Books on Chakras

The Serpent Power Arthur Avalon (Sir John Woodroffe)
The Serpent Power : 2 Works on Laya-Yoga

Very heavy reading, but if you perseview with it you will learn a great deal about the authentic chakra theory (as opposed to the modern New Age or pop-Indian overlay. see my review on a seperate page
rating: Best Book
accessibility - Technical level - Advanced Technical
quality - 5 out of 5 - in my opinion the best work available on the authentic Shakta Tantric tradition.
approach - Kundalini and primary chakras - theoretical - it would be exceedingly difficult to actually practice Kundalini yoga with only this book!


Microchakras - cover Sri Shyamji Bhatnagar and David Isaacs
Microchakras: InnerTuning for Psychological Well-being , (Inner Traditions, 2009)
An interesting dual-authored work on chakras (Isaacs is a student of Bhatnagar), which combines the traditional laya yoga chakras (as described by Woodroffe (Arthur Avalon) and others) with modern psychological insights and the authors own external link "Inner Tuning" system. The most orioginal concepot is the idea of microchakras, that each chakra contains seven smaller chakras. A lot odf discussion is given regarding opening and blocks in the chakras and microchakras, which is oftejn related to prenatal development and the birth experiemnce. It is not hard to tie this in with Stan Grof's external link Perinatal Matrixes, which in turn paves the way for a transpersonal esoteric theory of the subtle body, birth, and psychophysical development. A external link short extract from the book here gives the feel of the text.
rating:
accessibility - Technical level - Somewhat Technical Somewhat Technical, but in a useful way
quality - 5 out of 5 - Very original, also well set out and organised.
approach - primary chakras - both theoerical and practical


Hands of LightBarbara Ann Brennan
Hands of Light, Bantam, 1987.

The classic work on the human energy field (aura) also contains a lot of very useful information on the chakras of the various octaves of the etheric body. The chakras are plausibly described here as having different colours according to the chakra and to the subtle body they are a part of, and also example sof given of them rotating clockwise or anticlockwise, blocked or open. There is also very fascinating material on pathologies of the subtle bodies, and how to heal them. While the primamry chakras are not described here, this is still an invaluable book for anyone interested in understanding the subtle body and the dynamics of the human aura. Read this in conjunction with Mantak Chia for a more complete picture of the secondary chakras and the etheric/ch'i energy. More
rating:
accessibility - Technical level - Non-Technical Non-Technical and highly readable
quality - 5 out of 5 - A New Age Classic that will endure long after the rest of the New Age scene is gone
approach - secondary chakras - both theoretical and practical


Awaken Healing Light of the TaoMantak Chia
Awaken Healing Light of the Tao, Healing Tao Books, 1993.

This is an emininantly readable, practical approach to balancing the energy of the etheric body. The primary chakras are not considered. In keeping with the Taoist approach, the secondary chakra points are not considred chakras at all, they are simply acupuncture points and focus points of mental concentration. There is no mention of lotus flowers, clockwise or anticlockwise rotation, etc. Essentially the entire book, with all its huge amount of material and practices, is about getting your ch'i energy to circulate. Nevertheless, this (seemingly) simple practice can give tremendous benefits for those who have the discipline to maintain it
rating:
accessibility - somewhat difficult Although it is very easy to read, the excercises unfortunately are a lot more difficult to perseview with
quality - 5 out of 5 - Excellent as a practical manual (which is how I am rating it), of much less use if you are interested in the theoretical side of things as well
approach - ch'i and secondary chakras - mostly practical


Kundalini West Ann Ree Colton
Kundalini West

as the title indicates, the subject of this book is the chakras and Kundalini as interpreted through Ann Ree's own unique brand of Christian Theosophy (called "Niscience"). The whole approach is very much for the esoteric/theosophical Christian, and there is a continual emphasis on morality that (to me) is irksome. References are made to western concepts such as the 12 zodiacal archetypes, the etheric and emotional and mental body, and so on. There are Eastern references but they are often interpreted in a very different way. Ms Colton's style of writing is very disorganised and heavy, and you will have trouble understanding what she is saying if you are not already familar with her teachings. But even so, if you plow through it you will find frequent gems of insight (this also applies to other near-unreadable authors like Aurobindo, Jung, Blavatsky, etc). The most important thing about this book is that it is one of the very few unique Western interpretations of the primary (archetypal) chakras. Also included are photographs of many of her mandala-paintings, which are more approachable than her writing style.
rating:
accessibility - Technical level - Advanced If you dont know anything about Ann Ree's teachings this book will give you a headache
quality - 2 out of 5 - Some very interesting material here, but only for the specialist
approach - primary chakras - both theoretical and practical


LayayogaShyam Sundar Goswami
Layayoga: The Definitive Guide to the Chakras and Kundalini, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1980. (previosuly Layayoga - An advanced method of concentration)

Just holding this beautiful book gives you a certain energy, as if the book itself seems to emanate light. If contains a number of beautiful paintings of each chakra, tables of iconographic corrspondences, and detailed Hindu religious references. It is unfortunate that the author, obviously a very learned man, did not go into the historical development of chakra theory - no distinction is made between the more ancient and the more recent Hindu references, and the duivision of texts into Vedic, Tantrik, and Puranic is simplistic. But still, a magnificent book nevertheless. For more, see my review on a seperate page
rating:
accessibility - Technical level - Advanced A very valuable book but difficult to read - it helps to supplement this work with Woodroffe's Serpent Fire
quality - 4 1/2 out of 5 - Stunning paintings!
approach - primary chakras - text rather dry and technical


Nuclear EvolutionChristopher Hills
Nuclear Evolution: Discovery of the Rainbow Body, University of Trees Press.

It is very unfortunate that this book is out of print. It presents a detailed, if perhaps a little too simplistic, theory of psychological types in terms of colour-radiations of each of the seven chakras. Like so many Westerners, Hills was writing about what he thought were the primary chakras (or just "the chakras") but actually were the secondary chakras. This was the book that started the whole rainbow-chakra meme, but it is far more intelligent and sensible than most of its new age successors. But, like all these gurus and teachers who have the luxury of churning out pages after pages without editorial supervision or criticism, Christopher Hills writes a book that could have been a classic but is just bloated. Nevertheless, if you can get hold of copy in a library or 2nd-hand bookshop, you will not find this book lacking in value.
rating:
accessibility - Technical level - Intermediate can be heavy going in places, but not too hard
quality - 3 out of 5 - A bit too long-winded - like most of Christopher Hill's books
approach - secondary chakras - both theoretical and practical


Chakras: Energy Centers of Transformation Harish Johari
Chakras: Energy Centers of Transformation

Essentially a very presentable and Westerner-friendly approach to the seven Shakta chakras as described by Woodroffe. Make sure you get the audio tape as well
rating:
accessibility - Technical level - Non-Technical pretty easy
quality - 5 out of 5 - Johari's material is always good
approach - primary chakras - mostly practical


Sounds of the Chakras - audio tape Harish Johari
Sounds of the Chakras
The tape that goes with the book - but if you already know the basics you can use the tape on its own
rating:
accessibility - Technical level - Non-Technical pretty easy
quality - 5 out of 5 - Nothing else like it anywhere
approach - primary chakras - practical


The Chakras C. W. Leadbeater
The Chakras, Theosophical Publishing house, Wheaton, Ill.

This book exerted a tremendous influence in the West. But it is less about the Chakras then about what Leadbeater thinks about the Chakras and Kundalini. There are some tables and so on which give the basic Tantric iconography, but mostly it is an Adyar Theosophical approach that is as far from the original Shakta tradition as you can get. This was the first book to describe the secondary chakras in the West (Leadbeater was a clairvoyant, and it seems quite a good one too, although I doubt he was in the same league as Steiner), and typically these are misunderstood as the primary chakras. Moreover, the fact that these chakras are located along the front of the body has led to the entrenched New Age confusion and guided meditations raising the ch'i (not kundalini!) energy up the front of the body. As Mantak Chia explains, this is the yin channel, and hence the energy here should descend, not ascend. The most valuable part of this book is the observation that the late 17th century German mystic Johann George Gichtel associated the 7 planets with particular positions on the human body, not unlike the chakras, As I understand it, astrology deals with the archetypal or primary chakras of the solar system as a whole, and Rudolph Steiner also frequently mentions the celestial spheres. An important book nevertheless, but mainly for the historical factor. Anyone who reads this will notice where Barbara Brennan and almost every other New Age writer around have gotten their ideas about the chakras from.
rating:
accessibility - Technical level - Intermediate can be a little heavy going in places if you are unfamiliar with the concepts, but for the most part not too bad.
quality - 2 out of 5 - I giving this only two out of five as a book on chakras rather than on theosophy (for which it would get a higher rating). But because of Leadbeater's great influence on the New Age, this book is of importance for the historian of ideas. Also, if you are a theosophist you will probably really like it. But if you want to understand the secondary chakras and the aura, read Hands of Light instead.
approach - Secondary chakras - like so much of Theosophy almost totally theory


Kundalini and the Chakras Genevieve Lewis Paulson
Kundalini and the Chakras, Llewellyn, 1991.

Presents a personal interpretation with very little connection to the original Shakta/Tantra tradition. A lot of material on "Kundalini" (or Kundalini-like ch'i?)energy. An interesting approach to the tertiary chakras - different tertiary chakras are listed for each etheric/subtle body. As with Barbara Brennan these are related to psychological states
rating:
accessibility - Technical level - Non-Technical Non-Technical
quality - 3 out of 5 - Not a bad investment, but I still prefer Hands of Light
approach - Kundalini/ch'i and Tertiary Chakras - mostly practical


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page by M.Alan Kazlev
page uploaded 19 May 2001, last modified 29 October 2009