Friday, July 18, 2008

Chakra According to Hindu Beliefs

Chakra is a term literally meaning “circle” in the original Sanskrit language in which the concept was first established. Since then this term and its meaning has been interpreted in different fashions by a number of cultures. It may refer to a circle of people, a continuous flow of power or “Shakti” as it is referred to in the texts of the Hindu religion, or different nerve plexi within the body in accordance with western science and medicine.

There are seven major chakra points in the body, with an indeterminate number of minor chakra points which is still being debated. The major chakra points are positioned on a vertical plane down the midline of the body. Some are closer to the center of the body and some are nearer to the front, while others are located in the spine itself.

According to Hindu literature these chakra are nexus points of energy or emanations sent from Brahman, who is the Over-God in a sense, though this is a bit simplistic. Perhaps it would be better to think of Brahman as the sum of the Hindu pantheon as a whole. It is believed that this Shakti passes through the third eye on the forehead to lodge in the Sahasrara chakra in the crown of the head. As the Shakti passes down from one chakra point to another it enervates the body and soul, becoming a less spiritual and more physical thing as it does so. This concrete or solid Shakti is then stored in the Muladhara chakra in the base of the spine.

It is believed that this energy at the base of the spine, which is called Kundalini, accumulates from one incarnation to the next and grants its possessor a great deal of power should it be unlocked. From this belief springs the Tantric and Kundalini forms of yoga. By perfecting the forms taught in this series of exercises one may attain a greater consciousness thanks to the blessing of Brahman as well as to unleash the Kundalini coiled and dormant at the base of the spine since the beginning of time. When this happens the Kundalini passes back up through the chakra in reverse order until union with God is achieved when it reaches the Sahasrara.
It is interesting that as one looks from the top chakra point to the next we realize that they are associated with various aspects of human existence, starting with the abstract and traveling to the less subtle and more concrete parts of our being. It is as if our very nature is a result of God’s constant emanation passing through us. It is doubtful that the “gift” of humanity as it is given by Brahman is overlooked by practitioners of the Hindu faith.

As it has already been mentioned, the Sahasrara chakra corresponds to consciousness and morality, not an inherent knowledge, but one attained through logical thought. The Ajna is slightly lower and closer to the front of the head. This chakra is the source of our sense of time, and awareness of the presence of light, be it divine, natural, or manmade. One could easily associate these with the acquisition of and the subconscious processing of sensory input. The Vishuddha is the chakra in the throat and is the source of our ability to communicate with each other. As we all know communication is the only way in which we as a race can work together toward any common goal. The Anahata is the chakra located at the heart. As one could imagine the Anahata is where emotion stems from. Our feelings of love, compassion, and well-being are thanks to the Shakti traveling through this chakra.

The Manipura is located in the solar plexus. It is here that instinctual or reactive emotion translates to more complex emotion. It is also here that the food we eat and digest is miraculously converted into energy which sustains or lives. The Swadhisthana is the sacral chakra which is located in the sex organs. Base emotion such as anger, fear, hatred and others originate from this chakra. Also lust, sexuality, and the desire to procreate come from here. If they didn’t I imagine people would try to remove this chakra point and save themselves a lot of trouble.

The final chakra point, as has already been stated, is the Muladhara. It is from here that our base instincts rise. The Muladhara is most concerned with keeping us alive. The need to survive; the constant desire or want for something, the fight or flight reflex. Whether they are pleasant is debatable, but they are absolutely necessary for our individual survival. Even for someone not of the Hindu faith, the more one thinks about the chakras, the more sense it begins to make.

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