Sri Yantra – Symbolism and Meaning

The Sri Yantra, also known as the Sri Chakra, is a mystical diagram used in the Sri Vidya school of Hinduism. Out of hundreds of yantras related to principles, deities and planets, the Sri Yantra is said to be one of the most auspicious and powerful of all. It’s called the ‘queen of yantras’ because all other yantras were derived from it. It’s also widely used in Hindu ceremonies and meditation practices.

The Sri Yantra is viewed as a sacred object in Hinduism, usually drawn on paper, fabric or wood. It can be found engraved in metals or other materials and is even designed in 3D form in metal, mud or sand.

Although it’s been in use for thousands of years, the origin of this symbol is clouded in mystery. The earliest known portrait of the Sri Yantra is seen in the religious institution Spigari Majha which was established by the famous philosopher Sankara in the 8th century.

Some scholars claim that the Sri Yantra dates back to the time of the Upanishads, late Vedic Sanskrit texts containing religious teachings and ideas that are still revered in Hinduism. The Sri Yantra symbol consists of nine interlocking triangles which is why it’s also known as the Navayoni Chakra.                                                     The triangles surround a central point called the ‘bindu’ and are representative of the totality of the cosmos and the human body. When represented in three dimensions, it’s called a Mahameru which is where the Mount Meru got its name from.

The Sri Yantra is said to be the symbolic form of all the Gods and Goddesses in Hinduism. According to Hindu beliefs Brahma (the Lord of the Earth) possessed it and Vishnu (the Creator of the Universe) praised it. The symbol has several elements, so let’s first examine what they represent.

This figure is symmetric in a vertical central axis and contains upward and downward pointing triangles. The triangles which point upward symbolize the male element and the downward-pointing triangles symbolize the female aspect of divinity. Four of the triangles are male and 5 are female. The interlocking of the triangles is symbolic of the opposite principles complementing each other and the general balance and symmetry of the entire figure represents the unity of god.

The outer pattern bears 16 lotus petals whereas the inner pattern has 8. These petals represent the sanctity of the diagram inside, used as a tool for yoga meditation. Each of the 8 petals governs an activity such as speech, motion, grasping, revulsion, enjoyment, attraction, equanimity and excretion.

The 16 petals represent the complete fulfilment of all one’s hopes and desires. They represent the ten organs of perception and the five elements: earth, fire, water, space and air. The sixteenth petal represents one’s mind which collects and interprets information from the perceptions of the interacting elements.                                     The frame of the symbol has a pattern which looks similar to that of a key and represents a ground-plan of a temple. The plan has 4 square-shaped openings, one on each of the 4 sides and this sanctuary is said to be the seat of the chosen deity and represents one’s Higher Self.

The Sri Yantra continues to be highly sacred and revered by Hindus from all corners of the globe and is often considered to hold the answer to all problems and negativity in life. It’s believed that any person who uses the Sri Yantra can achieve greater peace, affluence, success and harmony.