By Bhanumathi Narasimhan
Yantras are typically translated as "instruments". However, its purpose and use has long been a mystery. How does a yantra look? Searching in old scriptures or even the internet yields many images, geographical patterns with mystic energies, colour coded, associated with specific mantras and said to yield certain benefits to the wearer or user. Yet it does not offer a clear understanding of the raison d'etre of a yantra and its possibilities. For this, it is important to understand a little about the very nature of our existence.
There are seven layers to our existence - body, breath, mind, intellect, memory, ego and the Self. The first six are subject to change and are impermanent. The physical body is subject to change. The mind oscillates between the past and the future, likes and dislikes. The intellect is caught between agreeing and disagreeing. The memory has loss and gain. Our circle of belongingness depends on the extent of our ego. The antidote to ego is being natural. This happens as the result of spiritual practices. They bring the ability to relax and let go. Yantras and mantras also help in this process. Yantras help to transcend the body consciousness and Mantras uplift our consciousness into the space of the Self which is Sat-Chit-Ananda (Existence-Knowledge-Bliss)
So, what does it mean to transcend body consciousness? When we move from our limited identity and are established in that unbounded, infinite consciousness even for a few moments, it energises and rejuvenates us completely. The phenomena of moving beyond our limited identity of this body, form, shape, location is described as transcending body consciousness. How does a yantra help us to do this?
Yantras are energy diagrams representing various energy fields. Yantras can have lines moving upward, downward or even curved lines. They signify the flow of energy and the nodes, the nodal points of various energies. Let us say we are walking on a hilly terrain. For some part we are climbing, then we go downhill, maybe we move on a curved path for a while and so on. When we climb, the energy required is different from going downhill. The experience of walking along curves is different from that of walking on a straight path or uphill. In this way, we can understand the various energy patterns governing the activities we perform. Some patterns drain and tire us. Some energize us. If there is dullness, lack of enthusiasm and interest, inertia, laziness or lethargy, we can correct our own energy field by focusing on the specific yantra. Now, the question arises, which is the yantra for me?
All matter in this creation is made up of atoms that group together in specific patterns with specific qualities, giving rise to the various substances in creation. Every form or substance has atoms but the patterns are different. Similarly, yantras are different patterns for the same energy. These patterns can be cognized only with a heightened awareness. As each human being is unique, the great seers dedicated certain models for certain kinds of people based on the extent of refinement of their nervous system. To know which one is for us requires the guidance of a Master.
Yantras have a very definite structure and organisation. The centre or source of the Yantra is called the Bindu - the focal point of all energy, the seat of divinity. For e.g., our body with millions of cells has come from one single cell or bindu which multiplied and differentiated itself into eyes, brain, heart and all other parts of our body. The knowledge of the creation of the entire human body was present in that one cell. Similarly, the bindu is the focal point of all the energies that are part of this entire creation.
Though often represented in two dimensions, Yantras can be extended into multi-dimensional structures. The Vedas speak of the existence of several dimensions of space and time beyond the 3 dimensions of space and one of time that we perceive. Modern science also suggests the same today in its search for the ultimate unified theory for this universe. Movement from the source of the yantra or bindu to the periphery is indicative of creation - the journey from subtle to gross, within to the external world. The Movement from the periphery to the source is dissolution - the journey from the external world of sensory perceptions and objects to the vast infinite space within. This is experienced naturally in meditation. A Yantra also facilitates this inward journey and helps the seeker to be established in the space of the Supreme, undivided and indivisible Self. One who is thus established radiates positivity and is a storehouse of dynamism and creativity.
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