Yantra are 'instruments', or more simply 'symbols', usually used to focus the mind. Traditionally they are used in Eastern mysticism to balance the mind or focus it on a spiritual concept. The act of wearing, drawing, or concentrating on a yantra is said to have spiritual or astrological or magical benefits.

Etymology and meanings

"Yantra" is a Sanskrit word that is derived from the root "yam" meaning to control or subdue [For definition see: Harvnb|White|1996|p=481, note 159.] or "to restrain, curb, check" [For root _sa. यन्त्र् ("IAST|yantr") meaning "to restrain, curb, check" see: Harvnb|Apte|1965|p=781] . Meanings for the noun derived from this root include: [For definitions for noun _sa. यन्त्रं ("IAST|yantraṃ") including 1) "that which restrains or fastens, any prop or support"; 2) "a fetter", 4) "any instrument or machine", and 7) "an amulet, a mystical or astronomical diagram used as an amulet"; see: Harvnb|Apte|1965|p=781.] [For definitions for _sa. यन्त्रं ("IAST|yantra") including "any instrument for holding, restraining, or fastening, a prop, support, barrier"; "any instrument or apparatus, mechanical contrivance, engine, machine, implement, appliance"; "restraint, force"; "an amulet, mystical diagram supposed to possess occult powers", see: Harvnb|Monier-Williams|1899|p=845.]

* "any instrument or machine" (i.e. that which is controlled or controls. For instance the body is said to be a yantra [Shrii shrii Anandamurtii, Ánanda Vacanámrtam Part 15] )
* "any instrument for holding, restraining, or fastening" (for instance a symbol which 'holds' the essence of a concept, or helps the mind to 'fasten' on a particular idea)
* "a mystical or astronomical diagram" (usually a symbol, often inscribed on an amulet) sometimes said to possess mystical or magical powers

ymbols employed in yantras

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 represent 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 (Sanskrit term more commonly known as the star of David) composed of a balance between:
**An upwards triangle denoting action, extrovertiality, or Shakti
**A downwards triangle denoting introversion, meditativeness, or Shiva
*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)The "Shri Yantra" is one of the most famous and ancient yantra.

Yantra as an astrological device

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.

The philosophical context of Yantra

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".

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. [Khanna, Madhu (2003). "Yantra: The Tantric Symbol of Cosmic Unity. " Inner Traditions. ISBN-10: 0892811323 & ISBN-13: 978-0892811328 ]

Yantra is an aniconic "temenos" or tabernacle of "deva", "asura", "genius loci" or other archetypal entity. Yantra are theurgical device that engender "entelecheia". Yantra are realised by "sadhu"s through "darshana" and "samyama". Yantra, or other permutations and cognate phenomena such as Mandala, Rangoli, Kolam, Rangavalli and other sacred geometrical traditions, are endemic throughout Dharmic Traditions. Some Hindu esoteric practitioners employ yantra, mantra and other items of the "saṃdhyā-bhāṣā" (Bucknell, "et. al."; 1986: p.ix) in their "sadhana", "puja" and "yajna" [Bucknell, "et al."; 1986: p. ix.] .

ee also




*Khanna, Madhu (2003). "Yantra: The Tantric Symbol of Cosmic Unity. " Inner Traditions. ISBN-10: 0892811323 & ISBN-13: 978-0892811328
first=Vaman Shivram
title=The Practical Sanskrit Dictionary
publisher=Motilal Banarsidass Publishers
edition=Fourth revised and enlarged

title="The Twilight Language: Explorations in Buddhist Meditation and Symbolism
publisher=Curzon press

last =Monier-Williams
first =Monier
author-link =Monier Monier-Williams
last2 =
first2 =
author2-link =
editor-first =
year =1899
title =A Sanskrit-English Dictionary
edition =
volume =
place =Delhi
publisher =Motilal Banarsidass
id =
isbn =
doi =
oclc =
url =http://www.ibiblio.org/sripedia/ebooks/mw/
accessdate =

last =White
first =David Gordon
year =1996
title =The Alchemical Body: Siddha Traditions in Medieval India
edition =
volume =
publication-place =Chicago
publisher =The University of Chicago Press
isbn =0-226-89499-1

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