By Dr. Rita Khanna
Chakras are defined as an inner space voyage. These represent whirling vortexes of energy at the linking points between the mind and the body. The symbols of the Chakras form the basis for many of the advanced practices of Yoga. For these practices, you need to be familiar with the names, colours and shapes of the Chakras. Of course, it is not strictly necessary that you visualize only these particular symbols throughout your practice. Your experience and your visualization of the Chakras can be different according to your choice. But the symbols described here are the traditional ones, and they have a scientific meaning as well as a sacred history behind them.
The Qualities of the Chakras
There are three Gunas, or qualities – Rajo Guna, Tamo Guna and Sato Guna, and all three are present in the Chakras. However, in certain Chakras there are more Tamo Guna qualities, fewer Rajasic ones and even fewer Sattvic. Other Chakras are more rajasic, less Tamasic or more Sattvic.
Each Chakra also contains innumerable other faculties. For example, when Mooladhara Chakra begins to awaken, certain instinctive feelings or emotions are aroused. Likewise, when Swadhisthana Chakra begins to awaken, all the faculties concerning sexuality, jealousy, hatred and so on come up. And when Anahata Chakra begins to awaken, one feels more compassion, love, sympathy, equality, etc. When Manipura Chakra begins to awaken, the Vasanas (desires) associated with food become very powerful. People experience strong desires to eat, to taste different foods, to look at food or hear about it, or to enjoy other material things. During this period of time, the consciousness is thinking about these objects of desire all the time, about enjoying and exhausting them. So in Mooladhara, Swadhisthana and Manipura Chakras, you feel like enjoying and indulging the senses, without ever thinking about having to transcend them.
Awakening the Chakras
It is not possible to predict which faculty of which Chakra will awaken, and when. Perhaps one faculty of Mooladhara Chakra and another faculty of Swadhisthana Chakra will awaken at the same time. Then what will happen? Or if two faculties of Manipura and two faculties of Ajna awaken together, what will happen? Your Vasanas will say, ‘Oh! good food, good house, good wife, good children, enjoyable life.’ And the detached awareness in Ajna will say, ‘Oh, these things are rubbish; they are illusion. I do not want them; they are all taking me deeper into the Maya (illusion).’ So there is conflict. This second voice is the wisdom which is speaking, but the human urges always say the opposite.
The Chakras keep awakening any time and all the time. Not necessarily only through the practice of Kriya Yoga, but through Pranayama or Asana they may also awaken. They can awaken even due to eating, walking or talking too much. They can be awakened in so many ways, by social activities as well as by personal Sadhana. They are being opened and awakened all the time. This process begins right from our birth and even before, and it will continue after our death too. By practicing Tantra, Yoga and Tapasya, we are trying to accelerate this awakening. You cannot rely on nature for total awakening because you can never know whether it will take you up or down. It is only for this reason that we use the techniques of Tantra and Yoga to open and awaken the Chakras fully.
The Chakras are Symbolized by Coloured Lotuses
The Chakras are symbolized by lotus flowers, each with a different number of petals. The first Chakra is Mooladhara, located within the spinal cord at the tail-bone. Its symbol is a four petalled deep red lotus. Next is Swadhisthana, at the third disc of the spine; it is a vermilion lotus with six petals. Then Manipura, behind the navel within the spinal cord, is a ten petalled yellow lotus. Next comes Anahata, behind the heart in the spinal cord- a twelve petalled blue lotus. Vishuddhi, behind the Throat Chakra is a sixteen petalled purple lotus, and Ajna Chakra is a grey or cream coloured lotus with only two petals. Then comes Bindu- the one Chakra that is not a lotus. Bindu means ‘point’ or ‘dot’. Bindu is like the full moon in the night sky- big, round and golden. Finally comes Sahasrara, a thousand petalled red lotus.
The Chakra symbols are actually much more complex than this. There are particular animals, elements and sounds which can be found in the lotus petals, above the flower, in the stem, and also at the root of the stem. Each Chakra has its own Mantra, and the individual petals of each Chakra have their own Mantras as well. They are always vibrating, each petal producing a different syllable. In each Chakra, different deities also reside, which can be awakened or known through the Mantra. These deities have certain forms, colours and qualities. They can only be intuited after you have learned and practiced Kriya Yoga, and your consciousness is prepared to understand and accept them.
Meditation on the Chakra Symbols
Let’s begin: Now we will try to concentrate on the colours and petals of the Chakras and we will try to visualize them.
• Please be seated in one of the meditative poses.
• Sit in Padmasana, Siddhasana, Vajrasana or Sukhasana, whichever you can maintain easily, without discomfort, for fifteen to twenty minutes.
• Remove your eyeglasses and close your eyes and mouth.
• Rest your hands lightly on the knees, with the elbows relaxed.
• The fingers should be in chin or Gyana Mudra, with the index fingers at the root of the thumbs, and the other three fingers together and straight, but not stretched.
• The back and the head should be straight, but at the same time there should be no tensing or tightening in any part of the body.
• See that the head, back and spine are in one straight line.
• Shoulders should neither be raised nor lowered.
• Do not lean the head to either side.
• Keep absolute consciousness and awareness of the instructions, and try to visualize the Chakras described, at their correct location.
1. First, take your consciousness to Mooladhara Chakra, at the seat of the perineum. Visualize Mooladhara Chakra as a four petalled dark red lotus…
2. Then visualize Swadhisthana Chakra, a six petalled vermilion lotus, at the bottom of the spinal cord…
3. Same way visualize Manipura Chakra, a yellow lotus with ten petals, behind the navel…
4. Then Anahata Chakra, a blue lotus with twelve petals, behind the heart…
5. Now Vishuddhi Chakra, a purple lotus with sixteen petals, behind the throat…
6. Then Ajna Chakra, a grey coloured lotus with two petals, behind the eyebrow centre…
7. Then Bindu, like the full moon, a golden moon at the top back of the head…
8. Finally, Sahasrara Chakra, a thousand petalled bright red lotus at the crown of the head…
Please go on visualizing each of them in turn, one after the other, going from Mooladhara Chakra up to Sahasrara, and from Sahasrara back down to Mooladhara. Train your consciousness to visualize the Chakra symbols in their correct position. Be careful not to visualize the symbol of Vishuddhi at Swadhisthana, or the symbol of Mooladhara at Anahata Chakra.
Visualize Mooladhara, a four petalled dark red lotus; Swadhisthana, a six petalled vermilion lotus; Manipura, a ten petalled yellow lotus; Anahata, a twelve petalled blue lotus; . Vishuddhi, a sixteen petalled purple lotus; Ajna, a two petalled grey lotus; Bindu, like the full moon; Sahasrara, a thousand petalled bright red lotus. Please try to visualize the symbol of each Chakra. Keep yourself alert and aware of the lotus symbols- how they look, their shape and colour, their root and their stem.