Yantra – the Energy Diagrams
The Yantras are geometric diagrams or energy diagrams representing various energy fields, mainly from tantric traditions. Yantra literally means machine or instrument. In Hinduism, since ancient times Yantras are used during worship to correct the economic situation, to defeat enemies and to please god & goddesses. Specific Yantras are associated with specific deities. Most popular Yantras are Sri Yantra, Lakshmi Yantra, Sukh Samridhi Yantra, Vyapaar Vriddhi Yantra, Vastu Yantra, Kubar Yantra, Hanuman Yantra, etc.
Yantras are the physical form of the mantras having various shapes and using lines, dots and shapes such as triangle, circle, hexagon, octagon and the symbolic petals of the lotus spreading from the center. These are symbolic representations of this process of evolution and involution. When these concentric figures are gradually growing away from its center (bindu) in stages, this is for human beings a symbol of the process of macrocosmic evolution. When they are gradually growing towards its center, this is for human beings a symbol of the process of microcosmic involution.
In Hindu ritual practices, which date back to the Vedic times, Yantras are created using certain objects, symbols, sounds, names and forms, and specific divisions of time to invoke the power of a deity.
Constituents of Yantra
Generally, yantras have following constituents:
Types of Yantras
Sri Yantra, also known as Sri Chakra, is called the mother of all yantras because all other yantras derive from it. Sri refers to bhagwati “Lalita tripursundari”. Lalita means one who plays; Tripura means three world as well as three Shakti (Kali, Lakshmi & Sarasvati) and Sundari means beauty. Sri Yantra represents the microcosmic level of the Universe as well as the human body. When Sri Yantra is properly installed, it is highly beneficial and bestows pleasure, prosperity and success.
Sri Yantra is a sacred mathematically precise design and based upon Golden Proportion or Phi ratio. It is represented in three forms viz. plane form (most common), pyramidal form (Meru) and spherical form (Kurma or turtle) which is rarest.
The Sri Yantra has point in the center and a configuration of nine interlocking triangles, surrounded by two circles of lotus petals with the whole encased within a gated frame, called the "earth citadel".
The design of Sri Yantra consists of the following:
Tantra – the Advanced Spiritual Science
Tantra is pure spiritual science which is not well known. The root word “tan” means continuation or expansion. Another root word Tantr means to rule, to govern, and to keep in order. Tantra means expansion of individual consciousness into universal consciousness. The science of Tantra stresses on the three aspects of human existence – physical desire, psychic urge and extreme love for the God. In tantric texts, gross body, astral body and causal body is mentioned as Om, Tat & Sat respectively.
Tantra is widely misconceived. In fact, it is a systematic step by step approach with rigorous physical and psychological discipline to achieve spiritual enlightenment.
Tantra aims to liberate and transform the mind and body from their natural impulses and binding impurities instead of supressing them, and make them fit for self-absorption and self-realization. Different postures, breathing and meditation techniques, and self-purification practices are used for this purpose.
Steps of Tantra
Tantra, Mantra & Seven Chakras
The ancient yogis found seven principle psychic-spiritual energy centres in the human body which emanates different sounds. These sounds are found in the alphabet of Sanskrit, and certain combinations of the sounds were used in ancient processes of concentration and meditation. Sound vibrations with special characteristics are mantras which liberate the mind. All mantras are repeated in synchronization with the inhalation and exhalation of breathing.
The mantra acts as dynamo and helps the individual to associate his or her own individual consciousness with universal consciousness.
Seven Chakras start from end of spine to the crown of head. These are Muladhara (location-perineum, shape-square having triangle with lotus having drooping petals, serpent lying in inactive state, end of spine, element – earth, colour-yellow), Svadhishtana (location-below naval, shape-crescent moon, towards back, element–water, colour-silver), Manipura (location-naval centre, shape-triangle with apex down, element-fire, colour-red), Anahata (location-near heart, shape-hexagram, element-air, colour-blue), Visshuda (location-at level of throat, shape-oval, and element-space, colour-dark indigo or black), Ajna (location-between eye brows, shape-winged globe, element-mind) and Sahasrara (location-below crown, shape-Thousands Petal lotus, element – consciousness, colour-crimson red). Lower five chakras are represented as gross body. Astral body travels from vishudha chakra (centre of knowledge,) to Ajna Chakra (soul centre). The causal body can be felt, when immersed in sahasrara chakra (just below the crown). There are three nerves run in the spine, in left is Ida, in right is Pingla and in centre is Sushumna. Sushumna runs a hollow path called as Kula Path. During the upward journey of Kundalini (subtle energy, parashakti), coursing through the Sushumna channel and the chakras along the way, it is finally brought to the crown chakra, Sahasrara. This union is the realization of the Absolute.
Stages in Tantra
Tantra has four stages viz. Jnanapada (path of self-knowledge), Yogapada (path of self-discipline), Kriyapada (path of spiritual practice) and Caryapada (path of spiritual evolution).
Act of giving - Charity, Donation or दान
Family values, upbringing and religion all play a part in giving in India, with Hinduism mandating giving. Donations reduce attachment to sensual pleasure. Donations are simplest way open all the lumps before death. The detachment begins by donations and forgiveness. However, if charity or donation is inadequate, done with repentance or given to ineligible, then it is worthless. In Vedas, service, charity and benevolence have been attributed to paramount religion. Rigveda (verse – 3.24.5) says, “शतहस्त समाहर सहस्त्र हस्त सं किर” means earn with hundreds of hands and donate with thousands of hands.
The World Giving Index (WGI) is an annual report published (2016) by the Charities Aid Foundation, using data gathered by Gallup, and ranks over 140 countries in the world according to how charitable they are. This annual index measures generosity by three factors: the amount of money donated, participation in volunteering, and helping a stranger. Myanmar despite country in lower middle income claims the title of the world’s most generous country consistently for last three years 2014, 2015 & 2016. (USA – 2nd; Australia – 3rd; New Zealand – 4th; Sri Lanka – 5th; India – 91)
Top 5 most charitable people in the world are Bill Gates (Net worth 84.2 billion, life time donation $27 billion), Warren Buffett (Net worth: $61 billion, life time donations $21.5 billion), George Soros (Net worth: $24.4 billion, life time donations $8 billion), Azim Premji (Net worth $15.9 billion, life time donations $8 billion) and Charles Francis Feeney (Net worth $1.5 million, life time donation $6.3 billion).
In various Hindu scriptures such as Puranas, Mahabharata, Ramcharitramanas etc., importance of donation or daan has been highlighted. Shree Krishna in Shrimad Bhagavad Gita has explained three types of donations as under:
Hindu scriptures have dealt with the various aspects of donations such why donate, what to donate, who to donate, how to donate, when to donate and exemplary stories of donations. Such details with relevant quotations in Sanskrit are as under:
Why Prayer or Worship
Why prayer or worship? Many people pray to fulfil their desires, some people pray as ritual i.e. habitually, some people pray out of fear and very minuscule people pray out of love and affection to the deity. Prayer may be done as per prescribed procedure by the respective religion or by simply meditating.
In Sanskrit language, the word for prayer is prarthana. It is formed by combining words, ‘pra’ meaning ‘intensely’ and ‘artha’ meaning ‘to plead’.
Hinduism is most dynamic religion having widest range of prayers or worships to suit individual temperament and preferences. Worship is not fixed to locations or timings. Hindus worship personal deities to fulfil individual desires or formless Supreme Being to integrate the body, the mind and the Atman in order to evolve into a higher being. While worshipping the Ishta Devata (most loved deity), the person chants and reminds his attributes so that these attributes are imbibed.
The classical approaches in Hinduism are Raja, Jnana, Karma, and Bhakti Yoga, as well as Hatha, Kriya, Kundalini, Laya, Mantra, Nada, Siddha, and Tantra Yoga. Meditation, contemplation, mantra and prayer finally converge into a unified force directed towards the final stage, piercing the pearl of wisdom called bindu, leading to the Absolute.
Why Prayer and Prayer room:
Various rituals and techniques of prayer in Hinduism play an important role in enhancing physical health, mental serenity and establishing connection with Supreme Consciousness. Scientific studies have been conducted to investigate the healing effects of prayers. The role of prayers and prayer room can be enlisted as follows:
Why & what are the different types of Prayers:
Hinduism has devised diversified types of prayers or worships depending on the pre-dominance of intellect, mind, determination or physical activities which can be classified as under:
1. For Persons of high emotions:
2. For Persons of strong will power and high discipline:
a. Dharna, Dhayan and Samadhi.
b. Japa of Mantras which is sacred syllable or set of syllables (Please see a detailed article on “Chanting of Mantra” on this website under the category of Puja).
c. Tapas i.e. austerity or Penance or fasting.
3. For Person who is activity oriented:
a. Ritual worship i.e. lighting & waving of the lamp, burning incense sticks, offering food, Arti, prostrating in front of god, reading chalisa of deities (Shiv Chalisa, Hanuman Chalisa, Durga Chalisa etc.) to invoke, praise and asking him/her to help and remove all obstacles and hardships on the path to fulfilment, pronouncing 108 sacred names of the deities reminding their qualities, chanting mantras (moola mantra, beej mantra, gayatri mantra, etc.) having divine powers etc.
b. Yajna & Havan
c. Pilgrimage to holy places
d. Circumambulation of a temple
4. For Persons of intellect:
a. Reading of religious books (Ramcharitramanas, Bhagwat Geeta, Shad Darshan, Upnishads, etc) regularly to imbibe knowledge to understand moral & religious duties and clear doubts of life and moksha.
b. Listening or Sravana of spiritual texts,
c. Contemplation or Manana of spiritual teachings,
d. Nididhyasana or practice is a rational & cognitive process by which intellectual conscience is transformed into stillness, a calm in which the soul lays itself open to the Divine.
Why worship of Sakar forms or Nirakar Supreme Being:
All religions have images to worship which may be Gurugranth Sahib, Cross with Jesus hanging on it or Mother Mary, holy Kabaa, Arc & torah, Buddha or Mahavira or Tirthankaras.
Hinduism is a monotheistic religion which believes that God manifests Himself or Herself in several forms. One is supposed to worship the form that is most appealing to the individual without being disrespectful to other forms of worship. Vedanta holds the view that Brahman is cosmic consciousness (Sat-Chit-Ananda – Truth-Consciousness-Bliss) who creates universe – jivatma & physical universe, maintains and withdraws within it.
However, Hinduism recognised various needs and desires of human being and to fulfil them various deities & forms are invoked. Though supreme God is nirakar (formless), it manifest in many forms to fulfil the needs. (Please see a detailed article on “what is God under Hinduism” on this website under the category of Principles).
What do Hindu Prayers invoke?
Vedic Mantras are sacred formulae, if chanted in prescribed way and counts, may realise the deity of mantra and bring desired results. Mantras with special syllable energise the specific points of parasympathetic nervous system which have positive health impacts besides harmonising different levels in the body-mind. It has the effect of quieting the mind and integrating the gross bodies with the divine, inducing the latent spiritual experiences (sukshma) into the realm of the patent.(stula).
Word “Mantra” is derived from Sanskrit of “Mananaat Traayate iti mantrah". Mananaat means by chanting; Traayate means protect ourselves. Mantra is the sound-form of the Deity one worships. Mantra requires specific austerities and knowledge of the science of chanting. The present article deals exclusively into Chanting of Mantra.
Before chanting the Vedic mantras (chants or hymns) it is obligatory to pay one’s respect to the seer (rishi) through whom the mantra was revealed, the deity to whom it is addressed and Chandas - the meter in which the mantra is composed.
(Note - An article of mantra named as Mantras – a key to Health, Happiness, Peace & Prosperity, is already published in this website, under category “Philosophy. The article covers the various aspects of Mantras viz. what is Mantra, Reciting of Mantras, Impacts of Chanting of Mantras, Science behind Mantras and Hindu Philosophy of Mantras.)
Aspects of Mantra
Science of Chanting Mantra
Precautions in Chanting of Mantra
Initiation of Mantra
It is advantageous to take the mantra from the Guru who has realized that mantra because it can add divine potency into it to bring expeditious benefits. Further, it tells the correct pronunciations of Mnatra.
Elocution of Mantra in Japa:
There are 3 forms of Japa:
Mantra uttered in Upamshu form is hundred times more efficacious than Vaikhari form and in Maanaseeka form its power increases thousand fold.
Pronunciation of Mantra in Japa:
Apart from grammar, the accent, intonation, articulation and pronunciation play a vital role in chanting mantras. They are variously defined as - Ucha stayi (high pitch) neecha stayi (low pitch) madhyama stayi (middle pitch) deergha (elongated) hrasva (shortened), gana (repetition back and forth) udatta (high key), anudatta (low key) swara (tone) etc. so that even the letter, let alone the words of the mantras and other sacred literature could not be altered or tampered with at will.
Chandas of Mantra
Chandas is the science of metres. Chandas-sutra has been dealt by Pingala (2nd cen. B.C.). Usually each meter consists of one to five pādas or ‘feet’. Each pāda should consist of a specific number of letters. The metre or chanda is very important when chanting mantras. If the metre of the mantra is broken, it loses its impact and will not produce any benefit at all.
Syllables are classified into two categories, Guru and Laghu. A string of Guru-Laghu sequence of a particular length is called a metre. There are various metres in which the Vedic mantras are composed, such as Gayatri, Anusthup, Trishtup and Jagati. The chandas of a mantra determines its usage, such as its purpose and context.
For instance, the famous Gāyatri meter consists of three pādas and eight letters per pāda. Gayatri Mantra is recited thus:
Pada 1 - Aum bhur bhu [U] va [/U] h s [B] va [/B] h
Tat[B] sa[/B][U] vi[/U] tur va[B] re**[/B] n [U] ya[/U] m
Pada 2 - bhar[B] g[/B] o[U] de[/U] v as[B] ya[/B] dhee ma hi
Pada 3 - dhi[U] y[/U]o yo[B] na[/B] h pra[U] ch[/U] o da[B] ya**[/B] t.
(Where the bold syllable is in higher octave, 2 stars require additional elongated recital in high octave, underline means lower octave.)
(Note:Separate articles on AUM and Gayatri mantra are already published in this website, under category “Puja System”.)
Hence, Chanting of Mantras is complete science and if practised in prescribed way, mantras can be realised.
In Hinduism, one of the essential constituents of religious rites is Yajna (यज्ञ). Yajna, a fire ritual is an act of gratitude to divine and to seek his blessings. Yajna brings material, environmental, psychological and spiritual benefits. Yajna can be performed with a specific desire in mind (sakama yajna), or without any desire, for the benefit of humanity in general (nishkama yajna). Yajna is larger public fire rituals. Homa or Havana is private ritual around a symbolic fire, such as those observed at a wedding.
The primary constituents of a Yajña are the inspiration or urge of the doer (भावना), learning (स्वाध्याय), rites involved (कर्म), offerings (त्याग), deity (देवता) and the results (फल). The process of Yajna is learnt from Vedas & Vedangas. Yajna involves three kinds of offering viz. sacrifice (याग), donation (दान) and offering (होम).
The word Yajna is derived from “Yaj” of Sanskrit which means "to worship, adore, honour, revere". The Yajna has its roots in Rigveda, Yayurveda, and Karma Mimansa. Kalpa Sūtrās deal with the rules, regulations and austerities of yajña, the geometry of altars, and the rites to be undertaken at each stage of life. Shulba sutra describes the geometric ratios of Vedi altar, with mathematical precision and geometric theorems.
According to Vedic scholars, the main kinds of yajnas are: paka yajna, havi yajna, (pancha) maha yajna, ati yajna and shiro yajna. Each yajna offers a way to purify the senses, mind, mental archetypes, tattwas (elements), gunas or the entire ecological system.
Homas are performed in those designated places to the corresponding devatas, according to the rites of the respective Vedas. Major Yajnas/yāgas are performed in premises meant for them, called yāga śālās.
The duration of Yajna depending on the type, may vary from a few hours to few months. Depending on the periodicity, the rites (karma) are classified as Nitya karma (done regularly. for e.g. nitya karma is Agni hotra - the homa done thrice a day); Naimittika karma (done on specific occasions. For e.g. pitru tarpana) and Kāmya karma (done optionally with specific purpose e.g. soma yāga and vājapeya).
Yajnas are discussed in detail (benefits, constituents, processes, types and relevant Hindu scriptures) as under:-
We all have heard the power of words. Singing of Deepak Raag, fires the lamps and singing Raag Malhar, raining starts. The various sound of music alleviates the chronic diseases. Chanting of mantras creates vibrations in atoms of body and powerful energy.
The Gayatri mantra is considered crown in all Hindu mantras and being very potent in invoking the universal Brahman. The mantra is extracted from the 10th verse of Hymn 62 in Book III of the Rig Veda. The glory of the mantra is mentioned in all Vedas and other Hindu scriptures. It has been praised by various rishis and Acharya. Dr.Howard Steingeril, an American scientist, tested the strength of Mantras, Hymns and invocations of all over the world. Gayatri Mantra produced 110,000 sound waves /second. This was the highest and was found to be the most powerful hymn in the world. The Gayatri mantra is as under:
ॐ भूर्भुवस्व: | तत्सवितुर्वरेण्यम् | भर्गो देवस्य धीमहि | धियो यो न: प्रचोदयात्
Om Bhurbhuvaswaha Tatsaviturvarenyam bhargo devasya dhimahi dhiyo yo naha prachodayat,
Gayatri sadhana brings physical, mental and spiritual happiness and helps in realization of cosmic consciousness (almighty). Gayatri Mantra inspires the mind for satvik actions. It has 24 syllables which activates 24 glands of body (details given in coming paras).
Yagyopaveet or upanayan (Sacred Thread Ceremony) Sanskar and commencement of study of Vedas, are started with Gayatri Mantra.
Gayatri mata is shown with five faces and ten hands. Five faces symbolizes five deities (Aum, Ganesha, Vishnu, Shiva & Bhavani), five elements of life (Earth, Water, Air, Akash & Fire), five sheaths of living being (Annmaya, Pranamaya, Manomaya, Vijyanmaya & Anandamaya), five senses (see, hear, smell, touch & taste), five organs of action (powers of speech, handling, movement, excretion and procreation or reproduction) and five internal instruments (Soul, Ego, Intellect, Mind & Chit). Ten hands destroy corrupt eyes, dependency, triviality, fear, negligence, selfishness, indecision, passion, greed and laziness.
The details of Gayatri Mantra such as its meanings, genesis and significance are given hereunder:-
Om or AUM is the most important sound, syllable, symbol which has great spiritual significance not only in Hinduism but also in most religions of the world. AUM is manifesting word of God. AUM is the energy which harmonise our body, mind and soul and connects with Cosmic Consciousness.
AUM represents the whole sound producing system in the mouth which starts from abdomen to heart to head and ultimately connects to cosmic consciousness. Om is the single most important sound that can, by itself, configure the human body optimally for maximum resonance.
The essence and importance of AUM finds mention in various Upanishads and other religious texts of Hinduism. It is a sacred spiritual invocation made before and during the recitation of spiritual texts, during puja, ceremonies of rites of samskara, Meditation and Yoga. It is first syllable to initiate most mantras.
The sound and structure of AUM describes four states of consciousness viz. conscious state, active unconscious state, latent unconscious state and pure conscious state which operates through seven instruments & nineteen channels. The three root syllables of AUM represent three deities, three genders, three Vedas, etc.
OM is sacred in Jainism, & Buddhism, as Omkar in Sikhism, Hum in Tibetans, Ameen in Muslims, Amen in Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Jews, and Christians.
In a pilot functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging study, the neurohemodynamic correlates of ‘OM’ chanting indicate limbic deactivation. Similar observations have been recorded with vagus nerve stimulation treatment used in depression and epilepsy, the study findings argue for a potential role of this ‘OM’ chanting in clinical practice.
The explanations of AUM, its science, details as per various scriptures of Hinduism and its relevance in other religions are as under:-
Puja is one of the important parts of six daily karma (activities) in Hindu scriptures:
Essence of Puja (What)
In Hinduism, gods/deities are worshiped as a practice or ritual. Puja is performed daily by family members in home and elaborate puja is conducted by pandit (aka purohit or priest) in home or temple by following various steps prescribed in Vedas.
Significance of Puja (Why)
Daily Puja is not mere ritual but important step in progress of spiritual journey. Person observing regular puja with devotion may get following benefits:
Performing Puja (How)
Simple puja is done by family members preferably in morning and evening hours.
Timings: As per Hindu belief, day is divided in three parts viz. Sattvic* (4 to 8 in morning & evening), Rajasi* (8 to 12 in morning & evening) & Tamasic* (12 to 4 in noon & night). Satvic puja timings are most auspicious. When a person performs puja in morning hours after taking full rest and with calm mind, it develops better divine connection.
Procedure: In simple puja, the following steps are generally done:
*Detailed description on Sattvic, Rajasic and Tamasic is given in Bhagwat Gita.