The Pranic Shakti

The energy which operates within the normal ranges of our body-life-mind is a specific, albeit limited formulation of the universal force. Through the practice of Yoga, the seeker becomes aware of the greater energy which both constitutes the physical energy with which we are familiar and exceeds it in the actions of the entire energy of the universe. Sri Aurobindo notes: “but if we once get beyond this first formation by some liberation of the hidden, recondite, subliminal parts of our existence by Yoga, we become aware of a greater life-force, a pranic Shakti, which supports and fills the body and supplies all the physical and vital activities…, and supplies and sustains too from below all our mental action.”

“This force we feel in ourselves also, but we can feel it too around us and above, one with the same energy in us, and can draw it in and down to aggrandise our normal action or call upon and get it to pour into us. It is an illimitable ocean of Shakti and will pour as much of itself as we can hold into our being. This pranic force we can use for any of the activities of life, body or mind with a far greater and effective power than any that we command in our present operations, limited as they are by the physical formula.”

Because this pranic Shakti is not bound by the limitations of the physical frame, it can effectuate results far beyond what we consider to be the normal operations of the mind-life-body. Such results may include things like healing illness, for instance, or providing substantially enhanced energy for physical, vital and mental activities.

Traditionally, the use of Asana and Pranayama have been prescribed for gaining access to and an enhancement of the action of this pranic Shakti in the individual seeker. These exercises require very serious dedication of time and focus in order to achieve consistent results, and Sri Aurobindo observes that there are other methods available to the seeker to become conscious of, and to bring about the active intervention of this higher energy in the human life: “But the same thing can be done by mental will and practice or by an increasing opening of ourselves to a higher spiritual power of the Shakti.”

Access to the limitless energy of the pranic Shakti however is not the final goal of the integral Yoga, as it too is a formulation and has its own limitations. “…but still, however great and powerful, it is a lower formulation, a link between mind and body, an instrumental force. There is a consciousness in it, a presence of the spirit, of which we are aware, but it is encased, involved in and preoccupied with the urge to action. It is not to this action of the Shakti that we can leave the whole burden of our activities; we have either to use its lendings by our own enlightened personal will or else call in a higher guidance; for of itself it will act with greater force, but still according to our imperfect nature and mainly by the drive and direction of the life-power in us and not according to the law of the highest spiritual existence.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 16, The Divine Shakti, pp. 727-728