What is the Sri Yantra?
The mystical Sri Yantra is a an ancient diagram (yantra) which is often used in the Shri Vidya school of Hinduism (a tantric tradition of the Shaktas).
Some people may consider it a form of mandala. The image itself consists of nine interlocking triangles which form at a central point, referred to as a bindu.
It is often thought that these nine interlocking triangles represent the cosmos and the human body.
All other yantras are derived from the Sri Yantra.
Names for the Sri Yantra, in various forms, are:
- Sri Yantra
- Shri Yantra
- Shi Chakra
- Navayoni Chakra
- Maha Meru
The History of Shri Vidya
The Shri Vidya (the tradition which the Sri Yantra originates from) dates back to either the 10th or 11th century. It’s creation was heavily influenced by the non-dualistic traditions of Kashmir Shaivism, through the traditions of Advaita Vedantin. This tradition still has a loyal following in South India.
The Shri Vidya itself developed from the texts of the Shrikula. The Yoginihrdaya, a document dating back to the 11th century, is of particular importance.The Shri Vidya has aligned itself with the brahmanical orthopraxy.
Sri Yantra Symbology
The Sri yantra represents the spiritual connection between the physical and metaphysical world.
The central point, known as the bindu, is considered the junction, where the two worlds collide. Four of the triangles, which point towards the sky, are believed to be symbols for Shiva (masculine, while the five triangles pointing downwards are thought to be symbolic of Shakti (feminine).
Because of this, it is considered a universal symbol, symbolizing a symbiosis of the divine.
The nine triangles also form an additional 43 smaller triangles, which are said to be symbolic of the cosmos. There are also eight lotus petals which surround the triangles, as well as a larger ring of 16 lotus petals which surround in a layer. This all forms into square, which contains 4 doors.
The Purpose of Yantras
Yantras are used for meditation and religious practice. They create a focal point upon which one may meditate, similar to watching the breath (anapanasati), or burning a fragrant incense stick.
If using a Sri Yantra in your home, the Vedics recommend you face it to the east.
Yantra is an instrument designed to curb the psychic powers by concentrating them on pattern, and in such a way that this pattern becomes reproduced by the worshipper’s visualizing powers. – Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization