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"Chakras - Number of Petals"[edit]


The Seven Chakras and their Number of Petals

For the Published Study please see

Note: The references and footnotes are in the process of being prepared.

Based on Hindu religion, tradition and culture, and supported by ancient (800 B.C.E and on) Sanskrit literature from India (much of it brought to the West in early 1900 C.E. by people such as Sir John Woodroffe), it is generally accepted by those who have adopted a more Oriental, New Age or Alternative Healing view (e.g. Reiki) on what the human being in essence is, that there are seven major chakras within the human aura, or - to say it differently - seven "subtle energy centres" within the "etheric human bio-energy field." (Fig. 1, 2 and 3)

In Chakrology (see also Esotericism and Tantra) the number of petals in a chakra identifies a special characteristic of an individual chakra. [1]Why each chakra is attributed with a specific number of petals though, is not generally known.

The purpose of this article is to provide existing literary evidence for the physical connection between the traditional numbers of ethereal [2] chakra petals and the physical human body - specifically the spine, and the Central Nervous System. (Fig. 4 and 5)

(For a description on the individual characteristic of each chakra please investigate the link at the end of this article.)

Traditionally the names used to identify chakras come from Sanskrit, but there is a New Age consensus in the use of English names for the chakras. In this article the English nomenclature will predominate.

Listed from the top down they are:

  • Crown chakra
  • Brow chakra
  • Throat chakra
  • Heart chakra
  • Solar Plexus Chakra
  • Sacral Chakra
  • Root chakra

In current literature on the human aura and chakras, the expression "energy centres" [3]is often used in conjunction with or instead of the Sanskrit term "chakras."

Overview of Data[edit]

Fig. 4
The Seven Main Chakras

Depictions - according to what is seen by clairvoyants such as Leadbeater, Borsboom et al. Sometimes observed as flat and rotating, sometimes funnel-like, the colored energies spiraling in or outwards
Colors - The type and mix of colors can vary according to the spiritual, mental/intellectual, vocational,
emotional, volitional, creative, physical and psycho-somatic characteristics of each individual.
Petals - Note the basket-weave undulations within the petals (the divisions).
Striations from the centre outwards in the Brow and Crown Chakras.
Twelve Petaled Lotus - at the centre of the Crown Chakra.
Rotations - To the clairvoyant the chakras appear to rotate either clock- or
counter-clock wise at varying rates depending on the characteriscoiics of the individual.
(C.W. Leadbeater's "The Chakras, 1927")

Fig. 5
Nervous System
Blue: Parasympathetic Nerves - Red: Sympathetic Nerves
The 25 dashed red lines between C1 & L5 are the 25 nerve pairs mentioned in the text. (Gray's Anatomy)

Chakra Petals / Segments [4] Color (New Age) [5] Traditional Color [6]
Crown 960 or 972 or 1000 [7] Violet or White
Brow Chakra 2 or 96 [8] Indigo or Violet Luminescent Blue or White
Throat Chakra 16 Blue Smokey Purple
Heart Chakra 12 Green Smokey Green or Grey
Solar Plexus / Navel Chakra 10 Yellow
Sacral or Spleen Chakra 6 Orange Light Blue
Root Chakra 4 Red Yellow
Chakra Glands / Organs [9] Element [10]
Crown Pineal Gland or Pituitary Gland or None [11]
Brow Chakra Pituitary and / or Pineal Gland [12]
Throat Chakra Thyroid Gland Ether / Space
Heart Chakra Thymus Gland / Heart / Lungs Air
Solar Plexus or Navel Chakra Digestive System Glands Fire
Sacral or Spleen Chakra Ovaries / Testes Water
Root Chakra Adrenals Earth
Chakra Nr. of Petals [13] Nervous System Nerve Pairs [14] In Relation to Vertebrae [15]
Crown Chakra
Central Lotus (!) [16]
960 1000
12 (!) [17]

12 Cranial nerves (!) [18]
Brow Chakra 2 or 96 [19] 1 Optic nerve (!) [20]
Throat Chakra 16 8 C1,C2,C3,C4,C5,C6,C7,T1
Heart Chakra 12 6 T2,T3,T4,T5,T6,T7
Solar Plexus or Navel Chakra 10 5 T8,T9,T10,T11,T12
Sacral or Spleen Chakra 6 3 L1,L2,L3
Root Chakra 4 2 L4,L5


1. The multiple entries in the above tables separated by the word "or" show the need for more consensus.

2. The info in the fields with an exclamation mark (!) is not generally known, but will be covered and referenced in the text.

How Many Chakras Actually?[edit]

The earliest Sanskrit sources (Upanishads) list either only four or five chakras. The Yogatattva Upanishad (sloka 83-101) [21] lists five and describes these chakras as being interrelated with the five elements: earth, water, fire, air, space. Over time, less ancient sources have added two or three major chakras to the original list, while contemporary New Age writings have added a plethora of minor ones. [22]

Recent chakra literature has also expanded the original list of five elements with many different and sometimes rather arbitrary elemental notions such as time or light for the Brow chakra, and consciousness or pure energy for the Crown chakra. [23]

The Number of Petals for each Chakra[edit]

This article specifically focuses on the number of petals for each of the seven major chakras. However, in order to help with the understanding of the math behind the various and sometimes varying chakra petal counts, one additional but lesser known chakra will be brought in. [24]

This article aims to explain that the relationship between the number of chakra petals and the human body is much more fundamental and concrete than it is generally assumed to be. Often only a symbolic value is given to the petal counts [25], especially when discussed in relation to the Sanskrit characters that are assigned to chakras and petals.

It will become evident that the petal count for each chakra is related to certain specific groupings of vertebrae and certain specific groupings of nerve pairs in the autonomic nervous system (ANS) that emanate from the spinal column through the vertebrae. [26]

This may be an indication of the fact that the early yogic investigators of the chakras (who either depicted or enumerated the chakra petals) were not only intuitive or clairvoyant like C.W. Leadbeater from the Theosophical Society but also used anatomical practices to find a correlation between what they saw intuitively and found through physical anatomical research. [27]

Terms like sushumna, ida and pingala that often appear in Sanskrit texts dealing with yoga, chakras or kundalini are not only dealing with esoteric subtle energy notions but also point concretely to physical structures found in the human body - structures that may produce energetic field characteristics that are not accepted or easily understood in current scientific investigations of the human being as a whole. [28]

These energetic field characteristics can be observed in a spectrum ranging from the more physical or gross to the more spiritual or subtle.

What will be shown then in this article, is, how the number of chakra petals is not just "some number" but rather specifically related to and depending on a series of physical internal components within the human body such as its skeletal [29] and peripheral nervous system [30] parts, as well as some specific physical structures within the brain. [31]

Considerations affecting the Number of Chakra Petals[edit]

Fig. 6
Cerebro-Spinal Fluid
in the Lumbar & Sacral Regions

- Yellow colored cavity contains
cerebro-spinal fluid
- LI, LV, first and fifth lumbar vertebrae
- SII, second sacral vertebra
1. Dura mater
2. Lower part of subarachnoid cavity
3. Lower extremity of medulla spinalis
4. Filum terminale internum
5. Filum terminale externum
6. Coccyx, attachment of
filum terminale
to first segment of coccyx
(Gray's Anatomy)

Fig. 7
Chakra & Aura Color Spectrum
Note: Magenta at the bottom

Thus the following considerations affect the number of petals for each chakra:

  • Groupings of spinal vertebrae. (Fig. 5, left - the spinal column) [32]
  • Groupings of nerve pairs in the autonomic nervous system. (Fig. 5, middle - the red dotted lines) [33]
  • The pituitary and pineal glands situated within the brain. (Fig. 9) [34]
  • The 12 Cranial nerve pairs. (Fig. 15) [35]

A clairvoyant observer envisages chakras as energy fields that resemble rotating color wheels, (Fig. 4) somewhat funnel or vortex-like; they may look like segmented wheels, as they seem look divided up by a number of spokes. [36]

"The Chakras" by Leadbeater is considered to be a classic book on this topic. In it the chakras (Fig. 4) are depicted as segmented, spoked or striated color wheels, the segments of which according to tradition are called petals. Leadbeater proposes another additional term for these petals: "undulations." [37]

Appellations such as colored undulations and terms like striated rotating energy disks or circular concentric interference wave patterns describe the way these segmented chakras are seen by clairvoyants much more accurately than the word petals.

Except for the Crown chakra, literature in general agrees on the number of petals or segments for each chakra. In her book "Wheels of Life" Anodea Judith lists the following for the number of Crown (Sahasrara) chakra petals:[38]

"Some say 960, some say 1,000 [...] 960 is the mathematical equivalent of the first five chakras together (4+6+10+12+16) multiplied by the two petals of chakra six, times ten." [39]

In addition to explaining the reason for the specific number of petals that each chakra can be observed to contain, this article also addresses the reason for the discrepancy between the number of petals for the Crown chakra as reported in various differing older ("The Chakras", 1927) [40] and newer ("Wheels of Life", 1999) writings, e.g. 960/972 vs. 1,000. [41]

In order to understand this discrepancy, it will prove to be worthwhile to recognize an additional chakra mentioned in a brochure "Chakras: A Clearer View." distributed by Wim Borsboom. [42] In it, he indicates that this chakra is situated below but very close to the Root chakra at the tip of the coccyx and linked to the "filum terminale" nerve. (Fig. 7) [43]

When this additional chakra is taken into account, the reason for the difference between the Crown chakra petal counts of 960 vs 1,000 will be become clear. This will be discussed in detail in the text following the table below.

Chakra Petals Color (Fig. 7) Glands Element Phase State
Crown (Sahasrara) 960, 972 (960 +12) or 1000 Violet Pineal / /
Brow or 3rd Eye (Ajna) 96 (2 main lobes of 48 each) Indigo Pituitary / /
Throat (Vishuddha) 16 Cyan Thyroid Space /
Heart (Anahata) 12 Green Thymus Air Gaseous
Solar Plexus or Navel (Manipura) 10 Yellow Digestive System glands Fire Plasmic
Sacral (Swadhisthana) 6 Orange Ovaries or Testes Water Liquid
Root or Base (Muladhara) 4 Red Adrenals Earth Solid
Coccyx * [44] 2 Magenta Coccygeal glomus [45] / /

* a little known chakra

Fig. 8
The Chakras and the Nervous Plexi
(Leadbeater "The Chakras")

Fig. 9
Pineal Gland and Pituitary Body
(Leadbeater, "The Chakras", 1927)

Fig. 10
Brow Chakra - Two Large Petals
(Detail - Nepal, 17th. Century)

Fig. 11
Optic nerve pair
Two Brain Hemispheres
Notice the two-sidedness in this picture and the depiction above.

(Note: Unfortunately, in contemporary literature on the chakras, the pineal and pituitary glands are sometimes exchanged in their relationship to the Crown and Brow chakras or attributed to the Brow chakra only.) [46]

In his book "The Chakras," Leadbeater shows (Fig. 8) how the five lower chakras are related to various nervous plexi that extend laterally from the spine. [47] Keeping that in mind, we can - for the five lower chakras - come to an understanding of the relationship between:

  • the number of petals, segments or undulations of those chakras,
  • the number of vertebrae that each particular chakra appears to be linked to,
  • the number of nerves (nerve pairs) emanating from the particular groupings of vertebrae.

In the "The Chakras: A Clearer View", the reader is reminded that the human body's spine consists of 24 vertebrae and that according to older anatomical studies, which exclude the Sacrum, (no citation provided in the brochure) 24 nerve pairs (48 nerves) emanate from those 24 vertebrae. In modern anatomy though (no citation provided), it is noted that 25 nerve pairs are observed to emanate from the 24 vertebrae. The brochure contends that the difference between the older count (24 nerve pairs) and the count of 25 nerve pairs might very well explain the discrepancy in the Crown chakra's numbers of petals that are either reported as being 960, 972 or 1,000. This will be explained in more detail later on in this article.

When the number of petals of the five commonly accepted lower chakras (not including the extra Coccyx chakra) are added up, one comes to a total of 48 petals (4+6+10+12+16=48). It is interesting that this number corresponds to the 48 nerves as they are identified in older anatomy sources. (No citation provided.) When the Coccyx chakra (consisting of two petals) is included, one counts 50 petals. This quantity corresponds to the current count of 50 nerves - the 25 nerve pairs that emanate from the spinal vertebrae. (Fig. 5 - the 25 red dotted lines between C1 and S1)


The lower chakras thus appear to be directly related to the nerve pairs that emanate from the spinal column. Their petal count corresponds - although not exactly - to the current convention of anatomical identification and numbering of the vertebrae and nerve pairs:

Conventional Vertebrae Grouping [49] Conventional Vertebrae Numbering [50]
Cervical C1, C2, C3, C4, C5, C6, C7
Thoracic T1, T2, T3, T4, T5, T6, T7, T8, T9, T10, T11, T12
Lumbar L1, L2, L3, L4, L5
Sacral (sacrum and coccyx) S1, S2, S3, S4, S5

The arrangement for the chakras (including the additional Coccyx chakra) that are directly related to the spinal column and CNS nerve pairs emanating from it, is as follows:

Chakra Nr. of Petals Nr. of Nerve pairs Revised Vertebrae Grouping [51]
Throat 16 8 C1, C2, C3, C4, C5, C6, C7, T1
Heart 12 6 T2, T3, T4, T5, T6, T7
Solar Plexus 10 5 T8, T9, T10, T11, T12
Sacral 6 3 L1, L2, L3
Root 4 2 L4, L5
Coccyx 2 1 S5
Total 50 25 /

When we look at an anatomy chart - generally to be found in a doctor's or chiropractor's office - depicting the vertebrae and their nerves, [52] it can be demonstrated that the division as described in the list above makes as much sense (or more?) as the current convention of vertebrae number designation.

The lower chakras are directly related to the spine. [53] The Brow and Crown chakras however do not have a direct spinal column connection. Instead, according to most sources (based on Leadbeater's "The Chakras"), they are directly linked to two glands (sometimes called "the master glands") embedded in the human brain: the pituitary gland (hypophysis) and the pineal gland (epiphysis). (Fig. 9) [54]

The Brow chakra is most often [55] linked to the pituitary gland which consists of two parts, the anterior and the posterior lobes. This two-lobed feature of the pituitary gland or the two lateral hemispheres of the brain (influenced by the paired optic nerve) [56] may account for the fact that in many illustrations the Brow chakra shows two large petals. (Fig. 4 and 10)

In Borsboom's brochure a link is made with the two hemispeheres of the brain and the optic nerve pair. He suggests that that could well be the cause of the two divisions or petals of the Brow chakra. (Fig. 10 and 11) [57]

According to the brochure it is either the twofold nature of the pituitary gland or processing by two brain hemispheres (influenced by the two optic nerves) that might account for the doubling of the total number of petals (48x2=96)of the five lower chakras after their accumulated energies have reached the Brow chakra. [58] Hence the 96 petals of the Brow chakra that Leadbeater reports. The writer of the brochure, favoring the two brain-hemisphere view, suggests the following,

"The 48 nerves (older anatomical count) are intricately connected to the brain's two hemispheres. This might be what results in the doubling of the total of 48 petals for the five lower chakras, thus resulting in - as depicted in Leadbeater's book "The Chakras" - the two vertical semi-circles containing 48 striations or undulations each, adding up to 96 petals altogether."


In most chakra literature, chakras are described as subtle energy centres processing and transmitting subtle vibrational energies. The chakra pictures found in Leadbeater's book [60] show this vibrational energy as concentric undulations or interwoven energy waves. Keeping that in one's mind's eye, one can envisage that the energetic wave packets, as they acquire and build up more energy while moving up from the lower chakras to the Crown chakra, that they cumulatively affect the total energy of the Crown chakra.

According to Borsboom, to understand where that accumulated energy (up to a thousand fold) of the Crown chakra / Sahasrara takes a hold physically - as it exerts its subtle vibrational forces - it may be helpful to know that the brain contains within it a number of interconnected fluid containing cavities, the ventricles of the ventricular system that are filled with cerebro-spinal fluid (CSF). (Fig. 12 and 13) [61]

This is the same fluid (altogether up to 150 ml.) that circulates through [62]:

  • the central spinal canal,
  • an outer layer of the spinal chord,
  • the meninges that surround the brain.

According to current histology ("Bailey's Textbook of Histology", figure 11-5) [63] some of it can seep out from the ventricles and the spinal chord, either to be re-absorbed by the blood or, according to Dr. G.P. Bondy.:

" supply the nerves with the electrolytes it contains to maintain the ionic homeostasis of the central nervous system (CNS)."


This process is currently not well understood.

How the combined vibrational energy from the five or six lower chakras (with a total of 48 or 50 petals) below the Brow and Crown may get its vibrational strength multiplied ten fold, thus producing either the 960 (2x48x10) or the 1000 (2x50x10) petals is as yet not understood.

The Crown chakra is often depicted with an additional twelve lobed flower-like formation in its centre (Fig. 14) [65]. This may account for the additional 12 petals that, when added to the 960, make up the 972 petals that the Crown chakra is observed to contain according to some. (E.g. Leadbeater.) It may be possible to interpret this 12 lobed formation as representing the 12 cranial nerve pairs that are found to exist within the brain. (Fig. 15)

The Significance of 1024 - 'One Thousand Twenty Four'[edit]

In the various tables and sub-sections above it was shown and discussed that the total number of chakra petals as related to the main nerve pairs plus the coccygeal nerve pair is 1000. When we now add the 12 cranial nerve pairs (which show up as 12 paired lobes within the crown chakra) we get to a total of 1024. 'One thousand twenty four... That is a very interesting number, as it shows up in the string of numbers: 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024, etc. This sequence is connected to the cell division just after fertilization of the female ovum. The cells multiply exactly that way. It is possible that each one of those earliest 1024 cells developed a structure that is still present in the main nerves of our nervous system and is also represented by the subtle energies that are active in all the chakras and culminate in the 'glory' of the Crown Chakra.

Gallery of additional Illustrations[edit]

Additional Remarks[edit]

In the traditional classic Indian literature that deals with individual chakras, each chakra as a whole is associated with one main single Sanskrit Devanagari character, an element (Skandha), a color, a geometric shape, an animal, a sense, an organ or a pair of organs, a gland and a mantric sound.

The same classic Indian literature, when it deals with individual chakra petals, also associates each petal with one of the characters of the Sanskrit Devanagari alphabet.


  • Judith, Anodea (1999). Wheels of Life: A User's Guide to the Chakra System. Llewellyn Worldwide. ISBN 0875423205.
  • Borsboom, Wim (1999). The Chakras: A Clearer View. Victoria, Canada: AuraSphere Unlimited Living.
  • W.M. Copenhaver PH.D, R.P Bunge PH.D, M.B. Bunge PH.D (1964). Bailey's Textbook Of Histology. Baltimore, Md, USA: The Williams & Wilkins Company. ISBN 683-02073-0 Check |isbn= value: length (help).CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  • Johari, Harish (1987). Chakras: Energy Centers of Transformation. Rochester, Vermont: Destiny Books. ISBN 0-89281-054-8.
  • Leadbeater, C.W. (1927). The Chakras. Adyar, Madras, India: The Theosophical Publishing House. ISBN 0-8356-7016-3.
  • Prophet, Elizabeth Clare (2000). Your Seven Energy Centers: A Holistic Approach To Physical, Emotional And Spiritual Vitality. Summit University Press. ISBN 978-0922729562.
  • Stein, Diane (1995). Essential Reiki: A Complete Guide to an Ancient Healing Art. Berkeley, USA: Crossing Press. ISBN 978-0895947369.
  • Satyananda, Swami Saraswati (1984). Kundalini Tantra. Bihar, India: Bihar School of Yoga. Text " asin: B000UDQ8F8 " ignored (help)
  • Woodroffe, Sir John (1919 - 1964). The Serpent Power. Madras, India: Ganesh & Co. ISBN 0-486-23058-9. Check date values in: |date= (help)


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