Month: May 2008

A Brief Description of the Chakras

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Chakra Chart

The system of the chakras and nadis came down from the cosmology of Samkhya. Samkhya philosophy heavily influenced the cosmology of yoga and tantrism. This is only a description of each chakra and its attributes.

A chakra is an energy center or vortex that exists in the pranic sheath of the ethereal body. A nadi is an ethereal tube that allows prana to move through the body, much like blood moves through the blood vessels. Chakras are located at nexus points where nadis intersect. Every point where nadis intersect with one another there is a chakra. There are 72,000 nadis throughout the body and thousands of chakras.

There are ten major nadis and fourteen major chakras. Yoga and tantra consider three nadis and seven chakras to be the most important. The three most important nadis are named Ida, Pingala, and Sushumna. The seven most important chakras are named Muladhara, Svadisthana, Manipura, Anahata, Vissudha, Ajna, and Sahsrara. The Sushumna, perhaps the most important nadi, is a hair-like ethereal tube that begins just below the base of the spine and extends through the middle of the spine, then up to the top center of the head. The Sushumna runs through the seven most important chakras, which are located each located along it’s path.

Chakra is a Sanskrit word for wheel or disk. They are called chakras because one of the ways that these energy centers were perceived by the ancient rishis and seers was as spinning disks. Sometimes a chakra is called a lotus because it can appear like a flower. A metaphor used to describe what happens when a chakra is energized is the opening of the lotus petals. Each chakra has a variety of individual characteristics and attributes. I will describe the major attributes of the seven most important chakras. I hope you find this information interesting and useful.

Explanation of the attributes

SANSKRIT NAME: The English transliteration of the Sanskrit names of some of the chakras vary a little from author to author. Some of the chakras have two common spellings. The first spelling is my personal preference, the spelling in parenthesis is another common spelling. The Sanskrit name is followed be a translation of the name.

COMMON NAME: Most of the chakras have a common name, like Base, Sacral, Solar Plexus, Heart, Throat, Third Eye and Crown Chakra.

LOCATION: There are a few differences between authors as to the exact location, shape and size of the chakras. Most authorities agree that the first five of the seven most important chakras are located along the spine. There is a school of thought that the chakras are located in specific organs. I believe that is a mistaken idea. The mistake comes from confusing the pranic sheath of the ethereal body with the physical body. Although there are some direct correlations between the physical body and the ethereal, and they do occupy the same physical space, they are organised independently of each other and their differences should not be overlooked. The chakras are not physical organs and the nadis are not the physical nervous system, however in order for us to understand their importance in our lives we as humans has ascribe them to specific places on the physical body. For example, thr Throat Chakra is associated with the thyriod gland and the Third Eye Chakra is associated with the pineal gland.

SEED SOUND: The Sanskrit word is Bija. Each chakra has a letter of the Sanskrit alphabet associated with it as it’s seed sound (Bija). The sound of the Bija has a distinct vibration. Repeating the Bija is one of the ways to energize the chakra and induce “the opening of the lotus petals.” Again, transliteration makes the exact English spelling of the Sanskrit sound questionable. I’ve chosen a spelling that I think is phonetically understandable.

COLOR: Each chakra has a color of the rainbow associated with it. This seems to have been first introduced by the Theosophist Society in the early twentieth century. This is a commonly accepted color scheme that is related to the vibrational frequencies of the different colors of light. The red light is a lower frequency than the blue light, so the red chakra must be at a lower frequency than the blue chakra.

OTHER ATTRIBUTES: Each chakra has a number of additional attributes. Every chakra has a certain number of nadis (rays) coming into it, a mythic animal and a god and goddess associated with it. The Muladhara (lowest chakra), the Anahata (Heart Chakra), and the Ajna (third eye) have mystical fertility symbols associated with them. Each chakra is also associated with a different sense, different organs and body parts, different personality attributes, etc. I will leave all of these topics for another time so as not to make this short description of the chakras too unwieldy.

Description of the Chakras

SANSKRIT NAME: Muladhara = Root of Tree
COMMON NAME: Root Chakra
PLANET: Saturn
LOCATION: Base of Spine
SEED SOUND: Lam
COLOR: Red

SANSKRIT NAME: Svadhisthana (also Swadhisthana,) = One’s Own Place
COMMON NAME: Sacral Chakra
PLANET: Jupiter
LOCATION: Along the spine behind the genitals
SEED SOUND: Vam
COLOR: Orange

SANSKRIT NAME: Manipura = Jewel City
COMMON NAME: Solar Plaxus Chakra
PLANET: Mars
LOCATION: Along the spine behind the region four fingers above the navel
SEED SOUND: Ram
COLOR: Yellow

SANSKRIT NAME: Anahata = Un-struck Sound
COMMON NAME: Heart Chakra
PLANET: Venus
LOCATION: Along the spine behind the heart region
SEED SOUND: Yam
COLOR: Green

SANSKRIT NAME: Vissudha (also Vishuda, Visuddha) = With Purity
COMMON NAME: Throat Chakra
PLANET: Mercury
LOCATION: Along the spine behind the pit of the throat
SEED SOUND: Ham
COLOR: Sky Blue

SANSKRIT NAME: Ajna = Wisdom Center
COMMON NAME: Third Eye
PLANET: Sun / Moon
LOCATION: Three fingers behind the center of the brow
SEED SOUND: Aum (Om)
COLOR: Indigo

SANSKRIT NAME: Sahasrara (also Sahashrara) = Thousand
COMMON NAME: Crown Chakra; The Thousand Petaled Lotus
LOCATION: Crown of head (Most authorities say the Lotus is located above the crown of the head. Some authorities say the Lotus petals are turned downward, covering the crown of the head.)
COLOR: Violet

You can listen here to the Bija Mantra sung by MC Yogi. (Longer 9 minute version)

Here are links to other articles I wrote on the chakras:

The Psychology of the Chakras

The Relation between Yoga and the Chakras – Part 1

The Relation between Yoga and the Chakras – Part 2

The Relation between Yoga and the Chakras – Part 3

The Relation between Yoga and the Chakras – Part 4

The Relation between Yoga and the Chakras – Part 5