Yantra - A Tantric Symbol of Cosmic Unity by Madhu Khanna
Thames and Hudson
Madhu Khanna is a noted Indian people historian of religion and noted and tantra science based in Delhi, India. Her first degree was from Oxford and she has several other academic accolades and awards. She has written several books, 'Yantra' being the most popular, and has contributed to three national projects, as well as several research projects for the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts
Mahu Khanna - Google Scholar
Arms of a Cross mark doorway into the square setting out stable foundations on the earth. Each door also is a doorway out into the regions of the cosmos. Through these you enter the model gradually moving into the central bindu via the 9 layers, or chakra. Each of these 9 levels have a distinct shape, name and are associated with a number of aspects of the Great, or Supreme, Mother.
In essence, you enter the constructs of the physical world and our bodies, bound within it, to ultimately experience the union of Shiva and Shakti in the Point of unity at the centre, the highest peak of the mountain.
Every yantra has a mantra(s), tones in ancient Sanskrit that activate and invoke the power of the geometric model. During Sri Yantra puja about an hour of these are chanted by the swami. The presiding deity of the Sri Yantra is Maha Tripura Sundari, the Great Mother. Each layer radiating out from the bindu has mudras, or deities, residing within them. This is describe in the Sri Devi Khadgamala Stotram, a hymn to the Divine Mother, which 'bestows a garland of swords upon those who recite it, symbol of the energy that enables us to transcend attachment and rise on the spiritual level'. This Sanskrit stotra is a progressional worship of the many Goddess forms within the Sri Yantra and is considered as the highest form of worship to the Devi (Godess).
This is a simplified description of a multi-step, sacred ceremony that is many centuries old, with layers of rich symbolism. Doing a full worship is extremely difficult to do properly and few can do it!
The Sri Yantra puja is said to remove all negative things from your life.
Experiencing the Sri Yantra Puja
This summer Jaswinder Chali kindly invited me to join her and participate in a Sri Yantra Puja held in the Adhya Shakti Mataji Temple in Uxbridge, UK, a great honour. It was the first time Acharya Umesh Tiwariji (Instagram: Acharya Shri Umesh Tiwari) had visited the UK. He is a noted master trainer in the Sri Yantra Sadhana from Shrishri Vidhyadham.
You can experience the mantras of the Sri Yantra Puja by Acharya Umesh Tiwariji in the youtube video below.
Where better to see sacred geometry, colour, the Elements and pure creative intent - the components of alchemical art - than in Nature. Spring flowers provide us with a feast for our senses and overtly display the use of sacred geometry and colour to perfection. As living yantras they can be used for meditation and reflection. And it is not surprising that we have given flowers additional symbolic meanings, then presented as gifts to convey these meanings in an intimate and personal way.
Personally I could look at flowers for hours as they are fascinating as well as beautiful - within them we can find all the rules of the geometric blueprint, colour combinations reflecting harmonious musical notes, pattern making, fractals, stimulating scents...and so much more. But mostly because it is such a pleasant experience to be with flowers.
It came to me to do this post while wandering through my garden, enjoying the spring flowers and taking the photographs below. Until using them in a gallery I hadn't realised how all except one (the red one at the end) include the colours purple, yellow and white. Something I will reflect on...
Keith Critchlow's -sacred geometry of flowers
Keith Critchlow's book "The Hidden Geometry of Flowers - Living rhythms, form and number" is a masterpiece of work examining the sacred geometry within flowers and also flowers as the original source of human life. To hear more listen to his presentation on the youtube video below.
Alchemical Art is transformative, changing anyone who works with them. This can happen merely by looking at the artwork or being in its proximity. Each piece is contained within the sacred space of its boundaries and is a fusion of the dynamics of geometric forms, emotive colours and one or more of the Classical Elements. The latter may be symbolically represented in the image or made out of specific materials due to their symbolism or vibration. In this instance crystals were placed on four paintings of my alchemical art paintings to incorporate their qualities. The results were stunning to look at and to work with. It would have been interesting to add further Elements, such as bowls of water and burning essence for air and fire, and also to use sound to activate them.
Each of the alchemical art crystal grids were made by some participants of a crystal group run by Karin Bain. Karin has written an e-book called Networking With Crystals that will soon be available in paper form as well.
Crystal grids take many forms, they can be simple, intricate or complete. Invariably there is sacred geometry in their layout and so they are actually a yantra, or "thought form", the principle of all man-made sacred geometry artworks and structures. By adding the vibrations of specific crystals the crystal grid yantra becomes a pulsating vehicle for connecting your Mind to the underlying basis of reality. The effects are very personal.
Yantras are covered in detail in The Gateway Series books and I also recommend the book Yantra by Madhu Khanna.
Any sacred site using sacred geometry and specific earth materials brings additional vibrational qualities to their function and use. For example, Stonehenge and its bluestone rocks that were deliberately brought a great distance for their vibrational purposes. In the aerial image below notice how the central stone grid is enclosed within a larger Circle. It is part of a larger site that has several smaller yantra that all work together. This sacred structure is a huge crystal yantra that still has the capacity to draw thousands of people to it.
Archetypal symbolism using a variety of geometric shapes is ancient, stretching back to the dawn of man's earliest artworks as seen in petroglyphs around the world. Our ancestors’ simple drawings on rocks and artefacts gave tangible form to the harmonious patterns of life and the intangible order uniting the Universe. They give 'form to the formless' and are abstract expressions of the science manifesting reality.
Ueshiba Morihei (founder of aikido):
Down the generations all cultures have used simple shapes such as these and they, like Zen artists, had the same profound understanding that the simple patterns shaping the Universe were themselves sacred and empowered. Other examples, used extensively in my books, are yantras and mandalas. Tantra Yoga is the path of union with the Absolute through geometric visualization in Tantric Hindu and Buddhist traditions. Central to Tantrism are elaborate and precise geometric patterns, known as mandalas or yantras, some of which are thousands of years old. In this tradition the triangle, circle and square were significant Vedic forms which symbolised spirituality, evolution and the Earth respectively. Additionally in both Indian and Japanese esoteric teachings, such as Mikkyo, these shapes represent earth (square), water (circle) and fire (triangle).
Simple shapes embodying intricate complexity, the circle, square and triangle structure and bind the 3 profound concepts of time (evolution: Mind, serenity and perfection:water), space (Earth:Body:earth) and being (spirituality:solidity and applied control:fire). The empty circle, the vessel for all geometry shapes, when totally empty is the essence of enlightenment.
Here is my version of these timeless concepts:
For fun I am sharing a small selection of photographs taken on a fantastic trip to India Nov 2013, organised by Jazaro-Nur. In every image there is an example of sacred geometry, which is a vital feature of the Indian culture and everyday life that goes back many centuries.
Today I discovered the Swedish artist Wilma af Klint (1862 - 1944) and was thrilled by her beautiful abstract art of sacred geometry. She produced nearly 1200 pieces and insisted they were not put on public view until at least 20 years after her passing. Interestingly, many of her abstract compositions pre-date Kandinsky.
Throughout her abstract work is a genuine desire to understand and reveal the spiritual through her painting.
Many of her paintings were like 'diagrams' and represent complex spiritual ideas. Essentially they are like Yantras, or 'thought-forms', and are representations of abstract concepts.
I went to see her exhibition on the 27th April and it was outstanding! It has inspired me to do LARGE pieces. Not sure how or where yet...
The Serpentine Galleries in London is holding an exhibition of her art right now from 3rd March - 15th May 2016.