The chakras are described in the tantric texts, the Sat-Cakra-Nirupana, and the Padaka-Pancaka, in which they are described as emanations of consciousness from Brahman, an energy emanating from the spiritual which gradually turns concrete, creating these distinct levels of chakras, and which eventually finds its rest in the Muladhara chakra. They are therefore part of Emanation theories (that the material universe originated from a transcendental first principle), like that of the kabbalah in the west, Lataif-e-sitta in Sufism or Neo-Platonism.
The chakras are placed at differing levels of spiritual subtlety, with Sahasrara at the top, representing pure consciousness, and Muladhara at the bottom representing matter, which is seen simply as crude consciousness.
The earliest known mention of chakras is found in the later Upanishads, including specifically the Brahma Upanishad and the Yogatattva Upanishad. These Vedic models were adapted in Tibetan Buddhism as Vajrayana theory, and in the Tantric Shakta theory of chakras.
There are various other models of chakras in other traditions, notably in the Chinese medicine, and also in Tibetan Buddhism. Even in the Jewish kabbalah, the different Sephiroth are sometimes associated with parts of the body. In Islamic Sufism, Lataif-e-Sitta ( Six Subtleties ) are considered psycho-spiritual "organs" or faculties of sensory and suprasensory perception, the activation of which makes a man complete.