong practitioners have reported experiences that are identical to those of kundalini yogins. In so far as each of these practices aims at eliminating blocks to the qi/prana energy then they share a common ground.

What about Tibetan Buddhism - has kundalini been known in Tibet?

Kundalini yoga in the Natha Sampradaya and Vajrayana in Tibetan Buddhism both take their origin from the Mahasiddhas who were active in India from the 8th century to the 12th century. Kundalini yoga practices formed the core of the teachings of a number of these Mahasiddhas and are strongly represented in both Tibetan Buddhist practices and contemporary kundalini yoga practices. Kundalini yoga was spoken of as ``Candali yoga'' by these Mahasiddhas and became known as gTummo rnal 'byor in Tibet. Candali yoga was a key practice of the famous Tibetan yogin Milarepa. The role of kundalini yoga in Tibetan Buddhism is discussed in more detail in the Kundalini Yogas FAQ.

Are there any other traditions that show awareness of kundalini?

If you believe that kundalini is at the basis of spiritual progress then every valid spiritual tradition must have some awareness of kundalini. Christianity (especially Quakerism and Pentecostalism), Sufism, Qabalistic mysticism, alchemy and magick all have literature which demonstrates some awareness of the kundalini process but these traditions are not, to this author's awareness, so open in their exposition of the techniques and so it is hard to judge the depth of understanding latent in these traditions. Nevertheless, the imagery is so unmistakable in these traditions that each must have, at least at one time, been conversant with the movement of kundalini.

So how do I awaken kundalini?

Indirectly kundalini can be awakened by devotion, by selfless service, or by intellectual enquiry. In these paths the blocks to the awakening of kundalini are slowly removed. Occasionally, individuals on these paths will experience a sudden awakening of kundalini but generally because the blocks are slowly and gently removed kundalini-like experiences evolve slowly in these paths.

Broadly speaking there are two radically different direct approaches to awakening kundalini. One approach requires initiation by a guru and relies upon a technique called shaktipat, or ``descent of shakti.'' It is variously called: Siddha Mahayoga, Kundalini Mahayoga or Sahaja Yoga (Spontaneous Yoga). These approaches are treated in the Siddha Mahayoga FAQ. The other approach uses intentional yogic techniques . The styles using intentional techniques include Mantra Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Laya Yoga or Kriya Yoga. These approaches are treated in the Kundalini Yogas FAQ .

Fundamentally the approach of Siddha Mahayoga and the Kundalini Yogas are different. In Siddha Mahayoga the guru awakens the kundalini and after that the core of the practice is the inactive and non-willful surrender to kundalini. In Kundalini Yogas the will is used to awaken the kundalini and to guide its progress. Clearly these are different approaches.
Nevertheless, elements of the each approach occur in the practices of the other. Siddha Mahayogins may use asanas, pranayamas and other hatha yoga practices. On the other hand gurus in Kundalini Yoga may give infusions of shakti to their students to help them at particular points in their practice.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of using effort, in kundalini yogas, as opposed to the grace of the guru, in siddha mahayoga, to awaken kundalini?

Since every practitioner brings his own unique inclinations and obstacles to the practice of yoga it is very hard to generalize on this point. In terms of actually awakening kundalini gurus of Siddha Mahayoga claim that the kundalini is more easily and reliably awakened by the grace of the guru than by individual effort. In my limited experience I would agree. with this assertion. While not every long-term student of either practice necessarily shows signs of kundalini awakening it is amazing how many people have had instant awakenings of kundalini through initiation from siddha gurus.

In terms of encountering difficulties along the path the siddha gurus would also claim that fewer problems due to kundalini awakening, such as mental imbalance, are encountered by students of Siddha Mahayoga. Here I think the results are mixed. It seems to me that the guidance of the teacher in either Siddha Mahayoga or Kundalini Yoga is more a determining factor than which style of kundalini practice is employed.

Generally speaking each style of practice has its strengths and weakness. The strength of Siddha Mahayoga is the ease with which it awakens the kundalini. The weakness is that because the kundalini is so easily awakened by the guru students of Siddha Mahayoga often have completely undisciplined personal meditation practices. Time is spent instead to trying to recreate some of their initial experiences by following the guru around hoping for his or her grace Some people spend 20 or more years in this manner without ever developing an inner core of practice or experience.

The strength of the family of Kundalini Yogas is that the progress is at least apparently more under the control of the student of the yoga. These students seem more likely to have disciplined personal practices and more of an understanding of how the practice relates to their own experience.
Unfortunately for some students this leads to a fairly egotistical approach to their practice and ultimately the kundalini energy is used to bolster the ego rather than to merge the ego in bliss.

What are the signs of an awakened kundalini?

Briefly, according to classical literature the signs of an awakened kundalini can be grouped into: mental signs, vocal signs and physical signs. Mental signs can include visions that range from ecstatically blissful to terrifyingly frightful. Vocal signs can include spontaneous vocal expressions that range from singing or reciting mantras to make various animals sounds such as growling or chirping. Physical signs include trembling, shaking and spontaneously performing hatha yoga postures and pranayamas.

From a more subjective perspective the more pleasant experiences associated with a kundalini awakening may include: waves of bliss, periods of elation, glimpses of transcendental consciousness. The less pleasant experiences associated with a kundalini awakening may include: trembling, sharp aches in areas associated with the cakras, periods of irrational anxiety, sudden flashes of heat.

Are these methods of awakening kundalini dangerous? What about Gopi Krishna's books?

If we take the psychological perspective and view kundalini as the power latent in our unconscious then it is easy to understand that awakening this force is going to bring a greater amount of unconscious material into our consciousness. Even in the best of circumstances this is likely to be uncomfortable and if an individual is barely coping with his unconscious even under normal circumstances then awakening kundalini may push the individual over into psychosis. This phenomenon has been documented many times.

Forceful methods of awakening kundalini pose additional dangers. Because quite forceful methods can be used to awaken kundalini these techniques themselves are potentially physically and mentally disruptive. An individual named Gopi Krishna awakened his kundalini by doing unguided meditation on his crown cakra. His life after awakening was both blessed by ecstatic bliss and tormented by physical and mental discomfort. Eventually his experience stabilized. He wrote down his experiences in a recently re-released autbiography entitled ``Living with Kundalini.'' Gopi Krishna's autobiography appears to be an honest representation of his experiences but it is only one extreme datapoint in the panorama of experience on kundalini yoga. It represents dangers in forceful unguided practice but it is not representative of a typical practicioner's experience.

But even if kundalini is dangerous, isn't it a faster way to enlighenment?

First of all it may be useful to observe that there is no technique currently known on earth that appears to be rapidly catapulting large number of individuals toward enlightenment. Because kundalini yogas deal so directly with a powerful enlightening force it seems natural that they would be ``faster'', but there appears to be alot of tortoise and hare phenomena at work with newbie kundalini yogins. Many people begin kundalini yogas, have strong initial experiences and then become frightened. Many who perservere through this initial phase become distracted by the energy and focus on temporal and phenomenal applications of the energy.

There have been many scandals among kundalini yoga teachers - particularly sexual scandals. Is there a correlation between sexual scandals and kundalini yoga practice?

There have been scandals regarding the teachers of many paths, both spiritual and non-spiritual ; however, it is probably fair to say that kundalini yogins have had more than their share. Since the first publication of these frequently-asked-questions in 1994 more than one well-known kundalini yoga teacher has been implicated in having clandestine affairs with students and has been asked to step down from his position as spiritual leader as a result.

An advanced kundalini yogin is typically a powerful charismatic individual who has the ability to directly influence the minds of others. Westerners often mistake this power as a sign of enlightenment and allow such teachers liberties as a result.

In addition it is quite common for kundalini yoga to temporarily accentuate the sex drive. This period requires extra discipline. Finally, kundalini yoga is closely associated with tantrism and sex is often used in conjunction with tantric practice. Where sex is used there is of course the opportunity for misuse or abuse.

If my kundalini is awakened will I need to change my lifestyle?

It's hard to have your cake and eat it too. If you awaken kundalini in order to change and enrich your life it's reasonable to expect you may need to change your lifestyle as a result. The recommendations of both classical literature and experience is that sleep and diet will need to be moderated otherwise severe discomfort may arise. Furthermore without moderating sexual activity and physical work it will be hard to experience much success with kundalini. The extent that these elements of your life need to change depends on the nature of the individual. While genuine mental imbalances arising from kundalini are rare nearly every kundalini yogin will find periods when one needs to be especially sensitive to needs for sleep, quiet and diet.

Where can I learn more?

Here are some references for further reading. They may not be the easiest books to find but they are currently in print and are very good in their categories. Note that by definition no reputable book on kundalini will tell you how to awaken your kundalini. Either by effort or by shaktipat initiation, practicing kundalini yoga requires the instruction of an experienced teacher. Some introductory practices for cleansing the channels can be learned from books.

Good introductory survey:

White, John (Editor) (1990). Kundalini - Evolution and Enlightenment. New York: Paragon House.

Classical Works:

Svatmarama (1985). The Hatha Yoga Pradipika (Swami Muktibodhananda Saraswati, Trans.). (First ed.). Munger, Bihar: Bihar School of Yoga.

Silburn, L. (1988). Kundalini - Energy of the Depths (Jacques Gontier, Trans.). Albany, NY: State University of New York.

Contemporary Kundalini Yogins:

Chetanananda, S. (1991). Dynamic Stillness. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Rudra Press.

Muktananda, Swami (1989b). From the Finite to the Infinite (First ed.). Volumes I &II, South Fallsburg, NY: Siddha Yoga Dham of America Foundation.

Tirtha, Swami Vishnu (1980b). Devatma Shakti (Fifth ed.). Rishikesh: Yoga Shri Peeth Trust.

Siddha Mahayoga FAQ
Version 2.0, May 1996
Copyright Kurt Keutzer, 1996 (keutzer@eecs.berkeley.edu)

The author grants the right to copy and distribute this file, provided it remains unmodified and original authorship and copyright is retained.The author retains both the right and intention to modify and extend this document.

This FAQ gives an overview of Siddha Mahayoga. The Kundalini Yoga FAQ:

Kundalini FAQ
is introductory material that is good to read before reading this FAQ.

Two other articles are strongly related:

Kundalini Yogas FAQ
The Siddha Mahayoga Tradition of Swami Shivom Tirth

I remember with gratitude those teachers who by their mere intention, glance, word or touch can accomplish what is otherwise obtained only with great effort and difficulty.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

What is kundalini?

What does kundalini have to do with spiritual enlightenment? What is the goal of kundalini yoga?

So how do I awaken kundalini?

What is shaktipat?

How does shaktipat work?

Who can give shaktipat?

Who can receive shaktipat?

Are all shaktipat initiations the same?

Can one receive shaktipat just by being in the presence of those with awakened shakti?

So what happens after shaktipat? What is the practice of Siddha Mahayoga?

What are kriyas?

So how do kriyas purify my consciousness?

Are these kriyas some sort of self-hypnosis or some sort New Age phenomenon?

Haven't a number of well-known teachers criticized kriyas? Don't they say that kundalini is a force that needs control?

What is the philosophy of siddha mahayoga?

What is the precise role of the guru in siddha mahayoga?

What teachers give shaktipat initiation?

Where can I learn more?

What is kundalini?

``Kundalini'' literally means coiling, like a snake. In the classical literature of hatha yoga kundalini is described as a coiled serpent at the base of the spine. The image of coiling, like a spring, conveys the sense of untapped potential energy. Perhaps more meaningfully kundalini can be described as a great reservoir of creative energy at the base of the spine. It's not useful to sit with our consciousness fixed in our head and think of kundalini as a foreign force running up and down our spine. Unfortunately the serpent image may serve to accentuate this alien nature of the image. It's more useful to think of kundalini energy as the very foundation of our consciousness so when kundalini moves through the sushumna and through our cakras our consciousness necessarily changes with it.

The concept of kundalini can also be examined from a strictly psychological perspective. From this perspective kundalini can be thought of as a rich source of psychic or libidinous energy in our unconscious.

In the classical literature of Kashmir Shaivism kundalini is described in three different manifestions. The first of these is as the universal energy or para-kundalini. The second of these is as the energizing function of the body-mind complex or prana-kundalini. The third of these is as consciousness or shakti-kundalini which simultaneously subsumes and intermediates between these two. Ultimately these three forms are the same but understanding these three different forms will help to understand the differerent manifestations of kundalini.

Return to table of contents

What does kundalini have to do with spiritual enlightenment? What is the goal of kundalini yoga?

First we need a few concepts: In yogic anatomy the sushumna is the central channel and conduit for the kundalini energy that runs along our spine and up to the crown of our head. Along this channel are placed additional channel networks called cakras. These cakras are associated with major aspects of our anatomy - for example our throat, heart, solar plexus, and in turn these aspects of our anatomy are related to aspects of our human nature. According to the literature of kundalini yoga our experience of these centers is limited due to knots which restrict the flow of energy into these centers. Three knots are particuarly important. The knot of Brahma which restricts the center at the base of the spine. The knot of Vishnu which restricts the heart center and the knot of Rudra which restricts the center between the eyebrows. These knots form an important framework in yogic thinking and the stages toward enlightenment are articulated in terms of breaking through these knots in the yogic classic the Hatha Yoga Pradipika as well as in some of the yoga upanishads. Specifically, four stages of progress are described:
arambha,
ghata,
parichaya and
nishpatti.

Arambha is associated with breaking the knot of Brahma and the awakening of kundalini. Ghata is associated with breaking the knot of Vishnu and and with internal absorption. Parichaya the absorption deepens and in nishpatti the knot of Rudra is pierced and the kundalini may ascend to the center at the crown of the head. In this state transcendence is integrated and, according to the yogic liteature, the yogi has nothing more to attain.

Putting these elaborate physiological decriptions aside, the goal of kundalini yoga is the same as the goal of any legimitate spiritual practice: To be liberated from the limited bounds of the self-centered and alienated ego. In kundalini yoga this is associated with internal manifestations of the kundalini but the external manifestations should be similar to any other legitiimate spiritual practice. .

Putting these elaborate physiological decriptions aside, the goal of kundalini yoga is the same as the goal of any legimitate spiritual practice: To be liberated from the limited bounds of the self-centered and alienated ego. In kundalini yoga this is associated with internal manifestations of the kundalini but the external manifestations should be similar to any other legitiimate spiritual practice.

Return to table of contents
So how do I awaken kundalini?
Indirectly kundalini can be awakened by devotion, by selfless service, or by intellectual enquiry.

Broadly speaking there are two radically different direct approaches to awakening kundalini. One approach requires initiation by a guru and relies upon a technique called shaktipat, or ``descent of shakti.'' It is variously called: Siddha Mahayoga, Kundalini Mahayoga or Sahaja Yoga (Spontaneous Yoga). These approaches are treated in the Siddha Mahayoga FAQ. The other approach uses intentional yogic techniques . The styles using intentional techniques include Mantra Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Laya Yoga or Kriya Yoga. These approaches are treated in the Kundalini Yogas FAQ .

Fundamentally the approach of Siddha Mahayoga and the Kundalini Yogas are different. In Siddha Mahayoga the guru awakens the kundalini and after that the core of the practice is the inactive and non-willful surrender to kundalini. In Kundalini Yogas the will is used to awaken the kundalini and to guide its progress. Clearly these are different approaches. Nevertheless, elements of the each approach occur in the practices of the other. Siddha Mahayogins may use asanas, pranayamas and other hatha yoga practices. On the other hand gurus in Kundalini Yoga may give infusions of shakti to their students to help them at particular points in their practice.

What is shaktipat?
``Shakti'' is another word for kundalini and ``pat'' means to descend. Shaktipat is a method by which an individual's kundalini is awakened by the direct intervention of a guru. There are several varieties of shaktipat depending on the facility of the guru and the receptiveness of the disciple.

It is probably not useful to try to resurrect the nine or more classifications of shaktipat used in the classical literature here. Practially speaking shaktipat is known by its results: the awakening of of the student's kundalini.

There are also a variety of mechanisms for conveying shaktipat. These include: by glance, by word or mantra, by touch or simply by intention.

How does shaktipat work? If kundalini awakening is so important how can someone else do it for you? How could a guru overcome my karma?

Regarding the question as to how a guru is able to overcome the karma of a disciple, some classical scholars have argued that the ability to receive shaktipat is the result of something of a neutralization of positive and negative karmas. On ther other hand, Abhinavagupta examines the paradox inherent in attempting to determine the causal conditions for the descent of grace when it is essentially an act of freedom on the part of the Supreme Lord who is the source of grace. (Thanks to Boris Marjanovic for pointing out that in earlier versions of this FAQ I confounded Abhinavagupta's views with those he was refuting.)

Another question is:
``If shaktipat is a manifestation of grace then why would anyone person experience shaktipat more deeply than another?''

These questions deserve deeper enquiry. Although I would claim that what follows reflects the view of any of the aforementioned traditions, I personally find a couple of analogies helpful:
Ordinarily it takes a long time to create a fire by rubbing sticks together but if someone else already has a fire then that fire can be used to ignite another fire. Similarly to make a magnet naturally may require thousands of years but if one already has a magnet then a metal can easily be magnetized using the magnet. Each of these analogies points out that the process of conveying shaktipat depends on both the qualities of the siddha guru (the fire or magnet) and the disciple (the wood or iron). If the siddha guru is more powerful, then the qualities of the disciple may be less. If the siddha guru is less powerful, then the qualities of the disciple must be greater.

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Who can give shaktipat?
To continue the analogy, in theory ``anyone on fire'' can give shaktipat, i.e. anyone who's kundalini is already awakened. The more relevant question is: ``Who should give shaktipat?'' There are many opinions on this but at the very least the conveyer of shaktipat should be aware of the movements of shakti in his own body and in the body of the disciple. Giving shaktipat is a science and it is helpful, if not essential, to be instructed in that science. The classical works of Abhinavagupta and the living oral tradition of contemporary masters, such as Swami Shivom Tirth, both indicate that improperly practiced shaktipat initiation can be dangerous both to the disciple to the guru and to the disciple. Using the analogy again, it is easier to light a fire than to light it in such a way that it has a carefully managed burning.

Therefore, it is desirable that the guru be empowered to give shaktipat by his own guru and has been trained in an unbroken lineage back to a great master who was fully aware of the science of shaktipat. In this way some quality control is maintained.

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Who can receive shaktipat?
There are even more opinions on this. Some gurus take an attitude of: ``Initiate them all and let shakti sort them out.'' Traditionally teachers were quite selective about who received shaktipat. Sometimes shaktipat was only given to one or two disciples in a generation. Among gurus these days you can see these two extremes of opinion and many other gradations in between. What is clear that some people who have received shaktipat from well-known gurus have apparently only manifested greater neuroses and unhappiness in their lives as a result. See the questions regarding kriyas below ( What are kriyas?>).

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Are all shaktipat initiations the same?
There are many ways of classifying shaktipat initiations but a method used by Swami Vishnu Tirth is very simple and clear. In shaktopaya initiations the kundalini shakti of the disciple is awakened by the guru. In shambhavopaya initiations the kundalini shakti of the disciple is awakened and led up through the bodies energy centers bringing a glimpse of the highest realization. Due to the current state of disciples, and contemporary gurus, almost all initiations can be termed shaktopaya initiations.

Some contemporary yoga teachers and gurus lump a wide variety of phenomenon under the term ``shaktipat.'' For example, I have seen teachers of Kriya Yoga infuse their students with their shakti at various stages of the student's practice with the purpose of eliminating blocks in the student's channels. These teachers called this practice ``shaktipat initiation.'' According to the tradition of Siddha Mahayoga such infusions are not considered ``shaktipat initiations'' because neither their aim or their result is to awaken kundalini. Moreover, the resulting practices are not Siddha Mahayoga because after these infusions of shakti the student returns to their original practice, such as Kriya Yoga.

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Can one receive shaktipat just by being in the presence of those with awakened shakti?
There is no doubt that shakti is contagious. The mere presence of a single being whose shakti is strongly active can awaken the shakti of those around him. Similarly being in the presence of many people whose shakti is awakened to some degree can awaken one's own shakti.

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So what happens after shaktipat? What's the practice of Siddha Mahayoga?
The unique perspective of Siddha Mahayoga is that because kundalini is an intelligent force it will, upon awakening, naturally direct the practice of the student. All that is required is that the student completely surrender to this force. As a result of kundalini's unfoldment spontaneous purifying movements, called kriyas will occur. In addition the practices of Hatha, Laya and Raja Yoga will naturally manifest. Because all other yogas naturally manifest as a result of kundalini awakening this yoga is called ``Mahayoga'' or ``great yoga.'' Because the kundalini awakening is induced by a perfected individual or ``Siddha'' this yoga is called ``Siddha Mahayoga.'' Because all other yogas and their results occur spontaneously (``sahaja'') and without effort this yoga is also called ``Sahaja Yoga.''

Even to reach the point of simply surrendering to shakti takes some practice for people. Some aids in cultivating surrender are chanting and selfless service. These practices open the heart and make one more susceptible to the influence of shakti.

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What are kriyas?
Kriyas, literally ``activities'', are spontaneous movements that occur after kundalini awakening. These include bodily activities such as trembling, shaking and spontaneous yoga postures; vocal activities such as yelling, or spontaneous chanting and mental activities such as visions. These kriyas eliminate the blocks to kundalini rising within the spine or central channel.

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How do kriyas purify one's consciousness?
Blocks, known as samskaras or impressions, do not just obstruct kundalini, but they embody attachments, conceptions and other mental afflictions that limit the freedom of our consciousness. Left unattended these attachments lead to actions which only reinforce the attachment. For example if we have impressions of anger then we will manifest anger in our activities which only reinforce our impressions. As kundalini rises it will purify the anger and as a result of the purification process the kriyas will occur. Speaking of kundalini as an intelligent force which manifests its intelligence in particular activities, such as spontaneous yoga postures, to purify the blocks to its progress may sound a little mystical but there is a less mystical way of understanding what that means.

In our common language there are many colloquial phrases which allude to the natural state of our body-mind as being ``straight'' or ``upright'' and the unnatural state being ``kinky'' or ``entangled.'' We say positively: ``He's an upright individual.'' ``She's as straight as an arrow.'' We say negatively: ``He's too kinky. He's all tangled up in himself.'' ``She's tangled up in knots.'' There seems to be some subtle awareness of the value of straightness. So it seems to be a good metaphor to view our mind-body continuum as a garden hose and the kundalini as water running through it. If you have a moderately tangled garden house a simple way of making it straight is to increase the pressure of water through it. As you do so the hose will naturally flip around to straighten itself. To an observer it might seem as though the hose itself were intelligent in the way it straightens itself and in fact because the motion of the hose is governed by physical laws it does reflect a deep intelligence.

In the same way we don't need to think of the kundalini as an independent autonoumous force cogitating as to what asana, pranayama or verbal activity might purify a block inside us. It seems more useful to think of kundalini as a natural intelligent force whose natural movement untangles the knots which limit its expression.

The garden hose analogy makes another point clear as well. Imagine what happens if the hose is very tangled. Turning up the water pressure may be a very dramatic and perhaps even counter-productive process. This seems to be what is happening in a number of cases where individuals, after receiving shaktipat, may have severe mental breakdowns. Thus it does seem to be important for individuals to have a certain level of stability and preparation before receiving shaktipat initiation.

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Are these kriyas some sort of self-hypnosis or some sort of New Age phenomenon?
This yoga is at least 1000 years old and is documented in the Kularnava Tantra and in the works of the great Tantric scholar Abhinvagupta and particular forms of kriyas can be found there. Some popular yogis and scholars have doubted the authenticity of this path but none who have done so show any familiarity with the classical literature of this tradition. This approach has gone under many names such as siddha yoga, sahaja yoga, mahayoga or siddha mahayoga. Similar phenomena to kriyas also occur among some Qi Gong students. Spontaneous trembling, shaking, verbal noises, and body movements are common there as well.

Nevertheless gatherings of siddha mahayoga practicioners share many of the same characteristics of any other group gathering. Some people will try to fit in by emulating the behavior of those around them. There is no doubt that some people may feel the need to affect kriyas and others will accentuate kriyas that they have. This may not even be conscious behavior. Gurus of this yoga must try to maintain a balance between interfering with the activity of the kundalini as manifested in the kriyas and encouraging the affectation of kriyas because kriyas are seen as ``progress.'' Ultimately the validity of any spiritual tradition rests in its ability to transform the beings of its followers. The real value of siddha mahayoga is in transforming the minds of those who practice it.

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Haven't a number of well-known teachers criticized kriyas? Don't they say that kundalini is a force that needs control?
Some teachers do speak that way. For example the well known kundalini yoga teacher, Yogi Bhajan, apparently called the process of experiencing kriyas ``jerk yoga.'' Tibetan practicioners of gTummo yoga, Indian practicioners of kriya yoga and other noted authorities on the kundalini yoga process have clearly emphasized to me the importance of carefully controlling the kundalini process and not allowing the kundalini to act uncontrollably. Their sincere words cast doubt on my practice for many years.

So why do these teachers say these things? To be an adept of kundalini yoga practices does not imply that you are omniscient. All the information that people like Yogi Bhajan are really conveying is that in their experience in their style of practicing kundalini yoga the kundalini is controlled. I do not believe that they have special insight into other alternative ways of approaching the practice of kundalini yoga. Some people have quite frightening movements in meditation and without prior experience of kriyas the natural reaction is that such a person will almost certainly become physically or mentally unstable. Experienced masters of Siddha Mahayoga, such as Swami Shivom Tirth, have seen it all before and their simple counsel is: ``Do not resist kriyas in any way.''

For the individual who does surrender to the kriyas of kundalini shakti the perspective is radically different from the view espoused by teachers such as Yogi Bhajan. For the individual who spontaneously and effortlessly performs kriyas such as intricate pranayamas, asanas and bandhas during their meditation the intentional exercises of the Hatha yogin are a merely a clumsy mockery of the subtle activity of kundalini. In fact some claim that the entire corpus of Hatha yoga, as well as many of the Qi Gong exercises are simply imitations and classifications of the spontaneous movements of the Siddha Mahayogin.

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16. What is the philosophy of Siddha Mahayoga?
Perhaps its best to say that contemporary forms of Siddha Mahayoga have a core of underlying tenets but not a philosophy. These tenets include: the central role of kundalini in the manifestion of the universe and the evolution of the individual and the culmination of the evolution of the individual in a state of complete unity.

Different teachers have exposited Siddha Mahayoga in different ways. Swami Muktananda drew on a wide variety of Indian literature but principally relied upon the Shiva Sutras, the Spanda Karikas and other literature of the Trika school of Shaivism. Swami Shivom Tirth has also relied up on the Shiva Sutras to define the different stages of evolution. Both Swami Shivom Tirth and Swami Kriplavananda have used Patanjali's Yoga Sutras for their elucidation of the states of samadhi. All of these teachers are quick to note that the use of these scriptures does not imply that Siddha Mahayoga is a form of Hinduism. Instead the emphasis is that each of us has the force of kundalini within us and having awakened the kundalini our life and religious practice will be enriched.

There are really only a few tenets of the practice of siddha mahayoga. The first is that the process begins with shaktipat initiation by the guru. This initiation may begin with a formal request from the disciple and culminate with a formal initiation ceremony or it may occur informally through a impromptu manifestation of the guru's grace in intention, glance, word or touch. Through the initiation the kundalini shakti is awakened and begins to move in the disciple's body. The practice then consists of deeply surrendering to the spontaneous manifestations of kundalini shakti, as described above.

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What is the precise role of the guru in Siddha Mahayoga?
The role of the guru is laid out in the text the Shiva Sutras where it says ``gururupaya''; the guru is the means. Because it is the guru who awakens your kundalini the guru is given great reverence in this tradition. The awakening of kundalini that many people struggle, with effort and danger, to accomplish in a lifetime a true guru can accomplish in a few seconds. Nevertheless the role of a guru is to awaken the kundalini within you; then the practice takes place between you and your kundalini. The guru is a facilitator in the process of awakening kundalini not an ongoing intermediary between the disciple and kundalini.

With respect to the guru the classical Shaivist literature takes an especially pragmatic attitude. Classical literature of Shaivism, such as the Shiva Purana, states that if after one year the disciple has not arrived at some direct inner experience through the agency of the guru then there is no fault in seeking another guru. What I read from this is that this path is not one of years of wondering : ``Is something happening?'' but a practical approach in which one should, through the grace of the guru, be brought into direct experience of kundalini.

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Is Transcendental Meditation a kind of Siddha Yoga?
In Transcendental Meditation practice individuals are given a mantra. If one believes that this mantra, through the preliminary puja, is``awakened'' or infused with consciousness then this technique is precisely the same method that is used by some teachers to initiate their studentsinto the practice of kundalini yoga. The idea as exposited by these kundalini yoga teachers is that the consciousness of the mantra resonates with the the slumbering kundalini and awakens her. This is not the same as the exposition of the Transcendental Meditation practice nor is it straightforward to resolve these two models of mantra meditation.

In practice many TM practicioners experience kundalini awakening. Some experience it quite violently. Survey books on kundalini experience, such as Sannella's _The Kundalini Experience_ contain many such case histories although these case histories are not comprehensive enough to indicate whatother factors might have led to the kundalini awakening. Through checking notes and Teacher Training Courses TM checkers and teachers are minimally prepared for the possibility of kundalini awakening. So while not entirely outside the range of TM practice one would assume that a strong kundalini awakening is not central to TM practice or a high probablity result.

In the use of the flying sutra in the TM Sidhis program it is much more the norm to have kundalini related experiences. Many, perhaps most, Sidhas will experience a wide range of activities, technically know as kriyas during the practice. The mechanism by which the flying sutra actually awakens the kundalini is unknown to me. I'd be interested to hear any explanations.

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20. Who gives shaktipat initiation?
The technique of Siddha Mahayoga is taught in a number of ashrams and centers in India, the United States and around the world. The following is a list of known centers in the United States and each of these serves as one of the principal seats of the teacher . Not every teacher who employs shaktipat in their teaching is listed here; this list is limited to those who teach the practice of Siddha Mahayoga as outlined in this FAQ.

Although I am no expert or authority on any of these teachers, where I have some first-hand information I thought it would be useful to add it - it may be a bit anecdotal for some tastes. If anyone finds any of the information below is inaccurate PLEASE INFORM ME and I will update it. Good luck!

Swami Shivom Tirth/Swami Shiv Mangal Tirth
Swami Shivom Tirth Ashram
26 High Road
Pond Eddy, NY 12770
email: sstirth@hotmail.com
Swami Shivom Tirth Web Page

Swami Shivom Tirth is the successor to Swami Vishnu Tirth who wrote the well known reference on Siddha Mahayoga entitled Devatma Shakti. First brought to the United States by the well known Qi Gong teacher Bruce Kumar Frantzis, Swami Shivom Tirth discretely visited the United States for over twenty years. Those who met him were introduced to him by other students or were already his students in India.

The majority of Swami Shivom Tirth's students are Indians, either living in the United States or in India, but there is a good percentage of Westerners as well. Swami Shivom Tirth is now going into retirement to meditate and write. He will no longer give initiations. He has left a few ashrams in India and his named successor, Swami Shiv Mangal Tirth, runs a small ashram in Sparrow Bush, NY where he gives shaktipat to qualified students. The lineage of these teachers, extending now into its sixth generation is perhaps the longest lived of any of the contemporary teachers of Siddha Mahayoga. I have had the good fortune to spend a few weeks with these teachers over the last four years and have been personally impressed by the great spiritual purity, the high level of integrity and great depth of practical knowledge of these teachers. Perhaps because of the relative maturity of their lineage these teachers seem to have the fullest understanding of the path of Siddha Mahayoga among contemporary teachers.

Anandi Ma
Dhyanyoga Center
P. O. Box 3194
Antioch, CA 94531
(510) 757-9361
Dhyanyogi Center's Web Page

Anandi Ma is the named successor to Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudhanandaji. Shri Dhyanyogi's precise lineage in unknown to me. He was initiated by a mysterious yogi in Mt. Abu in Rajasthan state by the name of Shri Yogiraj Parameshwardasji. The predecessors of Parameshwardasji are unknown to me. Anandi Ma lives in Antioch, CA with her husband Dileepji who was also a student of Shri Dhyanyogi. Meeting Shri Dhyanyogi at a very young age Anandi Ma passed very quickly into advanced states of samadhi. Shri Dhyanyogi subsequently began to train her to become a teacher in her own right. Anandi Ma gives shaktipat initation in various locations around the Bay Area and the rest of the country. Personally, I have only attended one of Anandi Ma's lectures but I have a few friends who have known her since she was a child and vouch for her genuineness and integrity. The Dhyanyoga Center's web site gives an excellent overview of their teachers and programs.

Swami Chidvilasananda
Siddha Yoga Dham of America
1107 Stanford Ave.
Oakland, CA 94608
(510) 655-8677

or

SYDA Foundation
371 Brickman Rd.
PO Box 600
South Fallsburg, NY 12770-0600
(914) 434-2000

Swami Muktananda is the man responsible for the great level of awareness of siddha mahayoga that there is today. Muktananda tapped into a vast storehouse of shakti to give shaktipat to dozens of people at a time. In 1974 I sat crosslegged in a retreat house in Indiananpolis, Indiana with a few new students and a number of disciples from around the world. As Swami Muktananda walked by he stroked my forehead a few times. As he did a blue light streamed down from my forehead and an energy was awakened within me that immediately set my body trembling. In this simple but direct way my kundalini was unmistakenly and irresistably awakened and I joined the thousands of people who were thus introduced to siddha mahayoga by Swami Muktananda. Because of his nearly unrivalled ability to deeply and directly awaken other's kundalini Swami Muktananda's world movement rapidly grew. In particular the Siddha Yoga Dham of America (SYDA) grew quickly around the United States with major ashrams in South Fallsburg, New York and Oakland, California. Thousands of people are currently involved in SYDA today and many people from all walks of life are always happy to confirm the value that siddha yoga, as taught within SYDA, has brought to their life. Nevertheless, there is another side to the history of this organization.

A young woman known as Shri Yogini Malti Devi served as Swami Muktananda's translator for many years and shortly before his death in October 1982 Swami Muktananda passed on his lineage to Yogini Malti Devi (who became a renunciant under the name Swami Chidvilasananda) and her brother Swami Nityananda (see below). Unfortunately much controversy hung over this movement from Swami Muktananda's last days and a very critical article was published in CoEvolution Quarterly in Winter 1983, one year after Swami Muktananda's death. After Swami Muktananda was succeeded by Swami Nityananda and Swami Chidvilasananda controversy continued and Swami Nityananda admitted to conduct that was inappropriate for a Swami and spiritual leader. On November 3, 1985 in a public ceremony Swami Nityananda formally renounced his status as a renunciant and was removed from his position within SYDA. Later in the press (The Illustrated Weekly of India, March 16-22, 1986) Swami Nityananda contended that his abdication was due to his own concern that resistance to Swami Chidvilasananda's wishes might cause further dissension and even bloodshed. More recently in a New Yorker article of November 14, 1994, Liz Harris wrote an investigative article that was very critical of SYDA.

Currently the brother and sister now run independent groups. Swami Chidvilasananda runs the prospering SYDA and Swami Nityananda runs a small center in Pine Bush, New York. Personally I have never been able to reconcile the many problems and controversies surrounding these teachers and SYDA with my own direct experience of Swami Muktananda. All I know is that Swami Muktananda gave me a great gift and I am grateful. Pressed to form my own opinon regarding such a diversity of different perspectives and information, I can only compare Swami Muktananda to a natural phenomenon or to nature itself. Every day in nature we see the full range of creation, maintentance and dissolution around us. We can judge nature, but that neither diminishes her power nor enriches our experience of her.

Swami Nityananda
Shanti Mandir
Pine Bush, NY
(914)-744-6462
http://www.shantimandir.com/guruji.htm

I do not know at what time Swami Nityananda began to teach again but he now has a center in Pine Bush and he gives intensives around the country.

Swami Chetanananda
Nityananda Ashram
P. O. Box 13310
Portland, OR 97213
(503) 231-0383
http://http://www.europa.com/~ni/

Swami Rudrananda (born Albert Rudolph) was an American disciple of the south Indian Avadhuta known as Bhagavan Nityananda. Swami Rudrananda also received sannyas diksa (initiation as a swami) from Swami Muktananda. The American Swami later broke with Muktananda.

Swami Chetanananda (born Michael Shoemaker) was the closest disciple of Rudrananda and ran his ashram in Bloomington, Indiana. Swami Rudrananda died unexpectedly in an airplane crash in late 1973 and Michael Shoemaker began to consolidate Swami Rudrananda's various ashrams. Michael Shoemaker received sannyas diksha in the Saraswati order of the Danda sannyasis from Swami Muktananda and was named Swami Chetanananda. Swami Chetanananda moved his prospering ashram first from Bloomington, Indiana to Boston, Massachusetts and most recently to Portland, Oregon.

I only had the opportunity to attend one lecture by Swami Rudrananda but found him to be a man of immense power and although I have only met Swami Chetanananda a few times I can personally attest to the fact that Swami Chetanananda carries the same power and intensity of his teacher. Swami Chetanananda has worked hard to express the practical down-to-earth wisdom of Swami Rudrananda within the vast theoretical framework of the philosophy of Trika Shaivism.

Recently I had the opportunity to visit Swami Chetanananda's Portland Ashram. The Ashram is a beautiful and powerful tribute to Swamiji's commitment to maintaining the tradition of his lineage. Earlier I had been unclear on Swamiji's precise approach to his teaching. In particular I was unclear about the role of effort and his attitude toward kriyas but on this visit Swamiji was kind enough to clarify that his approach to practice is precisely that of Siddha Mahayoga.

Swami Shankarananada
Shiva Ashram
27 Tower Road
Mount Eliza, Victoria 3930
Australia
phone: (613) 9775-2568;
fax (613) 9775-2591;
email swamiji@ibm.net

Swami Shanakarananda was one of the sannyasis initiatied by Swami Muktananda before Swami Muktanananda's death and was at one time an influential individual within Swami Muktananda's organization, the Siddha Yoga Dham of America (SYDA). Unfortunately I have not had the opportunity to meet him but I have enjoyed an electronic correspondance with him.The following is a distillation of my electronic conversations with Swami Shankarananda and his students.

Swami Shankarananda left SYDA in 1986 and he subsequently ran the Shiva Insitute in Santa Monica for four years. The Swami ran the Melbourne ashram for SYDA for three years in the early '80's and in 1990 he was invited by a group of Australian devotees to do a tour. It was so successful and they were so happy to see him again that they invited him to return permanently. In 1991 they organised an association called Shiva Meditation Centre and Swamiji was granted residency. The Shiva Centre is residential, 5 to 7 people at any given time. Swamiji runs courses and holds satsang on Saturday evenings.

Swamiji teaches a form of self-inquiry he calls the Shiva Process which is an assimilation of everything he learned from Baba Muktananda with an emphasis on the relationship between thought, feeling and the shakti. He does private meditation sessions and runs Shiva Process groups 3-4 times a week. The Shiva Process works with the contraction and expansion of energy in the chakras. Thoughts and feelings which show up in the chakras are. By using awareness to investigate which thoughts create an expansion and which thoughts create contractions insight into the various unconscious negative tendencies that we carry within us can be gained. The Shiva Process is powerful and non-dogmatic. It focuses on the individual's experience of themselves and their relationship to the shakti within them.

Swami Shambhavananda
Shoshoni Retreat Center
Shoshoni Yoga Retreat
PO Box 410
Rollinsville, Colorado 80474
Swami Shambhavananda's Shoshoni Retreat Center Web Page

Like Swami Chetanananda, Swami Shambhavananda was originally a student of Swami Rudrananda's who subsequently received initiation into the renunciate order by Swami Muktananda. Swami Shambhavananda began teaching for Swami Rudrananda in 1972 and was subsequently empowered to give shaktipat initiation by Swami Muktananda after their meeting in 1983. Swami Shambhavanada operates a residential ashram in Eldorado Springs, Colorado and a rural retreat center, called Shoshoni Yoga Retreat Center, up in the mountains near Rollinsville, Colorado.

21. Where can I learn more?
Good introductory survey:

White, John (Editor) (1990). Kundalini - Evolution and Enlightenment. New York: Paragon House.

Selected works by the teachers mentioned. These are available from the respective centers. (I am aware that each of these teachers has published numerous works):

Chetanananda, S. (1991). Dynamic Stillness. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Rudra Press.

Madhusudanasji, Dhyangyogi (1978). Light on Meditation.

Muktananda, Swami (1989b). From the Finite to the Infinite (First ed.). Volumes I &II, South Fallsburg, NY: Siddha Yoga Dham of America Foundation.

Tirtha, Swami Vishnu (1980b). Devatma Shakti (Fifth ed.). Rishikesh: Yoga Shri Peeth Trust.

Sources: 
Kundalini-FAQ, Siddha MahaYoga_FAQ By Mr.Keutzer

Photos

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Maybe if

Michael ji Ramaprasad's picture

This post may surprise many of you, however, I have done some research on him and communicated with some of his students. I have also began reading his blogs and I enjoy them.

madan_gautam's picture

Maybe if

Those who are sincere/genuine/true seeker will dive deep & deep and will come up with pearls.
Those who are arrogant knowingly/unknowingly will go on criticizing by just sitting at the beach.
OM

madan_gautam | Thu, 02/05/2009 - 14:47
Charlyne's picture

with Faith

Yogi Madan, blessed are those that open their hearts and are showered by your sincerity and grace.
I have search my whole life for Truth. Truth within myself and Truth within this world... Guruji, how you have lead this ignorant child by the hand and taught her Faith, Devotion, and Surrender... this ignorant child has never experienced Truth how could she recognize it?
It is through the blessing of a true Guru that Truth can be found.
You have never judged me, have never asked for anything but I have taken from you so much!
It has now been a month since I received Shaktipat from you, and as illusions, falseness, and attachments begin to fade I have begun to recognize Truths within myself.
Kundalini has dissolved the armor I had around my heart and each day my hearts grows, as if my heart itself has now become a universe, capable of infinite love.

I pray that those who read this will open their hearts and reach out with open palms to receive the fruits of a true of heart Guru, how can anyone receive with clenched fists?

Charlyne | Thu, 02/05/2009 - 16:32

THANK U FOR SHOWERING ME WITH YOUR GRACE

joshoda's picture

Dear Madan_Gautam,
I wish there were words greater than thank you to show our gratitude to those who have brought so much of differences in our life.

Shaktipat is Real!

Alkhemist's picture

I had been looking for real Shaktipat for many years. I just stumbled upon Yogi Madan while researching it on the Internet, and when I wrote to him, he offered. It was that simple.

NIDHI PARKASH's picture

what felt

What is your experience of shaktipat, how much time taken for it and what is its significance for changing and what are the changes? What is shaktipat in your view, please?

NIDHI PARKASH | Tue, 11/10/2009 - 03:40

charan vandana

amrik2112's picture

guru ji charan vandana

from amrik singh ludhiana

Con Opinions

sonti's picture

A pot calling the kettle black

Don't get offended - I think that the problem is not with madan but with you. I have never met madan nor I'm affiliated with him but I know people that he assisted a lot.

You, on the other hand, seems a bit obsessive and compulsive posting arbitrary opinions about people you have no experience with and all these spam posts you keep putting.

Relax, quantity is not a measure of quality. Beware with what you say otherwise what is the worth of your spirituality?

sonti | Tue, 06/22/2010 - 08:05
NIDHI PARKASH's picture

Kettle with egg

An egg dances in kettle when it is boiled; others listens its sound during the precess of boiling in kettle.

www.gurusfeet.com/forum/living-guru-necessary#comments-1785

NIDHI PARKASH | Wed, 06/23/2010 - 04:27
NIDHI PARKASH's picture

Egg under the kettle

1.Don't get offended - I think that the problem is not with madan but with you. I have never met madan nor I'm affiliated with him but I know people that he assisted a lot.

www.gurusfeet.com/forum/living-guru-necessary#comment-1765

NIDHI PARKASH | Wed, 06/23/2010 - 17:04
NIDHI PARKASH's picture

Egg above kettle slanders kettle black

2.You, on the other hand, seems a bit obsessive and compulsive posting arbitrary opinions about people you have no experience with and all these spam posts you keep putting.

Answer:--- www.gurusfeet.com/opinion#comment-1809

NIDHI PARKASH | Sat, 06/26/2010 - 17:31
hugo's picture

i agree with sonti

what's wrong with you? haven't you read what sonti wrote u? - you smear people based on non-direct experience of yours and then you bring quotes of someone else to base your preposterous arguments.

Have you been a disciple of madan? if not, how dare you smear someone like this?

hugo | Sat, 06/26/2010 - 22:05
NIDHI PARKASH's picture

> i agree with Sonti

You have the right to agreeing so, agreed but your agreeing stuff may not be agreeable to others in view of which it is disagreed by myself in the case of your lack of understanding to Madan.

1.what's wrong with you?

Answer: You are spoken of my disagreeing to him then further scope of your saying is exhausted.

2. haven't you read what sonti wrote u? - you smear people based on non-direct experience of yours and then you bring quotes of someone else to base your preposterous arguments.

Answer: After studying comments of Sonti(which are not prophetic to me and also not being accurate of from point of texts so as was the question so, so was the answer) my reactions came to his comments which was natural if have time to do it and after my comments limit to only three three comments which forced me to whom comments may be given to whom not. I would have commenting facility more then I may comment to the full capacity and my principle matter of my comments is based on texts of Hinduism and others as well.
Texts are the base of my quotes, blogs, forums alogwith wit it also giving their reference in particular text and and the same is to remain. And it is 'tit for tat' to Madan
who spoke many times wrong to others and smear; hence it is compulsive to his actions regarding which I started with his four types of unwanted comments only towards to which you have no capacity to feel others so you are found favoring wrong person like a Madan.

3.Have you been a disciple of madan? if not, how dare you smear someone like this?
Answer: 'Texts of truth, consciousness and beauty' (Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram) are my Gurus and I am my own Guru Master hence no need to me any outsider when God is very, very vividly as insider having been my Supreme Soul. You think only the disciples have the right and duty to smear guru; which is absolutely smearing statement from your part O how much smearing mentality shown by you for his wrong favoring but I have no problem if wrong person takes the side of wrong person. Further Madan said to me as Guru critic so it is OK because My wish to expose all the wolves who are in the clothes of sheep for the cheating to general public.
When some slaps you, are you not ready to smear him and also certainly you have smeared others who attacked you in your street, in your college either in your workplace but it is the ego which forces to speak lie about such matters.

NIDHI PARKASH | Mon, 06/28/2010 - 04:41
NIDHI PARKASH's picture

Egg advises to kettle from his(egg's) above position

3.Relax, quantity is not a measure of quality. Beware with what you say otherwise what is the worth of your spirituality?

Quality is measured by those who himself are qualitative otherwise only the quantity comes into seeing as huge piles of something wrong or something good; as being understood by him with the purpose of smearing others as through------- ??? as-- www.gurusfeet.com/opinion#comment-1809

NIDHI PARKASH | Mon, 06/28/2010 - 05:13
NIDHI PARKASH | Mon, 06/28/2010 - 05:18
NIDHI PARKASH | Mon, 06/28/2010 - 16:31