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James D'Angelo
Category: Chakra


Publishers:  Inner Traditions (Rochester,  Vermont USA)), 2009

352 pp, soft cover (A4 size). Includes CD recording

Retail price:  $24.95 (approx £15)

The network of subtle energy centres aligning themselves along the spine and into the skull, are best known by the Sanskrit term “chakra” meaning “wheel“. Surveying any number of books by those working in the sound therapy field, we see that the chakras often serve as a major focal point for the therapeutic application of vibration whether achieved through the voice, musical instruments or even the electronic Cymatherapy apparatus. Sri Shyamji Bhatnagar (1936-  ) ,born in India and  now residing in the USA,  describes them as “vortices of psychospiritual energy… and are traditionally visualized as luminous lotus flowers in the core of which a seed sound resounds.”  

Bhatnagar is not just adding to the stockpile of books on the chakras whether the use of sound is covered or not; he has brought a completely fresh approach to the understanding of their structure and meaning as well as the retuning of their vibrations. Through his personal revelations coupled with his knowledge and practice of classical vocal Indian music  he discovered that “each of the classical chakras appeared as a subdivision of every other chakra and that “these subdivisions are called microchakras. Each chakra has seven microchakras for a total of 21 microchakras and when they are combined the total becomes 47 (21 x 7).

Central to Bhatnagar’s understanding of the subtle energy system are “three major channels, occupying less than a diameter of a hair, that run the length of the spine. The right channel carries solar energy downward from the left hemisphere of the brain to the base of the spine. The left channel carries lunar energy upward from the base of the spine to the right hemisphere . The central channel is filled with the red energy of fire. It is the fire of desire and carries memories of our unfulfilled desires from all previous lives, human and pre-human.  Radiating from these  are the vortices of spinning subtle energy (chakras).”  These channels are significant because the microchakras are formed by the intersection of each chakra with the three channels; the intersection with the right channel segments it into seven microchakras; in a similar way, the segmentation of a chakra occurs in the left and central channels. Hence a total of twenty-one microchakras for each centre.

The third dimension in his description  of the energy field are what he calls “motivational” principles (Sanskrit, lenga). The first three chakras are directed toward “basic personal satisfaction”, the fourth and fifth toward “selfless service to others or to a deity as well as to our own unique creativity” and the sixth and seventh toward “ transcendence of the usual human condition and realization of the Self.”   He also sees each chakra as a “mind” operating independently or in conjunction with other chakras. The higher up one moves the more subtle and refined the chakra mind becomes. Finally chakra minds are capable of four functions: observation, reasoning, feeling and intuition.

When Bhatnagar uses the expression “InnerTuning” meaning a way of restoring the chakras to their optimum state, he is referring to not only the sound phenomenon in the form of chanting and listening to specific InnerTuning recordings  he has prepared but also to the practices of fasting and the ingestion of bodily cleansers and nutrients, meditation at dawn and sunset, extended periods of silence, devotion to a good cause and observation through detachment.  All of this is elaborated in the tenth chapter. The fact of the matter is that Bhatnagar is more than a refined musician and sound therapist; he is a guru who teaches through the Tantra and Advaita Vedanta traditions the essentials of a truly spiritual life and the goal of enlightenment. This is laid out with great clarity and directness in the first two chapters Preparation for the InnerTuning Adventure and The Cosmic Play (43 pages in all)

Over the next 50 pages there is a thorough dissection of the functions of the three channels (ida =left, pingala =right and central =subhuman), the chakras themselves and breath (prana).  Included among the associations with the chakras are the direction of their spin, storehouse, sleep habits developmental period, musical sensitivity, intoxicants (up to the third)  and petal sounds. These aspects are not usually found in other texts on the chakras.  It is worth taking up these for one of the chakras as an example:

Third Chakra (solar plexus):

Rotation: Perpendicular to the ground and spins clockwise.

Storehouse: The trapzezius area around the neck and shoulders. The energetic link to the eyes, pancreas and knees.

Developmental period: For females from ages 12 to 18; for males, 14 to 21.

Musical Sensitivity: Bowed instruments such as the violin, cello and sarangi. They typically make use of the chakra’s storehouse of energy in the muscle between the neck and shoulders.

Intoxicants:  Cocaine and caffeine.

Regarding the petal sounds Bhatnagar writes: “Each chakra has a specific number of petals, each with its specific sound.  The petal sounds are the basis of the Sanskrit alphabet.” He presents them in diagram form, showing the right channel sounds in descending order, the left in ascending order. The Sanskrit language is very important in his InnerTuning work.  To quote him: “Tradition teaches that the sounds of Sanskrit were used to create the universe and all objects within it.  The fifty-two sounds of the Sanskrit alphabet encompass most of the sounds found in the major languages of the world. The creative potential of Sanskrit is at the root of the mysterious power of  mantra.”  He presents a very valuable table of the fifty-two sounds offering, importantly, the English word that approximates the petal sounds.

Bhatnagar identifies the essential character of the seven chakras as follows:

First: Stability, Second: Fluidity, Third: Assertiveness, Fouth: Feeling, Fifth: Creativity, Sixth: Intuition and Seventh: Contentment.  The quality for the seventh might seem surprising; however, when contemplating the unfolding of one’s spiritual potential it is a very clear sign that in realizing our true Self contentment naturally follows. He then interlocks these seven qualities with the elemental aspect so that for example, we have a description of the fourth chakra of feeling (air) with the character of the sixth (intuition).

Regarding music and sound Bhatnagar acknowledges both 12 tone (Western ) and 22 tone (Indian) music.  He does, however, state that “the merging of one tone with the next in 22 tone music may generate an altered state of awareness and permit a greater in-depth exploration of the affects.”  He very much favours the voice as the active healing instrument, writing that “What we do with our voice determines whether we bring out the Divine qualities of the sound or bring out malevolent qualities.”  He directs us to the fundamental sound of AUM explaining that “sounding the “A” properly with pure Prana inhaled through the nose will ground the energy; a properly “U” sound will bring the energy  upward to the higher chakras; and the “M” sound brings the energy to the seventh chakra where a total feeling of contentment is experienced.”  He lists mantras, associating them with chakras, for instilling confidence, courage, integrity, joy, compassion, creativity, spiritual zeal and wisdom and for dispelling depression and insomnia.  The CD included with the book  is a 28’ rendition of the heart mantra Shree Radhay by Bhatnagar accompanying himself on the tampoura.

He has a most refined and delicate voice and one does feel an extraordinary change of state (This writer has experienced his live performances as well). Recordings of the other mantras are available from his website

This book, beautifully laid out and with a comprehensive Sanskrit glossary and extensive bibliography,  is essentially a textbook for the study of Bhatnagar’s unique approach to spiritual transformation leading to the enlightened state.  It is very thorough in detail and  technical and thus it is questionable whether  non-therapists would much benefit except for the opening two chapters which focus on spiritual knowledge and the tenth chapter which delineates his recommended spiritual practices..  Certainly, it is not a text which is read through cover to cover.  It is something to be studied over a long period of time. However, for holistic therapists, working with sound or other means, it is well worthwhile tackling this knowledge and discovering new concepts that could expand their approach to healing others.

James D’Angelo


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