Chakras are the nerve centers seen in our body. There are 1,72,000 Nadis (channels of metaphysical energy or life-force) in our body, and there are various nerve centers for these 1,72,000 Nadis. The human body actually has 109 nerve centers, but among those, nine centers are important, and even in those nine, seven centers (Chakras) are of primary importance. And when energy (kundalini) or consciousness flows through these nerve centers, there are different emotions, feelings or sensations that one experiences.
The seven fundamental chakras are known as muladhara, which is located at the perineum, the space between the anal outlet and the genital organ; swadhisthana, which is just above the genital organ; manipura, which is just below the navel; anahata, which is just beneath where the rib cage meets; vishuddhi, which is at the pit of the throat; ajna, which is between the eyebrows; and sahasrara, which is at the top of the head, where when a child is born, there is a soft spot.
Fundamentally, any spiritual path can be described as a journey from the base chakra, called the “Mooladhara,” which is located at the base of the spine, to the “Sahasrar,” which located at the top of the head. This journey of movement from the Mooladhara to Sahasrar is from one dimension to another. It may happen in many different ways, and various yogic practices can effect this movement.
Seven Main Chakras
There is only one energy in the body, but it manifests in different forms, in different chakras. Sexual energy, love energy, intellectual energy, sharpness, awareness, anger; all these are related.There are believed to be seven major chakras, which are arranged vertically along the axial channel (sushumna nadi).
Chakras are energy centers. Although most people have heard of seven chakras, there are actually 114 in the body. The human body is a complex energy form; in addition to the 114 chakras, it also has 72,000 "nadis,"or energy channels, along which vital energy, or "prana," moves. When the nadis meet at different points in the body, they form a triangle. We call this triangle a chakra, which means "wheel." We call it a wheel because it symbolizes growth, dynamism and movement, so even though it is actually a triangle, we call it a chakra. Some of these centers are very powerful, while others are not as powerful. At different levels, these energy centers produce different qualities in a human being.
Fundamentally, any spiritual path can be described as a journey from the base chakra, called the "Mooladhara," which is located at the base of the spine, to the "Sahasrar," which located at the top of the head. This journey of movement from the Mooladhara to Sahasrar is from one dimension to another. It may happen in many different ways, and various yogic practices can effect this movement.
Below is a description of the seven chakras, with various associations. Each of these chakras also has its elemental deity (Vasu), demigod of its material element.
From the bottom, they are thought to be:
Muladhara (मूलाधार) or 'root chakra' is symbolized by a lotus with four petals and the colour red.
This centre is located at the base of the Vertebral column. In this chakra the energy manifests as enthusiasm or inertia.When the Muladhara Chakra is activated, One experiences enthusiasm in life. When it is dormant, then one experiences dullness and inertia. One does not feel interested in anything.
Mooladhara is really made up of two terms: "Moola" means the root or source, and "adhar" means the foundation. It is the very basic foundation of life. In the physical body, your energies need to be in the Mooladhara chakra to some extent. Otherwise, you cannot exist. If the Mooladhara chakra alone is dominant, food and sleep will be the predominant factors in your life.
Muladhara is related to instinct, security, survival and also to basic human potentiality. This chakra is where the three main nadi separate and begin their upward movement. Dormant Kundalini rests here.
Svadhishthana (स्वाधिष्ठान) or 'sacral chakra' is symbolised by a white lotus within which is a crescent moon, with six vermilion, or orange petals.
The Swadhisthana chakra is located just above the genital organs.
When the same life force energy comes to the second chakra (Swadhisthana), it manifests as sexual energy or creative or procreative energy.When you are obsessed with sex, then you do not do anything creative. You forget about creativity entirely. When you are engaged in any creative activity, then lust does not trouble you.
If this chakra alone is dominant, then you are a pleasure seeker. When this chakra is active, you enjoy the physical world in so many ways. If you look at a pleasure seeker, you will see that his life and his experience of life are just a little more intense compared with a person who is only about food and sleep.
Manipura (मणिपूर) or 'solar plexus/navel chakra' is symbolised by a downward pointing triangle with ten petals, along with the colour yellow.
This Chakra is located just below the navel. Manipura is related to the metabolic and digestive systems.
The same energy goes up to the navel region, the third chakra (Manipura), and manifests in four different forms, which relate to four different emotions - greed, jealousy, generosity and joy. That is why all these four emotions are depicted through the tummy. Jealousy is an emotion that one feels in the stomach. Generosity is depicted with a large tummy, e.g., Santa Claus. Joy is also depicted with a big tummy, e.g., Lord Ganesha and the Laughing Buddha.
If your energy moves into the Manipura chakra, located just below the navel, you are a doer in the world. You are all about action. You can do many, many things.
Anahata (अनाहत) or 'heart chakra' is symbolised by a circular flower with twelve green petals.
Anahata Chakra is located in the heart area. Anahata literally means the "un-struck." If you want to make any sound, you have to strike two objects together. The un-struck sound is called "Anahata." Anahata is like a transition between your lower chakras and your higher chakras, between survival instincts and the instinct to liberate yourself. The lower three chakras are mainly concerned with your physical existence. Anahata is a combination; it is a meeting place for both the survival and the enlightenment chakras.
The same life energy comes to the Anahata chakra and manifests as three different emotions which are love, hatred and fear.
When people feel hatred or fear or love, the sensation is felt in the heart region. When someone’s heart is broken, it means that the love has become sour and turned into hatred. When there is love, there is no fear. When there is fear, there is no love. At any point of time, only one of the three emotions takes the front position while the other two go in the background.
Vishuddhi (विशुद्धि) or 'throat chakra' is depicted as a silver crescent within a white circle, with 16 light or pale blue, or turquoise petals.
Vishuddhi literally means "filter" and is located in the area of your throat.
The same life energy rises to the Vishuddhi chakra and it symbolizes grief and gratefulness. When you feel grief, the throat chokes, and when you feel grateful also, the throat chokes.
Agya (Ajna) (आज्ञा) or 'third-eye chakra' is symbolised by a lotus with two petals It is at this point that the two side nadi Ida and Pingala are said to terminate and merge with the central channel Sushumna, signifying the end of duality. This chakra is located between your eyebrows
The same energy manifests as anger and alertness. Anger, alertness, knowledge, and wisdom are all related to the third eye centre. Knowledge and awareness are depicted by the sixth Chakra. The same point is also the seat of anger, and is also said to be the region of the mystical Third Eye.
If your energies move into this chakra, located between your eyebrows, you are intellectually enlightened. You have attained to a new balance and peace within you. The outside no longer disturbs you, but you are still experientially not liberated.
Sahasrara (सहस्रार) or 'crown chakra' is generally considered to be the state of pure consciousness, within which there is neither object nor subject. When the Kundalini energy rises to this point, it unites with the Shiva energy, and a state of samadhi is attained. Sahasrara is located at the crown of the head.
The same energy goes to the Sahasrara and manifests as sheer bliss. That is why in any sanctuary experiences, when you feel total bliss, the mind immediately goes to the top of the head. Something shoots up to the top of the head and you feel blissful.
Closing remarks on Chakras
To move from Mooladhara to Agna, from the lowest of these seven chakras to the second highest, there are many procedures, methods and processes through which one can raise his energies. But from Agna to Sahasrar, the sixth chakra to the highest chakra, there is no path. You can only jump there. In a way, you have to fall upward. So, the question of going step by step to that dimension does not really arise. There is no way.
It is for this reason that spiritual traditions have emphasized the significance of a guru's role in one's realization; guru literally means "dispeller of darkness." You can only jump into an abyss -- the depth of which you do not know -- if you have an absolutely insane heart, or if your trust in someone is so deep that you are willing to do anything in their presence. Most people, due to a lack of either of these two aspects, just get stuck in the Agna chakra. When this happens, peacefulness is the highest state they will know. It is only from this limitation that there has been so much talk about peace being the highest possibility. But for someone seeking their ultimate nature, peace is only the beginning; it is not the ultimate goal.
- Lecture of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar http://www.artofliving.org/seven-centers-energy-chakras
- Lecture of Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev http://isha.sadhguru.org/blog/yoga-meditation/demystifying-yoga/the-seven-chakras-and-their-significance/