Have you ever wondered where our knowledge of the chakras came from? What are the origins of the system? Who decided that Anahata chakra (the heart) was green – surley, it should have been red? What about the word chakra itself? Where did chakras originate? Who came up with this stuff?
For someone who has not studied yoga in depth, the origins of the chakra system can be murky. Even many yoga teachers are not aware of the history involved. Today, I want to clear this up for anyone with a little more curiosity than the average yoga student.
In this article, we will explore the true origins of chakra theory, by looking at the history of the chakra system. We’ll find out where this ancient knowledge originated from. We will also see how the chakras were given their individual colors, and whether the chakra rainbow of colors is fact or fiction..
If you have ever found your mind wandering while you are lying in savasana, and pondering who came up with all the chakra stuff – you have come to the right place. Read on!
Table of Contents
The chakras in a nutshell
The subtle body – also known as the energy body – is made up of subtle energy that flows through channels called nadis. Any ailment in the physical body can (usually) be attributed to the flow of energy within our nadis. For this reason, healing anything can be easy. You just need to have the proper knowledge and know how to apply it.
Speaking of nadis, we have thousands of them – approximately 72,000.
Where several nadis cross, a chakra point occurs.
A chakra is therefore an energy center. Hence the slightly longer name ‘chakra energy center’.
Due to having so many nadis, our body has up to 144 chakras. The exact number depends on the system being applied.
However, most systems now adhere to the seven main chakras. These seven chakras are:
- Root chakra (Muladhara chakra or first chakra)
- Sacral chakra (Swadisthana chakra or second chakra)
- Solar plexus chakra (Manipura chakra or third chakra)
- Heart chakra (Anahata chakra or fourth chakra)
- Throat chakra (Vishuddha chakra or fifth chakra)
- Third eye chakra (Ajna chakra or sixth chakra)
- Crown chakra (Sahasrara chakra or seventh chakra)
Healing and the chakras
Yogic teachings say that when the chakras are in balance, we will be in perfect health.
As a result of this, chakra balancing is an essential element of many modern-day healing practices.
Some of these practices are very recent. One such practice is bioresonance technology. It uses sound and frequency to diagnose and treat imbalances throughout the whole body system. This includes the individual chakras.
Other healing methods are more ancient and can be traced back thousands of years – such as crystal healing.
In crystal healing, a stone with specific healing properties is placed on or near the relevant chakra point. The chakra absorbs the crystal’s energy and restores balance, or at least improves it. For example, if someone wanted to balance their third eye (Ajna chakra), they might use an amethyst crystal. They would place the healing crystal on the point between the eyebrows (level with the pineal gland) to restore balance.
The chakras and yoga practice
Another important application of the chakra system is in the practice of tantric hatha yoga.
Awareness of the chakra system can provide essential insights into our psycho-emotional states and tendencies.
We can manipulate, transform, and sublimate this energy through awareness of the individual chakras and the unique flavor each chakra holds. Hence we can alter our emotional/mental state.
For example, a man with a blockage in his root chakra (Muladhara) may have a lot of heavy, dense energy. He may be lazy, slow-moving, and slightly clumsy. Emotionally he may experience a lot of worry about money, food, and shelter.
Such a man could use techniques from the system of tantric hatha yoga to transform this gross energy and ‘move’ it up to higher chakras.
By using specific asana or simply mental focus during meditation, the imbalance can be corrected. He will become less clumsy, faster moving, and any worries about providing for himself will cease.
The true chakra origin – the history of the chakras
Now we have the basics out of the way, let’s look at the history of the chakras. We’ll start at the beginning; where did chakras come from in the first place?
It was The Upanishads who first mentioned chakras.
The first known mention appeared in several early Upanishads around 7-800 BCE.
Later Upanishads (around 200 BCE – 200 CE) referred to tantric concepts. These include things such as chakras and mantras. They gave both locations and symbolism.
In the 10th century, the Gorak¬shash¬ata¬kam (Guru Gorakhnath) gave information on the powers of awakening and meditating on the chakras.
So, the chakras were born in 7-800 BCE.
WATCH FREE TRAINING NOW
The serpent power
The next big development in the history of the chakras was in the 16th Century. At this time, Swami Purananda wrote the Sri-Tattva-Cintamini. The 6th chapter is called the Sat-Cakra-Nirupana (investigation of the six centers). It includes descriptions and practices to activate the chakras. Also explained are the powers attributed to each chakra. Additionally, the movement of kundalini is included in this writing.
Sir John Woodroofe translated this work in the early 20th Century. The book is called ‘The Serpent Power‘ and was first published in 1919.
It’s probably the foremost text on chakras and kundalini.
Around this period, the Theosophical movement was active. This movement introduced chakras to the West through the works of Alice Bailey. Alice’s writings were published over a period of 30 years. They were a product of ‘telepathic communication with the Tibetan master Djwhal Khul'(*). Additionally, Charles Webster Leadbeater published his book ‘The Chakras.’ Leadbeater’s book is based on the tradition of Madame Blavatsky. He added his own experiences and interpretations for an extra layer of depth.
Clairvoyant influence on the history of the chakras
Leadbeater used traditional concepts from tantra and Indian religious culture. He interpreted them more freely. His mixture of occult interpretations made his work coherent with the ideas of that time.
The world of yoga cannot deny Leadbeater’s influence on spiritual communities worldwide. He made several observations that have been latched onto by others. These observations include ‘theosophical and New Age writers and clairvoyants, although very few give him credit for being the first to come up with these ideas.’ (*)
What is now implied is that the chakras ‘have an independent objective existence in the subtle bodies.’ This ‘can be perceived by anyone who has developed the appropriate faculties’.(*)
Clairvoyantly, chakras are seen as vortices of energy within the auric field. Traditionally ‘the chakras are subtle centers of consciousness.’ (*) But they have no energy status of their own.
Leadbeater was the first to suggest that chakras were transformers of consciousness. This idea has now become a standard interpretation.
How the chakra rainbow colors came to be
Thirty years ago, few had heard of the chakras. Now they have come into common usage. Along with the system has come a set of concepts. These concepts are embedded into the modern yogic mind.
In the early 70’s, Christopher Hills published a book entitled ‘Nuclear Evolution‘.
Most significantly, Hills was responsible for the relationship of the chakras to the spectrum colors. Until this time, they had not been linked.
Hills also related the chakras to personality types. His correlation has now become mainstream in New Age and yogic circles.
Neither this nor the rainbow colors relate to the original intention of the system. They are, however, helpful and exciting tools for explaining human behavior and psychology.
The 70’s was a significant shift in the history of the chakras. This new Westernized perspective exploded in popularity. It has now become commonplace.
Chakra origins and development of the system in the 21st century
This esoteric tradition has lasted over a thousand years. Only in recent times has there been a clear shift in perception of the chakras. This shift mostly comes from Western perspectives.
The chakra system is seen as a gateway to help us understand ourselves. Through the knowledge of the chakras, we can interpret our existence as spiritual beings. This understanding replaces the reductionist view of considering ourselves merely flesh, blood, and bone.
The original symbolism is not necessarily relevant to us now. It has evolved to provide meanings that we can understand and access practically.
Our need to verify and substantiate the reality of the chakras will no doubt continue into the 21st century. Scientific evidence could prove or disprove their existence.
I hope this will help to clear up some of the murk surrounding the history of the chakras.
Last but not least, I would like to pose a question. Should we accept the New Age interpretations of the chakras without question? Or should we return to the traditions that have proven their ability to withstand the test of time?
I’ll leave it with you. Please let me know what you think in the comments!
And if you want to learn how to utilize the power of the chakras to manifest your soulmate or save your marriage, watch my free training here.
History of the chakras references
Ozaniec, Naomi, The Elements of the Chakras, 1990
Leadbeater, C.W. The Chakras, Theosophical Publishing House, 1927
Avalon, Arthur, The Serpent Power, Dover Publications, 1974
Feuerstein, Georg, Encyclopedic Dictionary of Yoga, Unwin Paperbacks, 1990
What is the origin of the chakra system?
The yoga Upanishads first mentioned the chakra system, in 700-800BCE.
Which chakra do you start with?
Typically, we start at the bottom with Muladhara – the root chakra.
Where did chakra colors come from?
The current ‘rainbow’ color system came from Christopher Hills in his book ‘Nuclear revolution’ in the 1970’s. Before this, the colors varied depending on the text.
How far back in time does the origin of the chakras go?
The origin of the chakras dates back approximately 2700 years.
How do you energize your chakras?
The yoga adepts can use specific asana from tantric hatha yoga to charge or balance each chakra within the tantric tradition. Kundalini yoga is a branch of yoga that is particularly powerful for energizing chakras and creating free-flowing subtle energy. There are also many alternative healing methods, such as crystal healing and reiki. In reiki, a reiki master will channel Universal light energy. This energy will move through the giver to the receiver. The practitioner places their hands on each chakra point – charging each individual chakra one by one.
What is chakra meditation?
Chakra meditation is when you perform a meditation with attention placed on one specific center on the body – a chakra. The practitioner uses particular music to stimulate specific energetic responses. This relates to the chakra that you work on.
How do you know which chakra is blocked?
Each chakra is associated with specific physical, emotional, and mental traits. To identify which chakra is blocked, you need to determine what it is that you are experiencing. It will likely correlate with thoughts, behaviors, and physical issues associated with a specific chakra.
How to unblock crown chakra?
Chanting of ‘aum’ is an especially powerful method for unblocking the crown chakra. Try doing it for 15 minutes straight and see how you feel. Anything that gets you out of your head and into the present moment will unblock your crown chakra.
What is the meaning of om?
Legend has it that ‘aum’ or ‘om’ is the sound emitted when the big bang happened. Thus it is the sacred sound of creation itself. It is said to be the “unstruck sound” in Anahata chakra.
How to unblock throat chakra?
Speak your truth! Don’t tell lies or suppress your emotions. Stand up for yourself by setting boundaries.
How to unblock heart chakra?
Any heart-opening yoga pose such as camel pose or wheel will help. In daily life, you can try to smile and give random acts of kindness more (even when there is no reason to do so – try it and see how you feel). Any heart-opening yoga pose such as camel pose or wheel will help. Treat everyone you encounter with loving-kindness and you will feel your heart expand.
What are chakras for beginners?
Chakras for beginners are the 7 main chakra points and their Sanskrit names.
How to unblock the third eye chakra?
Various sacred tools such as plant medicines, mental concentration techniques, and mindfulness meditation, can help greatly to unblock the third eye. Stopping drinking too much fluoride water is also key, and ingesting other toxins from diet. Both fluoride and dietary toxins cause calcification of the pineal gland and thus blocks this chakra.
Do humans have a third eye?
Yes. We all have a third eye. The location of the third eye in the physical body is the pineal gland.
What happens if all chakras are open?
If all chakras are open, energy flows freely throughout the etheric body. We are free of physical ailments. There is spiritual, mental, and emotional balance. Having open chakras is also referred to as having ‘chakra alignment’.
What is your weakest chakra?
Your weakest chakra is dependent on what kind of emotional, mental, and physical symptoms you are experiencing. For example, someone who is clumsy and constantly worried about money may have a weak Muladhara. It varies highly from person to person.
What does chakra mean in English?
Chakra is roughly translated to ‘wheel’ or “lotus’ in English.
When were the chakras discovered?
The Upanishads first ‘discovered’ through deep states of meditation in 700-800 BCE.
Men's Relationship Coach
Steffo is the founder of The Tantric Man Experience, the #1 masculine mentorship program in the world. There he helps men in relationships reignite the passion to restore their marriages from the brink of divorce. And single men attract their dream women naturally with success. He's on a mission to guide men towards an intimate and meaningful relationship, and end the war with their sexuality, so they can finally become integrated men, fathers, brothers, husbands, and leaders in the world.
“It meant a paradigm shift in life.” – Patrik, Sweden
“Life-changing experience.” – Antonio, Italy