The Seven basic chakras
Chakra means "wheel" or "circle", and sometimes referred as the "wheel of life". The chakras are aligned in an ascending column from the base of the spine to the top of the head. In modern age practices, each chakra is associated with a certain color and are associated with multiple physiological functions such as aspects of consciousness and other distinguishing characteristics. These are seen as lotuses with a different number of petals in every chakra.
The chakras not only vitalise the physical body but also regulate the interactions of a physical, emotional and mental nature. The chakras are the locus of life energy (prana), which flow among them along pathways called nadis. The main function of the chakras is to keep the spiritual, mental, emotional and physical health of the body in balance by spinning and drawing energy.
The modern world has drawn inspiration from the chakras and draws a parallel between the position and role of the chakras and those of the glands in the endocrine system. The modern world also recognizes that there are additional chakras which exists such as ear chakras.
The energy that was unleashed in creation, called the Kundalini, lies coiled and sleeping at the base of the spine. It is the purpose of the tantric or kundalini forms of yoga to arouse this energy, and cause it to rise back up through the increasingly subtler chakras, until union with God is achieved in the Sahasrara chakra at the crown of the head.
The seven chakras are placed at differing levels of spiritual subtlety, with Sahasrara at the top being concerned with pure consciousness, and Muladhara at the bottom being concerned with matter, which is seen simply as crudified consciousness. The earliest known mention of chakras is found in the later Upanishads, including specifically the Brahma Upanishad and the Yogatattva Upanishad. These vedic models were adapted in Tibetan Buddhism as Vajrayana theory, and in the Tantric Shakta theory of charkas.
The different parts of the world use different models of chakras such as Chinese medicine, Tibetan Buddhism, western world, etc. The western world mainly adhere to the shakta theory of seven main chakras as translated versions of the Sat-Cakra-Nirupana, and the Padaka-Pancaka, the two Indian texts are mainly referred there.
The Jewish kabbalah sometimes associate the different Sephiroth with parts of the body. In Islamic Sufism, Lataif-e-Sitta (Six Subtleties) are considered as psychospiritual "organs" or faculties of sensory and suprasensory perception, activation of which makes a man complete.
There have been several attempts to reconcile the different systems, which received some success even between diverged traditions such as Shakta Tantra, Sufism and Kabbalism, where chakras, lataif and Sephiroth can seemingly represent the same archetypal spiritual concepts.
In Surat Shabda Yoga, initiation by an Outer Living Satguru is required and involves reconnecting soul to the Shabda and stationing the Inner Shabda Master at the third eye chakra. The main seven charkas are described as under:
Sahasrara, also known as the crown chakra, the chakra of consciousness is the master chakra that controls all the other chakras. We can draw a parallel between sahasrasa in yoga with pituitary gland, which secretes hormones to control the rest of the endocrine system, in modern science. Both have similar roles. This chakra is visualized as a lotus with a thousand petals.
Ajna, also known as the third eye, is similar to the pineal gland in modern science. It is the chakra of time, awareness and of light. Like the pineal gland regulates the instincts of going to sleep and awakening by producing hormone melatonin, the Ajna also controls the time cycle of the human body. This chakra is visualized as a lotus with two petals.
The chakra, which is related to the communication, expression and growth, is called Vishuddha or the throat chakra. In modern science, we can compare this with thyroid glands, which produces thyroid hormone and are responsible for growth and maturation of the body. This chakra is visualized as a lotus with sixteen petals.
The chakra, which control our emotions by virtue of its relation to love, equilibrium, and well-being, is known as Anahata or the heart chakra. In modern science, it is related to the thymus, which is responsible for the immune system of the body and is adversely affected by stress. This chakra is visualized as a lotus with twelve petals.
The chakra, which is related to the energy, assimilation and digestion and draws parallel with the roles played by the pancreas and the outer adrenal glands, is known as Manipura or the solar plexus chakra. This chakra plays a vital role in the conversion of food matter into energy for the body and digestion. This chakra is visualized as a lotus with ten petals.
Swadhisthana or the sacral chakra is located in the groin, and is related to emotion, sexuality and creativity. It draws parallels with the sex organs in the body such as testicles or the ovaries. This is responsible for sex & love and reproduction. This is also responsible for the mood swings in the individuals. This chakra is visualized as a lotus with six petals.
Muladhara or the base or root chakra is the chakra of instinct, survival and security. This chakra is located is located in the region between the genitals and the anus. There is no endocrine organ in this region of the body, so a direct comparison with the modern science organs is not possible but this is very close to the role played by the inner adrenal glands, the adrenal medulla, which is responsible for the fight and flight response when survival is under threat. Since, the muscle that controls ejaculation in the sexual act is located in this region a parallel of this chakra is also drawn with the sperm cell and the ovum, where the genetic code lies coiled, and the kundalini. This chakra is visualized as a lotus with four petals.