In the ancient science of tantra, the human body is viewed as the most perfect instrument for the expression of consciousness. This perfection is realized through the development of the psychic centers, or chakras. Located within the cerebrospinal system, the chakras are the stage upon which the interaction between higher consciousness and desire is played out. Consequently, it is through understanding and utilizing the energies of the chakras that we ultimately reach an enlightened state of being.
Harish Johari, Indian scholar and practitioner of tantra, introduces the classical principles of the chakras as well as their practical application for today. He unfolds the mysteries of these subtle centers of transformation with techniques of visualization that are essential to tantric practice and realization.
Johari's beautiful, full-color illustrations provide images-at once traditional and visionary-of each chakra; meditation on these images vitalizes the cerebrospinal centers and harmonizes the entire system both physically and psychically. Additional line drawings allow the aspirant to color in the images as an exercise in visualization and contemplation of the chakras. Sections on each chakra elaborate on correspondences with mantras, colors, astrological signs, and deities, as well as with particular personality types and behavioral characteristics.
Unlike other books in its field, Chakras provides the tools to activate the centers of transformative energy and elevate one's intellectual knowledge to an experience of spiritual growth. Nowhere else will the Western reader find so much valuable information on this ancient tradition in one place. For scholars and spiritual aspirants of every level, Chakras will be an invaluable, practical source of information and techniques.
CHAKRAS ARE PSYCHIC CENTERS in the body that are active at all times, whether we are conscious of them or not. Energy moves through the chakras to produce different psychic states. Modern biological science explains this as the chemical changes produced by the endocrine glands, ductless glands whose secretions mix into the body's bloodstream directly and instantaneously. Ancient philosophers of the East related those changes with the five basic tattvas, or elements - earth, water, fire, air, and akasha ( ether). These elements are constantly coming and going with the circadian rhythms inside the body. The ancient Indian science of Yoga therefore laid great emphasis on knowing these elements and on working accordingly, for the chakras are understood as the playground of the elements. In the ancient science of Svara Yoga (the yoga of conscious breathing), various methods to identify the presence of the tattva in the body are prescribed, and by mastering these techniques yogis can program themselves so as to accomplish much by using the least possible amount of energy. By the constant practice of kshata chakra bhedana (piercing the six chakras by visualization) and mantra japa (mantra recitation), they can finally transcend the tattvas, which dominate the five basic centers of the body-that is, the first five chakras-and thereby achieve the nodule consciousness that liberates them from the illusory world of maya.
Knowledge about the chakras can be a valuable key to introspection. It is possible to observe oneself and see energy moving through the various psychic centers. Religious practices such as fasting, charity, and selfless service cause the energy to flow into the higher centers; the dormant energy coiled in Muladhara ("root, base" )Chakra becomes active - and begins its ascent. After the flow has reached the higher centers, the total attitude of the practitioner changes; this feeling is referred to repeatedly as a new birth. Maintaining the upward flow of energy then becomes the primary concern of such a person. The constant, simultaneous practice of visualization and mantra japa helps the aspirant to maintain the flow of energy in higher centers -and thus get beyond the tattvas.
Visualization requires proper images of the chakras. Mantras, abstract forms or images of chakras drawn by visionary artists of the past, should be used. Such a tool without precepts is meaningless, however, and similarly, precepts without the proper tools offer no real growth. The illustrations in this book help the mind to retain the images of the chakras. Coloring the line drawings in a systematic way can further help in visualization, for one can repeat in the mind the sequence in which the color is painted, and thus mentally reconstruct the entire drawing. This will change the pattern of the brainwaves and the psychic makeup. To achieve the proper colors, one should consult the color illustrations that are provided. The following order should be used in coloring:
1. The petals of the chakra
2. The yantra of the chakra
3. The animal that carries the bija (seed, gem)
4. The bija sound
5. The Shakti of the chakra
6. The deity of the chakra
The same order should be used in visualization, that is, by mentally reconstructing the complete drawing of the chakra, one can develop the practice of abstract visualization, which in time will lead to deep meditation.
The line drawings should be colored to activate the right hemi-sphere of the brain; the introductory text should be studied to enrich the understanding and activate the left hemisphere. This will create a balance between the "thinker's brain" and the "artist's brain." Japa of the seed sounds (bija mantras) and following the law of dharma (righteousness, order) will assist the aspirant in achieving higher states of consciousness.
I would like to thank Mary Conors for preparing the line drawings for this book, based on paintings of the chakras that I had done earlier. I am very grateful to my teacher Shri C. Bal, who guided Isandeep Johari in preparing the colored illustrations, and to Heidi Rauhut for preparing the first copy of the revised text of the present edition. I also thank Elaine Minto for typing parts of the manuscript and helping me edit some of the chapters.
I am very thankful to H. H. Shripadji, Ganesh Baba, and Acharya Chandrashakhar Shastri for their clarification and guidance on various issues, and for enriching my knowledge by their teachings, blessings, and presence, which inspired me to undertake the job.
The teachings in this book come from my father, who practiced kshata chakra bhedana, and from different tantric scriptures, the writings of saints, and various scrolls that depict the chakras in a number of different ways. To assist in understanding the ancient concepts I have added many drawings and charts with the hope of enriching people's knowledge and helping them to comprehend the age-old Indian tradition of Tantra in a modern context.
Finally, I thank all of my friends and students whose valuable suggestions have helped me prepare this book, and hope that it in turn will be helpful as a guidebook to the chakras. Those who wish to study more about the planes mentioned in the different chakras are directed to my book Leela* which is based on the "game" of knowledge. Additional aspects of the chakras are discussed in my book Tools for Tantra.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
Original Tantric Texts (27)
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