In Hinduism a yantra (Sanskrit = Mechanism, technology, instrument) is a diagram for meditation depicting beliefs about the chakras, larger cosmic planes and the dynamic totality of all existence. The idea also creeps into Tantric Buddhism.
Yantras are also used in ritual worship, temple rites, astrology, body art/tats, and to enhance a seeker’s paranormal powers. Yantras are usually drawn, printed (as on note paper), painted or engraved on rock or metals.
Concerning paranormal powers, the yantra is upheld as a good luck charm, repelling evil spirits and avoiding disaster.
In architecture, an entire Hindu temple structure may mirror the form of a yantra, representing and emboding the sacred, otherworldly powers it was built for. Many Hindu temples are, indeed, based on archetechtural manuals advocating a yantra design.
Perhaps the essence of the yantra is found in Oscar Wilde’s notion that
Truth in art is the unity of a thing with itself: the outward rendered expressive of the inward; the soul made incarnate; the body instinct with spirit.”¹
¹ Cited in Peter Fingesten, “Spirituality, Mysticism and Non-Objective Art,” Art Journal, Vol. 21, No. 1 (Autumn, 1961: 2-6), p. 2
Primary Sources and Further Reading:
- The Encyclopedia of Religion. Eliade, Mircea (ed). New York: 1987, Collier Macmillan, Vol. 15.
- Fischer-Schreiber, Ingrid. The Encyclopedia of Eastern Philosophy and Religion : Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Zen. Boston : Shambhala, 1994, c1989.