The Chakras

Table of Contents

What is a Chakra?

The word chakra is a Sanskrit word which is derived from the verb car ("to move"). There are several literal meanings of chakra:

Besides the literal meaning there are also some esoteric meanings:

"There are seven basic vibratory rates (bodies) which we use to progress from very basic energies to the very highly developed superhuman levels." Paulson, Kundalini and the Chakras, pg. 35.

Vyasa comments that during single-pointed meditation, which is fixation on a single point (desabandhascittasya dharana), that the concentration is usually on the center, or chakra, of the navel, on the lotus of the heart, on the light within the head, on the tip of the nose, on the tip of the tongue, or on any external place or object.

In the Rg-Veda and the Upanishads there is an identification of the body and the cosmos. Eliade [Ref: Eliade, Yoga, pg. 117] called these identifications micro-macrocosmic homologies. He mentions three:

  1. the cosmic winds will be "mastered" as breaths
  2. the cosmic skambha-pillar will be identified with the vertebral column
  3. the "center of the world" will be found in a point (the "heart") or an axis (traversing the chakras inside the body.

Within the Bodhi Reference Model we use the terminology Body Metaphors for micro-macrocosmic homologies although we will mean, essentially, the same thing.

Consider some of the language used to describe the Chakras:

A Short Description of the Seven Chakras

There seven major chakras, or centers of psychoactive energy, in the human body. They are usually listed either top-down or bottom-up depending upon the secret agenda of the writer. The fact that the seven chakras are aligned along an axis running vertically through the body provides a natural geometry on the chakras. Here they are listed top-down.

  1. sahasrara or crown chakra
  2. ajna or third-eye chakra
  3. vishuddha or throat chakra
  4. anahata or heart chakra
  5. manipura or solar plexus chakra
  6. svadhishthana or navel chakra
  7. muladhara or base chakra

The Sahasrara

This is the topmost center chakra. It is two to three inches over the top of the head. It is also called the thousand-spoked wheel, the thousand-petaled lotus (sahasra-dala-padma), the great seat (maha-pitha), or ether wheel (akasha-cakra).

The Kaula-Jnana-Nirnaya (V.8) describes it as a white lotus floating in the middle of the "milk ocean" in whose center resides the Self.

The Shiva-Samhita gives three different locations for it:

  1. the root of the palate (talu)
  2. the "brahmic fissure" (brhma-randhra)
  3. outside the body, above the head

The third location is the one most generally accepted by modern yogins.

*It is the upper terminal point of the central channel (sushumna-nadi) and the final destination for the awakened serpent-power (kundalini-shakti). When the kundalini, the force of Devi, reaches this center, this signals the merging of Shiva and Shakti.

*The thousand spoke or petals of this bell-shaped psychospiritual center are arranged in twenty layers, with fifty petals each. Each petal has one letter (matrika) of the Sanskrit alphabet inscribed in it forming a ring, which is known as "five-crested garland" (panca-shikha-mala). In the pericarp of the lotus is the "lunar region" (candra-mandala), which emits nectarine light. It contains a luminous triangle within which is the void (shunya), also called "supreme seed point" (parama-bindu), the abode of transcendental Consciousness-Bliss.

The Ajna

This is the Third-eye chakra and is located in the middle of the head at the level of the eyebrows. The name "third eye" is derived from the Guru Yogas and was the receiver of the telepathic communications which the chela received. Hence, the ajna-chakra is also called the guru-chakra. But a guru is also a word meaning dispeller of light, so that an alternate derivation might have been from the darkness-destroying aspects of the ajna-chakra.

The presiding dieties of the ajna-chakra are Parama-Shiva and the Goddess Hakini.

The activation of the chakra by rising Kundalini-Shakti is said to lead to psychic powers called siddhi, including clairvoyance and telepathic communication.

The Vishuddha

This center is also known as jalandhara-pitha and "great doorway to liberation" (maha-moksha-dvara). It is located in the throat well (kantha-kupa). See the Yoga-Shikha-Upanishad (I.174).

According to the Shat-Cakra-Nirupana, its pericarp is composed of the "circle of space" (nabho-mandala), which resembles the full moon. The center has a seed syllable of ham, associated with the element ether (akasha).

The deity for this center is the Goddess Shakini.

The Shiva Samhita (V.92) states that by contemplating this chakra, one acquires an instant comprehension of the Vedas and all their mysteries.

The Anahata

*This is the Heart Chakra which is also known as the "lotus of the heart" (hrit-padma), and is recognized as a special locus of the sacred since the time of the Vedas. The heart has always been venerated as the seat of the Divine and as the location from whence came the immortal sound om, which is not produced by anything, can be heard.

The anahata's presiding adept is Pinakin, the presiding Goddess is the yellow-colored, three-eyed Kakini. The heart center is likened to the legendary wish-fulfilling tree. It is the abode of the "swan" (hamsa). Activation of this chakra by rising Kundalini-Shakti is said to lead to the siddhis of immeasurable knowledge, clairaudience, and clairvoyance.

The Manipura

According to the Shat-Cakra-Nirupana there is a triangular "region" (mandala) of fire within this chakra.

The center's presiding adept is Rudra, the presiding Goddess is the four-armed, dark-hued Lakini. The "seed syllable" (bija-mantra) is ram, which pertains to the fire element.

According to the Shiva Samhita (V.81), the yogin who contemplates this esoteric structure not only conquers disease and death but also acquires the ability to enter another body, as well as to make gold, discover medicial remedies, and locate hidden treasures.

According to the Shandilya-Upanishad (I.4.6), it is inthe Manipura that the psyche (jiva) resides like a spider in its web.

The Svadhisththana

This chakra has the seed syllable vam, pertaining to the water (ap) element.

This center's presiding deities are Vishnu and the Goddess Rakini.

The center is associated iwht the sense of taste (rasa), the hands, and fertility symbolized by the image of an aquatic monster resemblin a crocodile.

This center contains an "inward-facing" phallus (linga) shining like coral.

Through contemplation of this center, the yogin becomes attractive to the world, especially to the other sex.

The Muladhara

The lowest of the seven principal psychoenergetic centers (chakras) of the body.

Its seed syllable is lam, which pertains to the earth element.

The center's presiding adept is Dviranda, and its presiding Goddess is Dakini. This center contains the radiant triangle called kama-rupa ("desire formed") within which is found the golden phallus (linga) of Shiva. This chakra is the source of the central channel (sushumna-nadi) of the life-force, and the resting place of the serpent-power (kundalini-shakti).

Regual contemplation of this chakra yields the paranormal ability to jump like a frog and, in advanced stages, to actually levitate.

A Description of the Historical Development of the Seven Chakras Subtle Anatomy

An Introduction to the Chakra Subtle Anatomy

The X.777 Chakra Table I

Sanskrit Name Body Center Seed Syllable
(bija mantra)
Color Literal Translation
sahasrara crown '!' white "thousand-spoked wheel"
ajna third-eye OM indigo "command wheel"
vishuddha throat HAM blue "pure wheel"
anahata heart YAM green "wheel of the unstruck sound"
manipura solar-plexus RAM yellow "wheel of the jeweled city"
svadhisththana navel VAM orange "wheel of the self-base"
muladhara base LAM red "root-foundation wheel"

The X.777 Chakra Table II

Sanskrit Name Body Center Seed Syllable
(bija mantra)
Color Wavelength
sahasrara crown '!' white
ajna third-eye OM indigo 4100 x 10-8 cm
vishuddha throat HAM blue 4700 x 10-8 cm
anahata heart YAM green 5300 x 10-8 cm
manipura solar-plexus RAM yellow 5900 x 10-8 cm
svadhisththana navel VAM orange 6100 x 10-8 cm
muladhara base LAM red 6700 x 10-8 cm

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