This article reveals the meaning of the beautiful Hindu symbols representing the seven chakras. The symbols associated with each chakra are keys to understanding the meaning and flow of spiritual energy in the body. These symbols are similar to mandalas or yantras. Chakra symbols are composed of geometric forms as well as organic forms such as petals and flowers.
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Where Do Chakra Symbols Come From?
Chakra symbols come from ancient Eastern traditions. According to these texts and teachings, chakras are spiritual centers that allow or impede the flow of energy in the human body. They are also associated with emotional and psychological patterns.
Chakra symbols are an artistic depiction of energy patterns which are unseen but may have a very real impact on life, health and spirituality. The descriptions below are a detailed analysis of each chakra symbol beginning with the root chakra and moving upwards to the crown chakra.
Understanding the Chakra Symbols
All life experiences are stored in one or more chakra. Clearing the chakras of negativity is a process that can be accomplished in many ways. Tools include meditation, affirmations, mantras, yoga, dietary practices and self-examination. Understanding the meaning of each of the chakra symbols will give keys to this process:
Root Chakra Symbols
The root chakra establishes the foundation for the seven major chakras. The base or root chakra is our fundamental connection to the physical plane. The root chakra is related to security and safety. This is also the place where ancestral memories reside.
The root chakra governs the lower part of the body, including the feet, legs, knees, hips, lower back and lower spine. These areas of the body establish balance and stability. The chakra symbol for the root reflects this functionality.
Four Lotus Petals in Chakra Symbols
In the Hindu tradition, the base chakra is depicted as a lotus flower with four petals. Each of the petals represent one of the mental states associated with this chakra. The interpretations and translations of the meaning associated with each of these petals vary widely.
The four petals of root chakra symbols are generally viewed as mind, intellect, consciousness and ego. Alternately, the petals can represent four forms of longing:
- dharma (psychological longing)
- artha (soul longing)
- kama (physical longing)
- moksha (longing for spiritual liberation)
These petals are also symbolic of four specific aspects of higher consciousness:
- great joy
- natural pleasure
- delight in controlling passion
- blissfulness in concentration
Some of the variations in the meanings associated with each of the four petals may be due to the difficulty of translating directly from Sanskrit, a language that assigns many meanings to a single word. The judgments needed to determine the exact meaning of a word in a particular context can be difficult to make.
Of course this is common in other languages as well (thus the term homonyms). However, having multiple meanings for a single word is so prolific in Sanskrit that the term polysemy is more appropriate. Polysemy means that many related terms can be associated with a single word. Polysemy leads to sets and subsets of related meanings.
Sanskrit Characters in Chakra Symbols
The Sanskrit character in the center of root chakra symbols represents the syllable LAM. This is the bija or seed syllable for this chakra. This sound (pronounced LUHM) can activate and balance the root chakra. At a deeper level, every letter in the Sanskrit alphabet carries a specific vibration.
For example, in the sound LAM, the initial “L” is a semi-vowel. This means that the “L” sound can be extended to a certain degree, though possibly not as long as a an open vowel (A, E, I, O, U). The longer the sound can be held, the more physical the effect. The absence of sound or silence remains in the spiritual realm.
Semi-vowels are connected to the four elements of nature (earth, water, fire and air) because they are halfway between the physical realm and the spiritual realm. From this perspective, LAM is the sound connected to the earth element. The sound “L” is also associated with joy, creativity and femininity. This sound is connected to happiness and Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth.
The short “A” in the middle (pronounced UH) is the most primal of all sounds. This is the fundamental or root vibration of the vocal chords, the most basic opening necessary to produce sound. Thus, this sound is an affirmation of life and the exhalation of breath.
The final “M” represents dissolution and transformation. The sound “M” is generally associated with the Divine Mother in Her many forms. “M” initiates the word for Mother in many languages: Mother, Mama, Mom, Mor, Ma, Madre, Mater, Mueter, etc.
Square Base in Chakra Symbols
Most interpretations of the Hindu chakra symbols for the root chakra interpret the central square as a metaphor for stability. This chakra provides the foundation upon which the other chakras rest. The root chakra can also be seen as connected with your personal and ancestral history.
These are the roots that can either bind you to the earth in a negative sense or give you a strong base and presence in the world in the positive sense. A balanced and strong root chakra affords the ability to stand your ground and feel safe in the world.
Upside Down Triangle in Chakra Symbols
The upside-down triangle is an alchemical symbol for water and feminine energy. The triangle in the center of root chakra symbols is balancing the earth energy of the larger square in which it resides. The triangle is the primary form that can enclose space within straight lines. The triangle is viewed as the first form to emerge from chaos.
The fundamental polarity of the root chakra is feminine. The kundalini energy that is coiled in the root is seen as the energy of the Divine Mother or the universal Goddess. This energy is drawn to the masculine energy of spirit in the higher chakras and the crown chakra.
Circles in Chakra Symbols
The circle is the most fundamental of all forms, symbolizing infinite space and expansiveness. The circle is present in all physical matter from the atom to planetary bodies. The circle symbolizes the central quest of spirituality: to realize oneness with all of creation.
Children begin to draw full circles around the age of three. Even earlier than that, they draw a circle with legs attached to represent people: mother, father, teacher and others. A circle represents totality and wholeness. The circle is a metaphor for the family, social unit, or sphere in which a child dwells.
Likewise, the circle represents the sphere in which we all dwell as adults. The spiritual path is generally thought to begin with clearing and balancing the root chakra. The circle is therefore an appropriate aspect of root chakra symbols as well as all seven of the chakra symbols.
Crescent Moon in Chakra Symbols
In the upper area root chakra symbols is a white crescent moon. This represents water energy and the emotions. The unconscious, connected to all the three of the lower chakras, is sometimes symbolized as the ocean.
In Hinduism, the moon is seen as a source of light protecting individuals in the darkness of the night. All forms of light are welcomed, including the secondary light of the moon. The moon is associated with the god known as Chandra.
The light of the sun is steady and bright. The light of the moon is unstable, waxing and waning through the month. Thus the moon symbolizes the cycles of life while the sun symbolizes the fundamental energy of life.
The dot above the crescent moon is similar to the Bindu, the dot often applied to the center of the forehead between the eyebrows in the East. The dot symbolizes the third eye. This is the place of spiritual vision or insight. The crescent moon and dot appear in all seven chakra symbols.
Sacral Chakra Symbols
The sacral chakra is the seat of the self as an individual and in relationship with others. The sacral chakra is the focus of reproduction, creativity and physical love. The sacral chakra is the center of exchange including communication and finances.
The sacral chakra is sometimes called the seat of the soul. The organs associated with the sacral chakra include the reproductive organs, lower back, large intestines, hips, kidneys and bladder. In Hinduism, the sacral chakra is associated with Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth.
Meaning of the Six Lotus Petals
The six petals of the sacral chakra are associated with the Sanskrit syllables BAM, BHAM, MAM, YAM, RAM and LAM. The chakra syllables can be chanted or used in mantras for the sacral chakra. These syllables can be interpreted as the overcoming of undesirable modes of consciousness.
The six syllables represent the following: affection, pitilessness, all-destructivity, delusion, disdain, and suspicion. In this usage, the word “affection” has the negative connotation of bellowing (as a cow or bull) or begging or vying for attention.
The aspects of the six syllables may alternately be translated as:
- wrath (bam)
- hate (bham)
- jealousy (mam)
- cruelty (YAM)
- lust (RAM)
- pride (LAM)
Once purified, the syllables become powerful sounds invoking the deities or forms of God that have overcome the negativity and now embody the opposite qualities.
Sacral Chakra Sanskrit Character
The Sanskrit character in the center stands for VAM, the seed syllable for this chakra. This is also called a bija syllable. This is a basic sound that can strengthen and clear this chakra. VAM is pronounced “VUHM.”
Like the “L” for seed syllable LAM associated with the root chakra, the “V” is a semi-vowel. This means that this sound is connected to one of the main physical elements, in this case the water element. “V” encompasses adaptability and receptivity.
The short “A” (UH) is a basic sound affirming life and breath. The closing “M” is a feminine sound associated with the Divine Mother. VAM can be used as a one word mantra or as a word in a longer mantra such as “OM VAM Namaha” (I give honor to the energy of the sacral chakra).
Meaning of the Sacral Chakra Circles
The circles symbolize the cycles of life, death, nature and the universe. As the most basic of all forms, the circle encloses physical matter. The two circles in the sacral chakra symbols are offset to form a moon shape. This is also symbolic of cycles and the light present in all seasons and times of day.
Sacral Chakra Crescent Moon
In the upper area of the sacral chakra symbol is a white crescent moon representing water energy and the emotions. The unconscious, said to be connected to the sacral chakra, is sometimes symbolized as the ocean.
The crescent moon is the source of reflected light connected to Chandra, the god of the moon in Hinduism. The dot above the crescent is like the Bindu, a dot placed between the eyebrows symbolizing the third eye or prophetic vision and intuition.
Solar Plexus Chakra Symbols
The solar plexus chakra is the seat of intuition and emotional power. This is the place of gut feelings. The solar plexus chakra is connected to the action of digestion: breaking down substances, thoughts and ideas into useful forms.
Symbolically speaking, the solar plexus is the place of the sun. This can be seen in the solar plexus chakra symbol with ten petals surrounding an inner circle. Mastery of the solar plexus is equivalent to mastery of the emotions, a tremendous power.
A number of ancient and indigenous cultures see the solar plexus center as the “third brain.” This is a place that combines intellectual knowledge (first brain) with the feelings of the heart (second brain). The combination of thought and feeling creates the wisdom of the solar plexus.
Meaning of the Ten Lotus Petals
The solar plexus chakra is represented as a ten-petaled lotus. The lotus petals symbolize the unfolding of spirituality or divinity. The ten petals represent the life force that connects our minds, body and soul in specific ways. The lotus symbol is also connected to the energy of creation.
Each petal corresponds to a Sanskrit bija or seed syllable. Spiritual practices may involve the sounding of each seed syllable to stimulate that particular energy. Some petals and sounds are repeated in a downward and an upward form.
These petals represent the spiritual overcoming of ten corresponding negative characteristics:
- ignorance (dam)
- thirst (dham)
- jealousy (nam)
- treachery (tam)
- shame (tham)
- fear (dam)
- disgust (dham)
- delusion (nam)
- foolishness (pam)
- sadness (pham)
Meaning of the Solar Plexus Triangle
The downward triangle represents water, a feminine element. An upward triangle would be masculine, the fire element. Water is often associated with the emotional nature of both men and women. Clearly there is a connection to physical tears.
All forms of water have a feminine quality: the ocean, rivers, creeks, rain and snow. Many cultures personify forms of water as feminine nature spirits or goddesses. For example, the river Ganges in India is the home of Mata Ganga (Mother Ganges).
The center symbol is the Sanskrit character for the seed syllable RAM, the central sound for the solar plexus chakra. More in the article Chakra Sounds.
Sanskrit Character RAM
The center symbol is the Sanskrit character for the seed syllable RAM, the central sound for the solar plexus chakra. More in the article Chakra Sounds.
Solar Plexus Crescent Moon
The symbol of the single stroke with the dot above at the top of the solar plexus chakra symbol represents the moon and the emotions, another source of feminine energy.
Other mantras for the chakras focus on deities associated with each chakra. These deities may be understood on emotional and psychological as well as religious levels.
Heart Chakra Symbols
The fourth chakra is the heart chakra or the Anahata chakra. In Sanskrit, “Anahata” means “unhurt, unstruck, unbeaten.” At the same time, Anahata means “pure” or “clean.”
The symbol within the interlocking triangles is the Sanskrit character for the sound YAM, the seed syllable of the heart chakra. More about the sounds, seed syllables and mantras associated with the chakras at Chakra Sounds.
The energy of this chakra integrates opposite forces or brings two parts together. The heart chakra is symbolized by a twelve-petaled lotus with interlocking triangles. This is a depiction of yin and yang or male and female.
The lotus is connected to the energy of creation and symbolizes the unfolding of spirituality or divinity. The symbol of the single stroke with the dot above at the top of the heart chakra symbol represents the moon and the emotions, a source of feminine energy.
Thoat Chakra Symbols
The throat chakra features a lotus flower with sixteen petals. The fifth chakra is known as the Vishuddha chakra. In Sanskrit, Vishuddha means “especially pure.” The glyph and dot at the top of the throat chakra symbolizes the moon, a form of feminine energy. The surrounding circle symbolizes manifestation as a whole.
The throat chakra is connected with creativity and self-expression as well as the actions of speaking and chanting. This chakra is associated with the neck, the esophagus, the teeth, the mouth and the ears.
As the gateway to the digestive system, the throat chakra is said to have the ability to neutralize the poisons of life. This protects us from “swallowing” impure food or unpleasant feelings. On the other hand, the throat is also connected to addictions centered around food, alcohol and drugs.
Healing the Throat Chakra
Healing stones believed to positively influence the throat chakra are lapis lazuli, turquoise, and aquamarine. Many of these stones a re blue, which some consider to be the color of a purified throat chakra.
Imbalances in the throat chakra can appear as throat issues, neck stiffness, trouble breathing, and thyroid problems. A positive affirmation for the throat chakra is “I express myself and my truth.”
The seed syllable for the throat chakra is HAM (hum). The Vedic mantra for this chakra is “Om Ham Namaha.” This sound honors and strengthens the energy of positive personal power and finding your own voice.
Third Eye Chakra Symbols
The third eye chakra is the door to prophetic vision, psychic intuition and seeing the future. This sacred spot is sometimes marked in the East on the forehead by the red dot known as the bindi.
The third eye is symbolized as a transparent lotus flower with two white petals representing the ida and pingala (mystical spiritual channels) or Shiva and Shakti on the left and right, respectively. The ida and pingala are sometimes considered to be the unconscious and conscious minds or the pineal and pituitary glands.
The pineal gland has been revered as a central endocrine gland for spiritual development. The pituitary is a master gland that monitors and regulates many bodily functions including growth, sexual maturity, metabolism and blood pressure.
The name pineal comes from the Latin pinea or pinus, meaning pine cone. Representations of the pineal gland are used symbolically in art of the Sumerians, Egyptians, Indonesians, Greeks, Romans and Babylonians. Some traditions say that the soul enters and leaves the physical body at birth and death through the pineal gland.
The Sanskrit symbol in the center is the character for OM, the seed syllable for the third eye chakra. Learn more in Chakra Sounds. The downward pointing triangle represents the energy of the feminine in the material world.
The glyph and dot at the top of the third eye chakra symbol represents the moon, another form of feminine energy. The surrounding circle symbolizes manifestation as a whole.
Crown Chakra Symbols
The crown chakra is represented by twenty layers of fifty petals each. For this reason, the crown chakra is sometimes referred to as the “thousand-petaled lotus.” The crown chakra is associated with the top of the head, but is often thought to be a floating ball of energy just above the head.
This chakra is sometimes thought to be a combination of a cluster of chakras on the skull. This is the spot on the back of the head where monks may gather their hair into a bun or shave a bare spot. The halo shown behind the head of Western saints is another form of depicting a fully opened and luminous crown chakra.
The crown can be viewed as the father, or spirit energy, drawing the mother, or earth energy, from the lower chakras upward. This energy is often symbolized as a snake, the most common representation of the kundalini energy. There are two intertwining snakes, one for the feminine and one for the masculine energy.
The kundalini energy crisscrosses back and forth through the chakras along the spine as it rises from the base to the crown. This is also the basis for the caduceus used as a symbol of the medical profession.
The dominating color of the crown chakra is white or gold. Reaching the crown chakra is largely equated with freedom from limitations and the boundaries of time and space. In this way, the crown is a link to the universal.
Those who have advanced practice in meditation may feel that the confines of their minds and bodies have been swept away and that they have merge with all that exists in the universe. Another way to look at this is that the blocks to recognizing that ongoing union have been dissolved.
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CHAKRA SYMBOLS ARTICLE SUMMARY
In the Hindu tradition, there are specific symbols for each of the seven major chakras. The organic and geometric forms in the chakra symbols depict the emotional, psychological and spiritual patterns associated with each chakra. Discover the meanings of these chakra symbols for a deeper understanding of the energetic system of the body.
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