'Holy Spirit' is not the same as 'Shakti' or 'Kundalini'

BY: Rajiv Malhotra


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The human body is conceived differently in Christianity: on the one hand created in the image of God, yet it is also the means of transmitting original sin and lays a person open to “evil spirits.”

In Hinduism, the guru helps awaken the disciple's kundalini and integrate the experience into ordinary life. The experience is not interpreted through a specific history as in Christianity. Kundalini-like manifestations have occurred sporadically among Christians, but mainstream churches treat them as aberrations and even as the work of the devil. Those who have such experiences are conditioned to doubt their own sanity and are often regarded as mentally ill and even institutionalized.

In Hinduism, there is no evil spirit or demonic Shakti. Rather, Shakti encompasses all polarities, being simultaneously one and many, light and dark, supportive and violently transformative; both sides of such pairs must be integrated in spirituality. Hinduism easily embraces the fierce, dark Kali alongside the nurturing Parvati. Christianity's emphasis on good/evil dualism results in fear of possession by evil spirits. This is often projected onto heathen or pagan religions, and particularly onto Kali, whose aesthetics shock Westerners. The name of Jesus is sometimes invoked, or a Bible kept on hand, to get rid of such evil spirits.

Hinduism sees that any negative effects of kundalini awakening stem from the individual’s preconditioning and nature, and not from evil spirits. Electricity is a helpful analogy. Neither inherently good nor evil, each electrical mechanism responds according to its own qualities. Yogis have fearlessly experimented with kundalini just as scientists do with electricity.

Shakti is explicitly feminine and has myriad representations. The Holy Spirit has also at times been conceived as female, yet, Christianity's most prominent female figure, the Virgin Mary, is not identical with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit mysteriously incarnates Jesus in Mary’s womb, but this experience is exceptional and is impossible in other humans (whereas Shakti can be experienced by everyone). There are no spiritual practices designed to elicit Mary’s experience in all Christians, except metaphorically.

Continued on page 3: The parallel between awakenings and worship... »

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