Alongside mantras, equally important are the Puja Yantras, which we most commonly see in geometric patterns on a copper plate placed as an asana of the deity you are worshipping. The Yantras ‘catch’ the “mantras’, which ensures that the deity is really ‘live’ before you while doing the puja. As body is to the soul, a yantra is to a deity.
Recently, I re-ignited my hobby of painting and started painting Yantras, influenced by GuruMaa, and some of my favorite artists like Biren De, S H Raza and G R Santosh. Their works create positive vibrations and liven up your home. My first topic was to be Yantras – probably, also, because it involves geometry and numbers.
Every religion from times immemorial has symbols to represent the unseen – the universal energy. These abstract symbols carry varying degrees of potency, latent power or cognitive elements, emit and capture energy or waves. In Sanathana Dharma these abstract forms are called Yantras.
The Sanskrit word ‘Yantra’ derives from the root word, ‘Yam which means, ‘to sustain, hold or support the energy in a particular element, object or concept. Yantras are made up of geometrical shapes, and some have numbers and/or letters in Sanskrit. The devotee employs them to call down the deity or to insure a desire of one sort or another. Yantras are ‘an instrument, an apparatus, a talisman or a mystical diagram’. They are drawn by an adept and energized by a ‘sidh mantra’.
There are six varieties of Yantras
1. Shakta – which represents the divine mother
2. Vaishnava – which represents any form of Vishnu or related deity
3. Shaiva – which represents Lord Shiva or related deity
4. Manduka – or architectural yantras inscribed for ground plans (also known as Paramasayika Mandala)
5. Astrological Yantras – which apply to the Navgrahas, either singly or in combined form
6. Numerical Yantras – based on numerology
There are seven types of yantras
1. Sharir Yantras – applied to the six chakras
2. Dharma – which are worn on various parts of the body for special purposes
3. Asana – which are kept under the Asana during a Sadhna
4. Mandala – in which devotees assume the form of a yantra
5. Puja yantra – which are absribed to different deities, as I mentioned above
6. Chattar – which are kept on the person, under a turban
7. Darshana – which are installed in a sanctified place, which brings benefit when viewed by a devotee.
The basic elements of a Yantra
Circle: The center, represented by a dot is known as Bindu, exemplifies the deity, eternity and is the power locus of the yantra. It is from bindu that the triangles, squares and rectangles are formed to complete the yantra. The circle represents space and a never-ending process. The radiating circle represents expansion and a sun sign.
Square: Most frequently, mantras appear as a square or bounded within a square. The square represents the corporeal world. A square within a square represents the spiritual world. The square on point represents the dynamic element of this form or the feminine form. 2 overlapping squares indicate balance between the static (masculine) and dynamic (feminine) and symbolize preservation. The four directions are represented by two intersecting lines perpendicular to each other, which extend into a Swastika. The Supreme can be reached by going right or left. Two swatikas going right or left are combined into a square enclosure of the yantra, with gates opening in all four directions (bhupura), which is and invitation to go towards the sacred center or the bindu.
Triangle: The triangle on its base represents the male, the sun, the linga and the triple principles of creation. The triangle on its apex represents the water, the female, the moon, the yoni, the Divine Mother and the origin of all. It is the dynamic form or feminine. Interlocking triangles, or the star, represents equilibrium, male-female union and rising aspiration.
Lotus Petal: The lotus represents the divine manifestation and expression. Most lotuses have even number petals. The lotus petals should be in the form of a heart, and resembles the female Yoni. The most frequently employed form is the ashta-dala Padma of 8 petals.
Colors: the most common colors used in Yantras to make it multi dimensional are:
Red – is the color of life, symbolizes fire, and is considered hot, vitalizing, positive magnetic force, stimulates the adrenals.
Orange – is the color of courage, is seen as warm, cheering, positive magnetic and calms sensuality.
Yellow – stimulates the brain, is also hot and positive magnetic, represents the love of knowledge and optimism
Green – is seen as cool, refreshing, neutral, balanced, restful, pacifying, and induces love and harmony
Blue - is considered cold, pessimistic, though the lighter shade of blue represents serenity; promotes openness to others and stimulates the nervous system
Violet – symbolizes ether, stimulates meditation, is considered cold
Black – symbolizes ignorance; adding black to any color tends to make it negative.
White – represents water and knowledge; adding white to any color gives a tint and makes it positive
Gold – inspires symbolizes the soul or the sun and knowledge
Silver – symbolizes the mind or moon and is life-giving
Not only the employment of certain shapes and forms are important, but also the repetition of certain forms - e.g. the number of lotus petals within a circle, the steps surrounding the sacred enclosure (Bhupura), the number of ascending circles etc. is equally important. GuruMaa made an’ asth-kamal’ rangoli of rice (or lotus with eight petals) in front of Sri Hanumanji.
The following is a summary of the significance of the numbers 1 through 9
1 Denotes the Absolute One, the primordial one and spiritual balance, the divine sign of universal life
2 Denotes duality, contrast, polarity and diversity. It is an even number, and is considered the number of creation ad the mother principle.
3 Denotes perfection, the holy trinity, the divine family and unity plus diversity equals perfection (1 plus 2 equals 3). It is an odd number, the first masculine number. Represents Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva or Sarawati-Laxmi-Parvati or the three worlds (Triloka), the three times (past-present-future), the 3 gunas (satta, raja or tamsik), the three purposes of life (trivarga – dharma, artha and kama). Triangle is the symbolic form of this number.
4 Denotes completeness or perfection, worldly balance or order. A square or a four-petalled lotus in a Yantra represents it. Represents the 4 seasons, four psychic powers etc.
5 Denotes mental activity, intelligence and magical properties. Represents the 5 elements (ether, air, fire, water and earth), the 5 failings (pride, illusion, greed, passion and anger), the 5 subtle elements (sound, touch, form, flavor and odor) etc.
6 Denotes the macrocosmic – the spiritual and material world, balance, product of the male and female union, and is considered a lucky number. Represented by a six-pointed star.
7 Denotes the sacred. Represents the 7 planets, the 7 days of the week,
8 Denotes perfection, good fortune, justice and balance. It is exemplified by the 8 forms of Lord Shiva, the Octave of prakriti (5 elements and 3 gunas), the 8 auspicious symbols etc.
9 Denotes completion, perfection, force, wisdom and silence. It represents the 9 grahas (7 planets and rahu, ketu), the 9 Durgas, 9 Mudras, 9 Yoginis, the 9 Jewels (Navratna) etc.
I hope that you can enjoy the mantras recited by our pandits at Sri Hanuman Temple, and understand why we have a copper plate Yantra beneath the deities, and why we make the rice rangoli every week. I certainly enjoy it, thanks to the teachings of GuruMaa. Now, I am enjoying it through my paintings too.
Jai Sri Hanuman!