Chakras are various energy centers of the astral body. Like in the physical body we have various plexuses i.e a network of interlacing nerves. Similarly, there is an interlacing of various Nadis (energy channels) in the subtle body, called a Padma or Chakra. The Sanskrit word chakra means wheel. Chakras function as a medium to transfer energy between the astral and physical dimensions and help the energy conversion between the body and mind. Although there are many chakras throughout the human body, 7 are considered the major chakras.
Chakras bring about certain consciousness to arise in the mind and thus plays an important role in our daily life. For example, a thief might think that there is nothing wrong with stealing something that isn’t truthfully earned. The faculty of knowing or discrimination right from wrong varies according to the consciousness level in each being. In human beings, there’s a wide range of spectrums of frequency of consciousness to which we have access. Some people become musicians, poets, mystics and various artists by means of awakening the chakras and thus the quality of the mind. Some are born with it, while others need to develop it through the practice of various kinds of concentration and purification of the mind. Thus what seems very natural to someone, might seem incredibly difficult to the other to understand or even perceive and hence the right way to attain these qualities of the mind is through concentration and development of the mind and not through college degrees or a library full of books.
An ounce of experience is better than a ton of theory.
True Knowledge on the chakras has to be experienced through meditation and other forms of concentration techniques, anything else is mere food for thought. Even with practitioners of mediation the experiences gained is very personal, as it would totally rely on which attribute of the chakra is being concentrated upon. This article will hence cover the fundamental aspects for a basic understanding of the 7 Chakras.
Astral Body: Sukshma Sarira
There will be numerous references to the astral body and hence a simple understanding of the astral body is needed before we proceed further. Astral body belongs to the astral dimension of the world. Astral body is the energy replica of the physical body. The astral body and the astral plane are where a lot of our mental activity takes place and is the key to a lot of mental phenomena such as telepathy. Astral body also houses Prana (life force). The way breath powers the physical body, similarly prana powers the astral body. Therefore Astral body is the replica of the physical body but in the energy form.
The Chakras, Nadis & Prana have a very close relationship with the physical body – The plexuses, nerves, and breath respectively and their functions. Hence by working on the physical body, you influence the astral body and vice-versa. Thus by concentration on the physical centers of the chakras, you also stimulate the astral centers until you learn to place your awareness directly on the astral centers or chakras
Nadis and Chakras: Ida, Pingala & Sushumna
Nadi is taken from the root word Nad in Sanskrit meaning Motion. Nadis are like the nerves in the human body but present in the astral body like tubes that carry psychic current or consciousness. There is an innumerable number of Nadis in the astral body, among the 14 most important Nadis, 3 are considered the major – Ida Pingala and Sushumna.
Ida Pingala and Sushumna are psychic channels along the astral spine. Ida and pingala are two forces which flow alternatively in sync with the breath. If you observe carefully you will note that the breath flows more freely through one nostril and the other feels slightly blocked. Ida is represented by the moon, and has a cooling effect and Pingala with the sun and has a heating effect.
Ida, Pingala and Sushumna nadis begin at the root chakra or the Mooladhara. Ida flows from the left and pingala from the right and sushumna flows straight upward. At the second chakra, Swadisthana or the sacral plexus the three Nadis meet again and cross over i.e ida flows to the right and pingala to the left and meet at the third chakra again and so on it continues until the pineal gland i.e the third eye or ajna chakra.
Thus the first step in awakening the chakras is the purification of the Nadi channels of any blockages that might be obstructing the passage of the currents to flow freely. Therefore a practice in pranayama called Nadi Shodhana is done according to one’s capacity for about 3 months as a preliminary practice.
Chakra Symbology: Meaning and Significance
If you are practising kundalini yoga or kriya yoga, you will need to know the different
colors and symbols of the chakras. They are all very beautiful and form an intrinsic part
of the awakening of the individual chakras. Each chakra has a particular color, mantra,
situation and range of experiences associated with it.
Whereas the various esoteric cults and spiritual systems use different symbols to
represent the chakras, in tantra and yoga the chakras are symbolized by lotus flowers. As
a symbol, the lotus is very significant. Man must pass through three clear stages in
spiritual life, which represent his existence on three different levels: ignorance, aspiration
and endeavor, and illumination. The lotus also exists on three different levels – mud,
water and air. It sprouts in the mud (ignorance), grows up through the water in an effort
to reach the surface (endeavor and aspiration) and eventually reaches the air and the
direct light of the sun (illumination). Thus the lotus symbolizes man’s growth from the
lowest states of awareness to the higher states of consciousness. The culmination of the
growth of the lotus is a beautiful flower. In the same way, the culmination of man’s
spiritual quest is the awakening and blossoming of human potential.
So each of the principal chakras can be visualized as a lotus flower with a specific
color and number of petals as follows:
- 4 petalled deep red lotus
Swadhisthana – 6 petalled vermilion lotus
- 10 petalled bright yellow lotus
- 12 petalled blue lotus
- 16 petalled violet lotus
- 2 petalled silver-grey lotus
- 1000 petalled multicolored or red lotus.
In each chakra six things are combined : 1) the chakra color, 2) the petals of the lotus
flower, 3) the yantra or geometrical shape, 4) the bija mantra, 5) the animal symbol, 6)
the higher or divine symbol. Each chakra contains an animal and divine beings. The
animals represent your previous evolution and instincts, and the divine beings represent
In my exposition of the chakras I may say a chakra is a particular color, but if you are
a good yogic aspirant and in your concentration on that chakra you realize another color,
that is the truth for you. Your experiences are just as valid as mine, but one thing is
definite, as you move up through the chakras, the frequencies of the colors become more
subtle and more powerful.
Chakra Concentration Points on the Physical Body
In many of the practices of kundalini yoga we have to concentrate or focus our
awareness on the chakra trigger points in the spinal cord. However, many people find it
easier to concentrate on the chakra kshetram located on the front surface of the body. In
kriya yoga particularly, the chakra kshetram are utilized in many of the practices. The
kshetram can be regarded as reflections of the original chakra trigger points, and when
we concentrate on them it creates a sensation which passes through the nerves to the
chakra itself and then travels up to the brain.
Mooladhara does not have a kshetram, but swadhisthana, manipura, anahata,
vishuddhi and ajna have physical counterparts directly in front of them on the same
horizontal plane. Swadhisthana kshetram is at the level of the pubic bone in front of the
body just above the genital organ. Manipura kshetram is at the navel, anahata kshetram is
at the heart and vishuddhi kshetram is located on the front surface of the throat pit in the
vicinity of the thyroid gland. Ajna kshetram is bhrumadhya, the mid-eyebrow center.