by Clete Hux –
Taken from the Sanskrit word kundal (coiled up), kundalini refers to the Hindu belief that a “serpent power” lies coiled like a snake in the root chakra (wheel of energy) at the base of the spine.

In Hindu mythology, it is the serpent goddess Kundalini who rests at the base of an individual’s spine. It is said that she begins to evolve in a person’s first incarnation (in the reincarnation cycle), being fed by the other six chakras on the spine and by the cosmic energy entering through the feet from the earth. Starting at the lowest chakra, she is aroused through yoga practice and travels up through the other chakras, finally reaching the crown chakra. In Tantric Yoga, which is more sexual than other forms of yoga, Kundalini is a part of Shakti, the divine female energy and consort of Shiva (male deity).

Though Eastern in origin, kundalini is certainly a part of the West’s New Age movement, and as a yoga practice, it teaches that the mind and the body are ultimately “one.” The basic goal in all yoga is the same: union with ultimate reality. In Hinduism it is to be “one” with the impersonal Brahma, the highest Hindu god; in Buddhism, it would be union with nirvana (state of bliss).

Bibliography. J. G. Bletzer, The Donning International Encyclopedia Psychic Dictionary; R. E. Guiley, Harper’s Encyclopedia of Mystical Paranormal Experience; Swami S. Radha, Kundalini: Yoga for the West

This article was first published in The Evangelical Dictionary of World Religions. H. Wayne House (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 2018) 295