What’s the difference between mantra and yantra? It’s the difference between mind and body. While a mantra is a word or phrase you run across the mind to focus on, a yantra is a physical symbol upon which you meditate in order to engage the mind in a withdrawal of consciousness. A yantra is a visual tool that helps you center, simply put.
Yantras are from the Hindu religion, but the concept of visual meditation is not unique to Hinduism. Mandalas in the Buddhist tradition focus the mind, and Labyrinths have been used by Native American, Celtic, Greek and Mayan cultures for the same purpose. A yantra is traditionally made by very precise procedure, which comes straight from the Vedas, or yogic scriptures.
A yantra is a symbolic representation of a deity. When a person is able to step outside of their critical mind, a properly created yantra is said to become the physical body of that deity. It is said that no picture of a deity is as powerful as a yantra because instead of illustrating a representation, it utilizes sacred geometry, almost like a photo of a person cannot be as accurate as a strand of that person’s DNA. If a yantra represents an aspect of the Goddess, it is called a Shakta Yantra. It is interesting to note that the gods Vishnu and Shiva may be represented in a yantra, but their form is the same as that of a goddess, with only differences in color. When combined with a specific mantra, a yantra invokes in physical form the presence of a particular deity’s prana (or life force).
The visual impact of a yantra is only one part of its power. Creating a yantra is a sacred artistic pursuit. If you think singing a mantra is more active and engaging than painting a yantra, consider that a yantra develops the skills of accuracy, patience, discipline and precision. It stimulates the right hemisphere of the brain, which is non-verbal. When combining yantra and mantra, you balance the two hemispheres of the brain.
Yantras may be worn on the body as an amulet and when done so are said to have magical powers. They may also be formed to represent astrological alignments that are particularly favorable and can be made out of precious gemstones and metal alloys.
Many symbols are commonly found in yantras. A bindu is the most basic form, a dot, and it represents the starting point of all creation. Lotus flowers represent the chakras. A Shatkona (known in the west as a Star of David), with its masculine up-turned triangle with a feminine down-turned triangle symbolizing the union of masculine and feminine, which brings all life. There is a grammar within these symbols all their own. An upward triangle also represents turning attention up to the heavens, while the downward triangle means attention to matters in this world. Thus the Shatkona represents that life (the union of masculine and feminine) occurs when we balance the spiritual with the material. A swastika represents good luck and prosperity, but when you reverse the direction it points (as the Nazis did), it represents chaos and destruction. A five-pointed star is used to represent Earth. Yantra symbols are also associated with the elements. A circle or a horizontal line is associated with the water element, a square with the earth, a triangle or a vertical line with fire, diagonal lines with air, a point with ether.
To meditate on a yantra, gaze at it steadily. Blink as little as possible, slow your breath and have no preconceived notions about what is to happen. Focus on the center of the image. After a few minutes, close your eyes and continue meditating on the form of the yantra as seen in your minds eyes. Keep your focus steady. Relax the mind as long as you can on the image. It may only be a few seconds at first. See what happens.
Placing yantras in your home, as well as other forms of sacred geometry, can help you build a strong sacred energy in your personal space and invoke the powerful energies of Goddesses in your home. Spirit Voyage’s Interfaith Yantra Poster is an example of a modern adaptation to the traditional yantra that helps bring a feeling of unity and oneness among all mankind. Those who know the teachings of Masaru Emoto and the effects of words and symbols of water will like Spirit Voyage’s Stainless Steel Water bottles, which have a beautiful yantra energizing the water within. To make the yantra a little more personal and wear it on your body, check out our organic Spirit Voyage tshirt (available for both men and women). We have even found a yantra-tastic yoga mat!