What is Soul (Atman, Atma, Supreme Primal Energy or Self in Hinduism) and What is the difference between soul and kundalini?
Brijesh (Name changed), India
Atman means 'self' in Sanskrit. In Hinduism Atman is the individual self or the eternal soul which is identical to Brahman in essence. The short answer to your question is – There is not much difference between Soul (Atman) and Kundalini. They are just the different names or perspectives of the same principal. To be more specific, Kundalini is a major part, but not complete, of awareness or the Atman (Sanskrit) that we call as Soul (English).
Here is my effort to explain the difference between Soul (Atman) and Kundalini
What is God or Divine Consciousness?
First of all let me explain what is God or Universal awareness before we go into Soul within us.
The God is an endless (eternal) and changeless stats of bliss. This state of bliss can only be experienced and can not be perceived (It is beyond the perception of human mind and five senses and organs). This state also an intelligent state with an ability of creation.
God’s energy that is running the universe (i.e., creation, sustenance and destruction) is Chaitanya (also called as Divine, Cosmic consciousness, Absolute Purity, Universal Consciousness or Super Soul).
What is Soul?
With respect to a person, the reflection of the Universal Chaitanya is known as Chetana (this is what we refer to when we say God is within me) and it is this part of God’s energy required for the functioning of a human being (or any being for that matter). Chetana is the pure self, soul or the pure consciousness, which exists beyond senses, illuminating them all, sustaining everything, without any attachment and without any attributes.
The Chetana is of two types and, depending on its state of activity, it takes on two different names.
• Active Chetanaa – also known as prana-shakti or vital energy. The vital energy or prana-shakti sustains and gives energy to the physical body, mind, intellect and subtle ego. It is distributed through subtle channels known as nadis. These nadis are prevalent throughout the body and supply energy to the cells, nerves, arteries, lymph etc. Breathing is the physical manifestation of the active Chetanaa
• Non-active Chetanaa – which is known as the Kundalini. This Kundalini lies dormant in a person until activated. Kundalini is forced into a dormant state by the layers of Vikar (Kam, Kodh,Lobh,Moha,Ahankar) and Sanchit Karma. Tamasik person has iron like layers while Satwik person has thin layers over the Kundalani
This Chetanaa (combination of active and non-active Chetanaa) is generally called the Soul in simple terms of an average individual (in non technical terms.) Chetana is the same as, Atma, Parjna, Prana or Soul.
Chetanaa or Soul is not the one that mind can comprehend, but it is the one by which mind comprehends.
Upanishads describe it as Brahman or self. Brahman is the power which is behind the mind to think, eyes to see, ears to hear. Thus Chetana which is Self of Brahman is the eye of the eye, ear of the ear, breath of the breath, mind of the mind. It is not the one that mind can comprehend. It is the one by which the mind comprehends.
Chetana, the soul or the Atma and is the essence of everything, the force behind everything living and non living in this universe. It is intangible and it is simply impossible for the mind to perceive or comprehend the Chetana. Therefore, a normal person can never perceive the soul. Most of the people talk about soul many times but none of them can comprehend what the soul is, this is because of the reverse relationship between mind and the soul. (It is the soul by which the mind comprehends and not the vice versa)
Chetana: the supreme primal energy (soul)
Panchabhootha (ether, air, fire, water and earth) and the Panchendriya (sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch) hold our body together, but it is the Chetana, the supreme primal energy (soul), that makes them do their functions. Therefore, chetana is the driving energy behind the life. When chetana leaves the body we call the soul has left the body.
Chetana is the super-sensory world and the controlling force. The whole universe is one with Chetana as it gives life to all beings, assumes all forms, animates and illumines all. To realize this you must steer you mind to a plane higher than the physical plane. This is where the fourth dimension is or what we call it as the sixth sense of Extra Sensory Perception (ESP).
Our experiences are within a very small range just sufficient to sustain our life
The Panchendriyas are the tools that give us the ability to recognize the physical world around us. They, however, restrict our information to their range of sensitivity which has only a limited boundary. The sound we hear is between 20 and 2000 cycles per second and ultrasonic is far greater than this limited range. We see only one fifth of the Electromagnetic Radiation Spectrum. Only the VIBGYOR range is visible, which is - Violet Indigo Blue Green Yellow Orange Red. The infrared is felt as heat, and ultraviolet, X-rays and Gamma rays are not seen, even though their disastrous effects are felt.
So, what we see, hear, smell taste or touch is within a very small range just sufficient to sustain our life. The range beyond our sensibility is very vast. This explains why a very vast area of our brain is apparently 'silent' without any discernable function assessable by scientific parameters.
More about Kundalini
As explained above, Kundalini is the non-active chetana part of the soul (combination of Active and non-active Chetana) Kundalani energy system is the Human form of the Divine Consciousness, Cosmic consciousness, Absolute Purity or Super Soul.
Just as the heart is the principle centre (organ) of the circulatory system and the brain of the nervous system, similarly the Kundalani energy system has various centers (chakras), channels and ducts.
There are 72,000 subtle channels (nadi). Of these channels, the three main subtle channels are:
1) Sushumna nadi, that is, the central channel that extends from base of spine to the top of the head,
2) Pinglaa or the surya (sun) nadi, that is, the channel that runs to the right of the sushumna nadi, and the
3) Ida or the chandra (moon) nadi, that is, the channel that runs to the left of the sushumna nadi.
The vital energy (active chetana or prana-shakti) is transmitted in the body through the surya (sun) nadi and the chandra (moon) nadi and the other smaller nadis. The vital energy flow alternates between the surya (sun) nadi and the chandra (moon) nadi.
The kundalini is the spiritual energy that generally lies dormant, coiled at the base of the sushumna nadi for an average person. Through spiritual practice it begins to rise from the base of the spine through the sushumna nadi right till the top of the head.
When the Kundalini reaches the Sahasrar-chakra and stays there permanently we call this as enlightenment. This is where union with God occurs.
Hope this helps.
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