Question: What is Shaktipaat? Can a master awaken his disciples?
Answer: Shaktipaat literally means falling(paat) of energy(shakti)–it gives a sense that power is falling from a higher plane to a lower one. It is transmission of energy from the Guru who is external manifestation of supreme Self to a sincere disciple. The transmission is helpful in awakening instead of being a direct enforcer of awakening it’s a catalyst. Presence of an enlightened master is needed to help accelerate your own progress. But truly speaking you come in presence of such a master only when you’re ripe. Then you’re ready to accept his grace only when you’re ready enough, because this grace is always available to you and to everyone else. Your own self is the highest Guru. It manifests in form of an external Guru when you need it–when you’re earnest in your practices but still not enough ripe to get tuned to your inner guide.
The answer is–no master can’t awaken disciples. Disciples have to wake themselves up–by becoming more and more aware of their sleep. Presence of a master can act merely as a catalyst in chemical reaction–nothing more–but sometimes a catalyst is all that’s missing from a chemical reaction–but some other times presence of a master would not help in any way–it might even harm you–if you start using Guru as a crutch–stop working on your own thinking that Guru would do all. Surrender is not to be confused with inaction. Surrender is the absence of egoistic pursuits but Sadhana still needs some action. You will find many people in history who awakened without any enlightened master’s help and you would also find many who awakened with help. You would also find many who didn’t awaken even when they stayed in company of an enlightened master–why? Because they were not ripe enough–it wasn’t their destiny.
Question: So all we need to have is a pure heart and there’s no need to awaken kundalini?
Answer: No. There’s no need to awaken Kundalini. I was strictly opposed to the idea of Kundalini because of its negative connotations–association with Tantra. I had mostly negative impressions about Tantra. But I wanted liberation. This earnest desire created Kundalini awakening. But you might read that many masters didn’t feel Kundalini’s need in awakening. Not at all. There are also some who even consider it a hindrance on path of awakening. Since awakening of Kundalini generates immense power inside body–it might be possible that a person who is not enlightened and not careful with his practices starts using these powers to earn money, fame and luxuries for himself. In time there would be fall from height and he wouldn’t get liberated. George Gurdjieff- the Armenian mystic was opposed to the idea of Kundalini and he called it Kundabuffer–something which absorbs shocks–shocks which might have helped awakening. The Maya is the illusory potency of supreme. When it’s dormant it acts as Avidya–somethings which keeps you sleeping–so your energy is spent in trivial pursuits. When you start awakening it’s called Atma-Vidya or Vidya(Vidya is one which liberates)–it’s Kundalini energy which helps you wake-up. Immense energy is needed to stay alert and awake–Kundalini provides this energy. This intelligent and affectionate energy in your body is actually the cosmic energy behind creation. It’s subtle and it’s not different from Self. Shakti and Shiva are one and the same. There’s separation as long as there’s duality. It’s a beautiful phenomenon: The Self working on itself. Waking itself up. It’s beautiful and tremendous! This energy heals the body-mind and guides them.
Purity of heart is the first and last requirement for awakening. All saints on the path of devotion have clearly advocated this. Even when you have awakened Kundalini–if your heart is not totally free from guilt, hatred and desires–you would suffer a lot. This energy works to cleanse impurities and past impressions and it can be violent. Unlike our civil society–where non-violence is a virtue every good member practices–Kundalini might be extremely violent at times. Self can be violent. If you’re not ready to surrender it might present accidents and unpleasant events before you as a shock. These shocks awaken you and then you surrender. Then if you’re ripe there might manifest external guru(s) to guide you through. External guru is usually humble and not violent. Though Zen gurus are violent I’ve heard. The self can manifest whatever is needed to wake you up–violence or nonviolence don’t apply as a rule there. Impurity of heart is what is causing reflection of self to become distorted and disoriented. In pure heart the self reflects clearly. The purity of heart is the alpha and omega of any spiritual practice.