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Why does the chakra system play such an important role in tantra?

We are both shiva and shakti male God and female Goddess.  In tantra we are taught that we are a microcosm of the entire Universe and our bodies are a manifestation of pure energy from a common Source that was born from a uniting of both Shiva and Shakti.  During 5000 B.C. a Cult was established around the Hindu God Shiva and his Goddess Shakti.  Shiva was pure consciousness but could not transform energies around Him.  Shakti was the embodiment of pure energy but she could actually affect and shift energy so when the two divinities met and connected sexually and spiritually Shakti gave Shiva a true solid form and gave birth to the Universe.  Tantra is a practice of pure love; it is this joyful dance between Shiva and Shakti and this mutual exchange of male and female essence that creates a balance of beauty and unconditional love amongst us.  If you can see the divine presence in yourself and acknowledge the female and male entities inside you you have the power to create a playground of delight all within your being.  When you see the divinity within you, you can recognize the divinity within another and love someone else with that blind devotion and human empathy that will create a bridge between human physical life into a higher realm of ethereal space.  

Tantra means weaving and so in the practice of weaving, we unify the fragmented pieces of ourselves like precious silken threads we honor and hold sacred.   We honor the scary parts as well as the joyful pieces into this luminous quilt we learn to cherish and explore.   Tantra also means expansion in that we learn to grow spiritually as our energy is unified and our Kundalini Shakti awakens us into our Higher Being.


I'd like to include this quote from Ajit Mookerjee that I found in a passage of Margo Anand's book "The Art of Sexual Ecstasy":

                     Shakti is the Power that creates and destroys,

                     the womb from which all things proceed and to

                     which all things return.......Shakti is spontaneous

                     vibration,  the fullness of her blissful state and the

                     out bursting of her joy compelling her toward self-


Now you can understand what a strong role the Goddess or female energy plays in Tantra.   Without Shakti we can not exist and the roots of all Tantric practices lie in a strong devotion to the Goddess in all her forms.   The Goddess Kali is considered the Dark Goddess or Goddess of destruction and she is portrayed as a black goddess standing upon human skulls and her hands are clenching skulls, yet if you examine more closely she is the protective goddess taking care of her children and fiercely staking her claim willing to defend her creations from those that would destroy.  I like to think of Kali as being the mother earth -- nurturing those that would honor and bring life back to her.   When we respect the Earth goddess she is mother, healer, care taker and guardian of us all.  When we take her for granted or dishonor her she turns into the destroyer and yields her fiery side removing chaos.   She becomes the multi armed goddess willing to cut away anything or anyone that does not serve her.   In this way the Destroyer becomes the Creator of all because she will remove anything from her path in order to give birth to a gentler way of life.  It becomes not an end but the end of a world as we perceive it.  Each day we spend time creating and giving life to our thoughts manifesting and dreaming and scheming.   Each day we destroy and we create and we recreate and reweave a tapestry connecting and sometimes disconnecting as we need to so we can become an authentic being!

So what exactly are Chakras and how do they play such a crucial role in Kundalini Shakti's awakening?   First we must define what a Chakra is.   In Sanskrit a chakra is a wheel of light.   A chakra is known to constantly open and close spinning clockwise and counter clockwise and since it is in a state of constant flux it alternatively serves as a filter which allows pure pranic energy to enter or be blocked out depending upon our needs.  Sometimes a chakra may close itself off or shut itself down if it encounters too strong an energy, or an energy it deems harmful.   During these times the chakra is in a closed state in order to protect itself.   At other times the chakra may be overactive and will stay in a state of remaining open but somehow a chakra will "know" what it needs in order to maintain homeostasis.   These chakras are interconnected to each other and they each have an affect upon the next chakra body all sharing an important role in the balancing of our physical and emotional well being.


Each chakra is associated with a specific color, function, sound and symbol or yantra.  

Here is a detailed account of each chakra and their functions:

A.   MULADHARA  CHAKRA (first Chakra)


 The Muladhara Chakra or foundation is located just above the anus (the perineum) and it is an earth element which rules our material drive and motivates us to provide for ourselves.  If this chakra is well balanced we feel secure in our own bodies and our power to make things happen.  This chakra rules elimination and responds to the sound Lam.  The yantra or geometric symbol for this chakra is a yellow square.  The main sense this chakra rules is our sense of smell but the working organ for this chakra is the anus.  Muladhara Chakra is the seat of Kundalini Shakti and she resides as a coiled snake goddess awaiting her awakening. The base chakra also houses the three most important Nadis or energy channels in our spirit body.  The Ida, Pingala and Sushumna originate in the kanda, the fibrous material beneath the Muladhara Chakra.  When these areas are stimulated through tantric breathing they travel upwards till they reach the Ajna Chakra which resides between the brows.  The Ida and Pingala  Nadis terminate in the left and right nostril and continue to charge up energy until reaching the crown chakra opening a state of deep bliss and a transcendence of time and being. 

B.   SVADHISTHANA  CHAKRA  (second chakra)


The second chakra or sexual chakra is located above and behind the genitals and its element is water. Its function is sexual drive and procreation so in a healthy manifestation of this chakra one feels an openness and a strong but "healthy"  feeling of aliveness when this chakra is stimulated.   Indications of a closed chakra will be a feeling of numbness if this chakra is touched.   The yantra for the second chakra is a moon color crescent and the seed sound is VAM.  The literal meaning of the name is Dwelling Place of the Self and if this chakra is open it can enhance our creative spark and our own inner fantasy realms.  The ruling organ is the tongue and the sense that is stimulated is our sense of taste.  The organs that work here are the genitals and so when we stimulate this chakra with conscious kegel pulsations we activate this chakra. The daily practice of holding the Bandhas (muscle locks and tightening of our anal and genital areas) will activate this chakra and super charge our bodies preparing and opening up new channels of sensual pleasure and healing.

C.  MANIPURA CHAKRA  (third chakra)


The third chakra is the navel and it is a fire element and the seat of our will power.  The name for the Manipura Chakra is City of Jewels.   This chakra represents our drive to get things done and our digestive tract.  It is also the seat of our emotions and so if we feel a sense of balance and harmony in this chakra our digestive system should be balanced but if we are feeling distressed or out of control then we can develop major illnesses such as ulcers.  The seed sound is Ram and its ruling element is fire so its predominant color is a fiery red and the yantra is a red triangle.  The predominant sense ruled by this chakra is sight and the organs that work the most for this organ are the feet and legs.  Just as the sun is the source of life for earth so is our third chakra or naval chakra.  It is here we come from our true strength and our own ego.  The fire element that resides in this chakra fuels our body allowing us to absorb nutrients and gain health from the foods we eat and acts towards our own basic needs for survival but fire can also be highly destructive if it rages out of control.



D.  ANAHATA CHAKRA (fourth charkra)


The Anahata Chakra literally means Heart Lotus and unstruck and not so surprising its ruling planet is Venus (Goddess of love).The location of the fourth chakra is to the right of the physical heart and the center of the chest.  The element is air and the ruling force here is the love drive and its function is respiration.  If this chakra is well balanced one can feel this surge of unconditional love and openness towards others and themselves.  If there is an imbalance there can be feelings of self loathing or a lack of self worth.   We can open this chakra with the seed sound ya and its yantra is a smoky grey hexagon with a triangle of green.  The sense organ for this chakra is our skin and our hands are the working force behind the heart chakra.  Despite our traditional conceptions of the heart chakra the color is not Valentine's Day red but green the color of an emerald forest so lush and healthy it radiates unconditional love. Kundalini Shakti appears now as a radiant Goddess in the anahata chakra and she is garbed in a white sari sitting serene and centered.  She has changed her form from elusive and coiled snake goddess into a goddess of selfless devotion.  We can activate our fourth chakras by performing self less acts of service to others and it is normal for a woman to have a more open heart chakra when she gives birth to a child.  If we can enjoy each moment of our life just as it is without self judgment or expectations we can heal and open our heart energies in a modest but profound way.

E.  VISHUDDHA  CHAKRA   (fifth chakra)


The fifth chakra or throat lotus is the throat chakra and its element is the ether.  The functions of this chakra are spiritual drive and it rules our glandular functions.  If this chakra is well balanced we are able to clearly state our truths without fear of judgment.  We can speak in a loving but truthful way at all times.  If however this chakra is not clear we are afraid to speak our own truths and the resulting manifestation of a blocked throat chakra can result in throat maladies.  We can activate this chakra through the act of singing or chanting. The seed sound is Ham and the yantra is crescent moon with a white circle around it.  The predominant sense of the fifth chakra is hearing and the working organs are the mouth and the vocal cords. When we consciously meditate on opening our throat chakra we can gain a sense of inner peace, serenity, purity, a soothing voice and an ability to compose poetry!  The act of singing or chanting creates a spiritual state of being and affects our hearts opening us in a way that prepares us for the vibratory power of our throat chakras.

F.  AJNA CHAKRA   (sixth chakra)


The ajna is our third eye (the point between our eyebrows) and rules our intellect and our ability to see and feel what is not physically there but what is spiritually present. The ajna is well balanced if our intuition is highly    pronounced but if this chakra is out of balance we do not trust ourselves or our inner voice. The sound OM can activate this sixth chakra and if we visualize the yantra which is a full moon color and shape we can increase our powers of perception and open our third eye to activate Kundalini energy and the potential to receive enlightenment. If this chakra is blocked one can experience head aches or confusion.  In the Hindu tradition men and women place a vermillion dot in the center of their foreheads to activate the third eye.  Our physical eyes can perceive our current reality but it is our third eye which reveals the unseen or what will transpire.  When a yogi is able to achieve kundalini shakti awakening the Ajna Chakra is fully activated and a pure light   will form around the head and auric field.  The yogi then enters a place where there are no boundaries of time but he becomes a seer having the abilities to visit all realms of realities past present and future.  It is here we develop a sense of cosmic awareness and we cease to be separate entities coexisting; we indeed become the mirror of divine love to others and ourselves.


G.  SAHASRARA CHAKRA  (seventh chakra)


This area is a grouping of several layers of chakras that form our etheric body.  There are four or five chakra bodies that dwell here and they are part of the formless Supreme Light or our Higher Being.  When we achieve Kundalini Shakti awakenings this area is activated and we are able to live in a state of complete bliss and non judgment.  It is here that we are truly ALIVE.   Anything can be achieved and anything becomes possible.  The soul star dwells here and is the manifestation of our Higher selves.  Our ultimate goal in Tantra is to attain this state of Bliss hood and non judgment.  The symbol for these chakras is a 1000 pedaled lotus flower.

If chakras are interconnected wheels of light then what is the conduit by which each wheel communicates and sends energy?  These are the Nadis and nadis are simply conduits or pathways of energy in which pure pranic energy can be transferred from one chakra to the next.  There are 14 major nadis but only two are of primary importance for Kundalini Shakti to arise.  

The two main nadis are Ida and and Pingala.  They are activated by Pranayama--the act of breathing alternatively through the left and right nostril which will stimulate the left and right hemispheres of the brain.  Ida is associated with the river Ganges and she governs the right side of the brain.  She is female and her symbol is the moon so she is icy in nature.  Pingala controls the left hemisphere of the brain and its symbol is the sun so its color is red and he is masculine and hot in temperature.

By actively stimulating these nadis we begin the act of awakening the sleeping and coiled up snake goddess who resides in the base of our spine.  During our lifetimes we do not efficiently use most of the energy that is stored here so we live half lives--half sleepy and half awake.  It is the goal of the practicing tantric or yogi to consciously breathe and meditate on activating this sleeping snake to attain nirvana and achieve a "oneness" with the Universal flow. Our vital energy lays here dormant at the base of our first chakra but she can be encouraged to awaken during tantra yoga and white kundalini yoga.   A kundalini awakening can heal our central nervous system and eliminate diseases or create new pathways of energy in our physical body.  As our kundalini energy rises within our spinal column and the two snakes uncoil and travel upwards there is a great production of fire or heat that cleanses and purifies our nadis and chakras.  As each chakra pops open there is an internal fire that streams from the base chakra to the crown chakra and it circulates in a constant current of energy from the head to the feet and from the feet back up to the head.  It is during this state where we achieve expansion and we feel cleansed and whole and at peace.  A false sense of kundalini awakening can also be achieved through the ingestion of certain drugs but they are short lived and they can prove to be quite toxic to the body unlike the natural high one can achieve through the practice of tantric meditations and tantric love making.

In conclusion the practice of mind full breathing and conscious breathe can prepare our bodies for deeper relaxation. It is the practice of tantra that teaches us how to honor our bodies as temples and potentially receive the healing energy of pure prana that is free for all of us to enjoy.  When we understand the chakras better we become conscious givers and receivers of energy and touch; and we gain more self awareness in our own bodies by focusing inward and appreciating our divinity.  These are not just empty sentiments; these are promises we can make to our selves each day we wake up and take the time to stare in the mirror and say NAMASTE "the divine in me meets the divine in you".


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