As far as I know, Blavatsky was the first esotericist to speak to the Westerners about the chakras, but since it was a very secret topic at that time (late nineteenth century), she only revealed little information but very valuable, which I will transcribe them below.
THE CHAKRA SYSTEM
« Our real seven Chakras are all situated in the head, and it is these Master Chakras which govern and rule the seven (for there are seven) principal plexuses in the body, and the forty-two minor ones to which Physiology refuses that name.
(Note: this information, few people know it, that apart from the seven major chakras there are also 42 minor chakras and 7 superior chakras, and it is interesting to note that in a lecture Master Pasteur spoke about this by telling his listeners that everything had not yet been revealed about the chakras and that there were many other chakras unknown to the public.)
The fact that no microscope can detect such centres on the objective plane goes for nothing; no microscope has ever yet detected, nor ever will, the difference between the “motor” and “sensory” nerve-tubes, the conductors of all our bodily and psychic sensations; and yet physiological logic alone would show that such difference exists.
(Note: you must know that Theosophy explains that what it really feels is not the physical nerve but the subtle and energetic nadi with which that nerve is associated. And that must be true because Master Pasteur explained that when the energetic current of a part of the body is diverted, that part of the body completely stops feeling and that is how patients are anesthetized in more developed civilizations than we are.)
And if the term plexus, in this application, does not represent to the Western mind the idea conveyed by the term of the anatomist, then call them Chakras or Padmas, or the Wheels, the Lotus Hearts and Petals.
(Note: chakra means “wheel” and padma means “lotus flower” in Sanskrit.)
Remember that Physiology, imperfect as it is, shows septenary groups all over the exterior and interior of the body; the seven head orifices, the seven “organs” at the base of the brain, the seven plexuses (the pharyngeal, laryngeal, cardiac, cavernous, epigastric, prostatic, and the sacral plexus), etc., etc.
When the time comes, the members of the E.S.T. (Esoteric School of Theosophy) will be given the minute details about the Master Chakras and taught to use them; till then, less difficult subjects have to be learned. If asked whether the seven plexuses, or Tattvic centres of action, are the centres where the seven rays of the Logos vibrate, I answer in the affirmative, simply remarking that the rays of the Logos vibrate in every atom, for the matter of that. »
(CW XII, p.619-620)
Based on what Blavatsky explained, we deduce that in reality there are seven higher chakras located in the brain, of which the public only knows two:
1) The highest chakra, which is on the top of the head and is called the “crown chakra,” and
2) The chakra associated with the pineal gland, which is known as the “third eye”.
And one of these brain chakras that we do not know is associated with the pituitary gland and that chakra is the first one that the disciples of the Theosophical masters learn to control. And I imagine that the other higher chakras must also be associated with other parts of the brain.
And these seven higher chakras govern and rule the 49 chakras of the body (7 major and 42 minor).
The seven major chakras are located along the spine and are associated with important plexuses of the body:
1. The pharyngeal chakra located inside the mouth
2. The laryngeal chakra located in the throat
3. The cardiac chakra located in the chest
4. The solar plexus chakra located in the diaphragm
5. The umbilical chakra located in the navel
6. The sexual chakra located in the pelvis and
7. The coccygeal chakra located in the coccyx
And so that you can visualize them better, below I put an image illustrating those nine chakras that we just mentioned (two superiors and seven majors).
The forty two minor chakras are associated with smaller plexuses, and at the moment I only know nine of them:
1) The perineum chakra
2) The spleen chakra
3) The liver chakra
4) The right nipple chakra
5) The left nipple chakra
6) The right hand chakra
7) The left hand chakra
8) The right foot chakra and
7) The left foot chakra
Unfortunately the events prevented Blavatsky from giving the information she promised, but in the same letter she detailed a little more about the different ways of approaching the management of the chakras.
« He who has studied both systems, the Hatha-Yoga [which is the technique used by Yogis in India] and Raja-Yoga [which is the technique used by the Theosophists], finds an enormous difference between the two: one is purely psycho-physiological [the Hatha-Yoga], the other purely psycho-spiritual [the Raja-Yoga].
The Tantrists do not seem to go higher than the six visible and known plexuses, with each of which they connect the Tattvas; and the great stress they lay on the chief of these, the Mûladhâra Chakra (the sacral plexus), shows the material and selfish bent of their efforts towards the acquisition of powers.
Their five Breaths and five Tattvas are chiefly concerned with the prostatic, epigastric, cardiac, and laryngeal plexuses. Almost ignoring the Agneya, they are positively ignorant of the synthesizing pharyngeal plexus.
But with the followers of the old school [of Raja-Yoga] it is different. We begin with the mastery of that organ which is situated at the base of the brain, above the pharynx, and called by Western anatomists: the Pituitary Body.
In the series of the objective cranial organs, corresponding to the subjective Tattvic principles, it stands to the “Third Eye” (Pineal Gland) as Manas stands to Buddhi; the arousing and awakening of the Third Eye must be performed by that vascular organ, that insignificant little body, of which, once again, physiology knows nothing at all. The one is the Energizer of WILL, the other that of Clairvoyant Perception. »
(CW XII, p.616-617)
And Blavatsky also expressed:
« And now that I have shown that the Tântric works as explained by Râma Prasad, and other Yoga treatises of the same character which have appeared from time to time in Theosophical journals –– for note well that those of true Râja-Yoga are never published –– tend to Black Magic and are most dangerous to take for guides in self-training, I hope that the American Esotericists will be on their guard.
For, considering that no two authorities up to the present day agree as to the real location in the body of the Chakras and Padmas, and, seeing that the colors of the Tattvas as given are reversed, e.g.:
- Âkâúa is shown black or colorless, whereas, corresponding to Manas, it is indigo;
- Vâyu is made blue, whereas, corresponding to the Lower Manas, it is green;
- Âpas is made white, whereas, it is violet, the color of the Astral Body, with a silver, moonlike white substratum;
- Tejas, red, being the only color given correctly.
From such considerations, I say, it is easy to see that these disagreements are dangerous blinds. »
(CW XII, p.621-622)
All this, Blavatsky mentioned to her Esoteric School students, but in other writings, she explained a little more about the chakras.
MANTRAS AND CHAKRAS
In an article entitled "Tharana or Mesmerism" which recounted the procedure of a Yogi who healed the sick through the pronunciation of a mantra, Blavatsky wrote the following:
« The Hindu occultist, or devotee, while practicing Raja-Yoga, hears the occult sounds as emanating from his own Mûlâdhâra — the first of the series of six centers of force in the human body (fed at the inexhaustible source of the seventh or the UNITY, as the sum total of all) and knows that it emanates from there, and from nowhere else. But, before our correspondent can realize fully our meaning, he will have to learn the important difference between Astral Fire and Astral Light.
Does he know it? Has he assured himself personally of this difference?
It is not sufficient to know a thing theoretically, as it will be only leading to eternal confusion, even “by learning some mantra, and trying its effects on patients,” unless one knows the philosophy—so to say, the rationale of the cure. Even success is no proof that it may not turn out very injurious some day. Therefore, before one becomes a practitioner, he ought to become a student.
And now arises the question:
Did the Brahman — who transferred the gift of curing by a certain mantra to our correspondent — know himself anything of the power he was so transferring, or did he simply do that mechanically?
If he was an initiate — well and good; but, in such case, how happened it that he asked one, who was not an adept, to teach him in return?
Such are not the ways of initiates. An adept, acquainted with one CENTRE, knows them all, since there is but one centre, of Occult Force in nature. He knows that in the centre of the Astral Fire must he search in nature for the origin of every sound — and it is sound — the Vach — that is the curative agent in a mantra.
Such a man knows that it is from this centre alone, never from the circumference of the SHATKONO CHAKRA, that the sounds transmitted (even by the external currents of Astral Light or Ether) proceed, while the six diverging points (which represent the radiations of this central point) but convey and echo them from within without, and vice versa, in every occult process of nature.
It is within and from a given point in space (which must always be central, where-soever it is placed) that the force which is at the basis of any phenomena, in whatsoever element, proceeds; for this centre is the “seat” of the unmanifested deity — says the esoteric Brahmanical doctrine — of the “Avyaktabrahm,” and stands for the seventh principle within the six points of the chakra.
All the forces in nature, whether great or small, are trinities completed by quaternaries; all — except the ONE, the CROWN of the Astral Light. If we say that nature has in reality seven, not five or even four, elements, some of our readers may laugh at our ignorance, but an initiate would never do so, since he knows very well what we mean.
He knows that, in the case in point (the power of a mantra), it is through occult sounds that the adept commands the elemental forces of nature. SABDA RBAHMÂ’S vehicle is called Shadja, and the latter is the basic tone in the Hindu musical scale. It is only after reaching the stage called Tribeni and passing through the study of preliminary sounds, that a Yogi begins to see Kala Brahmâ, i.e., perceives things in the Astral Light.
When our correspondent will have mastered the nadis and niddhis of the Raja-Yoga, and reached at least the above-named stage, then will he comprehend what we mean in saying that a gradual development of the mental and physical occult faculties is the method used by the true adept in studying the Raja-Yoga.
The practice of blindly “transferring” and “receiving” — is that of sorcerers, whether they are so consciously or unconsciously. Moreover, the ignorant practice of Hatha-Yoga leads one invariably into that undesirable acquisition.
The Hatha-Yogi either becomes a sorcerer, or learns practically nothing; or more frequently yet, kills himself by such an injudicious practice. The mantra ignorantly employed may, and often has, proved a treacherous weapon, whose mystical power has caused it to turn and stab the user. »
(CW IV, p.164-166)
And in her magnum opus “The Secret Doctrine” Blavatsky detailed a little more about the chakras:
THE DISC OF VISHNU
« Zero-ana, is the Chakra or circle of Vishnu, the mysterious emblem which is, according to the definition of a mystic, “a curve of such a nature that as to any, the least possible part thereof, if the curve be protracted either way it will proceed and finally re-enter upon itself, and form one and the same curve — or that which we call the circle.”
No better definition could thus be given of the natural symbol and the evident nature of Deity, which having its circumference everywhere (the boundless) has, therefore, its central point also everywhere; in other words, is in every point of the Universe.
The invisible Deity is thus also the Dhyan Chohans, or the Rishis, the primitive seven, and the nine, without, and ten, including, their synthetical unit; from which it steps into Man. Returning to the Commentary (4) of Stanza IV. the reader will understand why, while the trans-Himalayan Chakra has inscribed within it
(triangle, first line, cube, second line, and a pentacle with a dot in the center as shown above, and some other variations), the Kabalistic circle of the Elohim reveals, when the letters of the word םיהלא (Alhim or Elohim) are numerically read, the famous numerals 13514, or by anagram 31415 — the astronomical π (pi) number, or the hidden meaning of Dhyani-Buddhas, of the Gebers, the Geborim, the Kabeiri, and the Elohim, all signifying “great men,” “Titans,” “Heavenly Men,” and, on earth, “the giants.” »
(SD I, p.114)
« Of the 1, 3, 5, and twice 7, intending and very especially 13,514, which on a circle may be read as 31415 (or π [pi] value), I think there cannot be a possibility of doubting; and especially when considered with symbol marks on sacr,† “Chakra,” or Circle of Vishnu.
But let me carry your description a step further: — You say: “The One from the Egg, the six, and the five (See Stanza IV., Book I.) give the numbers 1065, the value of the first born”. . . . . . If it be so, then in 1065 we have the famous Jehovah’s name, the Jve or Jave, or Jupiter, and by change of ה to נ or h to n, then יונ or the Latin Jun or Juno, the base of the Chinese riddle, the key measuring numbers of Sni (Sinai) and Jehovah coming down on that mount, which numbers (1,065) are but the use of our ratio of 113 to 355 because 1,065 = 355 x 3 which is circumference to a diameter of 113 x 3 = 339.
Thus the first born of Brahma Prajapati (or any Demiurgos) indicates a measuring use of a circular relation taken from the Chakra (or Vishnu) and, as stated above, the Divine manifestation takes the form of life and the first born. »
(SD II, p.465-466)
« In that very learned work, “The Natural Genesis,” by Mr. Gerald Massey, on pp. 408-455 (Vol. I.), under the heading, “Typology of the Cross,” there is more information to be had on the cross and circle than in any other work we know of. He who would fain have proofs of the antiquity of the Cross is referred to these two volumes. The author shows that “the circle and the cross are inseparable. . . . The crux ansata unites the circle and cross of the four corners. From this origin they came to be interchangeable at times. For example, the Chakra, or Disk of Vishnu, is a circle. The names denote the circling, wheeling round, periodicity, the wheel of time. »
(SD II, p.546)
THE SIX-POINTED STAR OF VISHNU
« As in the Japanese system, in the Egyptian, and every old cosmogony — at this divine flame, The “One,” are lit the three descending groups. Having their potential being in the higher group, they now become distinct and separate Entities. These are called the “Virgins of Life,” the “Great Illusion,” etc., etc., and collectively the “Six-pointed Star.” The latter is the symbol, in almost every religion, of the Logos as the first emanation. It is that of Vishnu in India (the Chakra, or wheel), and the glyph of the Tetragrammaton, the “He of the four letters” or — metaphorically — “the limbs of Microprosopos” in the Kabala, which are ten and six respectively. »
(SD I, p.215)