The History of the 7 Chakras
Updated: Jan 7, 2022
Each of the seven chakras are governed by spiritual laws, principles of consciousness that we can use to cultivate greater harmony, happiness, and wellbeing in our lives and in the world.- Deepak Chopra
The chakras are a spiritual system of thought that means many things to a great number of people. All totaled there are upwards of 114 chakras. However in a modern day context, what are thought of as the core seven chakras are the most widely known and used. These seven stand out to me personally as well, especially when applied to professional and corporate environments. This perspective was the inspiration for the 7 Chakras of Business program. These seven chakras are: Root, Sacral, Solar Plexus, Heart, Throat, Third-Eye, and Crown.
The 7 Chakras (Source: Healthline.com)
The chakras are deeply rooted in Hindu and Buddhist cultures as the system is present in many of each respective religious texts. This is a big reason why the chakras are very prevalent in Indian culture due to their inclusion in the earliest Hindu scripture known as “The Vedas”.
The west is a region where chakras have gained a lot more awareness in recent decades thanks to practices like yoga & mindfulness. This has inspired a reading of the chakras referred to as “New Age”. For many in this group, the chakras are not rooted in religion or spirituality. For this group, the chakras are often a means to better their personal health and self-development.
This being said, it is important that when discussing the chakras, that we are both aware of and pay respect to their origins.
The Chakras Hindu Origins: The Vedas
The earliest mention of the chakras will take you all the way back to 500 B.C. where it is outlined in the oldest Hindu text, The Vedas. The Vedas is one of the oldest recorded texts, period. The text was communicated verbally for years until it was finally put to ink.
Chakra translates to “wheel” and in Vedic Sanskrit is written as “Chakavarti”. This roughly translates to the “King who turns the Wheel of an Empire”.
The Vedas is based on the four Vedas figures: the Rigveda, the Yajurveda, the Samaveda, and the Atharvaveda. Each of the Vedas features four unique subdivisions which focus on things like mantras, ceremonies, philosophy, and spiritual knowledge.
A visual representation of texts pertaining to the four Vedas.
This interpretation of the chakras was very much based on the core idea of converging the physical and subtle body. It said that “If we could master this we could be more effective human beings”.
“The Vedas is one of the oldest recorded texts, period. The text was communicated verbally for years until it was finally put to ink”
The Chakras & Buddhism
The early Buddhist interpretations of the chakras took a spiritual perspective of the system. These original Buddhist teachings asserted that chakras were “Electromagnetic psychic energy centers locating and transferring up the spine”.
Chakras are heavily associated with Tibetan Buddhism. In Tibetan Buddhism a process occurs where an “attempt is made to bring the subtle winds of the body into the central channel, to realize the clear light of bliss and emptiness, and to attain Buddhahood”.
You may notice that in the previous statement, the chakras were not mentioned, not once. Many critics who question the relevance of the chakras within Buddhist teachings will point to this. They will mention that Buddha never explicitly mentioned the chakras. However, others argue that his teachings are analogous to the chakras to such an extent that the chakras are quite relevant to Buddhist philosophy.
The “New Age”
The “New Age” interpretation is largely rooted in and prevalent in the west and grew to prominence in the latter half of the 20th century. Those who subscribe to a “New Age” interpretation consider themselves to be spiritual. This interpretation is not necessarily rooted in religious beliefs. But at the same time, the two are not mutually exclusive. In addition to spirituality, those who view the chakras through this lens may have sought them out for reasons related to personal health, self-betterment, fitness, etc.
Spirituality has many different meanings to different people. However, it essentially refers to a belief in the interconnectedness of our minds, body, and spirit. As well as a connection to the larger world around us. Chakras themselves are deeply tied to spirituality. The most basic definitions of the chakras will identify a “spiritual energy center that exists within the human body”. The most relevant chakra to spiritual elements is the Crown chakra. This chakra is located at the top of our heads and relates to intelligence. It encompasses all of the chakras and is what binds and relates each of them to each other.
The desire to better one's health is deeply ingrained in the chakra system. The chakras aim to align the physical body with the mind and our emotions. Personal health was a significant priority within the original texts and is today amongst those who refer to themselves as “New Age” observers. There are specific chakras that correspond to our personal health more than others. The Solar Plexus chakra is located in the upper abdomen and is thought to relate to confidence and self-esteem. When the Solar Plexus chakra is blocked you may experience heartburn, indigestion, eating disorders, and ulcers. The Heart chakra is located exactly where you probably think it is, your heart. This chakra correlates to love and passion. If your Heart chakra is blocked you could be at risk for asthma, heart problems, and weight concerns.
Yoga is quite prevalent around the world. The chakras and yoga have deep ties to each other. The chakras are utilized in many forms of yoga in one way or another. However, there are many steps in the practice of yoga and the chakras are only one of them. The process of yoga works like this: Lifeforce energy flows through the body which is called the Prana. Prana travels throughout our Subtle Bodies by using a system of channels, otherwise known as Nadis. These Nadis meet points of intensified energy, otherwise known as chakras.
Putting It All Into Perspective
As it is probably evident, there is a tremendous amount of history that surrounds the chakras and the events that led to the versions of the chakras that we observe in 2021.
I hope that this brief history that we have provided you with an understanding of the importance of knowing the history behind the chakras. As well as the incarnations that they take today as is the case with the “New Age” interpretation. I have devised a Leadership Framework based on my love for this methodology. While not one hundred percent necessary for this program, if you feel after this that you are motivated to learn more about the history of the chakras, that is something that we encourage.
Anatomy of the Spirit by Caroline Myss (2017)
The Zen Universe -
Healthline - https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/7-chakras#Chakra-101
Lumen Learning -
What are the Chakras, with Deepak Chopra -
The History and Use of Chakras
Chakras Explained - Beginners Guide
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