FOR OVER A YEAR BEFORE THE TERRIBLE event I was happy and content. For physical health, I was doing regular yoga postures and relaxation. I also did Ba Gua exercises and meditation. This helped me gain a tremendous sense of vitality and high energy. Sleep was deep and invigorating. I had a large appetite and great digestion; food was organic and vegetarian. I also had great concentration and memory. I had a strong awareness of people, the universe, and myself. I was also very aware of my emotions; I felt sensitive and sensual. My mind and body were working extremely well. I was doing really well at university. No doubt, I was having a great time; I was conquering the world.
I believe my great health was partly due to Kundalini activity that occurred once or twice a week in the middle of the night. Typically a feeling of warmth and movement at the base of my spine would wake me from sleep. After a few split seconds it would erupt as a strong ball of electrical energy and then speed quickly along nerves in a manner that could be directed by thought. At the same time I would lose perception of space and time, and enter a distorted sense of reality with extremely loud rushing noises. As this occurred, I would become paralyzed, unable to move a muscle. I would feel the Kundalini energy encounter and push hard against what I would call resistance or blocks or knots in the nerve it was travelling along. This would often cause strong or extreme pain. If I concentrated on the block that was being “burnt” the pain would intensify. The only way to exit this state and make the energy return to its dormant condition was to move some muscle — any muscle — in my body. This was very difficult as I would have to gather up and use all possible will power. When I managed to do this, the energy would rapidly return to its home. After this, I wouldn’t be able to feel any part of my body, so I would twiddle my toes to regain awareness of it. I suppose the nerves had to re-establish their connections. After this happened, I could fall back asleep as if nothing had happened, and the energy would not erupt again that night.
I did much reading and spoke to a few people on the subject and came to the conclusion that what was happening to me was just one of the body’s natural ways of eliminating blocks in the nervous system. This was confirmed by the fact that my overall health was improving and I was achieving a great nerve sensitivity and awareness of my body. I also came to understand that Kundalini is just one element for personal growth and that cultivation of virtues is also important.
However, two things worried me. Firstly, on several occasions, the energy seemed to enter the spinal channel and extend vertically instead of moving in a compact ball as it usually did in the nighttime experiences. To use serpent imagery, it was like a snake stretching out and standing up instead of a snake that moves while remaining coiled. This would lead to a completely different experience characterized by chakric expansion and mystical awareness, usually accompanied by bliss depending on the position reached by the top of the snake’s head. On these occasions I experienced heart orgasms generating compassion, prologed genital orgasms without ejaculation, brain orgasms causing intuition of spiritual laws, and sensations of the body becoming gigantic whilst the point of consciousness became tiny.
Most if not all of the literature I encountered referred to Kundalini activity occurring in this way and so did my Yoga teacher. However, what seemed to be happening to me in the nighttime experiences was that the energy would try to enter the spinal channel but be blocked because the channel was closed. Instead it would force itself out through a different nerve or channel. I couldn’t find any information on this type of occurrence, but I did discover in Feuerstein’s acclaimed book Tantra that when the energy took the form of a snake standing on its tail in the central channel, it would be harmless.
The other worry was that after a period of months, the energy seemed to have dissolved most blocks in my body. This meant that when it awakened it would usually rush straight to my head unimpeded. When it did this, it would reach a block or knot in the middle of my head that seemed to be protecting the brain from the energy. It felt as though the ball of energy was pushing against this block very forcefully, and this was extremely painful. I finally decided that this was potentially dangerous because the energy might enter the brain and cause some kind of brain injury. However I wasn’t too sure; maybe the energy was meant to “burn” through this block like the rest of the blocks in the body. One time when the pain became unbearable, it suddenly dissipated in the strange form of an orgasmic wave of pleasure starting from feet to head.
I didn’t know what to do. There was not much I could do. It’s not as if I was playing with Kundalini. It would just awaken naturally in my sleep. I did realise that I could stop the awakening altogether if I rapidly and deliberately moved my body in the split second after the Kundalini woke up just before it erupted. This would stifle the energy but was difficult to do as I would be just waking up and be in a slow-reacting, lethargic state. I also realised that the more power the Kundalini had, the more speed it had, the more easily it woke me up, and the more pain it caused when it reached my head or any other block. This seemed to be regulated by the amount of semen in my body, for when there was a lot of it the energy would stir frequently in the sacrum throughout the day and usually erupt at night. If I masturbated, then there would be no fuel for the Kundalini and it would stir less and erupt at night only after one or two days when the semen had built up again. However, I didn’t want to emit semen all the time because it drained me mentally and physically.
What was I supposed to do? Was I in danger? Did I need to masturbate to stop the energy from erupting or from having too much power? If so, how should I determine when the Kundalini had too much power? My attempts to answer these questions were fruitless, and, just as I got to the stage where answering these questions became really, really important to me, something terrible happened.
On May 5, 1999 the energy woke me up. I did nothing to stop it and with a great amount of energy and power it rocketed straight up to the brain where it broke the block in the middle of my head. I felt it explode in the frontal lobe and I lost consciousness for a split second. Then it went to another part of the body and came back to the brain exploding there two more times. As it sped around my body, I somehow managed to move a muscle and break the paralysis so the energy returned to the base of the spine. As usual, I couldn’t feel any part of my body but this time the lack of sensation felt much more serious, as if my whole body had disappeared. I twiddled my toes and regained awareness of my body, but it felt strange and different, a little numbed, as if the signals weren’t coming in as strongly as usual. I felt as though the whole central part of my chest and torso had lost a lot of their presence, particularly the sensations coming from within my body — the stomach and intestines. My penis became limp and dead. I noticed that both my nostrils were wide open and extremely dilated. Not only did my body feel different, but as I stood up and looked at the world around me, external things seemed different, strange, unreal, foreign, weird, and dreamlike. This was a big shock to me. I became frantic and had a panic attack.
Still in a frantic state, I had breakfast and went to university. In the lecture I couldn’t concentrate. My thoughts were racing, the world was strange and disturbing. I tried a Yoga class but that was hopeless. I tried talking to a few people but I couldn’t think properly and could only articulate simple phrases. I bought some lunch even though I had no appetite. I couldn’t finish it because my stomach gave no feedback on how full or hungry it was. That night I got only three hours sleep with nightmares and because my nose was so dilated, I had a couple of bloody noses. The next day, still in a frantic state, I saw a doctor who sent me to a youth psychiatric hospital for assessment. There I realised that I couldn’t cry because I wasn’t producing any tears. I also realised that my whole body had lost its responsiveness to sensitive touch; even my feet and armpits weren’t ticklish anymore. Also, I tried to do some running but got hit with sudden tiredness; all my stamina was gone because my metabolism had been affected. I realized that food was taking longer to move through my intestines because bowel movements were less powerful and of lower volume. Food started building up in the intestines because I was eating more than excreting. After about one or two months my abdomen reached its current level of distension. Associated with this was frequent smelly wind. Indeed I had slow transit constipation. After three weeks I was prescribed an anti-psychotic medication, Risperidone. I stayed on this medication for 10 months which stabilised me mentally.
There were many more symptoms. I will list all of them and their status as of Friday, 28 April 2000.
The following symptoms still exist:
Thankfully, the following symptoms have improved or gone away:
As anyone would imagine, my life has dramatically changed since the terrible event. I don’t socialise anymore because it's not as rewarding and it’s more difficult. I've lost all enthusiasm, momentum, and vision in my life. Exercise is difficult and less enjoyable. I’m only studying one subject but even that is less enjoyable and is still a struggle. Unless my mind and body heals, I doubt I'll ever do and be the things I wanted from my professional, personal, social, economic, physical, and spiritual life. This is a major blow since I was ambitious and a high achiever. I’m not depressed, although it can be a little upsetting that things aren't happening the way I would have liked them to be. However, I somewhat accept my new reality.
The Kundalini still erupts occasionally, but it doesn’t have as much power now as it did before and is therefore unable to enter my brain again.
Fifteen years after writing the preceding words, the author sent us the following email:
“I've still got challenges, the awakening is as strong as ever and the Kundalini is responsive in waking life, not just sleeping, but nothing really negative or positive to say. I think things could be very positive within a few years as I keep burning through ego, karma and ignorance. Still a work in progress.”
Copyright 2000 A.D.
By Gopi Krishna
This book is a greatly expanded (two-thirds more material) version of Gopi Krishna’s autobiography. It contains the most famous published account of a Kundalini explosion, a dramatic event that sometimes occurs to people who practice certain kinds of Yoga. Gopi Krishna was a government bureaucrat who, while meditating in 1937 at the age of 34, suddenly perceived a roaring stream of light rising into his head from his spine. For months afterward he suffered a variety of painful physical and mental symptoms including some that seem akin to psychosis. These symptoms gradually subsided into a condition which he regarded as higher consciousness. The work is particularly fascinating because Gopi Krishna was a modern, skeptical, secular man who described his experiences with the skill of a novelist and without mysticism. For a first-person account of a similar experience which was inspired by this book, see this article by one of our contributing editors; he explains how he made it happen.
This page was published on May 5, 2000 and last revised on May 22, 2017.