About the Artwork

This diagram of the six principal chakras of the Hindu Kundalini-Yoga system was drawn by Robert Beer and rendered into color at the studio of Marc Baudin in Jaipur, India. The composition shows a naked yogin seated upon a triangular vajra-rock formation, with the faint outline of Mount Kailas appearing in the background. The yogin sits in vajra-posture with his hands behind his thighs, his long black locks of matted hair hang freely about his shoulders and back, and his eyes are focused in a concentrated gaze on the ajna-chakra between his eyebrows.

Ascending through the axial center of his body is the central channel or median psychic nerve, which is known in Sanskrit as the sushumna-nadi or 'most refined nerve-channel'. The central channel is traditionally described as ascending from the base of the spine to the crown aperture of the head, and on either side of it are the two subsidiary 'lunar and solar' channels. The white lunar channel, known as the ida-nadi or 'channel of comfort', ascends to the left of the central channel, and carries the white cooling male essences (semen) of the moon. And the red solar channel, known as the pingala-nadi or 'tawny channel', ascends to the right of the central channel, and carries the red heating female essences (uterine blood) of the sun. In certain Indian yogini or Shakti-Tantra traditions the polarities of these two subsidiary channels may sometimes be reversed. In this painting the two subsidiary channels are shown to arise from the small white crescent moon and golden sun in the yogin's left and right testicles. They then ascend on either side of the spine or central channel until they finally curve below the crown of the head and descend to the left and right nostrils. The terminations of these two channels are shown here extending twelve finger-widths beyond the yogin's nostrils, with the tip of the white lunar channel touching the center of the white crescent moon that adorns his left earring, and the tip of the red solar channel touching the golden-red sun at the center of his right earring. Yogins and Mahasiddhas are often described as wearing the sun and moon as ear ornaments, and the Sanskrit term for earring is kundala, which has the same root as kundalini, meaning 'coiled or circling'.

At various points along their ascent the lunar and solar channels cross over the central channel, creating constricting 'knots' or nerve-plexuses, which are known as nadi-chakra or 'channel wheels'. These constricting knots restrict the flow of the vital energies or 'winds' into the central channel, upon which the 'mind' travels as 'breath' or prana. In both the Hindu and Buddhist chakra systems there are said to be 72,000 psychic nerves or channels that permeate the 'subtle body'. Numerically these are derived from the eight main directional channels of the heart chakra, which divide into three (24), then into three again (72), and finally into a thousand refined branches (72,000). Purification of these 72,000 nadis is attained through the yogic practices of pranayama or breath-control, and hatha-yoga. The term 'Hatha Yoga', meaning 'forceful or violent union', is composed of the two bija syllables HA and THA of the sun and moon, symbolizing the red solar energy of the pingala-nadi and the white lunar energy of the ida-nadi, being 'forced' (hatha) into union (yoga) in the sushumna-nadi or central channel.

© text by Robert Beer

Popular Images

About Our Prints


PEM Custom Prints offers exclusive custom reproductions of artworks in the collections of the Peabody Essex Museum. Hand-made in the USA using gallery-quality materials, we create prints as true to the original work as possible, using strict color management protocols and state-of-the-art printing technology.


Many of the works offered through this store are exclusive and not available anywhere else. We are continually adding new artworks to our offering, so be sure to check back regularly as you build your own gallery. A variety of molding styles means our custom framed prints can match any type of decor.

Member Discounts

PEM Members receive their 10% discount for all PEM Custom Prints purchases. Simply enter your valid member number into the form at checkout and the discount will be applied to the items in your cart. Member discounts cannot be combined with other offers.