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An individual's power or śakti, visualized as a dormant serpent coiled at the base of the spine. The yogic manipulation of kuṇḍalinī was developed in haṭha-yoga and, from about the 8th century ce, as a pan-Indian Tantric technique. The aim of haṭha-yogic practice is to force the individual's kuṇḍalinī, which is dormant in the ‘root’ cakra, up the central channel of the spinal column (the suṣumṇā nāḍī), from cakra to cakra, until it merges with the unlimited power of the sahasrāra padma (‘the thousand-petalled lotus’ at the crown of the head) in blissful liberation (frequently envisaged as permanent union and identification with the absolute, however defined). The ascension generates ever-increasing spiritual powers (siddhis) in the practising yogin. In Tantric traditions, such as the Śrī Vidyā, kuṇḍalinī is conceptualized as the Goddess (also called Kuṇḍalinī), and so as Śiva's Śakti (a cosmic power), the aim being to unite the male and female principles in the practitioner's body. Abhinavagupta developed a complex theological understanding of kuṇḍalinī, and the term in general is used with divergent meanings in different yogic and Tantric traditions.

Subjects: Hinduism.

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