People admire the Sri Yantra for its geometric perfection and beauty. The ancient design has grown in popularity. Some use the striking design in artistic work. Others use the Tantric diagram for meditation and concentration.
The object has deeper, cosmological meaning in Hinduism. According to Vedic scholar Subhash Kak, the diagram is an iconic representation of the deepest intuitions of the Vedas. He says the Sri Yantra, also known as the Sri Chakra, looks at reality through the lens of beauty and experience. In today's Phidle Clothing blog, you'll learn about the cosmological and geometric significance of the Sri Yantra.
What is a Yantra?
Yantra is a Sanskrit word that means "contraption" or "machine." Its use dates back to 11,000 - 10,000 BC. Indian Tantric traditions used yantras as mystical diagrams to aid in meditation and deity worship. Each tradition associates a yantra with specific deities. The Baghor stones are one of the earliest yantra examples. It was a triangular-shaped stone stained with ochre. The piece had triangles engraved on one side.
The Sri Yantra: The Source of Power and Creativity
The Sri Vidya is one of most popular and comprehensive Vidyas. Its most iconic symbol is the Sri Yantra. In Hinduism, the term Vidya means "highest clarity" or "highest knowledge." Scholars also define it as the worship of gods or goddesses. Worship includes obtaining knowledge, using it for a purpose, examining learning practices, and applying corrective measures. The word "Sri" means "prosperity," "auspiciousness" and "divinity."
The Sri Vidya dates back to the 10th or 11th century and continues to thrive in Southern India. It is an ancient Hindu Tantric tradition. Its devotees worship the Goddess Lalita Tripura Sundari. Her name means "The Most Beautiful Lady of the Three Worlds." Each one represents three planes of reality. They are Bhu Loka (the physical plane), Bhuvar Loka (Antariksha or the Intermediate Space of Consciousness of the Prana), and Swar Loka (Svarga or Consciousness of the Divine Mind).
The goddess is a supreme deity. She is a power that transcends the five great forces in the universe. These include creation, maintenance, concealment, dissolution, and grace. In traditional iconography, her body is white and tinted with a red color. She has three red eyes and three lower garments. In her tantric form, she is all red. She holds several items that represent her powers.
- The noose represents will.
- The hook symbolizes power.
- The bow and arrows represent action.
Tripurasundari's tantric form of Sri/Lakshmi manifests through her mantra, the Sri Vidya. The symbol, the Sri Yantra, represents the universe, the goddess' body, and the embodiment of the feminine principle of energy (shakti).
The religious practices of the Sri Vidya tradition are:
- Worship of the Goddess Lalita Tripura Sundari
- Recitation of the three-part fifteen (or sixteen) syllable Sri Vidya mantra
- Use of the Sri Yantra.
Her devotees believe that consciousness is the cosmo's highest form.
The Sri Yantra represents the infinite power of the Goddess and her geometric form. Some followers place Sri Yantra pictures inside of their homes to improve luck and ward off negativity. Worshippers call the Sri Yantra the raja yantra, or "queen of yantras." The mystical diagram symbolizes the divine mother principle. It embodies the pure, universal source of creativity, power, and energy. Sri Yantra also exemplifies the unification of feminine and masculine divinity.
The Mystical Meaning of the Sri Vidya Icon
In sacred, Vedic geometry, the Sri Vidya's diagrammatic features have spiritual meanings. The yantra has nine intersecting triangles. They unite to form 43 smaller ones. Each triangle falls into five concentric levels that symbolize the non-duality of the cosmos (Advaita). A Bindu, or cosmic center, sits in the middle of the diagram.
Four, upward-pointing isosceles triangles represent passive male consciousness (Shiva). The five, downward-pointing ones symbolize dynamic female energy (Shakti). The Sri Yantra has triangles circumscribed into two concentric circles. Inside the shapes, there are two lotus flowers. One has 16 petals; the other has eight. Together, they represent the "lotus of creation" and the "reproductive vital force."
1. Meaning of the Three Squares - In Vedic sacred geometry, squares represent the earth. Two squares surround the icon. The outer one symbolizes disturbing emotions including anger, fear, and envy. Yogis meditate on the outer square to overcome those negative feelings. There is a T-square structure in the squares represent the gates to the four directions. These are the yantra's entryways.
2. The Symbolism of the Three Circles: The Sri Yantra's three circles represent time dimensions: the past, present, and future.
3. Meaning of the Sixteen Lotus Flower: In Hinduism, this sacred flower symbolizes purity, spiritual perfection, and auspiciousness. The lotus rises from the mud to blossom as a pure flower. It represents resurrection and divine birth. The first ring of the sixteen-petal lotus symbolizes the completion of desires, goals, and hopes. Its petals correspond to sensory organs that perceive and take action. They are the nose, skin, eyes, mouth, feet, hands, tongue, ears, arms, and reproductive organs. Five petals represent the earth, water, fire, air, and space elements. The mind is the final petal. It gathers and interprets information from the elements' interaction.
4. Meaning of the Eight-Petal Lotus: The Sri Yanka's eight-petal lotus corresponds to the human body's activities. They include speech, grasping, attraction, equanimity, repulsion, and excretion, enjoyment, and motion.
5. The Symbolism of the Interlocking Triangles: The lower, outer triangles have different meanings. Starting from the counterclockwise direction, they represent agitation, pursuit, attraction, delight, delusion, immobility, release, control, pleasure intoxication, accomplished desire, luxury, mantra, and dissolving of duality.
The next sequence starts from the bottom triangle and moves counterclockwise. Each triangle has a separate meaning as follows:
- Triangle One: The giver of all accomplishment
- Triangle Two: The giver of wealth
- Triangle Three: The energy of all activities that please everyone
- Triangle Four: The bringer of blessings
- Triangle Five: The granter of desires
- Triangle Six: The removal of suffering.
- Triangle Seven: The appeaser of death
- Triangle Eight: The overcomer of obstacles
- Triangle Nine: The bring of beauty
- Triangle Ten: The giver of all good fortune
In the third circle, the ten small have specific meanings. Vedic scholars assign meaning (beginning at the lowermost triangle and continuing counterclockwise). The triangles represent omniscience, omnipotence, sovereignty, knowledge, eradication of disease, unconditional support, destruction of evil, protection, and attaining all desires.
The fourth circle of triangles (beginning in the same area and moving counterclockwise) symbolize sustaining, creation, dissolution, pleasure, pain, cold, heat, and the ability to choose an action.
The final shapes are five arrows that represent the senses. They have the following meanings.
- Triangle One: A bow represents the mind
- Triangle Two: A noose represents attachment
- Triangle Three: A stick represents aversion
- Triangle Four: The central triangle is the giver of all perfection
- Triangle Five: At the center, a Bindu representing pure consciousness and the original state of being.
Drawing the Sri Yantra Symbol
Today's mathematicians wonder how ancient Vedic scholars created a complex object like the Sri Yantra without the use of modern-day math. The icon is difficult to reproduce without precise calculations. The geometric figure incorporates the Fibonacci series and the mathematical constants of Pi and Phi. It also uses the Golden Ratio in its design.
Ancient scholars knew mathematicians couldn't reproduce the icon without small imperfections. Today, computer programs create accurate renditions of the Sri Yantra symbol.
How to Evaluate a Sri Yantra for Accuracy
The Sri Yantra Research Center has three tips to select accurate iconography for your home.
- Ensure that its Concurrent - According to the Sri Yantra Research Center, the icon's triple intersections must intersect precisely. There should be no incongruent or uneven triangles.
- Examine it for Concentricity - Find the center of the outer triangle. Use a drawing program (or a compass) to create a circle inside the Sri Yantra. The Bindu (central point) should rest in the middle of the innermost triangle. It should remain in the center of the outer circle.
- Ensure it is Symmetrical (Equilaterality) - The innermost triangle should be equilateral. All of its angles should equal to 60 degrees.
All three of the largest triangles' points should touch the outer circle. Each triangle's upper point should touch the horizontal base of the lower ones.
Meditation Using the Sri Yantra
Here is a Sri Yantra meditation that can help focus and quiet your mind.
- Place the Shri Yantra on a blank, eastern-facing wall about one to two feet away.
- Find a comfortable seating position on a chair or pillow.
- Breathe in through your nose and exhale through your mouth.
- Focus on the Sri Yantra's center dot, known as the Bindu.
- Slowly relax your gaze to look at the triangles.
- Stare quietly at the Sri Yantra for five minutes.
- While gazing, focus on the silence between each breath to quiet your mind.
- Notice any emotions that rise up. Don't pass judgment on them, only observe.
- If your mind wanders, redirect your gaze back to the Sri Yantra.
- After five minutes, remove the object from the wall.
- Once you remove it, an afterimage should form.
- Stare at this ghost image until it disappears.