chakrology(see also esotericismand Tantra) the number of petals in a "chakra" identifies a characteristic of an individual " chakra". The significance for each "chakra" to have a specific number of petals is not generally known. The purpose of this article is to describe the reasons why each "chakra" holds in it the specific number of petals which they are traditionally reported to contain.
Traditionally the names used to identify "chakras" come from
Sanskritbut there is a New Ageconsensus in the use of English names for the "chakras". In this article the English nomenclature will predominate.
In current literature on the human aura and "chakras", the expression "subtle energy centres" is often used in conjunction with or instead of the Sanskrit term "chakras".
Number of Chakras
Based on Sanskrit literature from
India, it is generally considered that there are seven major "chakras" within the subtle human energy body or - to say it differently - seven subtle energy centres within the human energy field.
However, the earliest Sanskrit sources ("Upanishads") list either only four or five chakras. The "Yogatattva Upanishad" ("sloka" 83-101) lists five and describes these "chakras" as being interrelated with the five elements: "earth, water, fire, air, space". Over time, less ancient sources have added two or three major "chakras" to the original list while contemporary New Age writings have added a plethora of minor ones.
Recent "chakra" literature has also expanded the original list of five elements with many different and sometimes rather arbitrary elemental notions such as "time" or "light" for the brow chakra, and "consciousness" or "pure energy" for the crown chakra.
This article specifically focuses on the number of petals for each of the seven major chakras. However, in order to help with the understanding of the
mathematicsbehind the various and sometimes varying "chakra" petal counts, one additional but lesser known "chakra" will be brought in. In addition to the more abstract characteristics that are traditionally discussed in relation to the "chakras" e.g. Chakra Sanskrit Characters, Chakra Soundsand the elements or " Skandhas" there are also more concrete characteristics (albeit still rather non-human) e.g. Chakra Animals, Chakra Geometric Shapesand, as discussed here, the number of chakra petals that are traditionally used in the description of the chakras.
This article aims to explain that the relationship between the number of chakra petals and the human body is much more fundamental and concrete than it is generally assumed to be. Often only a symbolic value is given to the petal counts, especially when discussed in relation to the Sanskrit characters that are assigned to "chakras" and petals. It will become evident that the petal count for each "chakra" is related to certain specific groupings of
vertebrae and certain specific groupings of nerve pairs in the peripheral nervous system(PNS) that emanate from the spinal column through the vertebrae. This may be an indication of the fact that the early yogic investigators of the "chakras" (who either depicted or enumerated the "chakra" petals) were not only intuitive or clairvoyantFact|date=October 2007 but also used anatomical practices to find a correlation between what they saw intuitively and found through physical anatomical research. Terms like "sushumna", "ida" and "pingala" that often appear in texts dealing with yoga, "chakras" or " kundalini" are not only dealing with esoteric subtle energy notions but also point concretely at physical structures found in the human body - structures that may produce energetic field characteristics that are not accepted or easily understood in current scientific investigations of the human being as a "whole", in a spectrum ranging from the more "physical" or "gross" to the more "spiritual" or "subtle".
The main purpose of this article then is to show how the number of chakra petals is not just 'some number' but rather specifically related to and depending on a series of physical internal components within the human body such as its skeletal and peripheral nervous system parts as well as some specific physical structures within the brain.
Considerations affecting number of petals
Thus the following considerations affect the number of petals for each chakra:
* groupings of spinal vertebrae,
* groupings of nerve pairs (
ganglia) in the peripheral nervous system,
* the pituitary and
pineal glands situated within the brain.
Each "chakra" can be envisaged as an energy field that resembles a rotating color wheel, somewhat funnel or vortex-like, that can be seen as divided into a number of segments or divided up by a number of spokes.
"The Chakras" by
C.W. Leadbeater(1927) is considered to be a classic book on this topic. In it the chakras are depicted as segmented or striated color wheels, the segments of which according to tradition are called petals. Leadbeater proposes another additional term for these petals: "undulations".
Appellations such as "colored undulations" and terms like "striated rotating energy disks" or "circular concentric interference wave patterns" describe the way these segmented chakras are seen by clairvoyants much more accurately than the word "petals".
Except for the crown "chakra", literature in general agrees on the number of petals or segments for each chakra.
In addition to explaining the reason for the specific number of petals that each "chakra" can be observed to contain, this article also explains the reason for the discrepancy between the number of petals for the crown "chakra" as reported in various differing older and newer writings e.g. 960, 972 or 1,000.Fact|date=October 2007
As mentioned above, in order to understand this discrepancy it will prove to be worthwhile to recognize an additional but not very well known "chakra" that is situated underneath the root "chakra", just below the base of the
coccyx: the perineum"chakra". This "chakra" (just like the crown "chakra") is situated outside the physical body but still within the subtle human energy field.
When this additional "chakra" is taken into account, the reason for the difference between the crown chakra petal counts of 960 vs 1,000 will become more understandable.
When we look at an anatomy chart (generally to be found in a doctor's or
chiropractor's office) depicting the vertebrae and their nerve pairs, it can be demonstrated that the division as described in the list above makes as much sense (or more?) as the current convention of vertebrae number designation.
The lower "chakras" are directly related to the spine, but the brow and crown chakras do not have a direct spinal column connection. Instead, according to most sourcesFact|date=October 2007, they are directly linked to two glands embedded in the human brain: the pituitary gland (hypophysis) and the pineal gland (epiphysis).
The brow "chakra" is linked to the pituitary gland which consists of two parts, the anterior and the posterior lobes. This two lobed feature of the pituitary gland - or alternatively - the two hemispheres of the brain (which this chakra is also reportedFact|date=October 2007 to be influenced by) may account for the fact that in manyFact|date=October 2007 illustrations the brow chakra shows two large lobes.
According to above mentioned brochure it is this twofold nature of the pituitary gland or the brain that accounts for the doubling of the total number of petals of the traditional five lower chakras (48x2=96) as their accumulated energy reaches the brow chakra, thus producing the 96 petals of the brow "chakra". The writer of the brochure, favoring the two brain-hemisphere view, suggests the following,
"The 48 nerves (older anatomical count) are intricately connected to the brain's two hemispheres. This might be what results in the doubling of the total of 48 petals for the five lower chakras thus resulting in - as depicted in Leadbeater's book "The Chakras" - the two vertical semi-circles containing 48 striations or undulations each, adding up to 96 petals altogether."
In most "chakra" literature, chakras are described as subtle energy centres processing and transmitting subtle vibrational energies. The chakra pictures found in Leadbeater's "The Chakras" show this vibrational energy as concentric undulations or interwoven energy waves. Keeping that in the mind's eye, one can envisage that the "energetic wave packets", as they acquire and build up more energy while moving up from the lower chakras up the spinal chord to the highest chakra, that they affect the total energy of the crown chakra around or, according to most writings, above the head - but still within the subtle energy field that surrounds the human body.
According to "The Chakras, a clearer view", to understand the differing counts in petals e.g. 960, 972 (960+12) or 1,000 for the crown chakra, it may be helpful to know that the brain contains within it a number of interconnected liquid containing cavities, the "five paired ventricles" of the
ventricular system, that are filled with cerebro-spinal fluid(CSF). This is the same fluid that circulates through:
* the central spinal canal,
* an outer layer of the spinal chord,
* the meninges that surround the brain,
* and - according to current histology textsFact|date=October 2007 - leaks out from the ventricles and the spinal chord either to be absorbed by the blood or to 'bathe' the nerves by a process that is currently not well understood.
How the combined vibrational energy from the six or seven chakras (48 or 50 petals) below the crown "chakra" may gets its vibrational strength multiplied tenfold, thus producing either the 960 (2x48x10) or the 1000 (2x50x10) petals as they can be observed in the crown "chakra" and as they are depicted in Leadbeater's "The Chakras" is as yet not understood.
The crown "chakra" is often depicted with an additional twelve lobed flower-like formation in its centre. This may account for the additional 12 petals that, when added to the 960, make up the 972 petals that the crown chakra is reported to contain according to some writingsFact|date=October 2007. In turn this 12 lobed centre contains another striated circular formation. It may be possible to interpret these lobed and striated formations as representing the 12 major cranial nerve pairs that are found to exist within the brain.
Literature dealing with "chakra" petals often associates each petal with one of the characters of the
Sanskrit" Devanagari" alphabet.
Each chakra as a whole is usually also associated with a single Sanskrit "Devanagari" character, an element, a color, a geometric shape, an animal, a sense, one organ or a pair of organs, a gland and a mantric sound.
For more information regarding this, a classic source is "Chakras, Energy Centers of Transformation" by Harish Johari (1987). Other good sources are "Kundalini Yoga" by Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh (free www edition 1999 - see external links to download) and "Kundalini Tantra" by Swami Satyananda Saraswati (1984).
* [http://www.aurasphere.org/KundaliniPosts/AuraReadings.html Aura Sphere]
* [http://www.kheper.net/topics/chakras/chakras.htm The Chakras]
* [http://sivanandaonline.org/graphics/ebooks/swami_sivanandaji/introduction.html The Divine Life Society]
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