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At the Feet of The Mother

Kundalini and the Integral Yoga (HH 215)

There is sometimes a natural tendency to compare Sri Aurobindo’s yoga with other yogas. This happens because Sri Aurobindo’s yoga is synthetic in nature and combines many diverse strands of spiritual seeking. Yet it goes far beyond in its goal and uses other methods central to this yoga than to others. Today we take a look at the experience of Kundalini awakening with regard to Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga.

Words of Sri Aurobindo


There is [in the Integral Yoga] no willed opening of the chakras, they open of themselves by the descent of the Force. In the Tantrik discipline they open from down upwards, the Muladhara first—in our Yoga, they open from up downward. But the ascent of the force from the Muladhara does take place.


* * *


The ascent of the Kundalini—not its descent, so far as I know —is a recognised phenomenon; there is one that corresponds in our Yoga, the feeling of the consciousness ascending from the vital or physical to meet the higher consciousness. This is not necessarily through the chakras but is often felt in the whole body. Similarly the descent of the higher consciousness is not felt necessarily or usually through the chakras but as occupying the whole head, neck, chest, abdomen, body.


* * *


Sri Aurobindo cannot undertake to guide you as your Guru, for the reason that he takes as disciples only those who follow his special path of Yoga; your experiences follow a different line. In his Yoga there may be an occasional current in the spine as in other nerve channels or different parts of the body, but no awakening of the Kundalini in this particular and powerful fashion. There is only a quiet uprising of the consciousness from the lower centres to join the spiritual consciousness above and a descent of the Divine Force from above which does its own work in the mind and body—the manner and stages varying in each sadhak. A perfect confidence in the Divine Mother and a vigilance to repel all wrong suggestions and influences is the main law of this Yoga.


* * *


Words of the Mother


This “rising of the kundalini,” I had it in … I was still in Paris. It was before I came to India. I had read Vivekananda’s books about it…. And when the Force rose, it emerged from the head through here (gesture at the top of the head); the [classic] experience was never described in that way. The Force came out and the consciousness settled here (gesture about eight inches above the head). So when I came here, I told Sri Aurobindo about it; he told me it had been the same thing with him, and that according to the teaching of [ancient] texts, you “cannot” live when that takes place: you die! So … (laughing) he told me, “Here are two who haven’t died!”

…..And then, when I went back from here [to France, in 1915] … I did something deliberately: all the energies of the last center [at the base of the spine] were drawn up here (gesture to the heart).

But I felt centers below the feet.

I felt a center below the feet…. There was one below the feet, one at the knees, one here (gesture at the base of the spine), and all of it (Mother gestures, drawing the energies upward), like this, drawn up, and it came here (gesture to the heart).

July 11, 1970


* * *


We live perennially with a burden on our shoulders, something that bows our heads down, and we feel pulled, led by all kinds of external forces, we don’t know by whom or what, nor where to – this is what men call Fate, Destiny. When you do yoga, one of the first experiences – the experience of the kundalini, as it is called here in India – is precisely one in which the consciousness rises, breaks through this hard ‘lid,’ here, at the crown of the head, and at last you emerge into the Light. Then you see, you know, you decide and you realize – difficulties may still remain, but truly speaking one is above them. Well, as a result of the supramental manifestation, it is THIS experience that came into the body. The body straightened its head up and felt its freedom, its independence.

Naturally, all this is a gradual process, but I am hopeful that little by little this new consciousness will grow, gain ground and victoriously resist the old forces of destruction and annihilation, and this Fatality we believed to be so inexorable.


* * *


But then what is this consciousness we feel like a force inside us? For instance, sometimes in meditation it rises, then descends; it’s not fixed anywhere. What is this consciousness?

The Shakti!

Some receive it from above; for others, it rises from below (gesture to the base of the spine). As I once told you, the old system always proceeds from below upwards, while Sri Aurobindo pulls from above downwards. This becomes very clear in meditation (well, in yoga, in yogic experience): for those who follow the old system, it’s invariably the kundalini at the base [of the spine] rising from center to center, center to center, until the lotus (in an ironic tone) bursts open here {gesture at the crown of the head). With Sri Aurobindo, it comes like this (gesture of descending Force) and then settles here (above the head); it enters, and from there it comes down, down, down, everywhere, to the very bottom, and even below the feet – the subconscient – and lower still, the inconscient.

It’s the Shakti. He said, you know (I am still translating it), that the shakti drawn up from below (this is what happens in the individual process) is already what could be called a “veiled” shakti (it has power, but it is veiled). While the Shakti drawn down from above is a PURE Shakti; and if it can be brought down carefully and slowly enough so that it isn’t (how shall I put it?) polluted or, in any case, obscured as it enters matter, then the result is immediately much better. As he has explained, if you start out with this feeling of a great power in yourself (because it’s always a great power no matter where it awakens), there’s inevitably a danger of the ego meddling in. But if it comes pure and you are very careful to keep it pure, not to rush the movement but let it purify as it descends, then half the work is done.

It’s a problem. When you contact the Supraconscient and the Shakti emerges at the crown of the head, it’s something rising from below, isn’t it? Is it then another movement, an ascending movement…?

That is the consciousness of the jiva [soul], the personal, individual consciousness.

It’s something that grows….

It is the individual consciousness. Aspiration is almost always an expression of the psychic being – the part of us that’s organized around the divine center, the small divine flame deep within human beings. You see, this divine flame exists inside each human being, and little by little, through all the incarnations and karma and so on, a being takes shape around it, which Théon called the “psychic being.” And when the psychic being reaches its full development, it becomes a kind of bodily or at any rate individual raiment of the soul. The soul is a portion of the Supreme – the jiva is the Supreme in individual form. And since there is only one Supreme, there is only one jiva, but with millions of individual forms. This jiva begins as a divine spark – immutable, eternal and infinite too (infinite in possibility rather than dimension). And through all the incarnations, whatever has received and responded to the divine Influence progressively crystallizes around the jiva, which becomes more and more conscious as well as more and more organized. Ultimately it becomes a completely conscious individual being, master of itself and moved exclusively by the divine Will. That is to say, an individual expression of the Supreme. This is what we call the “psychic being.”

Generally speaking, those who practice yoga have either a fully developed, independent psychic being which has taken birth again to do the Divine’s work, or else a psychic being in its last incarnation wanting to complete its development and realize itself.

This is what aspires, this is what has the contact.

So, when you’re told “become conscious of your psychic being,” it’s for the being formed by external Nature to contact the divine Presence through the psychic being. Then the psychic takes charge of the whole being; in fact, it is the inner Guide…. Well, when I was a little child, this “person” (which wasn’t a person, but an expression of a certain consciousness and will) was actually the psychic presence; there was something else behind, but that’s a rather special case. And what happened to me happens to everyone whose psychic being has deliberately incarnated: the psychic being guides your life, and if you let it act freely, it arranges ALL circumstances – it’s truly wonderful! … I have seen – not only for myself but for so many people who also had conscious psychic beings – that everything is arranged with a view to … not at all your personal egoistic satisfaction, but your ultimate progress and realization. And all circumstances of life, even those you call “disastrous,” are there to lead you where you have to go as swiftly as possible. ….

A time comes when you don’t make this distinction any more. We can dip into it with our head or with the tips of our toes, but everything bathes in this same river of Force (except what’s shut up within the walls of our minds). At certain moments, or in certain places, we are less hardened and it naturally “enters” there. And so we call it the Shakti “From above” or the Shakti “from below” or “from within.” But when the walls tumble down, there is neither high nor low – we are drenched in it…..


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It is not the personality, the character that is of the first importance in rebirth — it is the psychic being who stands behind the evolution of the nature and evolves with it.