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Sri Yantra As Explained In Bhavanopanishad – Sri Chakra in Bhavana Upanishad

Like all other dualistic systems of worship, the tantric system of worship also makes use of a special type of symbol called Sri Chakra or Sri Yantra. The following is an account of the Sri Yantra from the Bhavanopanishad (Bhavana Upanishad) belonging to the Kadi tantras, the Kadi school of thought prevalent in Bengal.

The word ‘yantra’ occurs frequently in all tantric contexts of worship. All dualistic forms of worship need an image, a symbol, or something like that. Since the ordinary aspirants need an object of adoration or worship, a gross form is made after the desired pattern of the worshipper thinking about the form of the worshipped. Thus there may be an innumerable variety of symbols depending on the mental make-up of individuals. Shaligram and Shivling are some such symbols. The tantric method of Shakti worship is represented by such a yantra called Sri Chakra or Sri Yantra.

Sri Chakra is a beautiful piece of geometric figure representing the Divine Mother in her individual as well as universal form. It consists of several fields or planes of existence, two sets of triangles, and two groups of lotus petals. The Sri Chakra is of immense significance in the tantric method of worship. As a whole, it represents the universe – the macrocosm and the microcosm – and its divine cause. At the centre of the chakra there is a point. It represents the coexistence of Lalita and Kameshwara in an undifferentiated union. An inverted triangle encloses this point. This triangle represents the triple dimensions of Shakti known as knowledge, will power, and action, and also the three qualities of sattva, rajas, and tamas, and their presiding deities.

Circumscribing this small triangle there is a group of eight triangles and circumscribing even this group of eight there are two sets of triangles, each containing ten triangles, one surrounding the other. Still outside these two sets of ten triangles, there exists a set of fourteen triangles circumscribing them. Next, circumscribing this set of fourteen triangles stands a circle of eight lotus petals, another concentric circle of sixteen petals. Still outside that region are three concentric circles and three concentric squares outside the three circles. Thus, reversely from outside inward, the nine chakras are: Vrittatraya or bhupura; shodasha-dala, circle with sixteen petals; ashta-dala, circle with eight petals; manvashara, circular area with fourteen triangles; dashara-yugma, two circular areas with two sets of ten triangles each; ashtakona, circular area with eight triangles; inverted triangle; and bindu, point.

 The order of these nine chakras starting from the bindu outwards is called srishti krama, the order of creation, while the reverse order – starting from the bhupura inwards – is known as laya – krama, the order of dissolution. The central point, bindu, represents Kameswara and Kameshwari in eternal union. That is contained within the yoni – represented by the triangle with vertex down – the source, cause, or womb of the universe. The triangles and petals in every chakra represent various cosmic principles, each having its distinct presiding deity.

The ultimate object of worship in the Sri Chakra is, as the Bhavanopanishad says, ‘the realization of the unity of the knower, known, and knowledge’.

Source - an excerpt from article titled ‘The Method and Significance of Tantra’ by Swami Kritarthananda in the January 2016 edition of Prabuddha Bharata magazine.