The Serpent Power: Secrets of Yoga by Arthur Avalon

The Serpent Power: The Secrets of Tantric and Skaktic Yoga by Authur Avalon (Sir John Woodroffe). Front cover of the book.
The Serpent Power: The Secrets of Tantric and Skaktic Yoga by Authur Avalon (Sir John Woodroffe). Rear cover of the book.

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Title: The Serpent Power: The Secrets of Tantric and Shaktic Yoga (Revised)
Author: Arthur Avalon (Sir John George Woodroffe)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 592

Who is Kundalini, the Serpent Power? Mythologically, she is an aspect of the Shakti (power or energy) and consort of Shiva. Philosophically, she is the creative energy that eventually forms mind and matter, and comes to rest in the lowest form of matter. She is consciousness: the power of matter to know itself. In terms of Tantric practice, she is the mysterious power that resides in the human body and can be awakened through suitable techniques: special meditations and yogic practices of a particularly powerful nature. She is The Goddess, the ultimate heart of many areas of Eastern religion, not only of Hinduism.

This volume, by the foremost student of Shaktic and Tantric thought, Arthur Avalon, is the prime document for the study and application of Kundalini yoga. The author covers the philosophical and mythological nature of Kundalini; the esoteric anatomy associated with it; the study of matrass- the chakras, or psychic centers in the human body and their progressive awakening; and the yoga associated with this. This introduction, some 300 pages of unique material, is followed by translations (with long analytical commentary) of two important Tantric documents: The Description of the Six Chakras and the briefer Five-fold Footstool. By working through these documents the reader can acquire the essence of Kundalini yoga.

For centuries this material was a closely guarded secret in India; even native scholars were not allowed access to it. In fact, it was so restricted that many Indologists refused to recognize its existence. It took half a lifetime of searching by Sir John Woodroffe to locate the key documents and further years to find a master able and willing to evoke from the cryptic texts a modus for study and application. The result of Woodroffe's work, however, was one of the most important developments in Indian thought, a key to many areas of art and religion that had hitherto been locked. It is also a work that has great interest to Westerners who wish to acquire for themselves the validity of the ultimate experience.

Sir John George Woodroffe (1865-1936)
Sir John George Woodroffe (1865-1936), who used the pen-name Arthur Avalon, was a British Orientalist born in India whose extensive and complex published works on the Tantras, and other Hindu traditions, stimulated a wide-ranging interest in Hindu philosophy and yoga. He translated some twenty original Sanskrit texts and, under his pseudonym Arthur Avalon, published and lectured prolifically on Indian philosophy and a wide range of Yoga and Tantra topics.