Chakra

Skt., cakra: wheel, disc
Tib., 'khor-lo

Although most people know the term chakra mainly in connection with the Indo-Tibetan (yogic) concept concerning centers of the subtle body, the term has a great number of other uses.

It certainly does not mean subtle center, plexus or anything of that kind - it simply means wheel, disc, and circle; and is sometimes even used in the simple sense of roundness (such as in ‘curved sword’).

The following collection, by no means exhaustive, gives an idea of the wide spectrum in which this term is employed:

  1. Chakra is the name for an attribute/weapon of Tantric deities such as the Dharmapala Yama; in which case it is an 8-spoked wheel symbolizing the Buddhist teachings he protects. In this form, more precisely known as dharmachakra, it is also one of the Eight Auspicious Symbols.
  2. A chakra is also a sharp edged discus used as an offensive weapon, known in Tibet as mtshan-cha'i 'khor-lo. A similar disc-shaped weapon, magical in essence and associated with protective deities is known as rlung-gi 'khor-lo bar-ba, a term that translates as wind wheel of flames.
  3. With the term navachakra, indicating the nine triangles of the Shri Yantra, we find that a circular shape is not required for something to qualify as chakra; simply an assembly in a circular way.
  4. In this (3rd) sense, chakra is also part of several terms for various forms of ritual gatherings and modes of worship during which the participants gather in a circle. Examples of this usage are manifold, and result in combined terms such as chakrapuja, devachakra, diviachakra, ganachakra, gopichakra, panchachakra, rajachakra, tattvachakra, virachakra, yoginichakra.