Most people practicing Yoga would say that there are 6 chakras. Certain sects believe there are 7 chakras. Dr. Svoboda in his conversations with his mentor Vimalananda, reveals that an aghori knows of 9 chakras. Some specific Shiva Yoga practitioners believe there are 22 chakras, 6 within the body and the other 16 situated outside the human body and ascending upwards above the head.
Some deep mystics, claim there are all in all 24 chakras, that correspond to 23 tattvas and one mahattatva out of which the divine purusha and the universes manifested. These 24 chakras, also correspond to the 24 syllables in the sacred Gayatri Mantra.
However, without getting into much debate into the number of chakras, let us try to demystify the chakras.
What are Chakras?
I love Svoboda’s text on this subject, in his conversations with Sri Vimalananda. So, I am going to quote him directly.
Nadis and Chakras (Kundalini: Aghora 2, 83)
Arthur Avalon comments that:
” … from an objective standpoint, the subtle centers or Cakras, vitalize and control, the gross bodily tracts which are indicated by the various regions and vertebral column and the ganglia, plexuses, nerves, arteries and organs, situate in these regions. It is only therefore (if at all) in the sense of being the gross outer representatives of the spinal centers that we connect the plexuses with the Cakras spoken of in Yoga books. In this sense, only the whole tract which extends from the subtle center to the periphery, with its corresponding bodily elements, may be regarded as a Cakra. (The Serpent Power, pp 161-2)
The chakras are the knots that bind ahamkara into self-indentification with the substances that make up the universe. Each of the lower five chakras is the place where ahamkara and one of the Elements meet and interact; the chakra plugs ahamkara into the frequency of that Element, in effect broadcasting that Element into the organisms consciousness.
The Elements that Vimalananda refers to are the metaphysical elements or natural elements of Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space or Ether.
Have you seen those pajamas for babies, the jumpers or body suits which have press buttons or studs? These press buttons run down from the neck all the way between the legs. When we open these press studs, we can remove the baby out completely of the pajamas. Now imagine if the baby is our soul and the pajamas is our flesh, bones, blood and the garb (our skin). Imagine the studs are invisible high energy wheels, revolving and keeping the soul attached to the garb. With the right kind of pressure, these chakras open and free the soul. That is how chakras work.