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1 Etymology

For other uses, see Chakra (disambiguation).

In some Indian religions, a chakra (Sanskrit cakra,

The word Chakra () derives from the Sanskrit word

meaning wheel, as well as circle and cycle.[1] Its
described by many as a spinning wheel of light. Of the
many chakras within the human body, seven have been
identied as major.
M. N. Roy's review of tantric history says that the word
chakra is used to mean several dierent things in the Sanskrit sources:[2]
1. Circle, used in a variety of senses, symbolising
endless rotation of shakti.
2. A circle of people. In rituals, there are dierent cakrasdhans in which adherents assemble and
perform rites. According to the Niruttaratantra,
chakras in the sense of assemblies are of 5 types.
3. The term chakra is also used to denote yantras (mystic diagram)s, variously known as trikoa-cakra,
aakoa-cakra, etc.
4. Dierent nerve plexuses within the body.
In Buddhism, the Sanskrit term cakra (Pali cakka) is used
in a dierent sense of circle, referring to the conception
of rebirth consisting of six states in which beings may be

2 History
While breath channels (ni) of yogic practices had
already been discussed in the classical Upanishads,
it was not until the eighth-century Buddhist Hevajra
Tantra and Carygiti, that hierarchies of chakras were

From an 1899 Yoga manuscript in the Braj Bhasa language.

wheel) is thought to be an energy point or node in the

subtle body. Chakras are believed to be part of the subtle
body, not the physical body, and as such, are the meet- 3 Characteristics
ing points of the subtle (non-physical) energy channels
called nadi. Nadi are believed to be channels in the subtle The texts and teachings present dierent numbers of
body through which the life force (prana) (non-physical) chakras. Also, dierent physical structures are considor vital energy (non-physical) moves. Various scriptural ered chakras. David Gordon White thus emphasizes:
texts and teachings present a dierent number of chakras.
In fact, there is no standard system of
Its believed that there are many chakras in the subtle huthe chakras. Every school, sometimes every
man body, according to the tantric texts, but there are
teacher within each school, has had his own
seven chakras that are considered to be the most imporchakra system.[6]
tant ones.


The following features are common:

4.2 Vajrayana

They form part of the body, along with the breath Main article: Vajrayana
channels (nadi), and the winds (vayu).
They are located along the central channel Chakras play an important role in the main surviving
branch of Indian Vajrayana, Tibetan Buddhism. They
play a pivotal role in completion stage practices, where
Two side channels cross the center channel at the an attempt is made to bring the subtle winds of the body
into the central channel, to realise the clear light of bliss
location of the chakras.
and emptiness, and to attain Buddhahood.[9]
They possess a number of 'petals or 'spokes.
The Vajrayana system states that the central channel
They are generally associated with a mantra seed- (avadht) begins at the point of the third eye like of lord
syllable, and often with a variety of colours and Shiva, curves up to the crown of the head, and then goes
straight down to the lower body. There are two side channels, the rasan and lalan, which start at their respective nostrils and then travel down to the lower body. The
apna vyu governs the lower terminations of the three
4 Use in Eastern traditions
channels. The lower end of the central channel ends in
the rectum. The lower end of the lalan ends in the uri4.1 Hindu Tantra
nary tract. The lower end of the rasan channel emits
Main article: Kundalini energy
David Gordon White traces the modern popularity of The side channels run parallel to the center channel, except at locations such as the navel, heart, throat and crown
(i.e. chakras) where the two side channels twist around
the central channel. At the navel, throat and crown, there
is a twofold knot caused by each side channel twisting
once around the central channel. At the heart wheel there
is a sixfold knot, where each side channel twists around
three times. An important part of completion stage practice involves loosening and undoing these knots.
Within the chakras exist the 'subtle drops. The white
drop exists in the crown, the red drop exists in the navel,
and at the heart exists the indestructible red and white
drop, which leaves the body at the time of death. In addition, each chakra has a number of 'spokes or 'petals,
which branch o into thousands of subtle channels running to every part of the body, and each contains a Sanskrit syllable.

Thousand Petalled lotus Crown, Two Petalled Brow Chakra, Sixteen Petalled Throat Chakra (Nepal, 17th Century)

the Hindu seven chakra system to Arthur Avalons The

Serpent Power, which was Avalons translation of a late
work, the Satcakranirupana.[7] In actuality, there are several models and systems present in Hindu tantric literature, as White documents.[8] Kundalini is a feature of
Hindu chakra systems.

By focusing on a specic chakra (while often holding the

breath) the subtle winds enter the central channel. The
chakra at which they enter is important in order to realise specic practices. For example, focusing on the subnavel area is important for the practice of tummo, or inner re. Meditating on the heart chakra is important for
realising clear light. Meditating on the throat chakra is
important for lucid dreaming and the practices of dream
yoga. And meditating on the crown chakra is important
for consciousness projection, either to another world, or
into another body.
A result of energetic imbalance among the chakras is an
almost continuous feeling of dissatisfaction. When the
heart chakra is agitated, people lose touch with feelings
and sensations, and that breeds the sense of dissatisfaction. That leads to looking outside for fullment. When
people live in their heads, feelings are secondary; they
are interpretations of mental images that are fed back to


Indonesian and Malaysian metaphysics

the individual. When awareness is focused on memories

of past experiences and mental verbalisations, the energy
ow to the head chakra increases and the energy ow to
the heart chakra lessens. Without nurturing feelings of
the heart a subtle form of anxiety arises which results in
the self reaching out for experience. When the throat
chakra settles and energy is distributed evenly between
the head and the heart chakras, one is able to truly contact ones senses and touch real feelings.[10]

the heart and between the eyebrows.[15] The lower dantian

at or below the navel transforms essence, or jing, into qi.
The middle dantian in the middle of the chest transforms
qi into shen, or spirit, and the higher dantian at the level of
the forehead (or at the top of the head), transforms shen
into wuji, innite space of void.[16]


Traditional spirituality in the Malay Archipelago borrows

heavily from Hindu-Buddhist concepts. In Malay and Indonesian metaphysical theory, the chakras energy rotates
outwards along diagonal lines. Defensive energy emits
outwards from the centre line, while oensive energy
moves inwards from the sides of the body. This can be applied to energy-healing, meditation, or martial arts. Silat
practitioners learn to harmonise their movements with the
chakras, thereby increasing the power and eectiveness
of attacks and movements.[17]


Chakras, according to the Bon tradition, inuence the

quality of experience, because movement of vayu cannot be separated from experience. Each of the six major
chakras is linked to experiential qualities of one of the six
realms of existence.[9]
A modern teacher, Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, uses a
computer analogy: main chakras are like hard drives.
Each hard drive has many les. One of the les is always
open in each of the chakras, no matter how closed that
particular chakra may be. What is displayed by the le
shapes experience.

4.5 Indonesian




5 Western interpretations

The tsa lung practices such as those embodied in Trul

khor lineages open channels so lung (the Tibetan term
for vayu) may move without obstruction. Yoga opens
chakras and evokes positive qualities associated with a
particular chakra. In the hard drive analogy, the screen is
cleared and a le is called up that contains positive, supportive qualities. A bja (seed syllable) is used both as a
password that evokes the positive quality and the armour
that sustains the quality.[9][11]
Tantric practice is said to eventually transform all experience into bliss. The practice aims to liberate from negative conditioning and leads to control over perception and



Qigong ( ) also relies on a similar model of the human

body as an esoteric energy system, except that it involves
the circulation of qi ( , also ki) or life-energy.[12][13] The
qi, equivalent to the Hindu prana, ows through the energy channels called meridians, equivalent to the nadi, but Recent Western traditions associate colours and physiomotional
two other energies are also important: jing, or primordial functions for each of the seven main chakras.
essence, and shen, or spirit energy.
In the principle circuit of qi, called the microcosmic orbit,
energy rises up a main meridian along the spine, but also
comes back down the front torso. Throughout its cycle it
enters various dantian (elixir elds) which act as furnaces,
where the types of energy in the body (jing, qi and shen)
are progressively rened.[14] These dantian play a very
similar role to that of chakras. The number of dantian
varies depending on the system; the navel dantian is the
most well-known, but there is usually a dantian located at

5.1 Western adaptation of Hindu yogic

Main article: Esotericism
In Western culture, a concept similar to that of prana can
be traced back as far as the 18th centurys Franz Anton
Mesmer, who used "animal magnetism" to treat disease.

Christian meditation. Comparisons have been made between the Hesychastic centres of prayer and the position
of the chakras.[20] Particular emphasis is placed upon the
heart area. However, there is no talk about these centres
as having any sort of metaphysical existence. Far more
than in any of the cases discussed above, the centers are
simply places to focus the concentration during prayer.

5.3 New Age

Main article: New Age
In Anatomy of the Spirit (1996), Caroline Myss describes
the function of chakras as follows: Every thought and experience you've ever had in your life gets ltered through
these chakra databases. Each event is recorded into your
cells....[21] The chakras are described as being aligned
in an ascending column from the base of the spine to
the top of the head. New Age practices often associate
each chakra with a certain colour. In various traditions,
chakras are associated with multiple physiological functions, an aspect of consciousness, a classical element, and
other distinguishing characteristics. They are visualised
as lotuses or owers with a dierent number of petals in
every chakra.
The chakras are thought to vitalize the physical body and
to be associated with interactions of a physical, emotional
and mental nature. They are considered loci of life energy
or prana (which New Age belief equates with shakti, qi in
Chinese, ki in Japanese, koach-ha-guf [22] in Hebrew, bios
in Greek, and aether in both Greek and English), which is
thought to ow among them along pathways called nadi.
The function of the chakras is to spin and draw in this energy to keep the spiritual, mental, emotional and physical
health of the body in balance.
However, it was only in 1927 that the shakta theory of
seven main chakras, that has become most popular in
the West, was introduced, largely through the translation of two Indian texts: the Sat-Cakra-Nirupana and the
Padaka-Pancaka, by Sir John Woodroe, alias Arthur
Avalon, in a book titled The Serpent Power.[18]
This book is extremely detailed and complex, and later
the ideas were developed into the predominant Western
view of the chakras by C. W. Leadbeater in his book The
Chakras. Many of the views which directed Leadbeaters
understanding of the chakras were inuenced by previous
theosophist authors, in particular Johann Georg Gichtel, a
disciple of Jakob Bhme, and his book Theosophia Practica (1696), in which Gichtel directly refers to inner force
centres, a concept reminiscent of the chakras.[19]



A completely separate contemplative movement within

the Eastern Orthodox church is Hesychasm, a form of

In his book on Japa Yoga (Himalaya Press, 1978), Swami

Sivananda states that a yogi that practices Japa only with
the Om and is successful at Mahasamyama (oneness with
the object in this case, a word being meditated on)
becomes a direct disciple of the Om, the most holy of all
words and syllables (the same as the word of creation as
recognised by the Torah, although this is not professed
or quite possibly not even recognised by those of secular authority in either Judaism or Christianity). Thus, the
yogi who achieves this feat needs no guru or Sat-guru to
achieve any spiritual goal (an archetype or an Ascended
Master a Krishna, a Rama, a Jesus, a Nanak, a Buddha...). Swami Sivananda mentions that this yogi has
a path that is, in all recognisable ways and manners, reverse of that of other yogis or spiritual aspirants and their
paths, in that this spiritual aspirant then works through
the chakras, mastering them from the crown down. Satprem explains, in page 67 of his book Sri Aurobindo, or
the Adventure of Consciousness (ISBN 81-85137-60-9),
that, in Sri Aurobindo and the Mothers Integral Yoga,
the practitioner experiences a descent where the Grace


Spectrum of light

and Light works through and enlightens the chakras from as metaphysical counterparts to the endocrine glands,[30]
the crown chakra downwards.
while Anodea Judith noted a marked similarity between
of the two and the roles described for
Another interpretation of the seven chakras is presented the positions
Sturgess also links the lower six chakras
by writer and artist Zachary Selig. In his book Kunto
along the spinal cord as well as
dalini Awakening, a Gentle Guide to Chakra Activation
associated the Ajna chakra
and Spiritual Growth, he presents a unique codex titled
is a part of the endocrine
Relaxatia, a solar Kundalini paradigm that is a codex
speculative, howsystem.
of the human chakra system and the solar light spectrum,
ever, and have yet to be empirically validated.
designed to activate Kundalini through his colour-coded
chakra paintings.[23]
Some system models describe one or more transpersonal 5.5 Spectrum of light
chakras above the crown chakra, as well as an Earth star
chakra below the feet. There are also held to be many A development in Western practices dating back to the
minor chakras (for example, between the major chakras). 1940s is to associate each one of the seven chakras to a
given colour and a corresponding crystal. For example,
Rudolf Steiner considered the chakra system to be dythe chakra in the forehead is associated with the colour
namic and evolving. He suggested that this system has
purple, so to try and cure a headache a person might apply
become dierent for modern people than it was in ancient
a purple stone to the forehead.
times and that it will, in turn, be radically dierent in future times.[24][25][26] Steiner described a sequence of de- Mercier introduces the relation of colour energy to the
velopment that begins with the upper chakras and moves science of the light spectrum:
down, rather than moving in the opposite direction. He
gave suggestions on how to develop the chakras through
As humans, we exist within the 49th Ocdisciplining thoughts, feelings, and will.[27]
tave of Vibration of the electromagnetic light
spectrum. Below this range are barely visible
radiant heat, then invisible infrared, television
and radiowaves, sound and brain waves; above
it is barely visible ultraviolet, then the invisible frequencies of chemicals and perfumes, followed by x-rays, gamma rays, radium rays and
unknown cosmic rays.[35]
Understanding existence and physical form
as an interpretation of light energy through the
physical eyes will open up greater potential to
explore the energetic boundaries of color, form
and light that are perceived as immediate reality. Indian Yogic teachings assign to the seven
major chakras specic qualities, such as color
of inuence (from the seven rays of spectrum
light), elements (such as earth, air, water &
ether), body sense (such as touch, taste, and
smell), and relation to an endocrine gland.[36]
The seven chakras.

According to Florin Lowndes,[28] a spiritual student can

6 Description of each chakra
further develop and deepen or elevate thinking consciousness when taking the step from the ancient path of
schooling to the new path represented by Steiners The There are believed to be seven major chakras, which
are arranged vertically along the axial channel (sushumna
Philosophy of Freedom.[note 1]
nadi). David Gordon White traces the modern popularity
of the seven chakra system to Arthur Avalons The Serpent Power, which was Avalons translation of a late work,
5.4 Endocrine system
the Sat-Cakra-Nirupana.[7] Below is a description of the
Chakras and their importance are posited to reside in seven chakras, with various associations. Each of these
the psyche. However, there are those who believe chakras also have its elemental deity (Vasu), demigod of
that chakras have a physical manifestation as well.[29] its material element.
Gary Osborn, for instance, has described the chakras From the top down, they are thought to be:

7 See also








Subpersonal chakras










Other chakras

There are said to be 21 minor chakras which are reected points of the major chakras.[50] These 21 are further grouped into ten bilateral minor chakras that correspond to the foot, hand, knee, elbow, groin, clavicle,
navel, shoulder and ear. The spleen may also be listed by
some authorities as a location for a minor chakra.

Secret chakras

There are said to be three chakras that are beyond the

physical and the spiritual. They are called Golata,
Lalata, and Lalana and located on the uvula at the back
of the throat, above the Ajna chakra, and within the soft
upper palate.[51] According to Robert Svoboda they defy
description in the sense of the above seven and can only
be experienced once Kundalini has fully awakened.

Minor chakras below Muladhara

There are said to be a series of seven chakras below Muladhara going down the leg,[52] corresponding the base animal instincts, and to the Hindu underworld patala. From
the top down they are:


Sudarshana Chakra
Transpersonal chakras

8 Notes
[1] English translations include:
1916: The Philosophy of Freedom. trans. Hoernl
and Hoernl, ed. Harry Collison. This is the only
English translation of the rst German edition.
1922: Philosophy of Spiritual Activity. Based on
2nd German edition, trans. Hoernl and Hoernl.
1939: Philosophy of Spiritual Activity, trans. Hermann Poppelbaum, based on Hoernl and Hoernl
1963: Philosophy of Spiritual Activity, trans. Rita
1964: The Philosophy of Freedom: The Basis for a
Modern World Conception, trans. Michael Wilson
1986: The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity: Basic
Features of a Modern World View, trans. William
1995: Intuitive Thinking as a Spiritual Path: A Philosophy of Freedom, trans. Michael Lipson, based
on Wilson translation
2011: 'Rudolf Steiners Philosophie der Freiheit as
the Foundation of the Logic of Beholding. Religion
of the Thinking Will. Organon of the New Cultural
Epoch', trans. Graham B. Rickett, with commentary by G.A.Bondarev' [ISBN 978-1-105-05765-6]
There is a comparison tool to compare most of the above

Atala Located in the hips, it governs fear and lust.

Vitala Located in the thighs, it governs anger and resentment.
Sutala Located in the knees, it governs jealousy.
Talatala Translated as under the bottom level, it is
located in the calves and represents a state of prolonged
confusion and instinctive willfulness.
Rasatala Located in the ankles, it is the centre of selfishness and pure animal nature.
Mahatala Located in the feet, this is the dark realm
'without conscience', and inner blindness.
Patala Located in the soles of the feet, this is the
realm of malice, murder, torture and hatred, and in Hindu
mythology it borders on the realm of Naraka, or hell.

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U.S.A.:2002, Fireside, Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Copyright by Baia Books Limited. Kriyans and
meditations copyright Yogi Bhajan, All Rights reserved.
Judith, Anodea (1996). Eastern Body Western Mind:
Psychology And The Chakra System As A Path To
The Self. Berkeley, California, USA: Celestial Arts
Publishing. ISBN 0-89087-815-3
Dahlheimer, Dr. Volker (2006). Kundalini Shakti:
Explanation of the Seven Chakras (Video clip with
words and explanative gracs ed.). 5th Level Publications.
Florin Lowndes, 'Enlivening the Chakra of the
Heart: The Fundamental Spiritual Exercises of
Rudolf Steiner' ISBN 1-85584-053-7, rst English
edition 1998 from the original German edition of
1996, comparing 'traditional' chakra teaching, and
that of C.W.Leadbeater, with that of Rudolf Steiner.

11 External links
Energy Healing at DMOZ


Text and image sources, contributors, and licenses


Chakra Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chakra?oldid=684129004 Contributors: Wesley, Apollia, Arj, Montrealais, Stevertigo,

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