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Sri Yantra Meaning Revealed

Sri Yantra meaning functions on multiple levels. Fundamentally, the Sri Yantra reveals universal patterns of energy. These patterns are a clear path towards spiritual acceleration. This ancient symbol is sometimes referred to as the Mother of Sacred Geometry. Other names include alternate spellings such as Shree Yantra or Shri Yantra. Often viewed as a powerful wealth symbol, the Sri Yantra is a visual map of the inner teachings of Hinduism. 

Sri Yantra Meaning Triangles
Sri Yantra by Rose Karlsen

History of the Sri Yantra

The Sri Yantra is a 12,000-year-old symbol. Drawings of this symbol have been found on ancient stones in India. This symbol is also known as the holy wheel. The Sri Yantra is originally associated with the Vidya school of Hinduism, but the popularity of the Sri Yantra is widespread.

The word “Sri” means abundance, wealth or splendor. “Yantra” means “instrument” or “machine.” The meaning of “yantra” is sometimes translated as “a tool for the mind.” Yantras are an important visual aid for meditation. Sri Yantra meaning is depicted in concentric layers.

A traditional yantra is actually a three dimensional form. The three dimensional form create a type of pyramid. Sculptures and bas relief carvings of yantras are made from many different materials. These include forms converted to drawings to extend their uses. Small yantras can be placed on an altar as a meditative focus.

Yantras have been used historically as the basis for temple design. This is thought to channel divine energy. The architecture itself becomes a conduit to higher dimensions. Villages, towns and cities are constructed around a central temple.

Images of yantras may be carved to create bas-relief sculptures on plaques. Each yantra has a specific action based on the form and symbolic meaning. A yantra may be used for protection outside of a dwelling or as a personal talisman. The Sri Yantra is by far the most popular.

Yantras and Mandalas

Yantras are similar to the more well-known Buddhist mandalas. The terms can be used interchangeably. However, there are several key differences. Mandalas tend to be more complex, sometimes depicting interactions between divine beings, human activities and the heaven world. Yantras are generally composed of geometric forms, Sanskrit characters and organic forms such as lotus petals.

Yantras are directly associated with particular sounds or mantras. Yantras are believed to show the patterns of these sounds in matter. This is similar to the patterns recorded by modern cymascopes. A cymascope is a scientific instrument that records the geometry of sound revealed in sand, water or other substances. Both provide a visual image or depiction. This connects the unseen world with our physical dimension.

Sri Yantra Meaning and Sacred Geometry

Yantras are sometimes used in vastu (the Hindu form of feng shui). For example, a powerful image or sculpture of the Sri Yantra may be used to correct negative configurations or influences in the environment. Historically, yantras were guarded by Hindu priests to prevent unauthorized access to them. Yantras can be created for specific purposes:

  • mitigation of astrological influences
  • healing of a particular diseases
  • creation a spiritual forcefield
  • protection from the ill will of others
  • a focus for meditation and mantras 
Sri Yantra Meaning
Outline of Nine Overlapping Triangles

Triangle Meaning in the Sri Yantra

The most basic Sri Yantra meaning is the union of the divine masculine and feminine. This is symbolized by the nine interlaced triangles. The upward triangles meet the downward triangles in a kind of star tetrahedron. There are four upward triangles and five downward triangles.

Each triangle contains within itself three points. These represent the three basic forces in the universe: creation (sattva), preservation (rajas) and dissolution (tamas). These points and processes relate to the Hindu Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The Divine Mother (Shakti) is the force behind each of these that enlivens them and gives them power. The symbolism of the trinity is repeated in the three concentric circles of the Sri Yantra. 

The Sri Yantra is sometimes called the Yantra of Nine Triangles (Nava-Yoni Chakra). The spiritual journey depicted in the Sri Yantra occurs in nine stages. Each stage corresponds to one energy circuit in the yantra. Details for the meaning of each triangle are discussed below.

There are forty-three intersecting triangles created from the nine interlaced triangles. These are organized in concentric levels radiating out from the central bindu point. The triangle is the primary form that can enclose space within straight lines. Thus the triangle is the first form to emerge from chaos and create order or structure.

Sri Yantra Triangle Meaning
Inner Triangles Formed by Larger Triangle Crossovers

Downward Triangles in the Sri Yantra

A downward triangle is a symbol of the divine feminine. Downward triangles are connected to the water element. The easiest way to remember this is to think of a waterfall. In addition, water is related to the emotions. This can be interpreted as “energy in motion.”

Like water, feminine energy is free flowing and powerful. This energy is referred to as “shakti.” Downward triangles are specifically related to the Hindu goddesses Kali (Goddess of Time and Death), Parvati (Goddess of Fertility) and Lakshmi (Goddess of Wealth).

Upward Triangles in the Sri yantra

An upward triangle represents masculine energy and the element of fire. This shape can be seen in form of a campfire. In the Hindu tradition, an upward triangle is particularly associated with Shiva. The masculine force provides a counterpart and a container for the free flowing feminine energy. In the Sri Yantra, there are four triangles pointing up and five triangles pointing down.

When numerous triangles are interlocked in the center of a yantra, each triangle represents a different plane of existence. The upward and downward triangles are symbolic of the repeating cycle of spirit into matter and matter into spirit. In the Sri Yantra, each of the nine triangles also symbolize circuits in the subtle energy body.

Sri Yantra Meaning of Gates
Four Cardinal Directions of the Sri Yantra

Sri Yantra Gate Meaning

Sri Yantra meaning begins with the outer square representing stability. This creates a solid foundation for the yantra. The square is a symbol of condensation and manifestation in the world. The square also creates a boundary around the inner world.

Most yantras have a square as their fundamental form. The numerical equivalent, of course, is four. On each side of the yantra are gates that open up to invite the viewer into the center of the yantra. The square connects to the earth element in the Vedic tradition. The Vedic elements include earth, water, fire, space, air.

There are four doorways or gates protruding from the square at the circumference of the Sri Yantra. These gates are thresholds between the inner and outer worlds. The Sri Yantra can be viewed as a map of man’s spiritual journey from the outer to the inner along designated circuits.

Sri Yantra Meaning of Circles
Three Concentric Inner Circles

Sri Yantra Circle Symbolism

The three concentric circles in the Sri Yantra bring focus to the visual form. This, in turn, focuses the mind of the viewer. A circle is a primordial form that cannot be further reduced. At the smallest size, the circle becomes a point or the bindu. This is the same name given to the traditional dot placed between the eyebrows.

The circle symbolizes infinite space and expansiveness. This si the Vedic element of space or akasha. The circle also represents the cycles of nature at all levels from the atom to astronomy. The central quest of spirituality is to experience the Oneness of these realms.

The Hindu vision of the universe is a set of concentric circles. A metaphorical spider sits in the center, both spinning and reabsorbing the threads of reality. The circle represents the One force that both creates and unifies all things. The circle contains the notion that there is no end and no beginning to time. The numeric equivalent of the circle is zero.

In the Sri yantra, there are three circles. The importance of the number three is prominent in both Western and Eastern religious philosophies. Like the trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the West, the Hindu Trinity is Brahma (Creator), Vishnu (Preserver) and Shiva (Destroyer). The all-pervasive Divine Mother is the force animating the three persons of the Hindu trinity.

Sri Yantra Lotus Petal Meaning
Two Rings of Lotus Petals

Lotus Flower Meaning in the Sri Yantra

The lotus symbolizes purity, enlightenment and transcendence. In a yantra, the lotus is usually viewed from the top, with the petals extending out on the rim of a circle. Metaphorically, the lotus illustrates the unfolding of the divine essence within.

The lotus is like the navel of creation. In fact, the lotus is sometimes depicted as springing from the navel of Vishnu and giving birth to Brahma, two of the gods in the Hindu trinity. The lotus is equated with beauty, prosperity and the eternal.

The lotus is also a symbol of the heart, especially the inner or secret chamber of the heart. This is sometimes called Brahma’s cave or the city of Brahma in the East or the inner castle in the West. This is the core of being that remains untouched by everyday living.

The Sri yantra features two rings of lotus petals. The inner ring has eight petals. The outer ring has sixteen petals. Interestingly, the throat chakra symbol also features a lotus with sixteen petals. Learn more about the throat chakra symbol in Chakra Symbols.

The lotus petals represent creation and life force. The duplication of the petals from eight to sixteen exemplifies this principle. Each petal has its own siddhi or power. Let’s take a look at the meaning of the lotus and each petal in the Sri Yantra.

Sri Yantra Meaning Eight Lotus Petal Ring
Names of the Inner Lotus Petals

Meaning of the Inner Circle of Eight Lotus Petals

The inner ring of eight lotus petals in the Sri Yantra each have their own symbolism. The petals represent siddhis or yogic powers. Specific deities embody each of these powers. These are sometimes viewed as specific human activities: speech, motion, grasping, revulsion, enjoyment, attraction, equanimity and excretion.

This inner circle is referred to as the “Agitator of All.” Mastering the qualities of each petal through meditation, self-observation and individual effort can grant both worldly and spiritual success. The specific meaning of the petals can be outlined as follows:

ANIMA: This word means smallness or vulnerability. The siddhi or power conveyed is closely related to honesty with yourself and others. This is the ability to connect to yourself internally.

LAGHIMA: Laghima means bigness in the sense of taking the maximum amount of responsibility in your own life. This also conveys a connection to the largest self or the universe.

GARIMA: Garmina means heaviness, grounding, an anchor or a weight. This is a positive sense of being rooted to the earth, being unmoved by circumstances and sticking to your purpose.

MAHIMA: Mahima means creativity. This yogic power is a direct connection to a free flow of ideas and the resulting accomplishments.

EASATVA: Easatva means godliness and purity. This is the power of courage and confidence that comes from knowing you are pursuing your own highest calling in wisdom and love.

VASATVA: Vasatva means subjugation, bringing under control and conquering the self. This is the ability to overcome obstacles in life versus utilizing violence or overcoming others.

PRAAKAMYA: Praakamya means fulfilling the objective. This involves creating a strategy and a sense of conviction so strong that you feel that all that is necessary has already happened.

Sri Yantra Meaning 16 Lotus Petal

Meaning of the Outer Circle of 16 Lotus Petals

The outer circle of 16 petals in the Sri Yantra symbolize the ten organs of perception (ears, skin, eyes, tongue, nose, mouth, feet, hands, arms, genitals) and the five Vedic elements (earth, fire, water, space and air). The final petal symbolizes the mind’s ability to integrate all of these elements. These elements are considered to be a form of false knowing. However, they are necessary at the beginning of our spiritual journey. Eventually they are replaced by “all knowing” through inner experience.

In Sanskrit, these petals are Kama (Desire), Budhya (Intellect), Ahamkara (Ego), Sabda (Sound), Sparsa (Touch), Rupa (Form), Rasa (Taste), Gandha (Smell), Citta (Mind), Dhairya (Fortitude), Smritya (Memory), Nama (Name), Bijha (Seed), Atma (Soul), Amrita (Immortality) and Sarira (Body).

Sri Yantra Meaning and the Energy Body

When the limitations of the physical body and its attractions represented by the lotus petals have been overcome, a greater understanding of the subtle or energy body is the next stage of spiritual progress. Again, the Sri Yantra is a key tool revealing this knowledge.

The energy body is sometimes called the psychic body or the finer body. This body is composed of subtle nerves, energy channels and the vital energy or prana that gives life to the physical body. Each of the overlapping triangles in the Sri Yantra is associated with one of these aspects of the energy body.

There are four circuits of overlapping triangles. The first contains 14 triangles. The next two circuits contain 10 triangles each. The innermost circle contains eight triangles. Each of these circuits and their corresponding meanings are discussed below.

Sri Yantra Meaning 14 Outer Center Triangles

The Outer Circuit of 14 Triangles

The outer fourteen triangles formed by the nine overlapping triangles correspond with fourteen energy channels known as etheric nerves. Six of these etheric nerves run along the right side of the body and meet at the center of the forehead. Four etheric nerves are on the left side of the body and the rest run along the subtle body’s axis. Each triangle also corresponds to an deity who embodies those subtle essences and is associated with that aspect of the physical body. 

The Inner Circuits of 10 Triangles

The next two circuits of ten triangles symbolize the ten circuits of pranic energy and the ten forms of digestive fire. Energy is mobilized through these circuits.

The Inner Circuit of 8 Triangles

The innermost circuit of eight triangles near the bindu or center point relates to the principles of material nature and creation.

Sri Yantra Bindu Meaning
Detail of Central Bindu Point

Understanding the Center: The Bindu

The focus for meditation on the Sri Yantra is the center point known as the bindu. The bindu is also the name of the dot painted on the face between the eyebrows. In this usage, the bindu symbolizes the third eye or center of spiritual vision. When used in the center of the Sri Yantra or other yantras, the bindu is a symbol of the Oneness of the universe.

The bindu is the smallest possible circle, the “world-seed” or visva-bija. The universe originates from this point. This is the metaphysical point of both origin and union with the Divine. The bindu exists both in time and in timelessness. The bindu is the gathering of the two fundamental forces in life: feminine (Shakti) and masculine (Shiva). The numerical counterpart of the bindu is zero.

Lakshmi Hindu Goddess of WealthGoddess

Mantras, Deities and the Sri Yantra

Yantras can be invested with energy and activated by the use of mantras. The combination of mantra and yantra creates an energy field for a specific purpose. Yantras are a form of sacred geometry. Mantras are formulas of sacred sound. This creates a very powerful combination.

One of the primary mantras associated with the Sri Yantra is the Mahalakshmi Mantra.  This is a mantra dedicated to Lakshmi and is also known as the Maha Lakshmi Mantra or the highest mantra to the goddess Lakshmi. Thus, it is sometimes viewed as a wealth mantra.

The name Lakshmi is derived from the Sanskrit root “laks,” to perceive or know, and is related to “lakshana,” meaning “target” or “aim.” This suggests that abundance is achieved through perceiving and aiming for your chosen target. The Sri Yantra and the Maha Lakshmi Mantra reinforce both divine reality and the receiving of material prosperity. This allows for leadership that is inspired and beneficial for all.

Mahalakshmi Mantra

Om Shrim Hrim Shrim
Kamale Kamalalaye
Prasida Prasida
Shrim Hrim Shrim
Om Mahalakshmayai Namaha

The bija syllable “shrim” helps to attract people and situations that are beneficial. “Hrim” energizes the heart. This mantra helps to manifest vitality and abundance in all of life. Hrim and shrim are often used together. Hrim is solar, shrim is lunar. “Namaha” means “it is not about me” or “not me.”

“Kamale” is a reference to the purity of the lotus flower. “Kamalalaye” relates Lakshmi to this purity and expands on the beauty of the lotus. “Prasida” is a request for blessings from the Divine Mother. “Mahalakshmi Namaha” means “to give honor and surrender to the greatest or highest form of Lakshmi.”

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Author Kathleen Karlsen

Kathleen Karlsen is a musician, artist, writer and speaker. She is the author of two books (Flower Symbols and Vocal Medicine) and over 200 articles. Kathleen, her husband Andrew and their five children live in Bozeman, Montana. More about Kathleen Karlsen.

Other recommended resources on the web: Yantra Blessings

Symbolic Art & Yantras

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SRI YANTRA MEANING ARTICLE SUMMARY

This article on Sri Yantra meaning reveals every aspect of this powerful ancient symbol. In addition, the article includes a discussion of the history and use of the Sri Yantra as well as associated mantras and other applications. 

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