Human Spiritual Structure: The Nadis
Notes in progress © 1998-2002 Alan McAllister  


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The nadis are subtle energy channels in the body. Various authors, ancient and modern have maintained that they are either completely non-physical, being part of the "astral body", or else associate them with various physical systems, including the nerves, the circulatory system etc. Motoyama suggests that they correspond to fluid filled connective tissue. He argues that the location of the sushumna in the center of the spinal cord precludes a direct association with the physical nerves. Other authors have suggested systems of both gross and subtle nadis. The nadis do seem to be closely related, and probably include, the East Asian chi meridians, which are much fewer in number. Unlike the meridians the nadis are not defined in the limbs. [TC]

Swami Rama suggests that the nadis are the energetic, or subtle body, correspondent to the physical nerves. [SB]

In the Yoga Upanishads the number is given as anywhere from 1,000 to 350,000, with 72,000 being most common. Of these ten, fourteen, or fifteen are deemed of particular significance. Combined these yield about 20 nadis listed in Motoyama's chart. They are said to originate from the Kandasthana, a circular region around the navel, flowing from there along the sushumna (sides, front and back), terminating in the sensory organs (nose, eyes, ears, tongue) and in the genital and perennial areas. Motoyama notes that the navel and all the connective tissue originate from the embryonic endoderm, while the nervous system originates from the ectoderm. In at least one Upanishad (the Chandogya) the gross nadis are described as being filled with a fluid that responds to the suns light. [TC]

Motoyama suggests that the Upanishads appear to locate all the nadis on the back because the clairvoyant techniques were not very accurate, and mostly showed them in relation to the sushunma. It might also be that while lateral differences where discernible, depth would be hard to perceive accurately. The result may have been a tendency to project all the lines onto a plane. [TC]

Satyanada states that the petals of the manipura chakra all correspond to nadis [TC]. I have heard it suggested elsewhere (Didi AM?) that the lotus aspect of the chakras, is due to the nadis connecting into them.

The main nadis are as follows:

In the Yoga Upanishads the number is given as anywhere from 1,000 to 350,000, with 72,000 being most common. Of these ten, fourteen, or fifteen are deemed of particular significance. Combined these yield about 20 nadis listed in Motoyama's chart. [TC]

In Tibetan tradition there are also 72,000 nadis (lun), with three main channels up the spine, central, and right and left. These start just below the navel and go over the top of the head to end at the nostrals. [CWL]

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Page Created, November, 1998.
Last updated February 5, 2000.
© Alan McAllister

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