Shri Yantra, the most accomplished of all yantras and as much intricately conceived, enjoys in the hierarchy of yantras the highest place and is hence often designated as the king of all yantras. While the power of other yantras confines to accomplishing this or that objective, Shri Yantra is the instrument of accomplishing all that is desired. Nine triangles, five downwards pointing, representing Shakti, and four upright, representing Shiva, are the main constituents of Shri Yantra. In Tantrika or yantrika transform a triangle is a diagrammatic form of ‘yoni’ – vulva. Hence, with nine – Nava, triangles being its crux, the Shri Yantra is also known as Nava-yoni Yantra or Chakra. In Tantrism ‘yoni’ stands for a cosmic level. Thus, Nava-yonis symbolise nine cosmic levels or areas, and Shri-yantra-chakra is believed to explore them all.
The Shri Yantra, a virtual configuration of nine interlocking triangles, of which five downward-pointed are superimposed on four upright ones, and with 'bindu' – dot in their centre, when interpreted in Tantrika way, reveals cosmic dynamics. The four upright triangles, representing Shiva, are passive and inert, while the downward-pointing, manifesting Shakti, represent dynamic energy and operative force. Hence, the Tantrika sees Shakti as dynamic, and Shiva, as inert. The bindu, which is virtually the Para Bindu, the nucleus of the condensed energy, as also the 'Nada-Bija' – seed of the ultimate Sound, represents in single form the dynamic and the static aspects of Shakti and Shiva. The 'bindu' itself is not inert. It expands and creates, and in the process transforms into 'Apara' – the endless. With the interaction of the dynamic and the static there emerge two more ‘bindus’ – points, which by joining the former create a triangle, the multiplication of which defines the procession of creation. Creation is thus the outcome of the union of the point and triangle, which in Tantrika analogy Shiva and Shakti effect, and the Shri Yantra is the unified body of the two manifesting the divine couple in absolute union.
As prescribed, this crystal model of Shri Yantra has as its ground plan, technically known as bhoopura, a square format with projected parts in the centre of all four arms symbolic of four gates. It elevates in three steps corresponding to three lines in usual Shri Yantra diagrams on a flat medium. Bhoopura is symbolical of the cosmos. Over this elevated bhoopura there are three circles, which constitute its 'mekhala' – girdle, symbolic of three worlds. ‘Maya’ – illusion, which enchants the three worlds, occupies the space between bhoopura and mekhala. Over the mekhala, there are two concentric rings, the outer one consisting of sixteen lotus petals, known as 'Sarva-shaparipuraka chakra', and the inner, eight, known as 'Sarva-shankshobhana chakra'. The sarva-shaparipuraka and sarva-shankshobhana chakras accomplish the 'desired'.
Over these lotus-petal chakras there are fourteen triangles arranged in a hexagonal format. This hexagonal 'chakra', the fourth, known as 'Sarva-saubhagyadayaka chakra', that bestowed all auspiciousness, is suggestive of the possibilities of spiritual elevation. Beyond this level are the interlocking triangles manifesting Shakti and Shiva. In this format they assume the form of chakras. This defines the stage, when the inner realisation begins to unfold. One of these 'chakras' accomplishes every purpose and the other is the great protector. The 'bindu', the sanctum sanctorum, and the last of all chakras, is the Sarva-anandamaya chakra. This is the stage of union abounding in absolute joy. Here the 'sadhaka' unites with the 'ultimate', merges with the cosmos and becomes the cosmos.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of books.