Seven Centers of Force
In the previous chapter we have seen that, according to the Eastern teaching, the vital
or etheric body is constituted of ether and acts as the conductor of prana which is the
life principle and energizes matter and produces form. The vital body also embodies that
sentient principle in nature called the soul, or rather the vital body is the expression
and vehicle of the soul.
The main characteristic of the soul is consciousness. The soul as life is "seated
in the heart," and as rational spiritual consciousness is "seated on the throne
between the eyebrows." René Guénon expresses this as follows:
"Thus, what dwells in the vital center, from the physical point of view, is ether;
from the psychic point of view, it is the 'living soul,' and so far we are not
transcending the realm of individual possibilities; but also, and above all, from the
metaphysical point of view, it is the principal and unconditioned 'Self.' It is,
therefore, truly the 'Universal Spirit' (Atma), which is, in reality, Brahma Itself,
the 'Supreme Ruler'; and thus the designation of this center as Brahma-pura is found
to be fully justified. But Brahma, considered in this manner as within man (and one
might consider it in like manner in relation to every state of being) is called Purusha,
because It rests or dwells in the  individuality... as in a town (puri-shaya) for
pura, in its proper and literal sense, signifies town."
- Guénon, René, Man and His Becoming, pp. 44, 45.
The life force has seven main points of contact with the physical body, called the
seven centers. These seven force centers transmit the life force, and are the agents of
the soul. They maintain bodily existence and produce its activity. The Dreamer in his
then are the centers of man? They are the reflections in the respective nuclei of the
upadhi of the one Self. If we study the workings of the impregnation of matter by Divine
Energy, sometimes spoken of as the life waves, we shall see how, from the projection of
the Self into the limits of objectivity called matter, certain qualities are imparted to
matter developing into what are called tattvas. Each tattva has got for its ensouled life
a tanmatra, or a modification of the Divine consciousness. In each tattva, therefore, we
have the Divine consciousness as the central life, while the idea of resistance forms the
have seen that the Self, in virtue of its power of manifestation, reflects itself in the
various upadhis, developing in them artificial centers which form, so to say, at one and
the same time the nucleus of the upadhis as well as the representatives of the Self in the
- Dreamer, The, Studies in the Bhagavad Gita, pp. 37, 40, 107.
name of a force center is "chakra." The location of the seven centers of force
(with their complete Indian names) are as follows, from the head downwards: 
- Head center - sahasrara chakra
- Center between eyebrows - ajna chakra
- Throat center - vishuddha chakra
- Heart or cardiac center - anahata chakra
- Solar plexus center - manipura chakra
- Sacral or sexual center - svadhisthana chakra
- Center at base of spine - muladhara chakra
It will be noted that there are four centers above the diaphragm and three below. Much
has been written and more could be said, about these force centers or chakras, but the
following will serve as an introductory summary.
centers carry pranic energy for every part of the body and are in close relation to the
nervous system in its three divisions, namely: the cerebro-spinal, sympathetic and
peripheral. From the force centers the vital or pranic energy is distributed along subtle
lines of direction. These lines are called "nadis" and are closely related to
the nerves and at the same time to the arteries; they apparently underlie the corporeal
nervous system. In Man and His Becoming we read:
regards the nadis or arteries of the subtle form, they must not be confounded with the
corporeal arteries through which the circulation of the blood is effected, and,
physiologically, they correspond rather to the ramifications of the nervous system, for
they are  expressly described as luminous; but as fire is in some sort polarized into
heat and light, the subtle state is linked to the corporeal state in two different and
complementary ways, by the blood as to the caloric quality, and by the nervous system as
to the luminous quality. However, it must be clearly understood that, between the nadis
and the nerves, there is still only a simple correspondence and not an identification,
since the former are not corporeal, and that we are dealing in reality with two different
realms in the integral individuality. Similarly, when a relation is affirmed between the
function of these nadis and respiration, because this is essential to the
maintenance of life and corresponds truly with the principal vital activity, it must by no
means be concluded on this account that they can be conceived as a kind of channel in
which the air circulates; this would be to confuse the 'vital breath' (prana), which
properly belongs to the subtle manifestation, with a corporeal element.
stated that the total number of nadis is seventy-two thousand; according to other
texts, however, it should be seven hundred and twenty millions; but the difference here is
more apparent than real, since, as always holds good in such cases, these numbers must be
taken symbolically, not literally."
- Guénon, René, Man and His Becoming, pp. 136, 137.
Prasad, who uses the Indian word lotus for chakra or force center, makes an interesting
comment in this connection:
"The nervous plexuses of the modern anatomists coincide with these centers. From
what has been said above it will appear that the centers are constituted by bloodvessels.
But the only difference between the nerves and the bloodvessels is the difference between
 the vehicles of the positive and negative Pranas. The nerves are the positive, the
bloodvessels the negative system of the body. Wherever there are nerves there are
corresponding bloodvessels. Both of them are indiscriminately called Nadis. One set has
for its center the lotus of the Heart, the other the thousand-petalled lotus of the brain.
The system of bloodvessels is an exact picture of the nervous system, is, in fact, only
its shadow. Like the heart, the brain has its upper and lower divisions - the cerebrum and
the cerebellum - and, as well, its right and left divisions."
- Prasad, Rama, Nature's Finer Forces, pp. 45-46.
The force centers are situated up the spinal column and in the head. Arthur Avalon
"A description of the Chakras involves, in the first place, an account of the
Western anatomy and physiology of the central and sympathetic nervous systems; secondly,
an account of the Tantrik nervous system and Chakras; and, lastly, the correlation, so far
as that is possible, of the two systems on the anatomical and physiological side, for the
rest is in general peculiar to Tantrik Occultism.
The Tantrik theory regarding the Chakras and Sahasrara is concerned on the
physiological side... with the central spinal system, comprising the brain or encephalon,
contained within the skull, and the spinal cord, contained within the vertebral column
(Merudanda). It is to be noted that, just as there are five centers (Chakras) hereinafter
described, the vertebral column itself is divided into five regions, which, commencing
from the lowest, are the coccygeal, consisting of four imperfect vertebrae, often united
together into one bone called the coccyx; the sacral region, consisting of five vertebrae
united together to form a single  bone, the sacrum; the lumbar region, or region of
the loins, consisting of five vertebrae; the dorsal region, or region of the back,
consisting of twelve vertebrae; and the cervical region, or region of the neck, consisting
of seven vertebrae. As exhibited by segments, the cord shows different characteristics in
different regions. Roughly speaking these correspond to the regions which are assigned to
the governing control of the Muladhara, Svadhisthana, Manipura, Anahata, and Vishuddha
centers, or Chakras. (These regions are the base of the spine, sacral center, solar plexus
center, heart center and throat center.) The central system has relation with the
periphery through the thirty-one spinal and twelve cranial nerves, which are both afferent
and efferent or sensory and motor, arousing sensation or stimulating action. Of the
cranial nerves, the last six arise from the spinal bulb (medulla), and the other six,
except the olfactory and optic nerves, from the parts of the brain just in front of the
bulb. Writers of the Yoga and Tantra schools use the term Nadi, by preference, for nerves.
They also, it has been said, mean cranial nerves when they speak of Shiras, never using
the latter for arteries, as is done in the medical literature. It must, however, be noted
that the Yoga Nadis are not the ordinary material nerves, but subtler lines of direction
along which the vital forces go. The spinal nerves, after their exit from the
inter-vertebral foramina, enter into communication with the gangliated cords of the
sympathetic nervous system which lie on each side of the vertebral column. The spinal cord
extends in the case of man from the upper border of the atlas, below the cerebellum,
passing into the medulla, and finally opening into the fourth ventricle of the brain, and
descends to the second lumbar vertebrae, where it tapers to a point, called the filum
- Avalon, Arthur, The Serpent Power, pp. 123-125.