The Problems of the Chakras
The concept and system of chakras have all come from the Upanishads and ancient texts of yoga. They are all referenced with each of their corresponding deity, petals, and letters of the Sanskrit language. There is in-depth knowledge of them in the Natha and Tantrik lineages from which they come. The texts of these lineages are the utmost authoritative works on the chakras and energy system of the being.
In their kinetic condition they should be capable of undergoing scientific tests and rational thinking. We have to admit that modern science will have to make far greater advances than it has done upto now. Not only that but the most secret of aparatus should be made available to the Yogi laboratories and scientists of the highest order as well as Yogins of “real” perfection should be willing to offer their cooperation for solving the riddles that are presented by the art and science of “real” Yoga.
Spokes, Petals and Pikes
Chakras are the centers of spiritual activity in the human body and particular parts of the human body have been referenced as their locations. Why are they called chakras? Chakra means wheel or circle. Both of these names do not harmonize with the descriptions of the chakras traditionally given. There can be nothing round with only two lines drawn in opposite sides nor can there be a wheel with two spokes. When we say this we have Ajna Cakra in our mind. So it is difficult to apprehend why these spiritual centers are called chakras. The chakras are also called padmas or kamalas meaning lotuses but her to the difficulty arises in only a symbolic representation of the centers of spiritual activity with two petals only as Ajna once again. We need to understand that the words chakra or padma give only representations of the centers of spiritual activity and that the anatomical parts mentioned as the locations of these centers are very vaguely reffered to.
If we speak of the number of petals, we find that their number progressively increases from four in Adhara to sixteen in Vishudha. Then from sixteen it suddenly drops to two in Ajna and more suddenly it rises to one thousand in Sarasrara. It is difficult to rationally understand this rise and fall in petals. Does the number rise with the progressively higher spiritual activity connected with the lotus? No. According to all schools (real yoga lineages, not western BS) that directly or indirectly speak the language of chakras, Ajna has the highest spiritual importance next only to Saharara but Ajna has only two petals. Saharara means having a thousand spikes or pikes. It is also stated to have a thousand petals. How can the same parts can be compared with spokes or pikes and at the same time with petals of a lotus? It is another difficult image. Even taking the number of petals and the shape to be a symbolic representation does not solve difficulties presented here unless we take even this symbolic representation to be extremely vague.
There is one more point which can be touched on. It is about the number of petals in each chakra. According to Shatchakra Nirupana, Svadhishthana has six petals but according to Subhagodaya, it has eight. The contradiction is obvious and is between two authors of the same school.
Order of the Chakras
When we take in to consideration the order of the charkras we come into more difficulties. According to Shatchakra Nirupana, Svaddhisthana stands second and Manipura stands third from the bottom. The same order is assigned to these two by Gaudapada in Subhagodaya as well. But in Ananda Lahari by Sri Shankaracharya, a disciple of Gaudapada, the order is reversed. Manipura stands second and Svadhishthana stands third. This is not merely a an exchange in names. The learned commentator places fire element in Svadhishthana and the water element in Manipura which contradicts the views of Subhagodaya and is against the order of creation described in the Upanishads and that is also accepted by the Tantrik followers of Samaya school. The order is Akasha, Vayu, Agni, Ap, then Prithvi as it is clear from Taittiriya Upanishad 2.1. When it is remembered that Taittiriya Upanishadis held in great reverence by the Samaya school, it becomes extremely difficult to reconcile these contradictions.
Locations of the Chakras
Coming to the question of the location of Chakras, we find that Guda, Medhra, Nabhi, etc., have been assigned serially to them by the author of Shatchakra Nirupana. Here a problem confronts us. Are the Chakras situated inside the vertebreal column or outside it? Certainly Guda, Medhra, Nabhi, Hrydaya, etc. are not situated outside the vertebral column, they are located outside. So accordingly to the writer of Shatchakra Nirupana, the chakras are located outside the vertebral column but the same author in 5.2 locates them all inside the vertebral column. It may be pointed out that the Chakras and their locations are fixed and determined by clairvoyance and reason has no right to dispute these findings. Even after admitting validity of this argument, importance can not be attached to the contradictory findings even of a person gifted with clairvoyance. Here we are faced with two contradictory statements of one and the same author.
It is an obvious view that the real centers of the chakras are inside the spine and not outside, the outside locations such as Guda, Medhra, etc., are vaguely stated and are merely the external structures stimulated when the internal Chakras are awakened.
In Gorakshashataka, v 10 and 11, we are told that the location of Adhara Chakra is Guda and also that yoni is inside this Adhara Chakra, that is in Guda, whereas we are also told that Yonissthana is between Adhara and Svadhishthana. As far as Gorakshashataka is concerned there is no distinction made between Yoni and Yonisthana. In v 8, the word Yonisthana is used for perineum and for the same organ the word Yoni is used in v 33. We have to take the words Yoni and Yonisthana in v 10 – 11 respectively to mean one in the same thing and that also is to stand for something inside the Chakra and not perineum which is an external organ.
What is the position of Adhara Chakra? In order to make Gorakshashataka consistent we need to take Shiva Samhita 2.21 as an authority. It states that Adhara Chakra is two fingers above the anus and two fingers below the penis. If that is the position of Adhara Chakra then how does v 11-12 of Gorakshashataka place it in Gudasthana? Recoiling all of this is to only place Adhara nearer to Guda than the penis, whereas according to Shiva Samhita it is exactly between the two organs. Being nearer to Guda, the Chakra is said to be in Guda in v 11. This is a representation of Shakti just as Linga occurring in v 12 is a representation of Shiva. Shiva Samhita gives the description to this Yoni and refers to Kundalini as its presiding deity.
Verses 10 – 14 of Gorakshashataka are to be found serially in Dhyanabindu Upanishad as v43 – 47 and in Yogachudamani Upanishad as v 4 – 8. In Yogachudamani Upanishad, Upanishadbrahminyogin equates Kundalini as the presiding deity of Yoni but as Kundalini itself and Linga with the individual soul. He extends the adjective Siddhavandita to Siddhasiddhavandita, meaning this Yoni or Kundalini is capable of satisfying both spiritual and carnal apetites. To make this clear, the commentator wants to say that Kundalini residing in Muladhara even when awakened may not move upward but its activities would remain localized. When it travels upward and passes the Anahata Chakra, it helps the aspirant to achieve their spiritual objective. If it is confined to Muladhara, then it enables the sadhaka to succeed in their worldly ambitions. This is because as far as individuals (Vyasti) are concerned, Kundalini is capable of leading this worldliness or to other worldliness.
Upanishadbrahminyogin, in his commentary on Yogachudamani Upanishad v 42 – 44, Gaudapada condemns the worship of Muladhara and Svadhishthana Chakras because according to him they are only Tamoguna or dark ignorance. As well as the Tantriks have three schools; Kaula, Mishra, and Samaya. The Kaula school is after carnal pleasures and worships only the first two Chakras whereas the Samaya school works right up to Sahasrara and seeks spiritual development So according to Gaudapada, the objectives of the Kaulas are to be condemned. But… the fact remains that the worshippers of the first two Chakras or particularly of Muladhara where Yoni is situated in the form of Kundalini would revere them because that Yoni gives them worldly pleasures. The Kaulas are condemned though due to their inebriation.
Elements of the Chakras
In Gorakshashataka, there is a reference to the five elements like Prithvi, Ap, etc., residing in the different locations of spiritual centers (verses 69 – 73). Prithvi is in the heart, Ap is in the throat, Tejas is in the Palate, Vayu is in the Bhrumadhya, and Akasha is in Brahmarandhra. This does not agree with Shatchakra Nirupana which places Prithvi in the Adhara, Ap in the Svadhisthana, Tejas in the Manipura, Vayu in the Anahata, and Akasha in the Vishuddha. It is difficult to reconcile the two views but thoughts go to the view expressed in Shatchakra Nirupana is better as Prithvi is the grossest of the elements, its place should be in the lowest of the Chakras and not the region of Anahata which is much higher in spiritual value than the place of Adhara. The same argument applies to the other elements also. But why this difference of opinion even in the case of material things such as Prithvi etc.?
Chakras Buddhas vs Hindus
The Buddhas also have their Yoga corresponding to the Hindu Yoga. Here are a few salient points for a comparison of the two Yoga types.
Out of six Chakras of the Hindus, the Buddhas have only three corresponding to Manipura, Anahata, and Visuddha. The place of Sahasrara has been taken by Ushnisha. They also do not have Ajna Chakra which is attached very great spiritual importance by the Hindus. As far as the petals go, the Buddhas offer a complete contrast with the Hindus. Sahasrara has a thousand petals as its name indicates but Ushnisha has only four petals, the lotus in the forehead possesses sixteen petals, the lotus in the heart possesses thirty two petals and the lotus in the navel possesses sixty four petals. Hindu Chakras increase the number of petals in an ascending order but to the Buddhas the number of petals decrease as the Chakras rise in the same order. The question is if the petals present in different Chakras are a positive experience why would their numbers differ as seen by the Hindus and the Buddhas, even granting that the experience is obtained by clairvoyance?
Now for the problem of the deities residing over the Chakras or the five elements. Shatchakra Nirupana relegates the question of the deities to the realm of belief, individual choice and personal interpretation. Speaking of Brahmarandhra, the 44th verse declares that the Shaivas wil look upon it as the abode of Shiva, the Vaishnavas a that of the abode of the Highest Being (Vishnu), some others as that of both Shiva and Vishnu, The Tantriks as that of Devi, and Sankhyas as that of Prakriti and Purusha. Chakras are a positive phenomena as Kundalini itself.
Letters on the Petals
When we come to the question of the letters inscribed on the petals, it also defies rational understanding. The word used for letter is Varna in Sanskrita and it means either a syllable or a letter of its alphabet. As the varnas given do not form a part of any word they cannot mean a syllable so they must mean a letter. This becomes the difficulty. According to Pannini there are only 42 letters and not 51, as the Tantriks want us to understand. Furthermore, they want us to count व, व, and स as one letter. This is not acceptable to Sanskrit. Eac of them consists of two letters, one consonent and one vowel. Again, आ, ई, ऊ, etc., are taken as independent letters and not merely as the dirghas of अ, इ, उ, etc.,. When considered from these points of view, Adhara has eight varnas and not four. Vidshuddhi has only nine vowels and not sixteen. Sahasrara has forty two and not fifty and when this is multiplied by twenty it has eight hundred and forty and not one thousand.
However, even if the method of calculation followed by Shatchakra Nirupana in determining the number of letters is accepted, we do not get fifty letters for Sahasrara but the text of Kankalamalinitantra goes against this number and makes it fifty one. The text of this tantra reads that there are sixteen vowels and 35 consonants including क्ष. The writer of Shlokaartha Parishkarini reduces the number of consonants to thirty four so that the total number of letters may be fifty and not fifty one.
Rational thinking about these Varnas of the Tantrikas presents a more serious difficulty when we consider the sequence in which they are arranged. It is clear that they have not followed the Sanskrit alphabetical order, nor have they paid any attention to the serial sthanas from which the letters of Sanskrit are pronounced. they have combined labials व, भ, and म with guttural अ in Svadhishthana and the labials प, and फ with the same guttural in Manipura. In Vishuddha vowels proounced from a different sthana are grouped together. In Ajna they have क्ष, a conjunct consonant, made up of क and ष, a guttural and a cerebral, plus the guttural अ.
It may be argued that the Sanskrit alphabet consists of articulate sounds which constutute Vaikhari whereas these Tantrika letters belong to Madhyama or even Pashyanti. If this is allowed to be valid, it says that there is no coorespondance between Vaikhari and Madhyama or Pashyanti, although Madhyama and Pashyanti are only subtler forms of Vaikhari.