A 10-cakra system from an 800-year-old text

The tradition of classical Tantra evolved not one but many cakra systems. (In English, the word is commonly spelled chakra, but should always be pronounced as in church not shock.)  Five-cakra systems were the most common in the early tradition, in order to correspond with the five basic elements.

My mentor and friend Somadeva Vasudeva (currently of the University of Kyōtō) discovered a fascinating 10-cakra system in a 16th century (?) text called A Jewel-mine of [teachings on] Music (Saṅgīta-ratnākara) by a fellow called Śārngadeva. This is the only Sanskrit text that I am aware which associates specific emotional and mental states (bhāvas) with specific cakras; or, more precisely, with the 'petals' of the cakras.

Here are brief excerpts from the text, translated by Dr. Vasudeva (with minor adjustments by myself) -- but please know that proper understanding of this material is only possible through reading the commentaries on the text by Kallinātha and Siṃhabhūpāla, not included here. This post includes the first five cakras in this ten-cakra system, which have the same locations and names as the first five cakras of the seven-cakra system popular in the West.

CAKRA #1. ādhāra — "Between the anus and genitals is the ādhāra-cakra. It has four petals. In these four petals, arranged in the intermediate points of the compass, are located four blisses (ānanda): [1] “supreme bliss” in the north-east, [2] “innate bliss” in the south-east, [3] “hero's bliss” in the south-west, and [4] “union bliss” in the north-west. Kuṇḍalinī resides in this lotus structure. When she is raised to the cranial aperture she bestows liberation."

CAKRA #2. svādhiṣṭhāna — "At the 'root' (base) of the genitals is located the six-petalled svādhiṣṭhāna-cakra (Kallinātha adds that it is six finger-breadths above the ādhāra-cakra). In its petals, beginning with the east (subjectively the front) are found: [1] modesty, [2] cruelty, [3] destruction of pride, [4] stupefaction, [5] disrespect and [6] suspicion. [As Siṃhabhūpāla explains, this means that when the soul rests in these respective petals it takes on these respective states]. This cakra is the abode of the power of infatuation."

CAKRA #3. maṇipūraka — "In the navel[-region] is located a ten-petalled cakra called maṇipūraka. In its petals are found, starting with the East (front) [1] deep sleep, [2] craving, [3] envy, [4] slander, [5] shame, [6] fear, [7] compassion, [8] stupor, [9] degeneracy, and [10] depression. It is the locus of the sun. [Siṃhabhūpāla identifies this as a specific vital energy (prāṇa) called “sun” (sūrya).]"

CAKRA #4. anāhata — "In the heart[-region] is located the anāhata-cakra. It is the site for worshipping Śiva in the form of the Praṇava Oṃ. It has twelve petals. The results of abiding in these, beginning with East (front) are: [1] destruction of unsteadiness, [2] clear reasoning, [3] remorse, [4] expectation, [5] transparency [or absence of pretense], [6] worry, [7] striving, [8] equanimity, [9] religious hypocrisy, [10] instability, [11] discernment, and [12] audacity [or faith in oneself]."

None of the bhāvas (mental-emotional states) of cakras #1-3 are to be cultivated by the yogī-musician. However, in cakra #4, the musician should cultivate the qualities of petals #1, 8, 11, and 12. Singers who abide in the qualities of petals #4, 6, or 10 will destroy their natural ability, we are told.

CAKRA #5. viśuddhi — "In the throat[-region] is located the sixteen petalled viśuddhi-cakra, it is the seat of Sarasvatī (Goddess of speech, music, and learning). [Siṃhabhūpāla: “the Goddess of speech, contemplated there, bestows the perfection of speech”]. When the soul abides in its sixteen petals, there accrue the following rewards beginning with the East (front): [1] the Praṇava (Oṃ), [2] the Udgīthachant, [3] the huṃphaṭ mantra, [4] the vaṣaṭ mantra, [5] the svadhā mantra offered to the ancestors (pitṛ), [6] the svāhā mantra offered to the Gods, [7] namaḥ, a word for offering salution, [8] nectar[ean joy], [9] the seven musical notes in order beginning with ṣaḍja, [10] the Bull (of Lord Shiva), [11] gāndhāra, [12] madhyama, [13] pañcama, [14] dhaivata, [15] niṣāda, [16] poison[ous misery].

Petals #8-15 are to be cultivated by the musician, we are told.

Cakras #6-10 are in Part Two of this post. 


Please note that the image is not from the text cited in the blog, although its depiction of the manipūra-cakra is parallel. Image courtesy of Christopher Tompkins.