What is Shri Yantra? Explanation by Anantbodh Chaitanya

Shri Yantra, the Queen of all Yantras, brings the divine power of prosperity into one’s life – both materialistic and spiritual. Holding a strong place in Hinduism, yantras are mystical charts that support the pursuit of wealth by meditating through them or simply being in possession of one.

Shri Yantra: a map to consciousness

The yantra comprises nine interlocking triangles forming a total of 43 triangles within two circles of lotus petals and a T-shaped square. In the centre of the yantra is a point called the Bindu. The interplay of the nine triangles creates unity and balance between the masculine and feminine, with the Bindu point in the centre representing pure consciousness. The finished image of the nine interlocking triangles forms a kind of web that represents the entire cosmos.

The symbolism of the Shri Yantra

The diagram is also considered to be a kind of womb, representing all of creation, fertility and prosperity. The triangles are surrounded and protected by three circles, two of which are decorated with lotus petals, symbolic of eternity and wealth. The outer square layer represents the four gates of the earth. All of these elements represented in the Shri Yantra form a very powerful energetic symbol that unites all layers of existence from earthly experiences to the most cosmic spiritual representations.

Beyond Religion

Because of its very powerful symbolism, the Shri Yantra has drawn the attention of many people beyond the realm of Hinduism to the western world. It is widely used today as a supportive object for meditation to welcome prosperity while clearing the mind of all kinds of clutter.

Origin of the name “Shri Yantra”

Shri-yantra-meditation Shri Yantra is especially famous as it is the main yantra from which all other yantras are derived. In Sanskrit, “Shri” means “queen” and “yantra” comes from “yam” and “tra”, where “yam” means “instrument” and “tra”, is derived from “trana”, means “liberation”. Therefore, Shri Yantra literally means “the queen of all instruments of liberation”. But liberation from what? Liberation in this context refers to spiritual liberation, the ability to detach from worldly worries and transform them into spiritual growth. Shri Yantra has different spellings that can be used. One such spelling is “Shree Yantra” which means “wealth instrument” which ties into spiritual wealth.

Shri Yantra: more than a drawing

A good yantra consists of five main geometric shapes: squares, triangles, circles, dots and lotus petals. Shri Yantra has them all: It consists of (1) nine interlocking triangles with (2) a dot in the middle, (3) two circles (4) completed with the petals of the lotus flower, and (5) a square.

An analogy for spiritual growth

When looking at the Shri Yantra, the outer layers can be viewed as a representation of the most “down-to-earth” experience. The square is called the “Earth Square” and each layer approaching the centre is a representation of the gradual movement of spiritual growth/liberation toward the ultimate goal of spiritual awakening and pure consciousness. This pure awareness is represented by the dot in the centre of the yantra.

The elements that build up into pure consciousness

The point, also called “Bindu” (Sanskrit for “point”), is surrounded by nine interlocking triangles, four pointing up and five pointing down. The upward triangles represent the masculine, Shiva, energy. The downward triangles represent the feminine, shakti, energy. The interlocking triangles form a total of 43 smaller triangles. The triangles are surrounded by two layers of lotus petals before reaching the square with T-shaped structures, also called the “Earth Square”. For more information about the meaning of each element, you can read the meaning behind the elements of Shri Yantra.

The meaning behind the elements from the Shri Yantra

A Journey to Consciousness

When contemplating the mantra, it is advisable to first focus on the outermost layers and slowly move inward one layer at a time. This is due to the spiritual analogy. The outermost layer is the most grounded and at the same time the most human layer. As we gradually move inward, we enter higher levels of spirituality and consciousness. So let’s analyze the different layers from outside to inside all:

The Earth square

The outermost layer, called the “Earth Square,” represents the most mundane and “basic” human emotions, such as anger, fear, and materialistic desires. Within this square are T-shaped structures that are considered to be the gateways to the well-known four directions. In addition, each also represents one of the four elements. East represents air, south fire, west water, and north earth. If you take all four directions or elements together, you achieve perfection, unity and also the well-known spirituality. Once we get past this layer, we come to three layers of circles, representing the past, the present, and the future. The three circles are embedded in two layers of lotus leaves.

The outer layer of lotus petals

Lotus flower_sri_yantra_meditationThe first layer contains sixteen petals and represents the fulfilment of all hopes and desires that we are allowed to experience. The sixteen petals are divided into three categories. The first category contains ten petals that focus on the human body, more specifically the organs of perception and action (i.e. tongue, nose, mouth, eyes, ears, skin, hands, arms, feet and reproductive organs). The next five petals relate to the five elements: water, air, earth, fire and space. The sixteenth petal is the spirit that provides the connection and interpretation between the first two categories. To complete the first circle of lotus leaves, all three categories must be combined. In this layer, it is important to observe how we experience these sensations in order to become aware of them. For more information on how to observe these sensations, read the section on ‘Awareness Through Observation’.

The inner layer of the lotus petals

Moving in another layer brings you to the circle of eight lotus petals. These petals represent our different forms of activity: speech, movement, arousal, excitement, disgust, clinging, elimination, equanimity, and attraction. When you reach this layer, you are invited to observe these activities and become more aware as you engage in these activities. For example, take a moment when you are excited. Stop, take a step back and notice where the excitement is felt in your body. You can also observe and analyze what triggered this excitement in you. It happens that we were agitated for a while before we became aware of it. That’s the purpose of this layer. Stay constantly awake and aware of how our surroundings or situations create certain triggers in us. Observing allows us to become more aware, to be more present and to let go of the sensations experienced in the present. As you practice this exercise, you will become more conscious over time. This causes you to move inward toward more layers.

The Triangular circles

As previously mentioned, the nine interlocking triangles represent the interplay between the feminine and masculine energies. The feminine energy is represented by downward triangles and the masculine by upward triangles. Interlocking the nine triangles creates a total of 43 smaller triangles. Each represents a property. As with the outer squares and lotus leaves, the 43 triangles must be represented in circles. If you look at the triangles in the form of circles, you can see a total of four circles and a central triangle.

Reading the triangular circles

In reading the triangular circles, one begins with the lowest triangle from the star by looking at the lowest triangle from the circle, which is pointing down. From there, move through each triangle in a counter-clockwise circular motion, reversing the masculine and feminine energies. To make the reading easier, another analogy can be used for reading the triangles, using the four directions as a reference point. Starting from the southernmost triangle, move east and then north. The river continues through the west and ends by reaching the south again.

The Outer triangle circle

The outer circle contains 14 triangles, i.e. 14 properties. Beginning with the lower, downward-pointing triangle and the South-East-Northwest analogy, here are the attributes: arousal, pursuit, attraction, ecstasy, infatuation, immobility, liberation, control, pleasure, intoxication, an accomplishment of desire, luxury, mantra and the destruction of duality.

The Second triangular circle

The next triangle circle contains 10 triangles or properties. The reading of the triangles remains unchanged, starting with the bottom triangle pointing down. The ten qualities are the giver of all achievements, the giver of wealth, the energy of activities pleasing to all, the bringer of all blessings, the giver of all desires, the remover of all suffering, the appeaser of death, the conqueror of all obstacles, the bringer of beauty and the giver of all happiness. The energetic difference from the first triangle is that these qualities represent a person or being behind. This can be perceived by the words “giver”, “bringer”, “remover”, etc. They could also be understood as angels exercising these qualities. However, it is also possible that these represent the “we” and that we hold these hidden qualities, although we are not yet aware of them.

The Third triangular circle

The third circle of triangles also contains 10 triangles. The ten qualities are omniscience, omnipotence, sovereignty, knowledge, destruction of all diseases, unconditional support, vanquishing of all evils, protection and the fulfilment of all desires. The underlying energy of this triangle is universality and divinity. In contrast to the first two triangular circles, there is a feeling of connectedness and unity.

The fourth circle of triangles

This last circle of triangles contains a few triangles: 8. The eight qualities are maintenance, creation, dissolution, pleasure, pain, cold, warmth, and the ability to choose an action. These qualities can be used to understand the spiritual journey one embarks on in the virtuous cycle of creating and letting go of constant growth. Understanding what no longer serves and what is necessary for the next step. For example, “Maintain,” “Create,” and “Dissolve” can be combined, with pleasure-pain and cold warmth creating the opposites. The eighth quality summarizes the first seven qualities well: “the ability to choose an action”. These eight points together form a unity on the path of spiritual growth.

The Central Triangle and Bindu

The last and most central triangle holds the quality of bestower of all perfection, with the Bindu in the centre of the triangle representing pure consciousness. Bindu is the source of all creation.

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