Yantra and yatra sound very similar, and in some ways can be seen to have a common aim.
A YATRA is a journey, as experienced in a pilgrimage. TIRTHA-YATRA,
is the pilgrimage where the devotee achieves DARSHAN, a glimpse of God. THIRTHA
is a crossing point where the pilgrim passes over into a spiritual world. The
yatra is the journey leading to that experience.
A YANTRA is a device or pattern of symbolic forms representing
all the levels and energies of creation and the human body. There are many forms
of yantra each designed for a specific purpose. In Tantra yoga, yantras are used
in conjunction with mantra. It is said that the forms of the yantra are correlated
with the ways in which we see shapes, to maximise their effect. Colours and composition,
even the thickness of the lines will affect the efficacy of the yantra. The most
famoous yantra is the Shri Yantra.
The square around the outside is a shape of great stability, even stagnation, and also one which evokes
no special response in the mind other than to restrict the field of vision.
The circle, a symbol which represents the feminine force, water, is also a dynamic, cyclic force, and
containing shape. The circle with
the point in the centre represents the sun. The three concentric circles represent
the three gunas: sattva, rajas and tamas.
Sixteen lotus petals form the Chandra mandala - the moon mandala.
Twelve the surya mandala. The lotus represents purity.
Triangles represent the element fire. The horizintal line
is inactivity. Upward pointing triangles represent the male energy, downward
pointing - female. Equilateral traiangles suggest balance. The 6-pointed star created by the crossing of upward and downward pointing triangles balances the two energies.
In the centre of the yantra is a point - the BINDU, which represents the source of creation in the universe. In the human body the male bindu is said to be found in the centre of the head, and
the female bindu in the genital region. One of the aims of yoga is to bring about
the union of these two energies in the body.
As an aid to meditation place the yantra in a position similar to that for reading. Allow the concentration to be drawn into the pattern, and eventually into the bindu centre. Used in this way as a form of tratak - concentration through gazing - the yantra helps in the practice
of Pratyahara - sense withdrawal.
The ultimate aim of the yantra is to take the sadhaka to the state of samadhi.