Yantra

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For other uses, see Yantra (disambiguation).
The Sri Yantra diagram.
Enthroned Jain yantra besides Adinath image

Yantra (यन्त्र) is the Sanskrit word for a mystical diagram, especially diagrams or amulets supposed to possess occult powers in astrological or magical benefits in the Tantric traditions of the Indian religions. Traditionally such symbols are used in Eastern mysticism to balance the mind or focus it on spiritual concepts. The act of wearing, depicting, enacting and/or concentrating on a yantra is held to have spiritual or astrological or magical benefits in the Tantric traditions of the Indian religions.

Shapes and patterns commonly employed in yantra include squares, triangles, circles and floral patterns but may also include more complex and detailed symbols, for instance:

  • The lotus flower typically represents chakras, with each petal representing a psychic propensity (or vritti) associated with that chakra;
  • A dot, or bindu, represents the starting point of creation or the infinite, unexpressed cosmos;
  • The shatkona (şaţkoņa) (Sanskrit name for a Hexagram) is composed of a balance between:
  • An upwards triangle which according to Tantra denotes energy, or more specifically action and service (seva). It may also denote spiritual aspiration, the element of fire, or Shiva. It is also said to represent the static substratum of the cosmos;[citation needed]
  • A downwards triangle which according to Tantra denotes spiritual knowledge. It may also denote the creative power of the cosmos, fecundity, the element of water, or Shakti;
  • A swastika represents good luck, welfare, prosperity or spiritual victory;
  • Bija mantras (usually represented as characters of Devanāgarī that correspond to the acoustic roots of a particular chakra or vritti).

Geometric element meanings:

  • Circle = Energy of the element water
  • Square = Energy of the element earth
  • Upward-facing Triangle = Energy of the element fire; energy
  • Downward-facing Triangle = Energy of the element water; knowledge
  • Diagonal line = Energy of the element air
  • Horizontal line = Energy of the element water
  • Vertical line = Energy of the element fire
  • Point = Energy of the element ether

As an astrological device[edit]

Yantra may be used to represent the astronomical position of the planets over a given date and time. It is considered auspicious in Hindu mythology. These yantras are made up on various objects i.e. Paper, Precious stones, Metal Plates and alloys. It is believed that constantly concentrating on the representation helps to build fortunes, as planets have their peculiar gravity which governs basic emotions and karma. These yantras are often made on a particular date and time according to procedures defined in the vedas.

Philosophical context[edit]

Yantra function as revelatory conduits of cosmic truths. Yantra, as instrument and spiritual technology, may be appropriately envisioned as prototypical and esoteric concept mapping machines or conceptual looms. Certain yantra are held to embody the energetic signatures of, for example, the Universe, consciousness, ishta-devata. Though often rendered in two dimensions through art, yantra are conceived and conceptualised by practitioners as multi-dimensional sacred architecture and in this quality are identical with their correlate the mandala. Meditation and trance induction that generates the yantra of the subtle body in the complementary modes of the utpatti-krama and saṃpanna-krama are invested in the various lineages of tantric transmission as exterior and interior sacred architecture that potentiate the accretion and manifestation of siddhi.

In Classical Sanskrit, the generic meaning of yantra is "instrument, contrivance, apparatus". In Rigvedic Sanskrit, it meant an instrument for restaining or fastening, a prop, support or barrier, etymologically from the root yam "to sustain, support" and the -tra suffix expressing instruments. The literal meaning is still evident in the medical terminology of Sushruta, where the term refers to blunt surgical instruments such as tweezers or a vice. The meaning of "mystical or occult diagram" arises in the medieval period (Kathasaritsagara, Pancharatra).[1]

Madhu Khanna (2003: p. 21) in linking Mantra, Yantra, Ishta-devata, and thoughtforms states:

Mantras, the Sanskrit syllables inscribed on yantras, are essentially "thought forms" representing divinities or cosmic powers, which exert their influence by means of sound-vibrations.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Monier-Williams, Monier (1899), A Sanskrit-English Dictionary, Delhi  see also Apte, Vaman Shivram (1965), The Practical Sanskrit Dictionary (Fourth revised and enlarged ed.), Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, ISBN 81-208-0567-4 : "1) that which restrains or fastens, any prop or support; 2) "a fetter", 4) any instrument or machine", [...] 7) "an amulet, a mystical or astronomical diagram used as an amulet"; White 1996, p. 481;
  2. ^ Khanna, Madhu (2003). Yantra: The Tantric Symbol of Cosmic Unity. Inner Traditions. ISBN 0-89281-132-3 & ISBN 978-0-89281-132-8
  • Rana, Deepak (2012), Yantra, Mantra and Tantrism, USA: Neepradaka Press, ISBN 0-9564928-3-5 
  • Bucknell, Roderick; Stuart-Fox, Martin (1986), The Twilight Language: Explorations in Buddhist Meditation and Symbolism, London: Curzon Press, ISBN 0-312-82540-4 
  • Khanna, Madhu (2003). Yantra: The Tantric Symbol of Cosmic Unity. Inner Traditions. ISBN 0-89281-132-3 & ISBN 978-0-89281-132-8
  • White, David Gordon (1996), The Alchemical Body: Siddha Traditions in Medieval India, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, ISBN 0-226-89499-1 

See also[edit]