Yantra (यन्त्र) (Sanskrit) (literally “machine, contraption” is a mystical diagram, mainly from the Tantric traditions of the Indian religions. They are used for the worship of deities in temples or at home; as an aid in meditation; used for the benefits given by their occult powers based on Hindu astrology and tantric texts. They are also used for adornment of temple floors, due mainly to their aesthetic and symmetric qualities. Specific yantras are traditionally associated with specific deities.
Yantras are usually associated with a particular deity and are used for specific benefits, such as: for meditation; protection from harmful influences; development of particular powers; attraction of wealth or success, etc. They are often used in daily ritual worship at home or in temples, and sometimes worn as a talisman.
As an aid to meditation, yantras represent the deity that is the object of meditation. These yantras emanate from the central point, the bindu. The yantra typically has several geometric shapes radiating concentrically from the center, including triangles, circles, hexagons, octagons, and symbolic lotus petals. The outside often includes a square representing the four cardinal directions, with doors to each of them. A popular form is the Sri Chakra, or Sri Yantra, which represents the goddess in her form as Maha Tripura Sundari. Sri Chakra also includes a representation of Shiva, and is designed to show the totality of creation and existence, along with the user’s own unity with the cosmos.
Yantras can be on a flat surface or three dimensional. Yantras can be drawn or painted on paper, engraved on metal, or any flat surface. They tend to be smaller in size than the similar mandala, and traditionally use less color than mandalas.
In the Sri Vidya tradition, there are four main yantras. They include
- Mahaganapathi Yantra
- Rajashyamala Yantra
- Vaarahi Yantra
- Sri Chakra