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The Chakras of the Subtle Body
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This yogi wears the cartilage-piercing round earrings (kundal) that Naths adopted as their insignia around the turn of the nineteenth century. His lotus petal-shaped eyes are crossed in inward meditation.

The painter Bulaki shaded all of the chakras to make them appear glowing and luminous.

Yoga: The Art of Transformation

The Chakras of the Subtle Body

Finely painted with glowing mineral colors, this monumental folio depicts nine chakras arrayed on the body of a Nath yogi, whose eyes are crossed in inward meditation. The artist, Bulaki, represented the chakras both abstractly and figuratively. The absolute emptiness (shunya) that is the sixth chakra (located near the palate) appears as a black circle on the yogi’s chin; Kundalini Shakti, here the third chakra, is a goddess sitting atop the snake coiled around the yogi’s waist.

In Tantric and hatha traditions, the subtle body is the interface that enables yogic transformation. Situated within the individual gross (physical) body, yet made of the subtle matter of the universe, its features include energy channels (nadis) and centers (chakras and ghrantis). By manipulating the subtle body through meditation, physical practices, or a combination of the two, practitioners can realize their equivalence with the cosmos.

The Chakras of the Subtle Body
folio 4 from the Siddha Siddhanta Paddhati
India, Rajasthan, Jodhpur
1824 (Samvat 1881)
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Mehrangarh Museum Trust RJS 2376

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As renovation work continues in the Freer Gallery, the Sackler Gallery also will close on July 10, 2017. This museum-wide closure will allow us to completely reinstall our exhibitions and revitalize features to improve your visit. Both spaces will reopen on October 14, 2017, when we will welcome the public back to the Freer|Sackler: two galleries, one destination. For your safety, all visitors will have their bags checked. See the complete list of restricted items and bag sizes.