The Tibetan Buddhist Theory of Chakras

Tantric Buddhism (or Vajrayana) broke off from the Indian Tantric one at a very early stage.  Hence they developed a rather different version of the chakras.  Tibetan Buddhism acknowledges four (navel, heart, throat, and head), five, seven, or even ten chakras or "channel wheels"; each with a different number of "spokes" to its Indian Tantric counterpart.  The navel chakra for example has sixty-four spokes, the heart chakra eight, the throat sixteen (the only one to agree with the Hindu scheme), and the head or crown chakra thirty-two.  There is also, as in Laya-yoga, an elaborate system of correspondences.  Note that in this system it is the head-centre, and not, as in many Western interpretations of Hindu Tantra, the Perineal or the base, that is associated with the body and physical consciousness.  The throat centre represents a more subtle state of consciousness, the dream state; and the heart centre the refined of all, deep meditataion, dreamless sleep, the peaceful deities and the Clear Light.

woodcut prints
Tibetan Woodcut drawings from Ballabene's Paranormal Pages

Instead of Kundalini, reference is made to the red and white subtle "drops" in the navel and head chakras respectively, although sometimes other drops are mentioned as well.  Through the dissolution of these drops, and of the various subtle winds, in the central channel, one attains transcendent awareness.  This happens not only during advanced yoga, but also at the time of death; and constitutes the phenomenon known as the "Clear Light".


The Vajrayana chakras

Chakra
spokes (petals)
location
shape of centre
colour
body
activity
deities
Mahasukha chakra
32
head
Swabhavika-kaya
Triangular
white
body, waking
Wrathful
Sambhoga chakra
16
throat
circular
red
Sambhoga-kaya
speech, dreaming
Wisdom-holding
Dharma chakra
8
heart
circular
white
Dharma-kaya
mind, sleeping
Peaceful
Nirmana chakra
64
navel
triangular
red
Nirmana-kaya
   



Printed refernces Links Web links

In Association with Amazon.com

Book in Print Secret Doctrines of the Tibetan Books of the Dead by Detlef Ingo Lauf

Book in Print Clear Light of Bliss : The Practice of Mahamudra in Vajrayana Buddhism by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso - paperback - hardcover


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page by M.Alan Kazlev
page uploaded 21 November 1998, last modified 29 July 2004