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

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Yantra : The Ganesh Yantra in Tantra

Except for the circle in the center, the Ganesha yantra consists of three circuits. The following description isfound in the Prapancha Sara, a scripture attributed to Shankaracharya.

Ganesha resides in the central circle, accompanied by a cluster of shaktis (forces, or powers). He is seated on a mouse,a small creature that is nevertheless powerful enough to carry him. The mouse is the embodiment of nine forces:

1. The power of intensity (tivra)
2. The power of radiance (jvalini)
3. The power of delight (nanda)
4. The power that gives pleasure (bhogada)
5. The power of desire (kamarupini)
6. The power of speed (ugra)
7. The power of illumination (tejovati)
8. The power of being (satya)
9. The power that destroys resistance (vighna vinashini)

In tantric terminology these nine forces are collectively called pitha shakti (the forces that constitute Ganesha's seat).They are Ganesha's own emanations, which he uses to localize himself in the space of pure consciousness. His two intrinsic forces, buddhi (the power of intelligence) and siddhi (the power of success), accompany him on his right and left,respectively. The powers of intelligence and success are the dynamic aspect of Ganesha, while he himself represents the static aspect.

Outside this circle reside four pairs of shaktis, one pair in each of the four directions: north, east, south, and west. They represent:

1. The dynamic and static power of sustenance (Rama and Ramesha)
2. The dynamic and static power of stability (Mahi and Varaha)
3. The dynamic and static power of renovation and restructuring (Uma and Maheshvara)
4. The dynamic and static power of love and attraction (Rati and Kamadeva)

These four pairs of forces are direct emanations of Ganesha, which he uses to govern and guide all sentient and insentient beings in creation. The forces of sustenance, stability,renovation/restructuring, and attraction work in perfect coordination and harmony.

When the world is on the brink of collapse, the dynamic and static power of sustenance (Rama and Ramesha, also known as Vishnu and Lakshmi) come forward to maintain and preserve it. When destructive forces become dominant and threaten to overpower the forces of sustenance, the power of stability takes over. It is said that whenever the ecosystem is imbalanced and the earth is suffocating, Varaha (the power of stability in the form of a boar) incarnates, restores stability,and brings law and order to the planet earth, known as Mahi.Thus the planet earth and the boar symbolize the dynamic and static power of stability.

When ecological imbalance worsens, then Ganesha commissions his next level of emanation, the power of renovation and restructuring. Renovation is always preceded by demolition, and for this reason the dynamic and static forces of renovation and restructuring are referred to as Uma and Maheshvara (or Shakti and Shiva). But the forces of love and attraction, Rati and Kamadeva, always accompany the first three pairs. Therefore the entire process of creation,sustenance, stability, renovation, and restructuring is held together by the dynamic and static power of love and attraction.That is why this world, with all its diversities, its pains and pleasures, its ups and downs, appears to be so beautiful.The following six pairs of shaktis reside in the second circuit:

1. The dynamic and static power of worldly and spiritual prosperity (Riddhi and Amoda)
2. The dynamic and static power of worldly and spiritual enjoyment (Samriddhi and Pramoda)
3. The dynamic and static power of intoxication (Mada-drava and Avighnesha)
4. The dynamic and static power of desire and indulgence (Madanavati and Durmukha)
5. The dynamic and static power of liquefaction (Dravani and Vighnakarta)
6. The dynamic and static power of beautification (Kanti and Sumukha)

These six pairs of forces are extremely important in both our worldly and spiritual endeavors, for we experience true success only when they work in harmony. The first pair of shaktis, the power of prosperity, refers to abundance - but abundance is meaningless if we do not know how to use it (many prosperous people are insecure and fearful misers).Hence the fortune brought by this first pair of forces is further invested and multiplied by the second pair of shaktis, the power of worldly and spiritual enjoyment: this pair enables us to use and enjoy inner and outer prosperity to its fullest.

The third pair of shaktis, roughly translated as the power of intoxication, helps us find joy in seeing others benefit from our prosperity. The name of the dynamic form of this shakti is Mada-drava, "the one who melts due to her own inherent joy," because she is intoxicated by her own overflowing love and compassion. Because of this shakti we find joy in sharing the wealth bestowed upon us by the first two forces. This particular force removes the obstacles to our spiritual growth caused by worldly success.
The fourth pair of shaktis, the power of desire and indulgence,forces us to become attached to our achievements.It fattens our ego, causing us to suffer from vanity. We begin to seek recognition from outside, which consequently weakens our sense of self-respect and self-appreciation. We do not find ourselves beautiful any more, and so we try to hide this self-created ugliness under a mask of vanity. That is why the static aspect of this pair is known as Durmukha, "the uglyfaced one."

The fifth pair of shaktis, the power of liquefaction, causes us to find satisfaction in seeing others melt away. This pair always works in coordination with the fourth and becomes a source of obstacles, and these obstacles become stronger if the fifth pair of shaktis is disconnected from the third pair. That is why the static aspect of this power is called Vighnakarta, "the creator of obstacles," while the static aspect of the third power is known as Avighnesha, "the remover of obstacles."

The sixth shakti, the power of beautification, helps us identify with our inherent beauty and bliss. Because of the way this shakti functions we do not seek appreciation from outside: we love and respect ourselves for whatever we are;we are self-content and self-contained. The energy emitted by our inner beauty and bliss is so compelling that not only do we experience ourselves as beautiful, but others also experience our beauty. That is why the static aspect of this power is called Sumukha, "the beautiful-faced one" in contrast to the static aspect of the fourth shakti, "the ugly-faced one."

Our well-rounded growth depends on the balanced functioning of these six pairs of shaktis. Seated in the center of the yantra, Ganesha pulls the strings, disturbing or reestablishing equilibrium among them. Tantrics believe that ordinarily one of these pairs dominates the others, causing us to ride the roller coaster of prosperity and poverty, compassion and cruelty, overindulgence and repression. We continue being tossed by the pairs of opposites until one day we receive the guidance and protection from Ganesha's two intrinsic forces: buddhi and siddhi, the power of intelligence and the power of success. Two pairs of shaktis reside in the third and final circuit of the yantra:

1. The dynamic and static aspects of the power that keeps our inner and outer wealth in flux (Vasudhara and Shankhanidhi)
2. The dynamic and static aspects of the power that keeps our wealth stable (Vasumati and Padmanidhi)

These two pairs of shaktis encircle the second circuit. The first pair of shaktis initiates change, causing a dormant force to become active; the second pair engenders stability. They symbolize the fact that all forces inside the yantra are embraced simultaneously by the laws of transitoriness and eternity. Both pairs of shaktis must work in complete coordination with each other. If change is not tempered by stability, chaos ensues; if stability is not tempered by change, stagnation sets in.The purpose of life is accomplished somewhere between these two extremes.


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