"In Wonders We Sail, Questing for the Answers in Veil"

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Living Sri Yantra and Adi Sri Shankaracharya

Not only does the method of worship vary from villager to villager, the practices themselves can change. For example approximately one hundred kilometers northeast of Rishikesh there is a town called Sri Nagar ("Sri Nagar" means "Sri Vidya, city of the tantric goddess"), because long ago hundreds of tantric adepts and aspirants, especially those belonging to the tradition of Sri Vidya, did their practices there. The most significant shrine in this area is not a temple or statue of the goddess, but a huge boulder lying in the riverbed on the outskirts of town. It is regarded as a living Sri Yantra (also known as Sri Chakra), the most complex of all yantras. Here in this yantra, tantrics propitiated the Divine Mother in the form of Sri Vidya.

Sri Yantra

Adi Shankaracharya

Twelve hundred years ago when the great master Shankaracharya visited Sri Nagar he learned that this yantra was worshipped with a daily animal sacrifice (human sacrifices were also offered on occasion), a practice of left-hand tantra.As the legend goes, Shankaracharya, after performing an elaborate ritual worship, turned the boulder upside down, hiding the yantra from view. And since that time the Sri Chakra has not been worshipped in a left-hand fashion at Sri Nagar.

Shankaracharya was an influential master and a proponent of only those aspects of tantric wisdom that did not contradict the social, moral, and ethical values upheld in the Vedic scriptures. Wherever he went he lifted human consciousness by teaching that there is only one reality, which manifests in all names and forms, and that there is a definite way to gain the experience of the oneness that runs throughout diversity. As this experience matures we spontaneously come to love all and exclude none, and the higher virtues of non-violence, love, compassion, and kindness manifest from the experience of unitary consciousness. Rituals can serve as a stepping-stone to gain this experience, he taught, and if rituals abide with the principle of non-violence, the Divinity within and without is pleased.

By introducing this concept in Sri Nagar and other places Shankaracharya influenced the prevailing belief system, and this in turn brought modifications in spiritual practices. But by no means did he completely wipe out the system of left-hand practices. Today in Sri Nagar and its sunounding area as well as nearby Kali Matha and Chandra Vadani there are tantric practitioners who still follow both the left- and right-hand paths.

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