Yantra Meaning: Powerful Mystical Symbols

Yantras are geometric forms similar to mandalas that have been in use for thousands of years. In fact, there have been stones found in India with drawings of yantras dating back 10,000-12,000 years. Yantra meaning varies based on the associated mantra and the structure of the image.  Yantras are a central part of the ancient practice of using visual aids for meditation.

Yantras can represent a specific deity, an aspect of God or a single sound. Yantras are mystical diagrams associated with particular thoughts and rituals. Yantras can be combined with mantras to accompany chanting and meditation.

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Yantra Meaning and Geometry

The word “yantra” means “instrument.” Yantras have a central form with shapes radiating out from the center, including triangles, circles, hexagrams, pentagrams, octagons, lotus petals and tridents. Each shape has symbolic importance.

Circle: physical manifestation, counterpart to the spiritual realms
Downward Triangle: symbol of the divine feminine
Hexagram: union of male and female in intertwined triangles
Lotus: symbolize purity, enlightenment and transcendence
Octagon: Symbol of the eight directions
Pentagram: associated with the number five and the Goddess Kali
Square: four cardinal directions
Upward Triangle: symbol of the divine masculine

Yantras may be black and white, carved on wood, engraved on stone or painted. Painted yantras utilize symbolic colors.

White: represents purity
Black: symbolizes inertia
Red: means activation
Pink, gold, orange and yellow: abundance and good fortune

Yantra Meaning and Geometry

Surya Yantra by Rose Karlsen

The Meaning of the Center of a Yantra

The central point of a mandala or yantra is called the bindu. This is the same term that is used to refer to the dot applied to the forehead that represents the third eye. The yantra is a focus for visualization, one of the fundamental powers of consciousness and a reflection of the spiritual vision associated with the third eye.

Yantra Meaning and Architecture

Yantras were originally perceived and constructed in three dimensions. Entire buildings (temples, cathedrals) have been constructed as yantras. In ancient India, building a temple and positioning a temple within a village was the most significant part of aligning the inhabitants’ lives with the divine. The temple was built first. Residential dwellings and buildings for businesses and government facilities were constructed afterwards.

Use of Yantras in Religious Rituals

Private yantras may have been derived from the larger forms used in temple construction. As depictions of universal vibrations, yantras are a type of microcosm. Rituals involving mantras and yantras can become very complex.

The rituals may be performed only on certain days of the year. The mantras are repeated with mathematical precision for each aspect of the yantra. The rituals are done at certain times of the day, and certain types of food or offerings are given.

Using Yantras with Mantras

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. See specific yantras below for the associated mantras.

Baglamukhi Yantra

Baglamuhki Yantra by Rose Karlsen

Additional Functions of Yantras

Yantras are sometimes used in vastu (the Hindu form of feng shui) to correct negative configurations or influences in the environment. Yantras are also worn as talismans or charms.

Yantras can be created for specific purposes such as the mitigation of astrological influences, the healing of a particular disease, or for spiritual protection. Yantras may be guarded by Hindu priests to prevent unauthorized access to them.

The Difference Between Yantras and Mandalas

Yantras tend to be linear and geometric, whereas mandalas are more figurative. The yantras associated with Hinduism are generally simpler and less colorful than the mandalas often associated with Buddhism.

Mandalas are often made from fragile or perishable materials or destroyed after creation to emphasize the impermanence of the world. The creation process itself is a meditation. On the other hand, yantras are retained as a channel and receptacle for divine energy.

Lakshmi Yantra Meaning

Lakshmi Yantra
for Wealth and Abundance
by Rose Karlsen

Hanuman Yantra Meaning

Hanuman Yantra by Rose Karlsen

The Power of Tantra, Yantra and Mantra

There are three basic forms of practice in Hinduism that are used individually or together for self-liberation:

  • The path of action or physical practice (tantra, physical power, nervous system, nadis)
  • The path of the mind and knowledge (mantra, thought power, invocation, devotion)
  • The path of will power (yantra, spiritual power, individual will, renunciation)

Each of these three practices can be used or misused. The key is the intention and purity of the practitioner.

For example, in the worst-case scenario, mantras can be used to cause harm or create suffering (tamasic). They can also be used purely for self-centered reasons (sattvic). Ideally, they are used for universal spiritual liberation (rajasic).

Gayatri Yantra Meaning

Gayatri Yantra by Rose Karlsen

Energizing a Yantra

Yantras can be used to store divine energy much like a battery or protective shield. In addition to concentrating on a yantra when chanting or meditating, you may want to consider the following practices in association with energizing a yantra:

  • Take a shower or bath to start with a sense of purity on the physical level
  • Find a place where you will not be disturbed (you may want to face east)
  • Light incense or diffuse essential oils (especially sandalwood, cedarwood, myrrh)
  • Create some kind of altar with special objects and/or fresh flowers
  • State your intention or desire (personal or universal)
  • Choose a set number of times to repeat a mantra (108 is a common number)
Shiva Yantra Meaning

Shiva Yantra by Rose Karlsen

Yantras and Cymatics

The science of cymatics relates directly to the art of yantras. Cymatics is a branch of research that explores the power of sound to change matter and to create stunningly beautiful or discordant patterns in sand, water and other materials.

The term cymatics was coined by Hans Jenny (1904-1972), a Swiss researcher who explored the nodal patterns formed by materials subjected to continuous sound. The patterns for specific sounds are remarkably like the forms depicted in traditional yantras.

The Sri Yantra, for example, is the visual equivalent of the sound OM. Each yantra has a specific use and potential spiritual power. The Sri Yantra is the most well-known of all yantras. The Shri Yantra is also called the “queen of yantras” because it is a symbol of the divine mother, source of all energy, power, and creativity. 

The Sri Yantra represents the union of the divine masculine and feminine. This is symbolized by nine interlaced triangles with upward triangles meeting downward triangles in a kind of star tetrahedron. There are forty-three intersecting triangles organized in nine concentric levels radiating out from the central bindu point.

Meaning of Specific Yantras

The yantras below have specific meaning associated with their symbolic forms as well as the mantras and deities connected to them. Some are associated with multiple deities. 

Durga Yantra Illustration

Durga Yantra by Rose Karlsen

Durga Yantra Meaning

The mantra associated with the Durga Yantra is “Om Aim Hrim Klim Chamundaye Viche.” The word “Chamundaye” is a reference to Durga and the slayer of Chamunda, an evil demon.“Viche” means a “shield” and indicates Durga’s role in protecting her own. Durga has the role of destruction for the sake of universal harmony.

The Durga Yantra and mantra are based on the idea that it is better to protect yourself and divert misfortune whenever possible.For this reason, the Durga Yantra is viewed as a protection yantra. Durga is a warrioress with indomitable strength. Like Kali, she will help you to let go of anything that is no longer serving you. In addition, she can serve as a shield on many levels as you move through the world.

Durga cultivates a unique combination of fearlessness, courage and love. The many upward pointing triangles in the yantra emphasize spiritual freedom. Durga’s colors are white, silver, gold, saffron, orange and red.

Ganesha Meaning

Ganesha by Rose Karlsen

Ganesha Yantra Meaning

The Ganesha Yantra utilizes many of the same basic shapes as the Sri Yantra (see below). The six-pointed star is a simplified version of the nine interlocking triangles of the Sri Yantra.

The mantra associated with this symbol is “Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha” and means “Salutations to the remover of obstacles!”

Ganesha is the master of both inner and outer journeys. Ganesha is known for knowledge, patience, preparation and grounding.

Ganesha Yantra Meaning

Ganesha Yantra by Rose Karlsen

The sheer weight of an elephant is a wonderful metaphor for the earth-based energy necessary for successful projects and endeavors. For example, the energy of Ganesha can form a strong foundation for a new business. Ganesha can also help to clear away uncertainty and self-doubt.

The six-pointed star symbolizes balance and harmony. Ganesha is the patron of the arts, crafts and sculpture. When colored, the Ganesha Yantra usually includes deep, rich earth colors like forest green, golden yellow, primary red and orange. Read full article and hear a Ganesha mantra here.

Hanuman Hindu Monkey God

Hanuman, Hindu Mokey-God by Rose Karlsen

Hanuman Yantra Meaning

Hanuman is the Hindu monkey-god. He is the hero of epics and stories in Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. Hanuman is the ardent devotee of Lord Rama. He is a central figure in the epic Hindu poem Ramayana.

Hanuman is sometimes depicted as the patron of martial arts, wrestling, and acrobatics. He is also the patron of meditation and scholarship. 

Some interpretations of the name “Hanuman” are the Sanskrit words “han” meaning killed or destroyed and “maana” meaning pride. With this interpretation, Hanuman would mean “one whose pride was destroyed.”

Hanuman Yantra Meaning

Hanuman Yantra by Rose Karlsen

The mantra associated with the Hanuman yantra is “Om Hanumate Namah.” Hanuman is known for fierce loyalty and unfailing energy. Hanuman is often appealed to for solutions in seemingly impossible circumstances.

Hanuman’s yantra is a good choice for focusing on supporting your immune system, increasing your productivity and helping with effective communication skills.

Some sources say Hanuman protects against malefic influences from a challenging placement of Saturn in your astrological chart. Other sources say the same thing about an ill-placed Mars.

Hanuman has many superhuman powers. These include the following:

  • cannot be killed with any weapon in war
  • power to induce fear in enemies
  • power to destroy fear in friends
  • cannot be harmed by the Vajra weapon (lightning)
  • cannot be drowned (protection from water)
  • cannot be harmed by fire (Agni)
  • is not attracted to women
  • can make himself as small or as large as he wants
  • cannot be killed (longevity and immortal life)
  • will always be happy and content

The Hanuman Yantra is associated with strength of mind as well as body. This is the kind of strength needed to confront and triumph over the hurdles in life. Hanuman encourages straight-forward communication and clear thinking. The combination of Hanuman’s mantra and yantra helps to center the heart to overcome difficult situations.

Sri Yantra Meaning

Sri Yantra by Rose Karlsen

Sri Yantra Meaning

The Sri Yantra is a 12,000-year-old symbol known as the holy wheel. The Sri Yantra represents the union of the divine masculine and feminine.

This is symbolized by nine interlaced triangles with upward triangles meeting downward triangles in a kind of star tetrahedron.

There are forty-three intersecting triangles organized in nine concentric levels radiating out from the central bindu point.

Lakshmi Goddess and Sri Yantra Meaning

Goddess Lakshmi by Rose Karlsen

The outer square represents the earth element and forms a stable and solid foundation for the yantra. The square is the power of condensation and manifestation into the world. The four doorways or gates are the thresholds into the outer world. The circle in the center brings focus to the visual form and the mind of the viewer.

The lotus petals represent creation and life force. Some teachings view the Sri Yantra as a map of man’s spiritual journey from the outer to the inner along designated circuits. The following is the mantra associated with the Sri Yantra. 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.”

Surya, God of the Sun by Rose Karlsen

The Surya Yantra

The mantra associated with the Surya Yantra is “Om Hram Hrim Hraum Sah Suryay Namaha.” As the god of the sun, Surya brings illumination, healing and spiritual magnetism.

The Surya Yantra is sometimes called the Radiance Yantra. The twelve outer petals are known as the celestial beams of the sun. They are symbolic of the twelve months of the year and the twelve astrological signs. The sun is the regal master of the entire solar system and the visible universe.

Surya Sun God Yantra Meaning

Surya Yantra by Rose Karlsen

The yantra and the mantra are both tools for guiding the thoughts and feelings in healthy patterns, but the viewer’s intention is paramount. When colored, the Surya Yantra is decorated with flaming red, orange, silver and gold.

Focusing on the Surya Yantra can be particularly appropriate for extending yourself into new social situations, travel or undertaking adventures in life. Surya is a celebration of light and illumination in yourself and others.

Gayatri Yantra Meaning

Gayatri Yantra by Rose Karlsen

Gayatri Yantra Symbol Meaning

Gayatri is a Vedic poetic meter of twenty-four syllables or any hymn composed in this meter. Hence, there exists a whole family of Gayatri Mantras, all of which serve as meditative aids. The Gayatri yantra symbol  is the visual counterpart for this family of mantras.

The most well-known of the Gayatri Mantras is the following:

Om bhur bhuvah svaha
Tat savitur vareñyam
Bhargo devasya dhīmahi
Dhiyo yonah prachodayat

Saraswati Goddes Associated with the Gayatri Yantra

Goddess Saraswati by Rose Karlsen

Gayatri Mantra Translation

The Gayatri mantra is associated with a specific goddess named Gayatri as well as with the goddess Saraswati. The first line is actually a general invocation and is not technically part of the original sacred text from which the mantra is drawn. 

The general meaning for the Gayatri Mantra would be something like: “Let me meditate on the most adored Lord and Creator, whose divine light illumines all realms (physical, mental and spiritual). May this divine light illuminate my life!”

A more extended meaning would be: “O God, the Protector, the basis of all life, Who is self-existent, Who is free from all pains and Whose contact frees the soul from all troubles, Who pervades the Universe and sustains all, the Creator and Energizer of the whole Universe, the Giver of happiness, the most Excellent, Who is Pure and the Purifier of all, let us embrace that very God, so that He may direct our mental faculties in the right direction.”

Word for Word Meaning

Om: the primeval sound
Bhur: the physical body and physical realm
Bhuvah: the life force or mental realm
Suvah: the soul or spiritual realm
Tat: God as That, like the Hebrew I AM That I AM
Savitur: the Sun, Creator or Source of all life
Vareñyam: adore
Bhargo: effulgence of divine light
Devasya: the supreme
Dhīmahi: to meditate
Dhiyo: the intellect
Yo: may this light
Nah: our
Prachodayāt: illumine or inspire

More Resources for Yantra Meaning

Yantra meaning is a vast topic that is gaining more attention in the arenas of symbolism, meditation and personal growth. The intersection between visual forms and sounds is also an expanding area of research and study. Additional resources for yantra meaning include the following:

What is the meaning of the Gayatri Mantra?
Yantra Blessings: Ancient Tools to Help You Achieve Your Desires

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