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Articles / Tantra
The Role of Fire in Yoga and Rituals
Fire is shakti, the creative energy of the divine. At the core of yoga practice, it enables us to cultivate a radiant body and a brilliant mind. Through fire rituals, it enables us to detoxify and revitalize our air, water, and soil, sustaining life at every level. Pandit Tigunait explains how fire creates transformation and healing within us and around us.
Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, PhD headshot
Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, PhD
5
Articles / Tantra
The Kanda: Tantric Anatomy in Practice
Prana shakti, our life force, emanates from a shimmering bluish kanda, a bulb-shaped nexus of vitality and intelligence that is the root of embodied life. The kanda is the key to accessing the pranic body, mastering the mind, and awakening a deeper level of awareness. Sandra Anderson explains the significance of the kanda along with ways we can tap into this source of vitality to fuel our spiritual growth.
Sandra Anderson headshot
Sandra Anderson
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Articles / Tantra
Mantra: Silence as Sound
How does silence manifest as sound and lead us to the stillness deep within us? Shiva Tigunait explains what mantra is, where it comes from, and how it works with the mind at increasingly subtle levels to help us clear away mental noise and negativity—thus allowing us to experience the perfect tranquility, joy, and silence of our essential nature.
Shiva Tigunait, PhD headshot
Shiva Tigunait, PhD
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Articles / Tantra
The Awakening of Kundalini
Kundalini shakti—the vast reservoir of energy, intelligence, and power within each of us—is often depicted as a coiled snake resting at the base of the spine. The sages speak of awakening kundalini and systematically guiding it from the lowest to the highest chakra, leading to intense bursts of creativity and transformation along the way. The completion of this journey at the sahasrara chakra, it is said, takes us to the highest peak of human experience—extraordinary power and enlightenment. But what is this mysterious shakti, really, and how can we tap into it? In this previously out-of-print article, Swami Rama explains what kundalini awakening is and is not. He describes the authentic methods of awakening kundalini that the traditions of yoga and tantra have kept alive for millennia, distinguishing these from false ones. As he takes us on a journey through the landscape of the subtle body, he explains the psychobiological vortices and knots (chakras, nadis, and granthis) and describes how unlocking the capacity of each furthers our quest for fulfillment and freedom.
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Swami Rama
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Articles / Tantra
Lotus of the Navel
In a number of spiritual traditions, the lotus flower symbolizes beauty, purity, and even enlightenment. But the lotus also plays a vital role in the Hindu story of creation. As Sandra Anderson explains in this post, this ancient story offers us important lessons about our own inner growth and transformation. Like the lotus stalk emerging from Vishnu’s navel to nourish Brahma, the creator, our connection to our divine source provides us with the nourishment we need to blossom into our highest self.
Sandra Anderson headshot
Sandra Anderson
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Articles / Tantra
The World According to Tantra
Tantra’s most fundamental principle is that we are all interconnected. How can we bring this awareness into our daily experience? Pandit Tigunait suggests we look for this interconnection in ordinary things, like where our coffee comes from. By honoring our connection to those whose lives support and enrich our own, we will be filled with gratitude and begin to experience divine love and grace manifesting everywhere.
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Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, PhD
6
Articles / Tantra
Patanjali: Master of the Masters
Patanjali, well-known as the author of the Yoga Sutra, is also the genius behind the Mahabhashya (The Great Commentary). In this astonishing story, Patanjali attempts to set in writing the oral teachings of the Mahabhashya by dictating them to a thousand students simultaneously—an effort that ends in catastrophe when his instructions are not followed. What ensues, as Pandit Rajmani Tigunait relates, is a dilemma that only Patanjali can solve.
Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, PhD headshot
Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, PhD
4
Articles / Tantra
Four Ageless Birds: The Sages of the Vindhya Mountains
The Sri Vidya sages often work in mysterious ways. In this extraordinary narrative, four small birds born on the battlefield of the Mahabharata War become the source of a celebrated spiritual text. Pandit Rajmani Tigunait reveals who these birds are, the odd circumstances of their birth, and why they impart to the sage Markandeya their secret wisdom in what is now known as the Markandeya Purana—a scripture that includes the renowned tantric text Durga Saptashati.
Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, PhD headshot
Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, PhD
6
Articles / Tantra
5 Common Misconceptions About Chakras
Central to many tantric yoga practices, the chakras are both subtle and complex. In our efforts to understand them have we oversimplified a sophisticated body of knowledge? The reality of the subtle body is much more vast and mysterious than we realize, says Sandra Anderson. In this post in “The Enchanted World of Tantra” series, she dispels common misconceptions about the chakras, clarifying what the chakras are (and are not), why their number, colors, and other characteristics vary, and the relationship between chakras and desires.
Sandra Anderson headshot
Sandra Anderson
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Articles / Tantra
Kurma Nadi: Churning the Ocean for Nectar
Just before you obtain the best and brightest (the nectar), you sometimes go through the darkest phase of life (the poison). —Pandit Rajmani Tigunait According to a fascinating mythological story, there is a divine nectar hidden in the depths of the ocean that grants immortality to those who find it. The gods were able to obtain this nectar with the help of a cosmic kurma (turtle), who provided the stability for the churning rod. In the same way, we gain access to the elixir of life inside us when we have mastery over the kurma nadi—the force of physical, mental, and pranic stability. In this vintage article from 1990, which has just been republished for the first time here on the Himalayan Institute’s Wisdom Library, Pandit Tigunait explains how, like Shiva, we can convert the “poison” we must imbibe into “nectar” by learning to work with our foundation. We do this through a set of physical, energetic, and meditative practices that focus on the kurma nadi—the base of the spine and centermost part of our being. This is what Patanjali discusses in Yoga Sutra 3:32 (Kurmanadyam sthairyam) when he advises us to meditate on the kurma nadi. When we find and embrace the steadiness of the tortoise within, we gain access to the richness of the kundalini shakti that lies hidden in all of us, and are able to rise above dualities such as bad and good, pain and pleasure, and poison and nectar.
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Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, PhD
4
Articles / Tantra
Meditation: How to Tame a Restless Mind
When you sit to meditate, do you find yourself rehashing the past or making plans for the future instead of focusing inward? Pandit Rajmani Tigunait explains that trying to focus a scattered mind on just one thing when it wants to run to 30 things is a challenge. He offers two helpful practices: a contemplation exercise to inspire your meditation, and a practical technique to ease the mind gently into a tranquil inward focus.
Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, PhD headshot
Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, PhD
3
Articles / Tantra
Pilgrimage to Kalimath: A Tantric Himalayan Shrine
Kalimath, a tantric shrine nestled in the Himalayas, honors Kali, the fierce form of the Divine Mother. As she makes her pilgrimage to this sacred site, Sandra Anderson contemplates the story of how the Divine Mother Durga disappeared here after her epic battle with the demon army of Shumbha and Nishumbha. In considering how the Divine Mother manifests her fierce form of Kali to vanquish the tricky demon Raktabija, we see implications for our own lives.
Sandra Anderson headshot
Sandra Anderson