Pandit Gopi Krishna

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Fast Facts
Other Names and Nicknames: 
Gopi Krishna
Spiritual Teacher
Kundalini Yoga
Main Countries of Activity: 
India, Switzerland, USA
Date of Birth: 
30 May, 1903
Place of Birth: 
Kashmir, India
In His/Her Body ("alive"): 
Date Left His/Her Body: 
July 31, 1984


Gopi Krishna is considered a leading figure in the field of Kundalini awakening. He was a yogi, mystic, teacher, social reformer, and a writer. He is one of the first people to popularize the concept of Kundalini among Western readers. His famous autobiography "Kundalini: The Evolutionary Energy in Man" (later renamed to "Living with Kundalini") inspired many to explore the path of Kundalini Yoga.

He was born in 1903 in a small village outside Srinagar, Kashmir.

When he was a child, his father renounced the worldly life to lead a religious life, leaving his twenty-eight year old wife with the responsibility of raising Gopi Krishna and his two sisters. His mother as a result pinned all her hopes for success on her only son.

He failed to pass the examination to enter college, and he took a lowly job and established his family. He resolved to live a life of simplicity and austerity. He also adopted a routine of meditation as part of his mental discipline and practiced concentration exercises for a number of years. In spite of his religious orientation, he did not have a spiritual teacher and was not initiated into any spiritual lineage, which would have been a common practice for a religious Hindu.

Over some years, he developed the ability to sit for a period of hours in concentration without any discomfort and then had his first spontaneous Kundalini awakening in 1937 at the age of 34 which occurred while he was visualizing "an imaginary Lotus in full bloom, radiating light" at the crown of his head. He described in his autobiography this first experience:

Suddenly, with a roar like that of a waterfall, I felt a stream of liquid light entering my brain through the spinal cord.

Entirely unprepared for such a development, I was completely taken by surprise; but regaining my self-control, keeping my mind on the point of concentration. The illumination grew brighter and brighter, the roaring louder, I experienced a rocking sensation and then felt myself slipping out of my body, entirely enveloped in a halo of light. It is impossible to describe the experience accurately. I felt the point of consciousness that was myself growing wider surrounded by waves of light. It grew wider and wider, spreading outward while the body, normally the immediate object of its perception, appeared to have receded into the distance until I became entirely unconscious of it. I was now all consciousness without any outline, without any idea of corporeal appendage, without any feeling or sensation coming from the senses, immersed in a sea of light simultaneously conscious and aware at every point, spread out, as it were, in all directions without any barrier or material obstruction. I was no longer myself, or to be more accurate, no longer as I knew myself to be, a small point of awareness confined to a body, but instead was a vast circle of consciousness in which the body was but a point, bathed in light and in a state of exultation and happiness impossible to describe.

Shortly after the initial awakening of the Kundalini, Gopi Krishna experienced a continuous "luminous glow" around his head and began having a variety of psychological and physiological problems and great suffering. At times he thought he was going mad. He attempted to contact people reputed to know something about the Kundalini system of yoga, but could find no one who could help him through this difficult period. He adopted a very strict diet which helped him maintain his precarious mental balance, and for years refused to do any meditation (since he attributed all his troubles to the yogic concentration exercises he had been doing).

Later he learned to appreciate the process and was aware that a fundamental change has taken place in him after his experience of Kundalini. He believed that this experience began a process in which his entire nervous system would be slowly reorganized and transformed by the Kundalini energy that he awakened within himself. He conceived of this energy as an intelligent force over which he had little control once it was activated.

The following awakening occurred spontaneously about twelve years after his first experience, and only after he had been strengthened by the spiritually-directed biological transformation he had undergone:

Without any effort on my part and while seated comfortably on a chair, I had gradually passed off, without becoming aware of it, into a condition of exaltation and self-expansion similar to that which I had experienced on the very first occasion, in December 1937, with the modification that in place of the roaring noise in my ears there was now a cadence like the humming of a swarm of bees, enchanting and melodious, and the encircling glow was replaced by a penetrating silvery radiance, already a feature of my being within and without. The marvelous aspect of the condition, lay in the sudden realization that although linked to the body and surroundings I had expanded in an indescribable manner into a titanic personality, conscious from within of an immediate and direct contact with an intensely conscious universe, a wonderful immanence all around me. My body, the chair I was sitting on, the table in front of me, the room enclosed by walls, the lawn outside and the space beyond including earth and sky appeared to be most amazingly mere phantoms in this real, inter-penetrating and all-pervasive ocean of existence which to explain the most incredible part of it as best I can, seemed to be simultaneously unbounded stretching out immeasurably in all directions, and yet no bigger than an infinitely small point. From this point, the entire existence of which my body and its surroundings were but a part, poured out like radiation, as if a reflection as vast as my conception of the cosmos were thrown out upon infinity by a projector no bigger than a pinpoint, the entire intensely active and gigantic world picture dependent on the beams issuing from it. The shoreless ocean of consciousness which I was now immersed in appeared infinitely large and infinitely small at the same time, large when considered in relation to the world picture floating in it and small when considered in itself, measureless, without form or size, nothing and yet everything. It was an amazing and staggering experience for which I can cite no parallel and no simile, an experience beyond all and everything belonging to this world, conceivable by the mind or perceptible to the senses. I was intensely aware internally of a marvelous being so concentratedly and massively conscious as to outluster and outstature infinitely the cosmic image present before me, not only in point of extent and brightness but in point of reality and substance as well. The phenomenal world, ceaselessly in motion characterized by creation, incessant change and dissolution, receded into the background and assumed the appearance of an extremely thin, rapidly melting layer of foam upon a substantial rolling ocean of life, a veil of exceeding fine vapor before an infinitely large conscious sun, constituting a complete reversal of the relationship between the world and the limited human consciousness. It showed the previous all-dominating cosmos reduced to a state of transitory appearance and the formerly care-ridden point of awareness, circumscribed by the body, grown to the spacious dimensions of a mighty universe and the exalted stature of a majestic immanence before which the material cosmos shrank to the subordinate position of an evacent and illusive appendage.

Gopi Krishna's account contains a wealth of clear descriptions of the variety of mental states he passed through in his encounters with the Kundalini energy. However, one area that stands out as particularly interesting was the change in his experience of dreams.

About a year after his first Kundalini experience, his dreams began to take on a "phosphorescent" quality and he experienced the transformation of his dream life:

Every night during sleep I was transported to a glittering fairyland, where garbed in luster I glided from place to place, light as a feather. Scene after scene of inexpressible glory unfolded before my vision. The incidents were of the usual character common to dreams. They lacked coherence and continuity, but although strange, fanciful and fantastic, they possessed a visionary character, surrounded by landscapes of vastness and magnificence seldom seen in real life. In my dreams, I usually experienced a feeling of security and contentment with the absence of anything the least disturbing or disharmonious...

Gopi Krishna's graphic accounts of his experiences stand out as among the clearest journals documenting a spiritual transformation. He is honest in describing the difficulties and dangers of the spiritual path, and the intense pressure it can exert on the physical body. He was not a guru in the classical sense of one who has disciples. He is more of a seeker who later became a teacher documenting his experiences with the Kundalini energy in a number of books, in hopes of being helpful to others who encounter this extraordinary spiritual phenomena.

Gopi Krishna died in 1984.


Kundalini Awakening

Gopi Krishna's teachings and account concentrate on the phenomenon of Kundalini awakening, the accompanied symptoms and the resulting transformations.

Kundalini is a sleeping, dormant potential force in the human organism. It is one of the components of an esoteric description of man's 'subtle body', which consists of nadis (energy channels), chakras (psychic centres), prana (subtle energy), and bindu (drops of essence).

It is coiled up at the base of the spine, usually within muladhara chakra. The image given is that of a serpent coiled 3 and a half times around a smokey grey lingam. Each coil is said to represent one of the 3 gunas, with the half coil signifying transcendence.

Through meditation, and various esoteric practices, such as kundalini yoga, laya-yoga, and kriya yoga, the kundalini is awakened, and can rise up through the central nadi, called sushumna, that is located inside or alongside the spine. The progress of kundalini through the different chakras leads to different levels of awakening and mystical experience, until the kundalini finally reaches the top of the head, Sahasrara chakra, producing an extremely profound mystical experience.



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Books & Media

Recommended Books: 
Cover image

The Awakening of Kundalini

by Gopi Krishna


In this book Gopi Krishna deals specifically with the subject of meditation and with the question, what should everyone know about higher consciousness? He shows that the science of Yoga is far more complex, comprehensive and profound than is generally supposed. The book also deals with many commonly-asked questions about meditation, mysticism, drug experiences and the phenomenon of partial awareness. With the exception of his autobiography, The Awakening of Kundalini is perhaps the best of all his books to serve as an introduction to the subject.