The Sri Chakra-Sri Yantra Mandala

Article Compiled and Edited by Girish Pai

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The article explains Sri Chakra (“sacred wheel”)  or The Sri Yantra (“sacred instrument”). The contents of this article include:

  1. What is The Sri chakra-Sri Yantra Mandala
  2. The Science behind this mystical Sri Chakra
  3. The Tantra
  4. Resolution of Problems
  5. Complex Traingles
  6. Sri Yantra
  7. More about Yantra and Symbols used in Yantras
  8. Circles, Triangles, Squares and Petals Interpretation
  9. Other references

What is The Sri chakra-Sri Yantra Mandala 

The Sri-Yantra Mandala is the image of the OM mantra, the primordial Hindu sound of creation . When OM is intoned into a tonoscope, it first produces a circle. As the tone is completed, the circle is filled sequentially with concentric squares, triangles and finally, as the “mmm” dies away, the Sri Yantra.
* A tonoscope is an appliance that turns sounds into patterns.

There is a science called Cymatics that is about the translation of sound vibrations into visible patterns. It is usually done by vibrating a fine powder or a liquid on a plate connected to a speaker. The images that can be produced with different frequencies are complex and beautiful and often look like mandalas. see video link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6PSA5bYTxs

Mantras are not small things, mantras have power. They are the mind vibration in relationship to the Cosmos. The science of mantra is based on the knowledge that sound is a form of energy having structure, power, and a definite predictable effect on the chakras and the human psyche.

Om sound wave patterns creating the Sri Yantra in a tonoscope.

The Science: 
In the 1960s and ’70s Swiss engineer and medical doctor Hans Jenny performed experiments using sound frequencies on various materials such as water, sand, dust, liquid plastic and milk. Dr Jenny placed the material on a metal plate attached to a crystal oscillator which was controlled by a frequency generator capable of producing a wide range of vibrations. He then filmed and photographed what happened on the plate. He coined the term Cymatics (the study of wave-form phenomena), which is derived from the Greek ‘kyma’ meaning ‘wave’, and ‘ta kymatica’ meaning ‘matters pertaining to waves’.

Dr. Jenny in his laboratory

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The Tantra: 
The ancient Rishis discovered a long time ago that all of matter is sound, and sound is the original aspect of creation that acts as the substratum for everything else to come into existence. The original sound is Om. The Rishis of old told us that the geometrical representation (yantra) of Om was the Sri Yantra.
This is an experience to be felt, which happens during Sri Vidya Upasana while perfroming such powerful Tantric practices as Sri Chakra Nyasa, when the Sri Chakra pattern ‘dematerializes’, appearing to dissolve into a blissful all encompassing web of spoken mantras. Such an experience allows the Upasaka to transcend the material plane and experience the blissful and supreme Turiya state – or the undefined and unlimited field of causal consciousness free from the distortions of the mental habits and subconscious patterns, where one is completely connected to all of nature, the planet, solar system, universe and all of existence and creation.

Experience this for yourself by learning to perform the extremely ancient and authentic Sri Vidya Upasana of Sri Chakra Nyasa
The Sri Yantra symbolizes, among other things the unfoldment of creation. The bindu represents the unmanifest, the silent state. The next level in the expression of the Universe is represented by the innermost triangle. This level represents the trinity of rishi, devata, chanda, or the observer, the process of observation and the object being observed. At this point the symmetry of creation is still intact and will be broken when it reaches the next level which represent the grosser aspects of the relative.

Resolution of problems
Sri means wealth and Yantra means instrument; Sri Chakra meditation is expected to resolve worldly problems, ward off obstacles, and help attain material and spiritual advancement. In the eighth century, Adi Sankara installed the Sri Yantra in the Sringeri Sharada temple in Karnataka, followed by many other temples.
It evolved over the years as the Wheel of Life, indicating ceaseless cycles of creation, preservation and dissolution of the living and the universe, represented by Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. It is the abode of Shakti and Shiva and is the symbol of their union, depicting dynamic and static energy fields.
Sri Yantra is engineered into three types: the simple plain one, the one raised on a tortoise back, and the third is the three-dimensional one constructed on the Sumeru Mountain. Also known as Mount Meru, the
sacred mountain finds mention in Hindu, Buddhist and Jain mythologies. Iranians believe that the Aryans came from Mount Hara, which is another name of Shiva. Some scholars associate mythical Mount Meru with Kailasha, near Lake Manasarovar in Tibet.

Complex triangles
Sri Vidya is the embodiment of the beauty of the three worlds. Her matrix is designed with nine interpenetrating triangles — four upward facing Shiva triangles, representing the male principle and five downward facing Shakti triangles, the female principle. They form 44 triangles including the central point or bindu, where Tripurasundari resides.
The central point denotes the flower of life. It is the result of the union of a red flower, Shakti, with a white flower, Shiva. Shiva symbolises cosmic consciousness and Shakti, cosmic energy, accompanied by Iccha Shakti or will power, Gyan Shakti, or power of knowledge and Kriya Shakti or power of action.
The Quantum Theory explains how after the Big Bang, quantum multiplied from one to two, and two to four in geometric proportion. Similarly, Sri Yantra indicates how cells too multiply in the same way in the womb. Sri Vidya portrays the source of life analogous to the zero point energy fields in quantum mechanics, indicative of space, time, gravity, strong and weak electromagnetic forces, with cosmic energy flow. Its structure contains the solar system, galaxy, Milky Way, atoms, molecules, inorganic and organic matter, and the five elements of water, air, fire, ether and earth. It is not only a geometric abstraction of the cosmos, but also represents skin, blood, flesh, fat, bone (Shakti) and semen, bone marrow, breath, and soul (Shiva).
The cosmic matrix
The matrix is also a graphic presentation of the three phases of cosmic process — creation, preservation and dissolution; the triad of time past, present and future; three gunas or attributes — satva, rajas, tamas; the three stages of sleep, wakefulness, and dream.
The Sri Chakra is conceived as Shiva-Shakti. The diagram consists of a series of triangles around a small central circle called the bindu. Thebindu represents the Shiva-Shakti in union, from which the rest of the diagram, representing the cosmos, is evolved. Enclosing the bindu and superimposed on each other are the four Shiva triangles (Srikanthas) pointing upwards, and five Shakti triangles (Shiva-Yuvatis) pointing downwards. These constitute the nine dhatus, or basic categories, of the universe, evolving from the Supreme Mother represented by thebindu. The triangles are surrounded by two circles of lotuses, one with eight petals (Vasudala) and the other with sixteen petals (Kalasra). Outside these, are three circles (mekhalatraya) and a rectangular enclosure (Bhupura) of three lines for the whole figure, with entrances on the four sides.

Sri Yantra:
‘Sri Yantra’ is the master of all Yantras, since all other Yantras are said to originate from Sri Yantra. ‘Sri’ means wealth and prosperity and ‘Yantra’ means instrument. Sri Yantra is shown in the top right corner of this page. It is composed of 9 interlocking triangles, 4 triangles pointing up and another 5 triangles pointing down. A total of 43 triangles can be seen which are formed from the overlapping of these 9 triangles. The inner most triangle has a dot (bindu) in the center. When Sri Yantra is constructed in 3 dimensional form, it is called ‘Maha meru’. Sri Yantra is used in the tantric culture of Hinduism.

We start from the outer side of Sri Yantra and proceed towards its inner details. The outer side of Sri Yantra contains a square with 8 sides. The square represents the physical body. The 8 corners of the square are the 8 deities, starting from top in clock-wise direction, Kubera (North), Isaana (North-East), Indra (East), Agni (South-East), Yama (South), Nirruti (South-West), Varuna (West) and Vaayu (North-West). These 8 deities are protectors of our physical body. We can say our body is composed of these 8 elements. Any excess or deficit in one or more of these elements will lead to diseases and destruction of the physical body.

The earth square has 3 layers at its outside. These layers represent Tamah (baser qualities), Rajah (anger and desires) and Satwah (softness). These 3 qualities are always attached to a human body.

From this earth square, if we move towards the center of Sri Yantra, we see 3 concentric circles. The outer circle represents Manah (mind), the next one represents Buddhi (intelligence), and the innermost circle represents the Jeevatma (human soul). The significance is this: our wavering mind should apply its intelligence and find the ways to understand the soul. Once we get the awareness of the soul in our body, we are ready to tap the subtle energies of our body.

Our body is a vast reservoir of different types of energies like light, heat and sound. The numerous nerves of the human body circulate these energies and are finally connected to brain through the spinal cord. These nerves meet in bundles at spinal cord region and are called chakras. We can imagine chakras as reservoirs of energy. These chakras are represented in the form of petals.

The 16 petals of Sri Yantra represent Kaama (desire), Buddhi (intelligence), Ahankaara (igo), Sabda (hearing), Sparsa (touch), Roopa (sight), Rasa (taste), Gandha (smell), Chitta (mind), Dhairya (courage), Smirtya (memory), Naama (name), Beeja (fire), Aatma (soul), Amrita (water) and Sareera (body). These are the elements (or different form of energies) through which our Jeevatma (human soul) understands and interacts with the outside world. We can attain mastery over these elements by meditating and balancing the chakra energies in our body. Even a normal human being then gets some super natural powers called ‘siddhis’.

There are 8 siddhis represented by the 8 petals of the inner circle. They are Anima (smallness), Laghima (bigness), Garima (heaviness), Mahima (creativity), Easatva (godliness), Vasatva (subjugation), Praakamya (fulfilling the objective) and Iccha (willfulness).

Now we come to the interlaced triangles. Each triangle is formed with 3 straight lines and hence there will be 3 vertices. These vertices denote Jnaana (Iym), Kriya (Hreem) and Iccha (Sreem). There are 4 upward triangles representing the Siva (the male force) and the 5 downward triangles represent the female force, called Shakti (the female force). When 4 upward and 4 downward triangles are taken, they are balanced. They represent that this entire Universe is emerged from Siva and Shakti. The one remaining downward triangle represents the Mother Nature. We live in this Nature and feel that this is the only real world. This feeling is called Maaya (ignorance). Once we come out of this ignorance, we will be able to understand Siva and Shakti.

There is a dot (bindu) in the center of the Sri Yantra. Sit with your eyes closed and and start visualizing a dot in the top centre of your head. This place represents the sahasraara (crown chakra). When we concentrate on this crown chakra, we will be able to come out of Maaya and connect our Jeevathma (bodily soul) to all pervading Supreme soul. This is called ‘samaadhi’ (dwelling in the God). Thus, Sri Yantra becomes an instrument for mankind to unite into the Supreme soul.

Traditional depiction of the Sri Yantra Mandala

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More about Yantra..
‘Yamanaath traayathe ithi Yantraha’ – Yantra is one which protects the people from troubles. We can understand Yantras as geometrical shapes like straight lines, curved lines, triangles, circles, etc which are interlaced in certain ways such that they produce different types of energies.

Since gods are different forms of energy, all most all ancient Hindu texts agree that the Yantras represent the body of gods where as the mantras should be taken as praana (life) of gods. Hence all Yantras will have mantras associated with them. To invoke the power of Yantras and mantras, we should adopt certain rituals (or procedures) called ‘Tantras’.

Symbols used in Yantras: 
Dot, the supreme soul: If we imagine a plain surface as Universe, a dot placed on the surface represents the God or supreme soul. Like God, a dot does not have any direction and is indefinable. If we extend the do, it pervades the entire Universe in all directions. So, a dot represents God’s energy concentrated at a place. Since God’s energy enters the human body through sahasraara chakra located at the crown of the head and passes down to mooladhara chakra located at the bottom of the spinal cord thus activating all the other chakras in between, a dot also represents the Sahasraara chakra.

Straight line, the human soul: When we draw a straight line, it divides the surface into two parts. Here, dualities like Paramaatma (super soul) and Jeevatma (human soul), happiness and sorrowfulness, day and night, heat and cold, man and woman, etc. will come into the picture. In reality, these dualities are the two sides of the same coin. For example, happiness and sorrowfulness are the different forms of emotional state of the mind. Heat and cold are two forms of the thermal energy and man and woman are two forms of the material body. So, a straight line represents Jeevathma (human soul) which is the immediate form of the super soul.

Circle, the mind: When we make a circle around us, we are shunning ourselves from the outer space. So, a circle represents selfishness and closed mind. A circular object can move easily and not stable like our mind. So, a circle in Yantras is representative of human mind and ignorance of outside world. It also represents protection of our energies by not spending them for others’ welfare.

Triangle, the energy: A triangle is formed by joining 3 straight lines. It forms 3 vertices. According to Physics, any pointed end works like a condenser to store energy and at certain conditions to release energy. Thus we should understand the vertices of the triangle as energy reservoirs.

There are 2 types of energies. The upward triangle represents fire since it looks like the flames of fire. Fire is essential to survive and hence the upward triangle represents the life force which is also called male energy (Shiva). The downward triangle looks like the female organ and hence it is connected with female energy. It also represents the Prakruti (the Nature) around us which nourishes us. Hence the downward triangle represents the female energy (Shakti) or Mother Nature.

When we combine the upward and downward triangles, the male (Siva) and female ( Shakti) energies are combined to produce children. If we make a Yantra in this way, it is called ‘Skandha Yantra’ since the child of Siva and Shakti is Skandha (or Subrahmanya or Kartikeya). Hence this Yantra is used by childless couples to get children. Because, this Yantra is a combination of the two prime forces, it can also be used to increase resistance power in the body and to get protection from any ill health.

Square, the physical body: A square will have four corners and does not move easily. It firmly places itself on the ground. So, a square or rectangle represents stability and matter. It represents earthy element with its four corners representing the four directions of the earth. Since our physical body is composed of matter, it also represents the physical body of a human being.

Petals, the chakras: Shapes like petals of a flower represent the chakras in our body which represent different types of energies. Using these energies, we can perform daily routine works. When these energies are refined, we can attain super natural powers also.

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