Gopi Krishna (1903 – 1984) was an Indian who, after many years of intense meditation, experienced a kundalini awakening in 1937. It took 12 years for him to stabilise this experience, and those 12 years he described as alternating between ”sensations of light, splendor and joy” and ”sensations of fire, unbearable heat and bleak depression”.
He is interesting from the point of view of his scientific approach to kundalini. He believed that knowledge and rational management of this primal force was essential for the evolution of mankind’s future.
He describes his initial experience thus….
I sat breathing slowly and rhythmically, my attention drawn towards the crown of my head, contemplating an imaginary lotus in full bloom, radiating light…….
My whole being was so engrossed in the contemplation of the lotus that for several minutes at a time I lost touch with my body and surroundings…………
I suddenly felt a strange sensation below the base of the spine,……….
instead of allowing my mind to leave the point where I had fixed it, I maintained a rigidity of attention throughout. The sensation again extended upwards, growing in intensity, and I felt myself wavering; but with a great effort I kept my attention centered round the lotus. Suddenly, with a roar like that of a waterfall, I felt a stream of liquid light entering my brain through the spinal cord…………..
regaining self-control ……
I remained sitting in the same posture, 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…………….
After this initial experience Gopi Krishna felt very dazed (mentally) and also physically weak. He became restless, felt disturbed and experienced a whole gamut of feelings including indifference towards the world and great fear.
He replicated the experience the next day, feeling ….
as if a scorching blast of hot air had passed through my body.
Of these first experiences he says…..
Little did I realize that from that day onwards I was never to be my old normal self again, that I had unwittingly and without preparation or even adequate knowledge of it
roused to activity the most wonderful and stern power in man, that I had stepped unknowingly upon the key to the most guarded secret of the ancients, and that thenceforth for a long time I had to live suspended by a thread, swinging between life on the one hand and death on the other, between sanity and insanity, between light and darkness, between heaven and earth.
Gopi Krishna viewed the awakening of kundalini as a scientific process. He warned that unless the body was prepared such an awakening could result at the worst extreme in madness and death, but in any event, even with such rigorous preparation as he had made since childhood….
the sudden impact of powerful vital currents on the brain and other organs is often attended with grave risk and strange mental conditions,
He describes the days immediately after his experience as a ”prolonged nightmare”. He felt ”a horror of the supernatural”. Instead of being able to sleep,
I found myself staring fearfully into a vast internal glow, disquieting and threatening at times, always in rapid motion as if the particles of an ethereal luminous stuff crossed and recrossed each other, resembling the ceaseless movement of wildly leaping lustrous clouds of spray rising from a waterfall which, lighted by the sun, rushes down foaming into a seething pool.
His life for a long while afterwards passed in a state of acute anxiety and tension. He felt his mental awareness had vastly expanded, but this was accompanied by ”a host of terrors”. His love for his family ”seemed to be dead beyond recall”. He feared he was in the grip of a mental disorder. He couldn’t eat. He walked ceaselessly.
The first yogi he consulted said his experience could not be a kundalini awakening as it was not an experience of bliss. This yogi suggested it was, in fact, demonic.
Whilst searching for ways to balance his experience he scanned some advice about keeping the stomach fed – light plain meals every 3 hours. He also learned that perhaps he had aroused kundalini through Pingala – the fiery side – so in the midst of a great tribulation one night, which he describes in horrific detail, he forced by the power of his imagination, an awakening of Ida – a cool silvery thread.
There was a sound like a nerve thread snapping and instantaneously a silvery streak passed zigzag through the spinal cord, exactly like the sinuous movement of a white serpent in rapid flight, pouring an effulgent, cascading shower of brilliant vital energy into my brain, filling my head with a blissful lustre in place of the flame that had been tormenting me for the last three hours.
This awakening of ”redemptive”, ”lunar”, ”feminine” anima (Ida) seems to have balanced the fiery energy that had been literally (he felt) burning up his body, and he could eat once more after months of near starvation.
Thereafter Gopi Krishna took care to live moderately, taking great consideration with his diet, so that he could feed the internal fire with good nutritious food. But he did wonder what had been the overarching purpose to this awakening. If anything, it had left him mentally and physically shattered. Though his body coursed constantly with
a lustrous medium intensely alive and acutely sentient, shining day and night…..
yet still he felt unbalanced and unsure. He remained as he said himself ”a mediocre man”. Inside his body he could feel the transmutation of the vital seed within his sexual parts, constantly being fed into this fire that swept through his nervous system.
From this time on, Gopi Krishna searched high and low among holy men and their scriptures, seeking to integrate his experience. In general he felt none could help. But he knew he was not unique.
There is enough evidence available to suggest that from times immemorial, probably from the very birth of civilization and even before that, there have been cases, extremely rare indeed, of the awakening of Kundalini, spontaneously or by means of suitable exercises. In the few cases of the former type where the awakening proceeds
towards a healthy culmination, the symptoms being usually mild and the development gradual, as in born mystics, the essential characteristics of the rebirth, which were startlingly apparent in my case, might conceivably escape notice or when noticed may be attributed to other causes due to ignorance about the real one. In the large proportion of cases of the same class where the awakening is morbid, the frenzied expressions of the stricken even when correct would be utterly disregarded as the senseless rubbish of a delirious brain. In the case of awakening brought about by voluntary effort, as the manifestations must generally have occurred behind the walls of inaccessible monasteries or in solitary hermitages or secluded yoga centres in the depths of forests, the extraordinary phenomena attending it were either not
open to critical observation or, where observed, were treated as a necessary preternatural accompaniment to the adventure and hence not regarded seriously as something important to record and communicate or, considered too sacred to be divulged, were kept a closely guarded secret accessible to none save the initiates.
Gopi Krishna found sleep to be absolutely vital in the integration of his experiences. His dream world was incredibly vivid, so much so that he ”roamed in enchanting empyrean regions of heavenly life.” His body in sleep seemed to repair and rejuvenate to an accelerated degree.
Nothing can convey my condition more graphically than the representation of Shiva and Shakti, pictured by an ancient master, in which the former is shown lying helpless and supine while the latter in an absolutely reckless mood dances gleefully on his prostrate frame.
Having initially lost all his lifetime’s religious and devotional inclination in the aftermath of his experience, gradually it seeped back. He realised that within all the literature on the subject there was a constant theme of surrender to God…
The utter helplessness of the devotee and his entire dependence on the mercy and grace of the cosmic vital energy, Shakti, when Kundalini is aroused, is the constant theme of hymns addressed to the goddess by eminent yogis of yore.
Gopi Krishna is very honest in his assessment of his life after kundalini awakening. He was, he freely admitted, no ”spiritual giant”. He was as, and perhaps even more so, afflicted by physical needs. He continued to be ”a man of clay”, though he continuously experienced ” ever-present radiance inside and out”. He felt perhaps he had not been cut out to be a true yogi. He constantly doubted his capacity to channel this experience. Even after the awakening of kundalini he continued to experience the trials and tribulations of life, and indeed endured severe poverty and ill-heath for many years. He recorded, however, that in spite of the apparent normalcy of life, of his apparent lack of good fortune, that he continuously perceived a greater, more luminous reality, beyond ego and body confines.
He firmly attests that ” that religion infinitely more than that it is or has been supposed to be, is in reality the expression of the evolutionary impulse in human beings….” No matter his sufferings, still he maintained the ever-present sensation of light, and having intimately and scrupulously studied his own experiences, he concluded that….
a hidden organ had begun to function all of a sudden in the hitherto innocent-looking region, converting the reproductive fluid into a radiant vital essence of high potency.. and….A corresponding change in the brain and other nerve centres had also taken place which regulated the consumption and output of the new mechanism.
………………….by virtue of the evolutionary processes still going on in the human body, a high-powered conscious centre is being evolved by nature in the human brain at a place near the crown of the head built of exceptionally sensitive brain tissue. The location of the centre allows it to command all parts of the brain and the entire nervous system with a direct connection with the reproductive organs through the spinal canal
Gopi Krishna firmly believed that an excellent state of mental and physical well-being is important to withstand the effects of the awakening of this capacity. He acknowledged that such was difficult in a modern era. I have personally heard it recommended that in this modern era with much accumulated toxins in the nervous system it is the practices of Bhakti and devotion that can most safely lead us towards realisation.
I drew together this post from Gopi Krishna’s own writing on the subject at..
primarily because I think it is interesting, but also because it remains undeniable that some people continue to experience spontaneous awakening of this extraordinary energy, and that for many, unfortunately, due to our limited experience in this field, it can be a quick dance thereafter to the hospital or the asylum. Gopi Krishna survived his experience he acknowledges, because of the unwavering love and support of those around him, and his robust constitution – ”I never allowed any false idea about myself to take root in my mind after the new development”
I became almost my old self again, humbled and chastened by the experience, with a good deal less of ego and a great deal more of faith in the Unseen Arbitrator of human destiny
”This mechanism, known as Kundalini, is the real cause of all genuine spiritual and psychic phenomena, the biological basis of evolution and development of personality, the secret origin of all esoteric and occult doctrines, the master key
to the unsolved mystery of creation, the inexhaustible source of philosophy, art and science, and the fountainhead of all religious faiths, past, present and future.”