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Sricakra and Srividya – An introduction

The structure of Sri Chakra

and Srividya – An introduction The structure of Sri Chakra The basis of Sri Chakra is

The basis of Sri Chakra is its mantra; the fifteen lettered mantra in three groups: a e i la hrim; ha sa ka ha la hrim; sa ka la hrim. The sixteenth letter “srim” is present in a subtle form. Sri Chakra is basically a triad. The triangle which is primary to the chakra has three angles and the deity residing in it is Tripura. The mantra of each of the nine enclosures of Sri Chakra is three lettered; the mother goddess is worshipped in her three forms; the Kundalini energy in the individual is threefold, and the phenomenal processes arising out of the union of Shiva and Shakthi are also three. The Chakra design represents Tripura or Tripura Sundari; while her manifest powers (yogini) are nine. All its other interpretations are also in terms of three and nine. The three groups that constitute the mantra are called Kuta (peaks) or Khanda (segments).They are interpreted variously in sets of three as: Agni (fire) , Surya (sun) and Chandra (moon); srishti(creation), Shtithi (preservation) and laya (dissolution) ; Iccha (will) , jnana(knowledge)and kriya(action); Sattva, Rajas and Tamas;Jagrat (wakefulness); swapna (dream state) and sushupthi (deep sleep); jnatra (the knower), jnana (the knowledge) and jneya( the known) ; as atma(individual self), antaratma(inner being) and paramatma (supreme self) and also as past , present and future. In general, the Sri Yantra is a ‘cosmogram’ – a graphic representation of the universal processes of emanation and re-absorption reduced to their essential outline. The diagram of the Sri Chakra is primarily a Matrix (i.e. womb) of nine interlocking triangles. Five of these triangles have their apex facing downward. They are

of these triangles have their apex facing downward. They are Shakthi trikonas , the triangles representing

Shakthi trikonas, the triangles representing five forms of feminine energy, Shakthi. The other four triangles with their apex facing upward are Shiva trikonas

representing the male aspect, Shiva, Consciousness. In Tantra, the feminine is the active principle; and the male is passive. The Tantra texts mention that Sri Chakra is produced when five forms of Shakthi and four forms of Shiva unite. The intersection of these nine triangles creates forty-three triangles. It is customary to regard the point at the centre also as a triangle. Thus, in effect there are forty-four triangles in Sri Chakra; and these are arranged in nine enclosures (navavaranas), in groups of three.

in nine enclosures ( navavarana s), in groups of three. The intersection of two lines is

The intersection of two lines is called Sandhi; and there are 24 such Sandhis. These intersections have certain significance. The meeting of two lines represents union of Shiva and Shakthi.

meeting of two lines represents union of Shiva and Shakthi. And, the points where three lines

And, the points where three lines meet are called marma sthanas. There are 28 such marma sthanas. The meeting of three lines represents explicit harmony between Shiva and Shakthi; and they are vital spots in the body where the life-energy resides as well as accumulates. The marma has thus been called the Seat of Life or Jiva-sthana.

A total of 43 triangles are created from the overlapping of the nine original triangles.

A total of 43 triangles are created from the overlapping of the nine original triangles.

created from the overlapping of the nine original triangles. As regards the Bindu , the dimensionless

As regards the Bindu , the dimensionless point at the core of the Sri Chakra Yantra, the Tantra texts explain that Bindu is Kameshwara , the ground of the universe; and the immediate triangle is Kameshwari the mother of universe; the union of purusha and prakriti. The union of these two is the Sri Chakra, which represents the entire phenomenal pattern. This is denoted by the secret syllable shrim. In fact, it is this point, coloured red, which really is the Sri Chakra. Every other detail is an expansion or a manifestation of its aspects. The mother goddess worshipped in Sri Chakra is the universe. The devotee has to identify that principle in his body, for his body is the Sri Chakra or the universe in epitome. He is guided in this endeavour by the guru who is the representative of Shiva.

The Bindu also represents, at various times, the principles or activities known as the Pancha

The Bindu also represents, at various times, the principles or activities known as the Pancha Kriya of: Emanation of the cosmos from its primal source; Projection of creation into the primal void; Preservation of the created universe; Withdrawal of the creative and preservative energies in cosmic dissolutions; and lastly, Retention of the withdrawn energy-universe for the next cycle of re-creation. These five activities are regarded as the five modes of expression of the Universal Mother. There are several other explanations. Bindu is regarded a sphere in its own right. The expanded form of the Bindu is the triangle formed by three points and is called Sarva siddhi prada (the sphere of fulfilment of all aspirations). It is described as Prakriti (Mother Nature) composed of three gunas (fundamental fabric of all existence) sattva, rajas and tamas. The Kadi School explains sattva as that which covers and conceals (aavarana); while the other two gunas as that which project the world of duality or multiplicity (vikshepa). The three gods Brahma (creator), Vishnu (preserver) and Rudra (destroyer) are actually the representations of these three gunas. They are in turn the three aspects of the Devi represented as trikona chakra. It also explained that from Shakthi flashes forth the creative impulse known as nada (sound), which manifests as Kundalini or the creative urge, in all living beings. Here, Bindu is Shiva; Bija is Shakthi; and nada is their union. These give rise to the power of will (icchha shakthi); the power of knowledge (jnana shakthi); and power of action (kriya shakthi).These in turn give rise to Rudra, Vishnu and Brahma. Another explanation is, Bindu, also called Sarvanandamaya (all blissful), and represents the transcendental power (Para Shakthi) and absolute harmony (saamarasya) between Shiva and Shakthi. This is equivalent to what the Vedanta calls the Brahman. Owing to the power of the will (icchha shakthi) there comes about an apparent differentiation of Shakthi from Shiva, expressed in the form of triangle. Here again, the triangle is the expansion of the Bindu (bindu vikasana).If the Bindu

represents the Para-nada, the triangle represents the Pashyanti, the second stage of the sound, nada. The enclosure next to this, the eight sided figure (ashta kona chakra) is the Madhyama or the third stage in the development of sound. The rest of the Chakra represents the physical or the phenomenal stage, the Vaikhari, which is the manifest and articulate form of sound. The Vaikhari form is represented by the fifty letters of the alphabet, called matrikas or the source of all transactions and existence. The sixteen vowels (from aa) constitute the lunar sphere (Chandra mandala), the twenty-four consonants (from ka to tha) the solar sphere (Surya mandala); and the remaining ten consonants (from ma to ksha) the sphere of fire (Agni mandala). Thus, the triangle is also known as tri kuta, tri khanda and tri mandala. Bindu is identified with Shiva and trikona with Shakthi. The process of evolution (shristi) or the apparent separation of Shiva and Shakthi is referred to as adi- dwandwa. The evolution from the primary state into the mundane level is regarded as a descent, avarohana krama; whereas the withdrawal from the gross to the very subtle state is termed Samhara krama. Here the devotee moves into higher spiritual levels; and therefore it is termed arohana krama. It is a gradual process. The significance of the triangle is explained thus:

The name of the goddess is Tripura; and number three is important in approaching her. She is of the nature of the sun, the moon and the fire. She is masculine, feminine and neuter. Her form is red, white and the mixture of the two. Her mantra has three letters (hrim, klim, sauh); and from this mantra three segments of time – past, present and future – emerge. From this mantra too emerge the realms, three Vedas, three states of existence ( waking, dreaming and sleeping) and three gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.

All these geometric designs are contained within Sri Chakra, arranged in nine enclosures ornava-avaranas.They are also termed as nine chakras. Each of this has its name, a characteristic physical form and a spiritual significance. Each has its colour suggesting its tendencies. Each Chakra has its presiding deity (chakreshwari or Chakra nayika); and she is a variant form of the mother goddess abiding at the Bindu. The Chareshwari rules over her set of attendant divinities; such as Yoginis who aid the devotee on in his spiritual progress, and the Mudra Devatas, seal- divinities, who welcome, purify and delight the devotee. The yoginis have a special role in Sri Chakra worship. They make explicit the union of the male and female aspects of the Sri Chakra in each of its enclosures. They are in fact, the symbols of urges, aspirations, inhibitions, limitations, obstructions and powers active in each individual. The yoginis aid the devotees, but derive their power from the mother goddess. Sri Chakra is verily the body of the mother goddess, who resides as energy in the universe and as pure consciousness in the individual. The nine enclosures symbolize in a graded series the significance of the universal and individual; the

ideological and ritual; expressive and contemplative; and the in inner and outer aspects of Sri Chakra. The outer group of chakras (1, 2 and3) symbolizes extension or shristi. They represent Shiva aspect of the chakra. The middle group (4, 5 and 6) symbolizes the preservation or sthithi.They represent Shakthi aspect of the chakra. The inner group (7, 8 and the Bindu) symbolize absorption or samhara. The Bindu represents the transcendental aspect of mother goddess. The other two avaranas (7and 8) are also Shakthi aspects. The nine chakras are interpreted in terms of Time (kaala), the five elements that compose all things (Pancha-Bhuthas); and three states of awareness-wakefulness, dream and deep sleep. The nine chakras are also interpreted as corresponding to parts in human body.



Corresponding to part of human body


First line: feet; Second line: knees; and third line :





Triple girdle

Mid portion of the body






Region below navel and up to penis region ; kati


Ashta-dala padma

Navel region – nabhi



Abdominal region-kukshi


Bahir -dasha




Region between eye brows- bhru-madhya






Top of the head- masthaka



Opening on the crown of the head leading to Sahasra Dala padma (Brahma randra)

The nine avaranas are again recognized as chakras said to be situated along the central channel or the Shushumna nadi.


Avarana in Sri Chakra






Shoidasha dala padma



Ashta-dala padma






05 Bahir _dasha



06 Antar-dasha


07 Ashtara



08 Trikona



09 Bindu


Sahasra Padma

The nine avaranas, enclosures that compose Sri Chakra are briefly as under. These are described in the order of absorption (Samhara-krama) according to Dakshinamurthy tradition. It starts with the outermost enclosure-Bhupura- and leads

to Bindu, the central point.

1. Bhupura also called Trilokya –mohana-chakra (Deluder of the Realms) , is the four- sided enclosing wall. The three lokas being three levels of experience: attainments, obstructions and powers. They are also related to the body- mind complex of the devotee.

A tantra design is always enclosed within an outer wall serving as a protective cover.

As the devotee enters into the Mandala he leaves behind the normal worldly

distractions and conflicts; and emigrates into a world of symbols and visualizations.

A Mandala is thus a mansion of gods and goddesses, a symbol of a higher form of

existence. There are actually six gateways to the fort Sri Yantra, if we take a three-dimensional view of it; the four obvious dwaras and those ‘above’ and ‘below’. The Eastern gate is the way of the mantras. The Southern gate is the way of devotion or bhakti. The Western gate is for the performance of rites and rituals, or karma-kanda. The Northern gate is the way of wisdom, or Jnana. The gate ‘below’ is the ‘path of words’ while the gate ‘above’ is the way or ‘road of liberation’. These are located at the

Southern and Northern gate, respectively, i.e. ‘above’ is north, ‘below’ is south. Each

of these gates also stands for one of the six primary chakras in the body.

also stands for one of the six primary chakras in the body. The Bhupura Chakra, the

The Bhupura Chakra, the earth stretch, includes within its spatial scope the entire design even as the earth supports the entire existence. Bhupura is a Shiva aspect and is made up of three lines or ramparts. The first (outermost) line is identified with the attainments of yoga powers called Siddhis. They are needed for self-protection along the inward journey. Such Siddhis are eight in number; and are attained consequent on gaining control over the elements and the mind.

The second or the middle line represents the powers of eight mother-like divinities Mathrikawho rule over emotions such as passionate longing (Brahmi), violent anger (Maheshwari), avarice (kaumari) obstinacy (Varahi) etc The third (inner) line of the square is identified with ten feminine deties, Mudra devathas, carrying seals of authority. The mudras are an approach to the divinities. These could be gross (sthula) being body postures and gestures by hand; subtle (sukshma) by way of seed-mantras; and para transcendental that is mental or intuitional approach. These three lines are also taken to represent the Mother goddess; the outermost line corresponds to her feet; the middle line to her thighs; and the inner line to her knees. There are also three concentric circles (trivritta) representing three objectives of life:

Dharma, Artha and Kama. The avarana is Bhoopura and the Chakra is Trailokyamohana chakra ‘enchants the three worlds’. The yogini is Prakata; Mudra is Sarva Somkshibhni; Siddhi is Anima; and the mental state of the aspirant is Jagrata. The presiding deity is Tripura. Her Vidya is Am Am Sauh.The gem is topaz. The time is 24 minutes and the Shaktis are 28 that include the ten starting with Anima, the eight starting with Brahmya and the ten Mudra Saktis. 28 is the dominant number. This avarana corresponds to the feet of the mother goddess. 2. The sixteen petalled lotus (shodasha dala padma) called sarva asha paripuraka chakra,the fulfiller of all desires, is the second enclosure. In the sixteen petals, the sixteen vowels of Sanskrit alphabet is inscribed. These symbolize sixteen kalas or aspects or phases. They are also called nithyas and named Kamakarshini (fascinating the desires), Budhyakarshini (fascinating the intellect) etc. These relate to powers in the Five Elements, the ten senses of perception or Indriyas (being further divided into five organs of action and five sense organs) and the Mind.

five organs of action and five sense organs) and the Mind. The significance of this enclosure

The significance of this enclosure is explained as self-protection (atma raksha) of the devotee. Since frustrated desire is the strongest obstacle to spiritual progress, the next stage is wisely concerned with satisfying them. Only he who has experienced can renounce. The values of virtue, wealth and pleasure are granted at this stage. The craving Asha springs from discontent; and is quenched when discontent is eliminated. That is possible when devotee identifies himself with Shiva, ever complete and ever content.

This is achieved by the cultivation or strengthening of power over mind, ego, sound,

touch, sight, taste, smell, intellect, steadiness, memory, name, growth, ethereal body, revivification, and physical body. The avarana is Shodasa Dala, and the Chakra is Sarvasaparipuraka chakra ‘fulfils all expectations’; the yogini is Gupta Yogini; Mudra is Sarva Vidravini; the Siddhi is Laghima; and the mental state is Swapna, The presiding deity is Tripureshi. Her vidya is Aim Klim Sauh.The gem is sapphire. The time is three hours. The Shaktis are the sixteen starting with Kamakarshini. 16 is the dominant number. This avarana corresponds to the Savdhistana chakra of the mother goddess.

3. Eight petalled lotus (astha dala padma) called Sarva-samkhobhana –Chakra the

agitator of all, is the third avarana. Each petal has a consonant inscribed within it that begins with ‘Ka‘ The petals represent eight divinities associated with erotic urges ,

represent eight divinities associated with erotic urges , independent of physical body( ananga ).These relate to

independent of physical body(ananga).These relate to mental pleasures derived through five organs and through the modalities of mind:

rejection(repulsion or withdrawal), acceptance (attention or attachment) and indifference(detachment). This enclosure represents the last of the first group of the chakras that symbolizes Shrusti or emanation. The avarana is ashta dala; The Chakra is Sarva-samkshobana chakra ‘agitates all’. The Yogini is Gupta- Tara; Mudra is Sarvakarshini; the Siddhi is Mahima; and the mental state is Shushupti. The Presiding deity is Tripura Sundari. Her vidya is Hrim

Klim Sauh. The gem is cat’s eye. The time is day and night. The Shaktis are the eight starting with Ananga Kusuma. 8 is the dominant number. This avarana corresponds to the navel region of mother goddess.

4. Fourteen triangles (chaturdasha trikona) called sarva sowbhagya dayaka; the

bestower of all prosperity is the fourth enclosure. This is in the form of a complex figure made up of fourteen triangles. The fourteen triangles are inscribed with fourteen consonants beginning with ka and ending with dha. The fourteen corners represent fourteen powers of mother goddess. These are said to preside over fourteen principle channels of vital forces in human body (naadis) corresponding with fourteen powers Sarva -Samkshobhini and others. They are also related to the seat of Shaktis who represent: the Mind (Manas), the Intellect (Buddhi), Being (Chitta), the Conscious Ego (Ahamkara) and the ten Indriyas.

This enclosure refers to the channels of life currents in the human body ( prana

This enclosure refers to the channels of life currents in the human body (prana) and their identity with the aspects of Sri Chakra. The explanation given in Tantra texts is that the breathing in human body is influenced by five elements present in the body; and in turn those five elements are influenced by the manner we breathe. Normally, we breathe 360 times in a unit of time called nadika (equivalent to 24 minutes). A day (dina) consists 60 such nadikas. Therefore, in a day (24 hours) we breathe 21,600 times. The collection of all breathes is mother goddess herself. This is called nadi-chakra, the organization of winds within the body. The distribution of breathes among the body centres are as follows:


Number of Breathes

Time taken Hrs-mins-sec

























The navel is the central point for distribution of all breathes and life forces moving along the channels. Normally breath alternates between the ida channel reaching the left nostril and pingala the channel reaching the right nostril. The former is moon principle and cools the body; and the latter is sun principle warms the body. The two meet at muladhara, close to kundalini. Around this central channel is a network of 72,000 channels of which the more important are the 14 mentioned earlier in this paragraph. These are referred also as 14 divinities. In this avarana the number 14 is dominant. Sri Chakra is also described as the diagrammatic representation of the cycle of time (kaala chakra) and of the chakras in human system. The Avarana is Chaturdasara; the Chakra is Sarva soubhagya dayaka chakra, ‘grants excellence’. The Yogini is Sampradaya Yogini; the Mudra is Sarva Shankari; the Siddhi is Ishitva. The mental state is Iswara Vichara. The presiding deity is Tripura

Vasini. Her vidya is Haim Hklim Hsauh.The gem is coral. The time is day and night.

The Shaktis are the fourteen starting with Samkshobhini.14 is the dominant number. This avarana corresponds to the heart of mother goddess.

5. Ten-sided figure (bahir-dasara) called Sarvartha Sadhaka chakra (accomplisher of

all objects) consisting ten triangles, is the fifth avarana. It is named “the outer ten cornered figure” (bahir dasara) in order to distinguish it from a similar figure enclosed within it.

to distinguish it from a similar figure enclosed within it. T he ten triangles in this

The ten triangles in this avarana house ten auspicious deties ,

such as Sarva siddhi prada, Sarva sampath prada, Sarva priyamkari,Sarva mangala karini and so on. The five of the triangles are inscribed with consonants beginning with Ka; and the other five triangles are inscribed with consonants beginning with

represent ten powers of mother goddess who presides over ten vital

forces pranas active in the body. The idea of vayu the winds or vital currents is fundamental to the concept of channels. The vital currents are divided into two groups: prana- panchaka andnaga-panchaka. The first group consist: prana, apana, vyana, udana and samana vayus. These are responsible for body functions such as respiration, blood circulation, digestion, voice and separation of nutrients from food etc. The second group consists vital currents such as naga, kurma, krkara, devadatta anddhananjaya. These are involved in body movement like belching, yawning movement of eyelids, causing various sounds in the body. The Dhanajaya vayu, it is said, is the last to leave the body at its death. In this avarana the number ten is dominant.



The Avarana is Bahirdasara; the Chakra is Sarvarthasadhakachakra, the ‘accomplisher of all’. The Yogini is Kulotteerna yogini;; the Mudra is Sarvonmadini; and the Siddhi is Vashitva. The mental state is Guroopa Sadanam. The presiding deity is Tripura Shri. Her vidya is is Haim Hklim Hsauh.The gem is pearl. The time is

lunar day. The Shaktis are the ten starting with Sarva Siddhi Prada.10 is the dominant number. This avarana corresponds to the neck of mother goddess.

6. Ten sided figure (antar dasara) called Sarva raksha karaka (one that protects all)

consisting ten triangles is the sixth avarana. It is named antar dasara, the inner ten

cornered figure, since it is placed within a similar ten cornered figure, mentioned earlier.

T he ten triangles are inscribed with ten consonants beginning with the five of Tha

The ten triangles are inscribed with ten consonants beginning with the five of Tha and the five of Tta group. They represent the powers of the mother goddess who presides over ten vital fires (vanyaha).These represent the ten specific fires within the body; being the fire of purgation (Rechak), digestion (Pachak), absorption (Shoshak), burning (Dahak), the secretion of enzymes (Plavak), acidification (Ksharak), to take out or excrete (Uddharak), the fires of pessimism and frustration (Kshobhak), the fire of assimilation (Jrambhak) and creating lustre (Mohak). This enclosure is the third of the second group of chakras representing Preservation. The advent of inner realization begins here. The significance of this avarana is explained as protection from all obstacles. The devotee distances himself from all that hinders his spiritual progress; and he begins to develop an awareness he is Shiva ( the consciousness). The Avarana is Antardasara; the Chakra is Sarvaraksakara chakra ‘protects all’. The Yogini is Nigarbha Yogini; the Mudra is Sarva mahankusha; and the Siddhi is Prakamya. The mental state is Upadesa. The presiding deity is Tripura Malini. Her vidya is is Hrim Klim Blem.The gem is emerald. The time is Lunar Fortnight. The Shaktis are the ten starting with Sarvagnya.10 is the dominant number. This avarana corresponds to the middle of the eyebrows (bhrukuti) of the mother goddess. 7. Eight-cornered figure (ashtara) called Sarva roga hara (the remover of all deceases) is the seventh avarana. In the eight triangles formed by this figure, eight divinities presiding over speech reside. Between them they cover all the alphabets in Sanskrit grammar. Theseshakthis also rule over contradictions in life (dwandwa) such as cold(water) and heat(fire); happiness(air) and sorrow( earth); as also the Desire(akasha-space) and the three gunas of Sattvas (consciousness), Rajas(ego) and Tamas(mind).

of Sattvas (consciousness), Rajas(ego) and Tamas(mind). The significance of this enclosure is its power to eradicate

The significance of this enclosure is its power to eradicate the most basic disease viz. involvement with impure, fleeting existence that is laden with

stress. The blessed state is attained when the distinctions between the subject, the object and transactions between them are dissolved.

The avarana is asthakona; the Chakra is Sarvarogahara chakra ‘cures all ills’. The Yogini is Rahasya Yogini; the Mudra is sarva khechari; and the Siddhi is Bhukthi. The mental state is Manana. The presiding deity is Tripura Siddha. Her vidya is is Hrim Shrim Sauh.The gem is diamond (Vajra).The time is Lunar month. The Shaktis are the eight, starting with Vashini. 8 is the dominant number. This avarana corresponds to the forehead (lalata) of the mother goddess. The Four Weapons In between the mandalas of eight triangles and the central triangles are the four weapons — flowery bow, flowery arrows, noose (pasha) and goad (ankusha). They are red in colour. They are the weapons of both the mother goddess as Kameshwari and also of Shiva as Kameshwara.

8. The primary triangle with its apex downward (East) and coloured white (Sattva)

surrounding immediately around the central point, Bindu, is the eighth avarana. It is calledSarva Siddhi prada chakra, the one that bestows all accomplishment. This triangle does not intersect with other triangles; and stands independent. It is Kama Kala. It is feminine in its aspect; and represents three fundamental manifestations of the mother goddess: Kameshwari (symbolizing moon – creation); Vajreshwari (symbolizing sun- preservation); and Bhagamalini (symbolizing fire -dissolution).

and Bhagamalini (symbolizing fire -dissolution). The three angles of the triangle also represent three forms

The three angles of the triangle also represent three forms of speech: Pashyanthi, Madhyama and Vaikhari. The triangle is therefore the speech aspect Vak Bhava. It also represents the three powers of iccha (will) , jnana (knowledge) and kriya(activity).The three corners of the triangle stand for three peaks(kuta) of the

fifteen-lettered mantra; or as three dimensions of all existence. The triangle itself is regarded the abode of the mother goddess (kama-kala). The Avarana is Trikona; the Chakra is Sarva-siddhi-prada chakra, ‘grants all attainments’. The Yogini is Athi Rahasya Yogini; the Mudra is Sarva Beeja; and the Siddhi is Iccha. The mental state is Nitidhyasana. The presiding deity is Tripuraamba.

Her vidya is is Hsraim Hsrklim Hsrsauh

months. The Shaktis are the three starting with Kameshwari. (4+3=7) is the dominant

gem is Gomaya .The time is a ritu- two


number. This avarana corresponds to the top of the head (masthka) of the mother goddess.

9. The ninth enclosure is strictly not an enclosure. It is the central dimensionless

point, the Bindu. It is called Sarvananda-maya chakra, the supremely blissful one. It is independent of the intersecting triangles. It is coloured red. This, in a temple,

would be the sanctum sanctorum, with all the other circles or enclosures representing various parts of the temple as you move inwards.

various parts of the temple as you move inwards. It is this Bindu that is in

It is this Bindu that is in reality the Sri Chakra; it represents the mother goddess Maha Tripura Sundari, Lalitha or Rajarajeshwari herself; and everything else is a manifestation of her aspects. The goddess is nothing other than the devotees own self. The self here does not refer to jiva, engaged in organizing the body, mind and senses. The self here refers to individual consciousness (buddhi) which is beyond the body-mind complex. It is filled with all bliss (sarvananda maya). This constant, abundant bliss is the expression of the union of Shiva (consciousness) and Shakthi (power of deliberationVimarsha). It is the very basis of existence. It is called beautiful, sundara, in this sense. It is in this sense the supreme mother goddess is called Maha Tripurasundari. The significance of this avarana is the complete harmony (samarasya) of principles of pure consciousness (Shiva) and the principle of energy as deliberation (vimarsha shakthi).It signifies a state of non-duality, where all tendencies of approach and withdrawal become nonexistent, dissolve in a state in which the devotee ultimately rests. Bliss, in Tantra, is explained as resting in oneself (Svarupa pratishta). There is also a school which propounds that the central point is composed of three dots or drops(Bindu traya) representing three fires(vanhi): Moon(soma);Sun(surya); and Fire(Agni).The top dot symbolizes the head of the deity; and the pair of dots at the bottom symbolize the breasts of the Mother. It is explained that the central point expanding into the three is an act of swelling (ucchuna); and that is how the central point becomes the primary triangle in Sri Chakra. The avarana is the Bindu and the Chakra is Sarvanandamaya chakra, ‘replete with bliss’. The yogini is parathi para Rahasya; the Mudra is sarva yoni; and the Siddhi is Prapthi. The mental state is Savikalpa Samadhi. The presiding deity is her Transcendent Majesty Lalita Maheshvari Mahatripurasundari. Her vidya is Kamaraja vidya: ka e i la hrim ha sa ka ha la hrim sa ka la hrim, plus a secret 16th syllable. The gem is ruby. The time is year. The Shakti is Maha Tripura Sundari the personification of Brahman. This avarana corresponds to Brahma-randra on the top of the head of the mother goddess.


Travelling from the outer periphery wall to the inner bindu is an ascent through various levels of consciousness and mystical significance, overcoming myriad

obstacles of conditioning and fears along the way. As he proceeds inward from the outermost enclosure the devotee’s thoughts are gradually refined; and the association of ideas is gradually freed from the constraints of conventional reality. The Devi is felt or visualized in his heart and then drawn out through the breath and installed in the yantra. She is then worshipped as actually residing there. The true home of Devi is however in his heart .The devotee identifies himself with the Devi and goes through the worship guided by the symbolism. Whatever be the details, the symbolism involved is important in the external worship ; and more so in internal worship( contemplation on the import of the chakra). Sri Chakra is also a construct of space and time, just as the universe is a space time continuum. The way of the universe is continuous and constant change. That change, in a relative existence, is measured by the phases of moon. Mother goddess is the principle of time; she is kala or nitya. The Sri Chakra also puts forth the interdependence of time and space. The devotee views the evolution of the universe as the unfolding of a changeless reality of Mother Goddess.

as the unfolding of a changeless reality of Mother Goddess. The Sri Chakra represents the interplay

The Sri Chakra represents the interplay of the purusha and prakriti; the universe and its energy. The union of the Devi (energy) and Shiva (consciousness) worshipped in Sri Chakra is the universe and its evolution. The universe is thus stylized into a pattern of energies, symbolized by the patterns and layout of Sri Chakra. It provides a model to the individual for transformation. The consciousness of the individual finds in it an articulation; and the model helps in breaking the barriers of subjective feelings and limitations of the objective world. The devotee identifies that his body is

the Sri Chakra or the universe in epitome; and that The Yantra too is the Devi. The aim is to realize that oneness, the bliss of pure consciousness.

The Yantra too is the Devi. The aim is to realize that oneness, the bliss of

Sri Chakra and Sri Vidya

The Yantra too is the Devi. The aim is to realize that oneness, the bliss of

According to Tantric texts, the Chakra, Mandala or Yantra is a sphere of influence and a consecrated environment. It is an instrument to harmonize feelings; and also to coordinate inner and outer forces. The term Yantra is derived from the root yam suggesting a sense of control (say, as in niyantra to control), giving raise to the meaning of an instrument that can control

or be controlled. In that sense, the body is a yantra. The other term tra is from the root word trayati, that which liberates. Yantra is that which controls and liberates. It draws towards the centre as also takes away from the centre of all reality. The basic energies of the universe, which are the deities, can be approached through

a mental creative process, that is, through words or through created forms. Deities

are therefore represented both in words and forms. There are different degrees of abstraction. We can represent a deity through the description of its characteristics in words, or sounds, that is, mantras. Similarly, we can represent a deity through diagrams, geometrical abstractions or patterns, the yantra. The representation of a deity through mantra or yantra is considered more subtle than through an image. Yantras are the visual equivalents of the mantras. The yantra has the mantra as its soul; and the deity is the soul of the mantra. The difference between the mantra and the deity is the difference between the body and the soul. The deity is invoked by drawing its yantra and calling its subtle name (bija akshara). All the elementary geometric figures –lines, triangles, crosses, and point (bindu) – have a symbolic value corresponding to their basic notions. They can be combined to form complex figures to give expression to forces, the inner aspects and qualities embodied in a given form of creation. It is said, there no shape, no form which may not be reduced to yantra patterns. Every shape, every leaf, every flower is a yantra, which through its shape, colour, formation, perfume can tell the story of its creation. Yantras which are drawn on flat surfaces are basically conceived as solid forms. The drawing is a mere suggestion of its three dimensional aspects of the yantra. And, the

yantra is itself a static image of the moving, living combination of forces represented in a divinity.

A Yantra is structured in three levels, of spaces, the level of physical world of beings

and things (mahakasha); the level of thoughts and feelings (Chittakasha); and the level of pure, undifferentiated consciousness (Chidakasha).The first level is predominantly inert , Tamas; while the second level is active and emotional, Rajas. The third level is of light and pure awareness Sattva. A Yantra is a means to progress from the gross to the subtle, sukshma. To put it in another way, Yantra is an instrument to transform matter into energy and the energy into consciousness. In the final analysis, the walls separating the objective world, the subjective person and the Universal consciousness break down; and it is all One in the end. This complete harmony of existence is symbolized by Bindu, a dimensionless point at the centre of the Yantra or Chakra. In fact, chakra is regarded the expansion or the evolution of that Bindu. The Bindu in turn is epitome or the microcosm of the Chakra. The Yantra facilitates the movement

of consciousness from the concrete form of Chakra to the abstract Bindu. It also enables movement from the abstract Bindu to the form of Chakra. A Yantra in essence is a map of the universe in its emanation and absorption. Sri Chakra Yantra is regarded the supreme Yantra, the Yantra Raja, the king of Yantras. It is the Yantra of the Shaktha school of Tantra. It is also variously regarded as the visual representation of the city, mansion, island or the body of the mother goddess Devi, Tripurasundari, Lalitha, Rajarajeshwari and Parabhattarika, the supreme controller. The design also stands for this divinity’s court with all her attendant aids, guards, pavililions, enclosures and entrances. The principal divinity is regarded as being at the centre, the Bindu of the chakra. The prefix Sri denotes that the Yantra is auspicious, beneficent, salutary, benign and conducive to prosperity. Sri is Lakshmi, the goddess of beauty and prosperity. Sri is also the Mother goddess who rules the universe. Sri Chakra is a representation of the interplay of the principles of pure consciousness (Shiva) and primordial power (Shakthi).Sri Chakra represents the essential aspects of the universe and also the constitution of the devotee’s body-mind complex. The concept and worship of Sri Chakra is relevant in the context of an esoteric discipline known as Sri Vidya. Sri Vidya is hailed as the Vidya of Sri (the knowledge that leads to the ultimate benefit mukthi – liberation), she therefore is the highest divinity. Sri Vidya is also the Vidya that yields Sri (prosperity). Sri Vidya is thus Bhukthi Mukthi prada the bestower of wellbeing, prosperity and liberation. Sri Vidya is the path and the goal. Vidya usually stands for knowledge, learning, discipline and a system of thought. But, in the context of Tantra, it has an extended meaning. Here, it variously refers to a female deity, to the personification of her consciousness; or to the manifestation of her power. Devi Durga is described as the Vidya in all beings (Ya Devi sarvabhutheshu, Vidya rupena samsthita); and the form of her Vidya is the primordial energy Adi prakrithi. The Tantra texts classify ten divinities into three levels of Vidyas:

(1) Maha_vidya, the extraordinary Vidyas, consisting Kali and Tara. The worship of these divinities requires great rigor, austerity, devotion, persistence and a sort of detachment. The practice of Maha_vidya is very difficult and filled with risks and dangers ; ( 2) Vidya, the normal Vidyas consist deities Shodashi (or Tripura), Bhuvaneshwari, Bhiravi, Chinmastha and Dhumavathi. The practice of this class of Vidya is considered safe and suitable for householders; and (3) Siddha Vidya, the Vidya for adepts involves deities Kamalaa, Matangi and Bhagalamukhi. This class is not for normal persons as it involves rituals that cannot be practiced normally. Shodashi is the first among the Vidyas in the middle group; she is otherwise known as Sri Vidya. Shodashi literally meaning “a girl of sixteen” is identified with deities Lalitha, Raja_rajeshwari, Sundari, Kameshwari and Bala. Lalitha is the playful one; all

creation,manifestation and dissolution is her play. She is Mahatripura Sundari the most magnificent transcendental beauty without a parallel in three worlds. She is the conqueror of three levels of existence. The Tantra texts however explain that the Vidya is called Shodashi because the mantra of the Vidya is made up of sixteen seed _syllables. There is another school (Kadi Vidya) which says the mantra consists fifteen visible syllables (ka e i la hrim; ha sa ka ha la hrim; sa ka la hrim). It is explained that ka represents the air; ha the fire; sa the water; la the earth and e the space. The fifteen syllables are: one of space,

two of air; three of fire; four of water; and five of earth. The sixteenth letter is “srim” in subtle form. The mantra then becomes Shodashi, the sixteen lettered. The fifteen lettered mantra is divided into three groups: ka e i la hrim); ha sa ka ha la hrim; and; sa ka la hrim. The three groups that constitute the mantra are called Kuta (peaks) or Khanda (segments). They are interpreted variously in sets of

, Surya(sun)

and Chandra(moon); srishti (creation), Shtithi (preservation) and laya (dissolution); Iccha ( will), jnana(knowledge)and kriya (action);Sattva,Rajas and Tamas; Jagrat (wakefulnes s); swapna (dream state) and sushupthi (deep sleep);jnatra (the knower), jnana (the knowledge) and jneya ( the known) ; atma (individual self) , antaratma (inner being) and paramatma (supreme self) and as past , present and future. There is also a view that the first group starting with ka is kadi_matha; the second group starting with ha is hadi_matha; and the third group starting with sa is sadi_matha. The mantra (fifteen or sixteen letters) is an expression of Sri Vidya. The verbal expression (nada or sound) of the Vidya is mantra and its visual expression is the Sri Chakra Yantra. The two are essentially the same. Both seek identity of consciousness with Maha Tripura Sundari. Another interesting aspect is that the vowels (aa, e, i etc.) are regarded as representations of Shakthi; while the 35 consonants are basically inert and depend on vowels (just as Shiva depends on Shakthi) to manifest in a meaningful form. It is only when the germinating power (bija) of the vowels is infused with consonants, the latter gain meaning. That is the reasons the vowels are Bija aksharas. They transform ordinary letters into mother like condition (matrika); that is, they impregnate ordinary letters with meaning and power. Sri Vidya is also described as Chandra_kala_vidya, the lore of the lunar digits. This school of Sri Vidya explains that the fifteen letters of the mantra correspond to fifteen digits of the moon in each fortnight commencing from prathipada, the first day of the brighter half, when the moon “comes out of the sun”; and ending with the full moon on the fifteenth day. Similarly, in the dark half of the moon cycles all digits “return to the sun”. The emanation of the fifteen digits of the moon from the sun culminates in the full moon (purnima); while the absorption of the digits into the sun results in new moon (Amavasya).The sixteenth letter (Shodasha kala or Srim) is said to be present


as: Agni(fire)

in each of the digits which are calledKalas or nityas. The digits are invoked as forms of the Mother goddess. The first digit is Maha Tripura Sundari; the second is Kameshwari; and the third is Bhagamalini. These three together form the primary triangle which is the immediate unfolding of the central Bindu representing Mother Goddess. The Sri Vidya tradition which centers on the worship of Sri Chakra, considers the following twelve gods and sages as its gurus: Manu, Chandra, Kubera, Lopamudra, Manmatha, Agasthya, Nandisha, Surya, Vishnu, Skanda, Shiva and Durvasa. It is said each of the twelve gurus propagated a school with regard to the worship and significance of Sri Chakra. Of these, only two schools have survived to this day; one is the school started by Manmatha (also called Kamaraja) known as Kadi_matha. The Kadi tradition was continued by sage Agastya. The other school is Hadi_matha started by Lopamudra wife of the Sage Agastya. There is also a mention of an obscure third school called Sadi_matha. Of the three, the Kadi_ matha (with its mantra starting with letter Ka) is regarded the oldest and its attitude and worship is Sattvic. It insists on virtue, discipline and purity of rituals. The prominent gurus of this school are Paramashiva, Durvasa, Hayagreeva and Agasthya. Of the other two schools, Hadi_matha is Rajasik and the Sadi _matha is Tamasik. Kadi matha accepts Vedic authority and formulates its position in accordance with the Vedic tradition. The other school is considered different (iyam anya cha vidya).The term Samaya also means Vedic convention as orthodox and valid. Hence Kadi School came to be known as Samaya. Samaya believes in sameness of Shiva and Shakthi; and the form of worship is purely internal. Hence Kadi School is also known as Para Vidya where the worship (archana) is conducted in the space of one’s heart (hrudayakasha madhye). The external worship conducted say by Kaulas, lays greater importance on the Muladhara and Swadhistana chakras which are said be situated at the base of the spinal column which relate essentially to physiological needs and psychological urges. The Samaya School on the other hand prescribes that the internal worship (antar aradhana) be conducted at higher levels, viz., from Manipura to Sahasra. The seat of Tripura is at Sahasra, beyond the six chakras. It is also the seat of supreme consciousness, Shiva from which Shakthi springs forth. Shakthi is of the same nature as Brahma (Brahma rupini) that divides itself five-fold. It is a spontaneous unfoldment. In Samaya system Brahman is called Sadashiva; it is the Bindu, from which emerges nada which is Para_shakthi. It is at the Sahasra, the Bindu Sthana that Shiva and Shakthi reside. They are the same; one cannot be without the other. Samaya is centred on knowledge (jnana) which is the realization of the identity of Shiva and Shakthi: Shiva becomes Kameshwara and Kameshwari becomes Shiva. Their names too get intertwined, for instance, Shiva and Shivaa; Tripura and Tripuraa; Bhava and Bhavani; Shambu and Shambhavi; Rudra and Rudrani; and Sundara and Sundari etc.

Dakshinamurthi is a revered seer of the Kadi (samaya) School. The term Dakshina

literally means a woman and refers to the feminine principle, which can create, unfold and manifest. When Dakshina assumes a form, it results in Dakshinamurthi a variety of Shiva’s forms. Dakshinamurthi, as ardha_nari; Kameshwara and Kameshwari are together regarded the principle deities of Kadi School. Sri Chakra is the main device employed by Kadi (Samaya) school; and the worship is mainly through symbolisms and successive identifications. The symbolism involves identification (saamaya) of the arrangements and the lines of the diagram with the structure of the Universe; the psychophysical aspects of the devotee with the spatial arrangement of the diagram representing the goddess; and identifying the Mantra with the Yantra. As regards the worship of Sri Chakra, there are three recognized procedures :

( 1) Hayagreeva tradition regarded as Dakshina_chara, the right handed method, reciting Lalitha_sahasra Nama and Lalitha_tristathi offering kunkumam.

(2) Anandabhirava tradition , a Vama_chara,a left handed method;


(3) Dakshinamurthy tradition , a doctrinal school.

Of the three the last one is considered the best. Sri Vidya traditions speak of two forms of Sri Chakra. One is its physical representation of lines and forms. This form entails external worship (puja) according to prescriptions of kalpa sutra spread over 26 steps. Here, Kameshwara and Kameshwari are the deities that receive worship. There are, again, three methods of worship of Sri Chakra. Theshrishti_krama the expansion mode of worship, carried out in morning, comprehends the chakra from the central point the Bindu to the outer square. The Sthithi_krama the preservation mode of worship, carried out in the afternoon, comprehends the chakra from the outer square to the eightfold lotus and from the Bindu to the fourteen cornered figure. The third, Samhara_krama the absorption mode of worship, carried out in the night, comprehends the chakra from the outer square to the central point. [Even in this method the visualizations and contemplations are not entirely dispensed with.] The other form of worship is Viyacchakra, the chakra emerging within ones heart.

This entails visualization of Bindu, which is in the centre of the Sahasra, within ones heart. The ability to visualize Viyacchakra is known assamaya. The worship (maanasa puja) is offered internally and consists wholly of visualizations and contemplations; and is carried out in seclusion by one who is in control of his senses. The process here involves a four-fold conceptualization of identity (aikya chintana)They are , briefly :

(i) Identity of the Supreme goddess who is un_manifest with Sri Chakra which is



Identity of the design of Sri Chakra with the Universe. It is viewed as a cosmogram



Identity of the individual with the Universe . This is done primarily on the basis of

the Shat chakra ideology (six chakras- muladhara, svadhistana, manipura, anahata, visuddha and ajna) and the tattvas , the principles , of Shaivagama; and

(iv) Identity of the letters of the alphabets (matrikas) with the deities located in

various segments of the Sri Chakra. As can be seen from the above the six factors involved are :

(i) the Universe (Brahmanda);


individual (pindanda);


the structure of Sri Chakra;


letters of the alphabets(matrikas);


the goddess (Devi);



the mantra specific to her.

The Tantra texts emphasize the merit of inner worship (antar_yaga), once a fair degree of understanding has been gained. They said “Best of all forms of worship is inner worship. External worship (ritualistic) is to be resorted until the dawn of understanding.” In any case, Sri Vidya is the worship of mother goddess incarnated in the Sri Chakra. Her worship includes the worship of her consorts (Devata) and aids (yogini); all of whom are female. The ritualistic details are characteristically feminine. A Sri Vidya Upasaka worships beauty and grace; rejecting ugliness in thought, word and deed. Sri Vidya is the path of devotion and wisdom. The wisdom consists in realizing ones identity (sva svarupa prapti) with the Mother goddess. It is this wisdom that liberates the devotee (jivan Mukthi). This liberating wisdom is granted to him by the Mother out of pure love, when the devotee surrenders to her completely in full faith and devotion. The Mother is the path and the goal. Sri Vidya is the culmination of all paths, the consummation of all transformations.