In January 2004 Asra Nomani discussed her understanding of Chakras and her
book, Tantrika: Traveling the Road of Divine Love
(Harper, May 2003). The Indian-born
Muslim researched Tantra, a mystical tradition that's woven into Buddhism and Hinduism. She
travels to Kathmandu temples, Thailand caves, the hometown of the Dalai Lama and Tantra boot
camps in India. Along the way she discovers the spiritual wisdom of Tantra, as well as having
the Pakistani press accuse her of being an Indian spy.
Relate your understanding of Chakras.
I didn't know what a Chakra was until I attended a Canadian workshop. After someone pressed
on my crown Chakra, I came back a believer. You must experience it before you can believe in
it. Even though it was just a moment, it was such a rush!
In this Tantra workshop, they were using the Chakras in a sexual way rather than using them as a
connection to the divine. Later, at the Himalayan institute in Pennsylvania, there was a much
more yogic approach to Chakras.
If you want a shortcut to "Chakra" awakening, your partner can press particular points, being
mindful of where you might have blocks. After that, I saw the wisdom in the approach, and I
found myself pressing on my sternum during episodes of fear. Now, four years later, I can sense
when fear is motivating me. And I know I must get my taxes done in order to connect with my
In India, I saw the spiritual aspect of it when I talked with regular people who practiced trying to
raise their Kundalini in their Yoga. Often times they would not relate to it directly but I could
tell that that was what they were doing in their meditation practice. When I witnessed a man's
death in India, I felt like the man's spirit escaped through the Chakra openings. It was a very
It was in my hometown that I came to understand the link between our movements, our bodies
and our Chakras. I started taking Nicole's Yoga class, a Chakra class, and started doing exercise
from a Chakra book. I taught my family the lessons. I liked the fact that you could be linear
about your body, that your body is not just this mass but that you could break it down
mathematically. You have to maintain real humility, to avoid ego-driven tendencies.
Over my lifetime I've learned what a Chakra is; to become conscious of these things within
ourselves that are not mainstream, then we are all the better for it. People from the Wall Street
Journal laughed about it. I liked the fact that your Chakra Software is linear, you can actually
quantify it for yourself.
Is it important to find an endocrine gland link to Chakras?
I would like to see more scientific pursuits in the area of Chakras. Research has been conducted
on electromagnetic phenomena. I am happy that scientists are taking it seriously because there
is so much potential there if we could tap it. I became convinced of Chakras when I pressed on
the third eye of my niece and nephew and they calmed down immediately. However, when I do
it with my baby he doesn't respond; perhaps he is so free and it is so powerful that he doesn't
need any more, he won't allow it.
Could you comment on your motorcycle journey through India.
I can not believe I rode a motorcycle through India! It was so beautiful, but it was a solitary
experience. I could not share that ride with anyone, one could not balance two riders well. I
made myself confront every barrier that was put on travel for women.
When I would ride I would do the meditation where you look in the mirror and you look into
your eyes. You use yourself as the focus, you visualize yourself as whatever incarnation you
want, and I would concentrate on a particular Chakra. I would also press on my heart Chakra to
overcome fear and meditate on the third eye.
The Kundalini serpent was not uncoiled as long as I had fear and worried about what other
people thought. The two women that I was traveling with were so free. I had a real moment of
liberation at the Bay of Bengal where we literally just dove into the water with our clothes on.
Could you discuss your efforts on the behalf of women within Islam.
I read Rosa Park's biography and she became sick and tired of being mistreated. I knew that I
could never set foot in the local mosque if I had to walk through the back door.
I wrote the article about entering the mosque with my stomach churning because I wanted to
convey to the reader that our bodies are cues. The night before I would enter the mosque I would
lie in bed and feel tremendous anger in my stomach, and rather than just feeling confusion I
could try to release it. I felt the fear in my sternum, and you know so well when the area around
your navel is coiled.
I no longer have any illusion about changing people, but I can help change the institution. By
trying to embrace all of this energy, it has allowed this power to have clarity. Otherwise I found
that I would get too emotionally involved, becoming too hopeful in a delusional way, or you can
become too cynical. Whether you are alone or you have a battalion of people beside you is
irrelevant, because you are clear on the physical level. This gives you a sense of non-attachment,
if someone shows up that's great but if they don't, that's fine.
Do you have any cautionary tales?
I laughed at those that warned about unleashing Kundalini, but then I saw they were right in that
it releases a great deal of energy and one must be careful. They said not to play with the energy
Do you have any final thoughts?
I meant the book Tantrika
to be a metaphor for what happened: there was Daniel Pearl's death,
and this love that had been destroyed with my son's father; then to create life, for Daniel Pearl's
widow and I was truly amazing.