I have many questions relating to spiritual aspirants: How are the chakras related to yoga, to any yoga, like Kriya Yoga, Raja Yoga and all yogas present. If the chakras are activated, shall we achieve the yogas? Every yoga deals with the chakras, why?
—Gopinath T, India
Dear Gopinath T,
This is a big topic. I try to be concise.
The chakras manifest divine consciousness. Yogananda in his Autobiography of a Yogi calls them “spinal shrines” and “spheres of consciousness.” They carry lights, sounds, and vibrations of God in us. He writes: “Gross man seldom or never realizes that his body is a kingdom, governed by Emperor Soul on the throne of the cranium [Sahasrara chakra], with subsidiary regents in the six spinal centers or spheres of consciousness.”
If the chakras are fully opened, enlightenment occurs. So all true yoga techniques aim at opening the chakras, including the technique of Kriya Yoga. Kriya Yoga is a path of Raja Yoga (the yoga of meditation).
Activating the chakras is not enough. They need to be fully opened, or awakened. Swami Kriyananda explains in his book Raja Yoga that the chakras awaken only fully with the rising of Kundalini: “A spinal center may not truly be said to have been awakened until Kundalini has passed through it in full force.” And he writes: “Of all the techniques for awakening Kundalini, the best is the Kriya Yoga technique of Lahiri Mahasaya, which Paramhansa Yogananda brought to the West.”
The chakras are like inner temples in our inner astral (energy) spine. They are full of bliss. Yogananda teaches that in each chakra there is a specific samadhi. The seven chakras in our microcosm represent the seven lokas (dimensions) of the macrocosm, the universe (please read The Holy Science by Sri Yukteswar to know more about them). When we go very deep inside, into the deep inner spine in advanced meditation, we ascend through theses inner lokas (chakras), like through doors. This is why the spine is called the “tunnel of awakening.” From door to door you awaken into the final sphere, into the Sahasrara chakra (or Satya loka) of Cosmic Consciousness.
The chakras are at the very heart of true yoga. This is why all various true yoga paths teach about them. Again from the Autobiography of a Yogi: “The advanced yogi, withholding all his mind, will, and feeling from false identification with bodily desires, uniting his mind with superconscious forces in the spinal shrines, thus lives in this world as God hath planned.”
No animal can realize God, because they don’t have the same developed chakras as human beings have. Yogananda explains, “Man’s body.. has the highest evolutionary value because of unique brain and spinal centers. These enable the advanced devotee to fully grasp and express the loftiest aspects of divinity.”
There would be much more to say, as there is a very important psychological and also physical dimension to the chakras, strongly influencing our daily life. Anyway, the main thing in yoga is to practice, so that you start experiencing the chakras. They should not just be something you have read about. This is why all great yogis say, “practice, practice, practice.”
In divine friendship, jayadev