Thursday, July 16, 2015

10 chakras explained by T Krishnamacharya

Updated Article - 20-7-2015: Added explanation of manas chakra and angulas (unit of measurement)
Also updated info on location of manas chakra after the article on angulas

T. Krishnamacharya is called as 'father of modern Yoga', who made Yoga very popular. He started traditional approach through an approach called Viniyog. In viniyog, guru or acharya consults each one individually and offer specific suggestions on which kind of ananas (yogic postures) are fit for him/her. He was Guru of Popular Yogis like A G Mohan (his disciple for 18 years) and Rukmi devi. B. K. S Iyengar was his borther-in-Law. 

It was Sri T Krishnamacharya who revived an almost lost yogic text called Yoga Yagjnavalkya. (Yoga Yajnavalkya is unique in it's own way, as it stresses more on pranayamas than postures and kriyas. It also aligns itself with vedanta, gives instructions based on varna locations of 14 important nadis, 10 types of vayus. It also explains different types of meditations for God with and without form i.e. saguNa and nirguNa upAsanA and meditation according to vedAnta. The text is very enlightening and gives a lot of clarity.)

Krishnamacharya has composed essence of yoga called Yoga Makaranda, which he dedicated to fourth Lord and Emperor Krishna Rajendra of Mysore

Krishnamacharya talks about 10 chakras in Part I of Yoga Makaranda and standard 7 chakras in Part II. There exists other chakras like Talu chakra and Akash Chakra mentioned by the great Gorakshanath. 

Krishnamacharya has not mentioned the source of the extra chakras. He referred to the following texts and has gleaned the essence of Yoga in Yoga Makaranda. It is recomended to read Yoga Makaranda available on Net 

Yoga Makaranda Part I | Part 2

Manas chakra and angulas (a unit of measurement)

While explaining the location of manas chakra, Krishnamacharya does not specify it's exact location but says this chakra is located near to anna kosham, meaning nearer to  physical body. According to Yoga Yajnavalkya, Energy body (pranamaya kosha) starts from center of physical body and extends 9 angulas (5-6 inches) out of physical body.

Angulas is an important unit of measurement and the distance of chakras and nadis is mentioned in angulas. One angula means width of finger. four angulas means four fingers joined together. One may argue that measuring any distance via finger is a bad choice as each one has different size (thickness) of finger depending upon height and body weight. But as far as measuring body is concerned this defect becomes and advantage. It is said that height of human body is 96 angulas. For example if it is said that svadhisthana chakra is four angulas lower than manipur hcakra, then this unit is true for people of all heights, but if we say the distance between svadhisthana and manipur is 5 inches, it may not be true for a 5 year old kid. If it is true for 5 year old kid, it may not be true for a 7 ft high person. angulas solve this problem as said earlier, it depends upon our own fingers.

Coming back to manas chakra, it can be said that while other chakras are 6 inches away from body, i.e. on surface of prANamaya kosha (energy body, aura), manas chakra is situated 3-4 inches away from annamaya kosha (physical body). However, Krishnamacharya ji has not given exact location 

Texts referred by T Krishnamacharya

(For convenience, texts are not presented in the Original Order as given in Yoga Makaranda)

Classic Hatha Yoga Texts

1. Hathayoga Pradipika - by a Nath Yogi Muktatma
2. Siva Samhita
3. Gheranda Samhita by geraNDa munI

Classical Yoga Texts
4. Patanjala Yogadarshanam (Patanjali Yoga Sutras)
5. Yogayajnavalkyam (Yoga Yajnavalkya)

Yoga Upanishads
6. Dhyana Bindu Upanishad
7. Chandilya Upanishad (Sandilya Upanishad)
8. Yoga Shika Upanishad
9. Yoga Kundalya Upanishad (Yoga Kundalini Upanishad)
10. Nada Bindu Upanishad
11. Amrita Bindu Upanishad
12. Garbha Upanishad

Other Texts
13. Rajayoga Ratnakaram
14. Yoga Taravalli of Adi Shankaracharya ji (Gloss on Patanjali Yoga Sutra)
15. Yoga Balaprathipikai
16. Ravana Nadi (Nadi Pariksa of Ravana)
17. Bhairava Kalpam
18. Sri Tattvanidhi
19. Yoga Ratnakarandam
20. Mano Narayaneeyam
21. Rudrayameelam (Rudrayamalam)
22. Brahmayameelam
23. Atharvana Rahasyam
24. Kapilasutram
25. Narada Pancharatra Samhita - Sri Vaishnava Text
26. Satvata Samhita
27. Ahir Buddhniya Samhita

An Intro by Krishnamacharya

Asana practice renders correct blood circulation. The snayus (ligaments) and various parts of the body will function at the perfect, ultimate level. It also causes all types??? of internal circulation to function properly. We all know the connection between good blood circulation, good nadi granthi, healthy body and good health. Hence it is not necessary to further emphasize the benefits of practising asana daily for at least a few minutes. What more does one need after seeing this? Only after acquiring these benefits can one expect to look forward to others.

Because of the power of pranayama practice, one develops strength in the bones, the bone marrow and the heart; one develops the brain, the head, the anna kosam, the fat layer, the mana kosam, the strength of breath and prana, and longevity; it sharpens the senses, strengthens the intellect and the voice and purifies the blood. All these are important factors necessary for the maintenance of health. Those with strong bones, vitality, nerves, and tendons will lead a healthy long life. Lack or weakness of viryam leads to lack of strength which leads to the atrophy of bones. Such a condition leads one to suffer from tuberculosis. Whoever has no impurities in their blood will never develop any disease, and their body will develop a kind of glow. How can darkness reside where there is sunlight? Hence all Ayurveda texts speak specifically on the importance of good blood circulation and bone strength for good health. If the blood is not clean, then the nadi cakras will not function (rotate) properly. We have observed the wheels of trains, electrical gadgets and such machines. If even one wheel malfunctions, all the activities of the machine stop and the gadget breaks down. Similarly when any one of the nadi cakras contained in the machine that is the body malfunctions or is spoiled, we will not derive any of the benefits of good health. Hence good blood circulation is essential for the proper functioning of the nadi cakras.


In the machine that is our body, there are ten cakras — namely

1. muladhara cakra,
2. svadhishtana cakra,
3. manipuraka cakra,
4. surya cakra,
5. manas cakra,
6. anahata cakra,
7. visuddhi cakra,
8. ajn ̃a cakra,
9. sahasrara cakra,
10. brahmaguha (lalata) cakra.

1. Muladhara Cakra

This cakra is next to the rectum. If, due to the strength resulting from practising pranayama with a focus on this cakra, caitanya is attained in this cakra, then this will strengthen the viryam (sexual vitality). When the viryam is kept under control, the body becomes tough. If anybody acquires caitanya in this cakra, they will become virile.

2. Svadhishthana Cakra

This svadhishthana cakra lies two angulas above the muladhara cakra. If by doing pranayama abhyasa according to the krama and rules caitanya is attained in this cakra, then this will destroy all diseases. There will be an astounding increase in good health. Any amount of physical work can be done without any fatigue. Even enemies will admire and adore one who has caitanya in this cakra. Violence will run away and hide from him. Even a tiger and cow will live in peaceful coexistence in his presence.

3. Manipuraka Cakra

This is situated exactly in the navel. If, due to the strength of pranayama practice, caitanya is attained in this cakra, then the practitioner will never encounter any physical or mental afflictions. These afflictions will flee his presence. One who has acquired caitanya in this cakra will be able to face any disaster or accident with mental fortitude. Not only that, he will develop divya drishti. He will experience the bliss of identifying atman as a separate entity from the body. This cakra is situated in the middle of all other cakras. The main function of this cakra is to ensure that all organs or parts of the body function at their proper strength. Good health is possible only when all the organs are strong. Any disease in any organ indicates ill health.

4. Surya Cakra

This cakra is situated in the third angula above the navel. Pranayama prac- tised with an equal ratio of exhalation and inhalation (recaka and puraka) with a focus on this cakra gives rise to caitanya in this cakra. Caitanya in this cakra purifies all the nadis of the stomach. One who has acquired caitanya in this cakra will not suffer from any diseases of the stomach, nor from any mahodaram and will acquire eternal good health, amazing vitality or shine, and long life. The pranayama practitioner will attain free move- ment of this cakra which will be visible by rapid increase in the digestive power. Special caitanya or insight will develop on practising bastra kevala kumbhaka pranayama. This is not possible to attain from practising other types of pranayama with a focus on this cakra. These will just lead to the ordinary benefits.

5. Manas Cakra

This is close to the anna kosam. Caitanya in this cakra is attained by a sustained practice of kevala kumbhaka pranayama. The main function of this cakra is to increase the power of intuition and to expand the intel- lect. This is because practising kumbhaka pranayama purifies (cleanses) the brain. There is a special connection between the brain and the manas cakra.

6. Anahata Cakra

This is situated in the hrdaya (heart) sthana. There is a special connection between this and the heart. Pranayama abhyasa with recaka and puraka kumbhaka of different ratios (raising and lowering the ratios) with a focus on this cakra will give rise to a steady state of caitanya in this cakra. This state of caitanya in this cakra removes weakness of the heart and will give extraordinary strength. All the activities associated with the heart are carried out due to the strength of this cakra. We all know that in this world, life is possible only as a result of the strength of the functioning of the heart. Hence if this cakra is kept in a correct state and moves freely, emotions like affection, devotion, gn ̃anam, etc. — such superior states of mind (bhavas) will arise in the heart. If this cakra malfunctions or becomes impure and moves in a constricted fashion, then murder, theft, adultery, unchastity and other such inferior emotions will arise in the heart. By correct pranayama practice, the speed of the cakra increases and this gives rise to an expanded intellect and the person will be inspired to become more involved in good works. Any pranayama practised against sastra will weaken the movement and speed of the cakra and will destroy or weaken the heart.

7. Visuddhi Cakra

This is situated in the throat region. That is, it is situated in the region below the neck, above the sternum, in between the two bones where there is a soft area (gap) the size of the middle finger. If caitanya is achieved and held in this cakra due to the strength of pranayama, the practitioner gets svara vign ̃anam (knowledge of sound). If cittam can be controlled to focus on this cakra, the practitioner will lose all thoughts of this world (lose consciousness) and will be able to see the divine paramatma in all his glory through the light of the self. If one controls the movements of the citta and attains caitanya in this cakra through the strength of kumbhaka, he will attain a steady state of youth and enthusiasm. By achieving this caitanya through krama, these benefits can be experienced to the extent desired.

8. Ajn ̃a Cakra

This cakra is situated between the two eyebrows. If caitanya can be held (focussed) here, one acquires the power to control everybody. Through the movements of recaka and puraka in the nadis of the two nostrils, if one practises pranayama by keeping the breath in the nostrils and circulating and moving the prana vayu, then the nadis below the nostril get purified. One develops a divine lustre, one is able to see the atman and through this blessing will be able to see all the events that are occurring around the world without moving from their position. Caitanya citta vritti in the ajn ̃a cakra is extremely helpful for a long life.

9. Sahasrara Cakra

This is directly above the throat or palate. The greatness of this cakra is beyond description. Every part of the body is associated to (depends on) this important point. If one enhances the caitanya in this sahasrara cakra through the strength of practising puraka in complete pranayama abhyasa, this will result in the rapid movement of this cakra which will in turn give any skill or power that you wish for.

10. Brahmaguha (Lalata) Cakra

This cakra is situated above the forehead. Pranayama practice will cause the prana vayu to move through the susumna nadi and this prana vayu should be held here through the skill of kumbhaka. If such a practice is followed, one acquires the power to change one’s own destiny. One cannot describe the greatness of this procedure. It can only be learned through experience.

Notes and Remarks

The caitanya sakti in every cakra can be only achieved through the strength of the practice of pranayama. Once the caitanya sakti is attained, the movement of the cakra becomes great. At this time, one begins to immediately experience the many benefits mentioned earlier. If pranayama is practised under proper guidance for one or two years following the sastras, cakra sakti will blossom and the many benefits will be attained. But this pranayama must only be practised along with asana and while observing the yama and niyama. If practised in this way, the pranayama sakti will blossom and move in all the important regions of the body and in the ten cakras and give great strength and benefits. One who is not skilled in the yama, niyama and asana will not receive any benefits. By correct practice and effort, the cakra sakti expands and all the mentioned benefits are attainable.


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