Deities on Earth: The Making and Worship of Yantras

Updated: Dec 12, 2020

Yantras have been used since ancient times. A yantra is said to be a powerful tool for attaining worldly and spiritual goals. In terms of meaning, it is defined as the body of a deity which is created with the use of geometrical patterns, signs, words and numbers.

A yantra as the body of the deity is a symbolic and sacred representation of the deity. In other words the yantra is where the deity resides thus creating a sacred connection between the yantra and the one worshipping it.

Yantras are said to hold immense occult powers. And by making yantras of specific deities, the support and blessings of that deity are sought for various purposes. The Black Book (Ravan Sanhita) says that yantras are used to fight diseases, destroy enemies, attain fame - status, meditative states and spiritual goals. (Black Book: Ravan Sanhita/ Translation by Bharti Agarwal, 2013).

The process of making yantras is unique and requires knowledge of astrology. Astrology is very important in the making and use of yantras. Yantras are to be made and worshipped at specific time periods or specific nakshatra periods. Both the making and preservation of the yantra involves the use of various resources including metals and plants. The making of yantras can be seen as a highly specialized exercise involving the use of various skills.

The word yantra

There are many meanings attached to the word yantra. An insightful interpretation of the word is given by Johari (see Harish Johari, Tools for Tantra, 1986). Johari elaborates as follows;

  1. The words "yam" mean to contain or hold. In that sense, yantras hold the deity. They are a creative physical representation of the deity. The physical or material form also encompasses the inner or qualitative dimensions of the deity.

  2. The words "tra" come from trana meaning liberation from bondage. The yantra liberates the human mind and body from the clutches of the material world.

  3. In the symbolic sense, Yam is also referring to Yama the lord of death. This conveys that yantras can liberate from the bondage of cycles of life and death.

  4. When the yantra symbolizes a particular deity, it becomes the deity.

  5. Yantras are different from mantras. The former is body of the deity and the latter the name or the mind of the deities. Mantra sadhana is to practice the utterance of a sound with dedication and intensity. (Om Swami, The Ancient Science of Mantras: Wisdom of the Sages, 2017).

The Merging of Worlds

Yantras can be seen as the form in which different worlds merge. The form which allows the deity and the worshipper to meet. The meeting of different worlds creates a mystical and powerful experience. By the worship of the deity, the native is able to invoke the powers of the deity and attain that which is worth attaining. Example, the worship of goddess Bagla Mukhi (one of the ten mahavidyas) is said to bring victory over enemies. Bagla Mukhi is said to have the power to control speech i.e. the power to bridle. By attaining her blessings a person can paralyze enemies and be invincible. She is associated with the color yellow and in the yantra of the goddess a yellow bindu in the center of a triangle is said to be the goddess herself. (Johari, 1986).

While yantras are frequently advised as astrological remedies, the power they hold can be far greater than one is aware of. Many texts also warn of the use of yantras for the purpose of causing harm or doing immoral acts. (e.g. Black Book- translated refers to the welfare and non-welfare purposes). The said texts reveal that yantras have always been used for both material and non-material gains. In other words, for good and evil.

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