Yantra is derived from the root word, “Yam” which means to contain or hold. The application of mystical geometry utilizes patterns which can contain the sadhana shakti (power of yogic practices). The suffix “tra” suggests liberation.
A Yantra is a geometric representation of a diety or specific macrocosmic principle. Its reflexion of the microcosm is inferred and understood by the Tantric. The Yantra, acting as a carrier of its representative energy, is extremely focusing and empowering. Initially the Yantras are external to the practitioner and formed of copper, granite, painted on paper, or even drawn with water. There are specific methods for each Yantra. Yantras seen internally are the greatest yantras and serve in advanced tantric and yogic practice. Associated with every Yantra are sound vibrations (mantra). Condensed, this sound vibration is a bija. Symbolically, the bija resides in the center of the Yantra, often represented by a central point, or bindu. Bindu, in term represents the core of consciousness.
In optimal circumstances, celestial energy pervades both Yantra and mantra. The Yantra has been likened to the physical body of a spiritual energy (thus manifesting that energy in the denser planes). The mantra, particularly the bija, IS THE ENERGY ITSELF which can transform consciousness and originates from the most subtle vibratory levels as sound vibration and can be traced to unmanifested reality.
The antiquity of Yantas is unquestioned. Yantras were found at the Dravidian excavations of Mohenjadaro and Harrappa six thousand years ago. Ancient Dravidian texts refer to a yogic civilization (kumari kandam) which used Yantras that was inundated by the sea thousands of years ago.
Above: Some of the individual Yantras of the Kali and Sri Nitya Shaktis and the Yantras of the 64 Yoginis. The yantras are engraved on large copper plates. Eight is a sacred number in the Pre-Aryan Indian sub-continent.
The Tantric Yantra of the 64 Yoginis has within its core the ancient Kaula Yantra of Maha Kali, her form seen above the Yantra.