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Known for its bewitching geometry, the Sri Yantra is a centuries-old symbol with roots that can be traced back to ancient India. While it might look like an interesting piece of abstract art, it’s in fact one of the most complex sacred geometry symbols, with a history going back thousands of years. It’s also one of the most meaningful and powerful symbols, with layer upon layer of symbolism.
The Sri Yantra, also known as the Sri Chakra, is a mystical diagram used in the Sri Vidya school of Hinduism. Out of hundreds of yantras related to principles, deities and planets, the Sri Yantra is said to be one of the most auspicious and powerful of all. It’s called the ‘queen of yantras’ because all other yantras were derived from it. It’s also widely used in Hindu ceremonies and meditation practices.
So why is the Sri Yantra so important among Hindu symbols, and what does it stand for? In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at the story behind this sacred symbol and what it signifies.
What’s a Yantra?
In Hindu and Buddhist traditions, a Yantra is a geometric diagram, or a symbolic representation of aspects of divinity.
The term “Yantra” is derived from the Sanskrit word “Yam,” meaning to sustain or hold. So Yantra, in essence, refers to a device or tool that holds the essence of a specific concept, deity, or cosmic principle.
Yantras are typically composed of complex and highly specific geometric patterns, including circles, triangles, squares, floral patterns, and more. These patterns are not random. They are considered to be sacred designs based on ancient principles of sacred geometry.
Out of the hundreds of yantras associated with various principles, deities, and planets, the Sri Yantra stands apart. It’s the most auspicious and powerful of them all, said to be the original source from which all other yantras have evolved. It maps a person’s entire spiritual journey, from material existence to enlightenment. This spiritual journey is taken as a pilgrimage where every step takes you closer to the center. Each stage takes a person beyond their limited existence, and every level is nearer to the goal.
“Such a journey is mapped in stages, and each of these stages corresponds with one of the circuits of which the Sri Yantra is composed from the outer plane to the bindu in the center.”
When Did the Sri Yantra Originate?
Although it’s been in use for thousands of years, the origin of this symbol is clouded in mystery. The earliest known portrait of the Sri Yantra is seen in the religious institution Spigari Majha, which was established by the famous philosopher Sankara in the 8th century.
Some scholars claim that the Sri Yantra dates back to the time of the Upanishads, late Vedic Sanskrit texts containing religious teachings and ideas that are still revered in Hinduism.
In the realm of myth and legend, it’s said to be the tool that Goddess Lalita used to recreate the universe after its destruction. So, while its antiquity isn’t in doubt, what we don’t really know is exactly when and how it became a central figure in meditation and sacred rituals.
Symbolism of Sri Yantra
To understand how the Sri Yantra represents this spiritual journey, we have to break down the image. Because it’s so complex, there are several elements that need to be discussed separately. Each of these leads from the outer section toward the inner focus.
1. Outer Square
The Sri Yantra is a highly intricate geometric diagram. It begins with an outer square which represents stability and creates a solid foundation for the yantra. It also creates a boundary around the inner world, separating it from worldly existence.
In Vedic tradition, the square connects to the earth element. Each side of the yantra has an open gate, which invites you into the center. These gates represent the threshold between the inner and the outer worlds.
2. Three Concentric Circles
The next step features three concentric circles. These represent the past, present, and future, or the three states of creation, establishment, and destruction. They also represent the universe, as the Hindu vision of the universe is a set of concentric circles. But the three circles can also symbolize the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, the gods of creation, preservation, and destruction, respectively.
By placing these realms in concentric circles, the Sri Yantra symbolizes the journey inward, from the physical to the spiritual, reflecting the concept of spiritual growth or evolution. It encourages the seeker to move beyond the material world, through the psychic, and into the realm of the absolute, embodying the spiritual journey towards enlightenment.
3. Sixteen Petal Lotus
Within the first circle is a sixteen petal lotus representing the complete fulfillment of all hopes and desires.
But each of these petals is also associated with a particular aspect of existence, including the ten organs of perception and action, which are ears, skin, eyes, tongue, nose, mouth, feet, hands, arms, genitals, and the five Vedic elements: earth, water, fire, air, and space.
The sixteenth petal represents the mind, which integrates and interprets information from these sources. So, this lotus circle symbolizes the external, sensory world and how humans interact with it.
4. Eight Petal Lotus
The eight lotus petals of the inner ring each has its own symbolism. Each petal governs an activity of the human consciousness. These are speech, grasping, motion, excretion, enjoyment, revulsion, attraction, and equanimity.
These eight lotus petals signify the transcendence from a purely physical existence to a more enlightened state of being. It represents the subtle experiences and powers you can acquire in the process of spiritual awakening.
5. Circuits of Triangles
Within the inner lotus is the first set of interlocked triangles. A fundamental meaning of the Sri Yantra meaning is the union of the divine masculine and feminine. This is symbolized by the nine interlaced upward and downward pointing triangles. The interlocking of the triangles is symbolic of the opposite principles complementing each other, and the general balance and symmetry of the entire figure represent the unity of god.
These nine main triangles further overlap and intersect to form 43 smaller triangles. These 43 triangles are then organized into concentric circuits, or ‘Avarana’. Each of these circuits is associated with specific groups of deities and represents various aspects of the cosmos and human existence.
The downward pointing triangles represent the feminine principle, while the upward-pointing triangles symbolize the masculine principle. Together, these triangles embody the process of cosmic creation and the unity of the universe.
6. Central Dot: Bindu
The central triangle is the giver of all perfection. In the middle of the central triangle is a Bindu, or the central dot. It’s the ultimate destination of this spiritual journey. It represents pure consciousness, the source of all creation, and the ultimate truth of existence. The journey to this point signifies the merging of the individual self into the supreme self, the final aim of many spiritual traditions.
How to Use the Sri Yantra
The Sri Yantra is not just a beautiful symbol, but also a tool to aid in meditation. There are many ways in which this can be done. Here’s one method of meditating with the Sri Yantra:
- Begin by focusing on the central dot: The central dot, or the ‘bindu’, is the beginning and end of creation. Focusing on it can assist you in experiencing a sense of unity and oneness with the cosmos.
- Allow yourself to notice the triangle surrounding the central dot: The triangle surrounding the ‘bindu’ represents the divine trinity in Hinduism and other triads.
- Notice the many triangles within the circle and what they represent: The nine interlocking triangles form 43 smaller triangles, each representing a specific aspect of existence, a cosmic principle, or a form of divine consciousness. By acknowledging them, you embark on a journey to understand the multiplicity of the universe.
- Start taking in the circles within which the triangles are set: These circles, also known as ‘circuits’, represent the cyclic nature of the universe—birth, life, death, and rebirth. They contain and organize the triangles, further emphasizing the interconnectedness and interdependence of all existence.
- Focus your attention on the lotus petals and how they’re positioned: The two layers of lotus petals surrounding the circuits, 16 and 8 in number, represent the human faculties—both sensory and spiritual—that we use to interact with and understand the world. Reflecting on them can lead you to a deeper understanding of your own nature and abilities.
- Bring your awareness to the square that frames the image and notice how they point: Pay attention to their orientation, inviting thoughts about your own journey towards liberation.
- Finally, gaze at the entire yantra and notice the different shapes and patterns within it: The entirety of the Sri Yantra represents the cosmos and the human body. By looking at the whole, you get a sense of the ultimate unity of existence and the perfect balance and harmony within creation.
- You can then go in reverse back to the central dot: This is symbolic of the inward journey. It reinforces the cycle of creation and dissolution and the ultimate return to oneness.
- Close your eyes and meditate on the image of the yantra unfolding in your mind’s eye: With the vivid image of the Sri Yantra in your mind, meditate on its profound meaning. This can help you internalize the cosmic truths it symbolizes, leading you to a state of heightened awareness and spiritual realization.
This video gives you another take on meditating with Sri Yantra.
Drawing the Sri Yantra
Drawing or creating a Sri Yantra is considered a sacred act and a form of meditation in itself. There are several reasons why people might choose to draw a Sri Yantra:
- Spiritual Growth: The very act of drawing the Sri Yantra is considered to be a meditative practice. The creation process requires high levels of concentration and awareness, which can help quiet the mind and lead to higher states of consciousness.
- Harmony and Balance: The Sri Yantra represents the harmony and balance of the universe, and the process of drawing or creating it is believed to help bring these qualities into the individual’s life.
- Manifestation: The Sri Yantra is believed to aid in manifestation. It’s thought that focusing on the Sri Yantra while visualizing a goal or desire can help bring that into reality.
- Sacred Geometry: For those interested in sacred geometry, the Sri Yantra is a profound and complex symbol. Drawing it can be a way to explore and understand these cosmic patterns.
- Energy Conduit: The Sri Yantra is considered to be a conduit of cosmic energy. Drawing or installing a Sri Yantra at home or work is believed to attract positive energy, prosperity, and peace.
- Artistic Expression: Beyond the spiritual aspects, the Sri Yantra is also a beautiful and complex design. As such, many artists and designers are drawn to its intricate geometry for purely aesthetic reasons.
Sri Yantra and Vaastu: The Art of Architecture
There is a deep connection between the Sri Yantra and the Ancient Art of Vaastu, a traditional Indian system of architecture. It’s also specifically mentioned in the traditional texts known as the Vaastu Shastra. Even now, if any building construction is based on Vaastu, it must essentially have Sri Yantra in it.
Sri Yantra: A Source of Supreme Energy
The Sri Yantra is very powerful since it was built with the principles of sacred geometry. It’s a highly sensitive source of supreme energy with outstanding magnetic powers. It’s said to be an energy store that picks up cosmic ray waves sent out by all objects in the universe, transforming them into positive vibrations. The vibrations are then transmitted out to the surroundings wherever the Sri Yantra is placed, and they destroy all the destructive forces within the area.
In this way, the Sri Yantra is said to bring good fortune, wealth and prosperity into one’s life. Regular practice of meditation calms the mind, bringing mental stability, and if you focus on each element of the symbol, it’s believed to give deeper enlightenment on a specific deity.
Sri Yantra in Fashion and Jewelry
The Sri Yantra is a highly popular and sacred symbol used in fashion and jewelry. Most popular jewelry items include charms, pendants, and earrings, but it’s also seen on bracelets and rings. There are also many types of unique clothing items featuring this symbol that are designed and sold around the world for men, women, and children.
Here are some of our favorite Sri Yantra picks.
Sri Yantra Today
Today the Sri Yantra is an ancient symbol that has effortlessly woven itself into the fabric of 21st-century life, and its timeless appeal only seems to be growing.
Even in more secular spaces, the Sri Yantra has found a place. In the realms of art and design, it’s appreciated for its hypnotic symmetry and complex geometry.
Meanwhile, psychologists have used it as a tool to explore the architecture of the subconscious mind, and even scientists have found its mathematical and geometrical properties fascinating.
You’ll see it emblazoned on T shirts, tattooed on bodies, and even etched into crop fields – yes, really! Its journey from the ancient scriptures to Instagram feeds is a testament to its enduring allure and the ceaseless human quest for understanding and transcendence.
The Sri Yantra continues to be highly sacred and revered by Hindus from all corners of the globe and is often considered to hold the answer to all problems and negativity in life. It’s believed that any person who uses the Sri Yantra can achieve greater peace, affluence, success and harmony.