Chakras according to Goraksanath
Whatsoever difference there has been, or may be, as
to forms and methods, whether in Upasana or Yoga, yet all Indian
worshippers of the ancient type seek a common end in unity with Light of
Consciousness, which is beyond the regions of Sun, Moon and Fire -
The Serpent Power, Arthur Avalon, p.287
The following article, called "System of Chakras
according to Gorakshanatha," by the esteemed tantrik scholar Gopinath
Kaviraj, first appeared in the Princess of Wales Sarasvati Bhavan
Series, Vol II, 1923, and is consequently out of print. Words which were
in Sanskrit in the original article have been converted to the iTrans
The System of Chakras according to Goraksanath
By Gopi Nath Kaviraj
The system of mystic culture introduced by Goraksa
Natha does not seem to have spread widely through the educated classes,
so that although about a millennium has passed since this great man
appeared his teachings have remained till to day almost a sealed book to
many. The Goraksa Sataka and Goraksa Paddhati are two of the few
Sanskrit works published which profess to give an exposition of this
teacher's instructions. The Hathayogapradipika also belongs to this
school, but it deserves to be supplemented.
We propose to deal in a separate paper, on the basis
of Mss. and printed books (in Hindi and Sanskrit), with the entire
system of mystic culture associated with Goraksa Natha, both
historically and philosophically. Here we must confine ourselves to the
system of Chakras or intra-organic centres of spiritual energy
recognised by Goraksanatha. Our description will be based on a Ms of
Vairata Purana and on an old coloured chart (obtained accidentally from
a local gentleman interested in this panth) representing: the human body
containing the spinal column with the various centres painted and duly
located. It will be found that this arrangement differs widely from the
current notions both of the Hathayoga school and of the Tantras.
* * *
First of all in the perineum we have. the Adhara
chakra (coloured red) presided over by Ganesa natha with his two Powers,
viz. Siddhi and Buddhi. This is identical with the well known Muladhara
of the Tantras. But the next centre, called Mahapadma chakra, controlled
by Nila natha is unknown else where, The third, the Svadhisthana chakra
(coloured yellow), is in the genital region and has Brahma for its Deity
and Savitri for the Power.
Between this and the Manipura there are three
distinct centres, viz. Saddala (called also Susumna chakra), Garbha (in
the Garbha sthana) and Kundalini (in the region adjoining the waist and
presided over by Fire). Besides bare names and vague localisation we do
not find statement for any further detail about these psychic vehicles.
The Manipura is situated in the navel and has Visnu for its Devata.
Above this is supposed to exist the so-called Linga chakra, of which,
again, no particulars are given. Higher still, in the pericarp of the
Anahata is the seat of mind - Manas.
The Anahata itself is in the heart and looks like a
lotus with 12 petals, emitting a white radiance around. The presiding
god of the chakra is named Mahadeva (Rudra natha, in the Ms) and the
Power is Uma. The rsi is called Hiranyagarbha. This corresponds
to the causal body, dream-less sleep, Pasyanti Vak and Sama Veda.
The next higher Chakra is of course Visuddha, in the
throat. It is a sixteen-petalled lotus, with smoky colour, presided over
by Jiva and Adya Sakti, The Rsi is Virat. It corresponds to the
causal body, dreamless sleep, Paravak, Atharvana Veda, Jalandhara Bandha
and Sayujya Mukti.
The Prana chakra which is a thirty-two-petalled lotus
of bright hue (udUdyotavarNaprabhA) and is controlled by Prananatha and
Parama Sakti, is seated near the region of the throat (galasthAna)1.
It forms the 10th aperture of the human body. Of the four chakras above
Visuddha and below Ajna, the second one is Avala chakra, furnished with
32 lobes shining 'like the rising sun (aruNodyotaprabhA), presided by
Fire. The exact site of this Chakra is not mentioned. From what is said
it appears that it is seated where the three granthis viz.
Brahma, Visnu and Rudra, unite (trigranthisthAnagzg), and is very
intimately connected with Kalachakra and Yoginichakra. The Chivuka
chakra is somewhere in the facial region, apparently near the chin, and
is formed like a sun-like lotus of 34 lobes, presided by Prana and
Sarasvati. All the devas have their seats within the lotus. Its Rsi
is named Krodha. All languages, indeed human speech itself, are supposed
to have their origin here. The Balavan chakra is just below the Ajna, in
the nasal region, and looks like a three-petalled lotus of red, white
and dark colour. This place is described
as Tribeni, being the confluence of the three streams
of Ganga, Yamuna and Sarasvati represented in the body by the three
nadis, viz. Ida, Pingala and Susumna. The presiding God of this Chakra
is Pranava and the Power Susumna. The statement that this place is
associated with the three matras of Pranava (viz. A, U & M)
becomes thus intelligible. The name of its Rsi is given as
The famous Ajna chakra (called also Ani chakra in the
Ms.), which is in the centre of the space between the two brows, is a
diamond like (mANikyavarNaprabhA) lotus of two petals, presided by Hamsa
Devata, and Susumna Sakti. It corresponds to the Vijnana state and
Anupama Vak, and to the half matra of the Pranava.
The Karnamula chakra, within the auricular region, is
a 36-lobed lotus of mixed colour (dark and yellow.) The presiding God
and Power are Nada and Sruti respectively.
It is the seat of the 36 matrkas.
The Tribeni chakra, above the brows, is a 26-lobed
circle with Akasa as its rsi. This is the real Tribeni, but how
this place is connected with the Balavan chakra lower down is no-where
The Chandra chakra is in the forehead and consists of
32 lobes3 with a colour between white and red4. It
is presided by the Moon and Amrta5 Sakti. The Rsi is
Manas (mind) with its sixteen kalas. It is said that the sun goes to
this lunar mansion to drink nectar.
This centre is very closely related to another chakra
- the Amrta chakra, almost in the same region, probably a little
upwards. Its Devata and Sakti are identical with those of the preceding
chakra, but the Rsi is Atma rather than Manas.
It is from here that nectar is constantly flowing,
This place is described as the abode of the Gayatri named Kamadhenu
(lit. 'wish-giving cow'), figured like a milch cow with four teats viz.
Ambika, Lambika, Ghantika and Talika. It has a human face with
intoxicant looks (madanetra), a peacock's tail, a horse's neck (grIvA),
an elephant's tusk (tuNDa), a tiger's arms (hastashArdUla), a cow's
horns, and wings consisting of Lila Brahma and Hamsa. It is a stranger
figure. It is from the udderof this 'cow' that nectar is perpetually
streaming down. The Khechari, Viparitakarani and other mudras are some
of the devices intended to check the downward flow of this blissful
current. The Yogin who has. obtained access to the chakra and abides
here becomes immortal and free from the effects of Time.
Next is the Brahmadvara Chakra, located above the
forehead and shining with its 100 petals like the many coloured rainbow;
and beyond this is the seat of the Akula Kundalini -- a lotus of 600
petals bright like the newly risen sun.
On crossing this one comes up to the Brahmarandhra in
the cranium (mUrdhasthAna), with its multi-coloured 1,000 petals. This
is the so called Sahasrara of the mystic literature - the Aim and End of
all spiritual progress. It is here that the Guru and the Chaitanya Sakti
One would naturally expect that the series of chakras
would come to an end here. But the picture on which the above account is
based, mentions 6 chakras more beyond the Sahasrara, viz. (a)
Urdharandhra, (b). Bhramaraguha, (c) Akunthapitha Punyagara, (d)
Kolhata, (e) Vajradanda and (f) Niradhara Paramajyotischakra. The
Urdharandhra, called Talu chakra in the Ms, is seated in the Talima and
is a 64-lobed chakra, presided by Goraksanatha and Siddhanta sakti. This
statement is interesting as it gives us an idea of what the followers of
the path thought in connection with the founder of their school. The
Bhramaraguha, also called Alekha, i. e. Alaksya chakra (called Brahma
Chakra6 in the Ms), is the place, where samadhi-yoga
ensues, and prana and manas cease to work. The lotus is
described as furnished with ten millions of lobes and wonderfully
brilliant. The presiding God of this centre is Alaksyanatha, the Sakti
called Maya (= Mahamaya?; Akula in the Ms.) and the Rsi
The higher Chakra with an equal number of lobes has
Akalanatha as Devata, Akalesvari as Sakti and as Akala as Rsi.
The Kolhata Chakra is in the Sikhamandala and
corresponds to the Vaikuntha of the Vaisnavas and Kailasa of the Saivas.
Both the Devata and the Sakti are named Ananta7. The Ms.
calls this region a road to the Highest Void (paramashUnyamArga).
The description of Vajradanda is not very clear. It
is said to be, as I understand it to be, in the form of a column, vast
(mahAvishAla), lustrous (tejaHpu~njaprabhA) and long (dIrgha).
The final Chakra is in the Niralambasthana, with an
infinite number of lobes, colours, matrkas, devas and worlds. This is
the Highest Seat of the Gurudeva.
Beyond this is a series of 20 voids of which nothing
is said. The Ms. observes that Final Liberation takes place in the Great
Void (paramashUnyasthAna) above 21 Brahmandas. Transcending the great
Void the Yogin becomes eternally free from 'coming and going', i. e. the
wheel of birth and death: sa cha yogI tiShThati yuge yuge jyotiH sametya
* * *
We have tried to reproduce above with as much
fidelity to the understood meaning of the chart as possible the account
of the Gorakhpanthis concermng the arrangement and function of the
various chakras. But as the chart was on an old canvas with the figures
rendered indistinct by time and the notes appended generally vague,
illegible and sometimes totally unintelligible it is quite likely that
mistakes and in some places even confusion have been left unnoticed. It
is sure nevertheless that the general presentation of the scheme is
Taking it as we find it there is no doubt that the
ideas of this school differed in many points from those of the Tantras
on the same subject. The question of the total number of chakras may be
left aside for the present.8 For we are aware that there are
several hidden (gupta) chakras which are not ordinarily counted; and
very often a certain number of chakras, considered minor from one's own
point of view, is supposed to form a connected whole. There are other
reasons also which would explain the difference of the number in
different systems. The actual description of a particular chakra is more
important to a student for purposes of comparative studies. But even
here there are certain fatal limitations. For instance the same chakra
may not look exactly alike to different sadhakas. The personal sankalpa
of the aspirant, either conscious or sub-conscious, and that of his Guru
go a great way towards determining the feature of the Vision. The
reality observed is, in a certain sense, only ideal.
Entering into detail we may observe that the
Sahasrara is not supposed to form the Highest Limit:- there are stages
beyond. With this we may compare the accounts of the Radhaswami sect who
also hold more or less the same views.
The Manasachakra as described here embodies 32 lobes,
while elsewhere it is said to be 6-petalled (Dr. B. N. Seal, The
Positive Sciences of the Ancient Hindus, p, 221; Avalon, The
Serpent Power,. p. 146).
Regarding akulakuNDalinI it may be said that the
Tantrists locate it within the Moon of Consciousness which forms the
pericarp of the downward facing Sahasrara and is situated in the
transcendant heaven (para vyoma) - a technical term for a part of the
cerebral region9. The contact of kula with this akula is the
immediate cause of the flow of nectar (sudhAsrAva). While Goraksanatha
holds that the nectar flows from the Amrta chakra above the Moon,
Bhaskara considers that it flows from the Akula which is within the
The name of Bhramara Guha is to be found mentioned in
the literature connected with the names of Kabir, Radhaswami, etc., but
nowhere is its function clearly stated. The Sutasamhita and Bodhasara
use the term vaguely in the sense of Brahmarandhra. This so-called cave
is in reality a hole or rather a hollow which appears to view when one
gazes into the centre of the 'Kutastha.' The entrance to this hollow is
brilliantly dark, but it is surrounded by a luminous ring of rays. The
powers of obscuration (AvaraNa) and dissipation (vixepa) are said to
guard this entrance, so that they try to screen up and throw off the
gazer. It is only when the power of introvision is produced after the
generation of pure magnetism within the body through strict continence,
pure food, &c. and through the cultivation of the moral virtues of
selflessness, forbearance, &c. and through the action of prana that one
can expect to gaze at this hollow without fear of AvaraNa and vixepa. At
this state mere gazing makes the mouth of the cave wide open, and every
tattva is illuminated.
In the Chart the Prana chakra is described as the
tenth avenue of the human body. This aperture is usually closed in
men, so that the body is as a rule likened to a "city with nine
gates". (Cf. navadvAre pure dehI- Gita) only. But a steady process of
psychic discipline helps to open this avenue, through which the Jiva of
the Kramamukta-upasaka passes away along the ray of the sun into the
Solar Region, called also Brahmaloka, and thence with the dawn of
Knowledge is absorbed in Brahman. The medulla oblongata (bhastaka
granthi) above the Visuddha Chakra, is one of the sites where the three
nadis are united. From here the Susumna enters into the skull, and the
other two nadis, viz. Ida and Pingala, pass along the right and left
sides of the forehead and meet together and are joined with the Susumna
between the two eyebrows. From there the Ida goes to the left nostril
and the Pingala to the right. From the medulla the Susumna is
bifurcated: (1) one line passes below the brain and in a rather oblique
course comes to the eyebrow whence with a slightly upward bend pierces
the pericarp of the Ajna and unites with Ida and Pingala. Then it comes
out, and running straight up crosses a very subtle hole within the
interior of the central region of the forehead and hanging down to some
distance takes a curve and goes right up, penetrating the Sahasrara and
entering the Brahmarandhra.10 (2)Another line goes up direct
from the medulla, and through the interior of the skull extends to the
Sikhara. With a slight curve it enters the Brahmarandhra. The
mouth of this line of the Susumna which is in the Brahma randhra remains
usually closed, while that of the first line is open. Consequently the
hollows of the two lines are not in union.
While passing away from the body the yogin gets the
closed mouth of the Susumna opened, on which the two holes mentioned
above become unified. This is what is usually known by the name of the
"10th avenue". In the Amaraugha Sasana, however, the 10th aperture is
identified with the mouth of the Sankhini,which is a hollow behind the
front tooth (rAjadanta) and the Kankalamalini Tantra locates
Brahmarandhra just beiow the Sankhini. 11
1. This is apparently the so called kaNThakUpa
mentioned in the Yogasutra, 3.30.
2. Could this term mean the Purnahanta or Parahanta of the Trika and
Tripura systems of philosophy?
3. Sixteen lobes, according to The Serpent Power, p.146.
4. White only, according to the Ms.
5. Amada Sakti, according to the Ms.
6. According to the Ms. the Brahma Chakra is really within the
Brahmaraguha and consists of 108 lobes in which the great Maunins are
incessantly occupied with the repetition of Ajapa.
7. The Ms. calls the Devata Achintyaha and the Sakti Avyakta.
8. The Svacchanda Sangraha, according to Bhaskara's report (Lalitasahasraranama
Bhasya, p.53), speaks of 32 chakras, cf. also Advaita martanda
as reported in Avalon, The Serpent Power, pp.169-170, and in
Shakti and Shakta (2nd Edition), p.409.
9. dvAdashAnta.m lalATorddhA kapAlordhvAvasAnakam.h .
dvaya~Ngulordhva shirodesha.m para.m vyoma prakIrttitam.h .. Quoted by
Bhaskara in his Varivasya Rahasya (Common verse 51), p.94 (Cal.
10. See introduction to the Pranava Gita. In The Serpent Power,
p.130, the Susumna is said to terminate at the twelve-petalled lotus in
the pericarp of the Sahasrara. The Mandala Bhrahmanopanishad and
its Raja Yoga Bhasya refer to the Susumna as ending in the
Brahmarandhra (Mys. Ed., p.9).
11. tasmin.h randhre visarga.m cha nira~njanam.h .
tadUrdhve sha~nkinI sR^iShTasthityantakAriNI ..
brahmarandhra.m tataH smR^itam.h .