Shri Shakti Yantram
Chakra pooja or yantra pooja is the worship of a deity in a diagrammatic form. This type of worship exists in other parts of the world also. The greatest of the devtas, Lord Shiva is the Adi Guru of the tantrik sciences. His consort Mata Shakti in essence is the complete energy that governs the Creation. Sri Yantra, the most powerful of all yantras was created by Lord Shiva. The worship of Devi in Sri Chakra is regarded as the highest form of the Devi worship. It is said originally that Lord Shiva gave 64 chakras and their mantras to the world, to attain various spiritual and material benefits. That is why Sri Yantra is called Yantra Raja.
For his consort, the Devi, he gave the Sri Chakra and the highly coveted and the most powerful Shodashakshari mantra, which is the equivalent of all the other 64 mantras put together. Usually the Guru gives it to a highly deserving and tested disciple. Very few get it. Even in the Mantra Shastra, where all other mantras are openly and clearly given, the Shodashakshari mantra is not directly given. Several hints about the mantra are given and you are asked to get the mantra if you are capable and deserving. The opening versus of the Mantra Shastra chapter on Sri Chakra says, "Your head can be given, your soul can be given but the Shodashakshari Mantra of the Devi can not be given".
It is said that in the beginning as the first step to creation God created Devi - the total cosmic Female force. For the male part, out of his left he created Shiva, out of his middle he created Brahma and out of his right he created Vishnu. That is why many regard the Devi as more powerful than the Trinity and hence she is called Parashakti or Paradevi - para meaning beyond. Lord Brahma created the universe. Lord Vishnu controls and runs the universe. Lord Shiva along with Mata Shakti is engaged in the eternal dissolution and recreation of the universe. The bindu in the center of the Sri Chakra is the symbolic representation of the cosmic spiritual union of Lord Shiva and Mata Shakti. Apart from that Sri Chakra also embodies countless number of deities and represents the whole creation. Hence by worshipping the Devi in Sri Chakra one is actually worshipping the highest ultimate force in the tantrik form.
The Basics of Shri Yantra
Before starting the worship it is advisable to know about the way the Sri Yantra is constructed, what all it represents, about the nine Avaranas, the deities, their Gunas and significance. Here we will discuss its details as given in various scriptures.
Five downward pointing triangles representing Devi intersect with four upward pointing triangles representing Siva, forming 43 triangles including the central triangle.
From the five Shakti triangles comes creation and from the four Shiva triangles comes the dissolution. The union of five Shaktis and four Fires causes the chakra of creation to evolve.
At the centre of the bindu of the Shri Yantra is Kamakala, which has three bindus. One is red, one is white and one is mixed. The red bindu is Kurukulla, the Female form, the white bindu is Varahi, the Male form, and the mixed bindu is the union of Shiva & Shakti - the individual as the potential Shri Cakra. Varahi, the father-form, gives four dhatus to the child and Kurukulla, the mother-form, gives five dhatus to the child. Theses represent the nine dhatus of the human body. Varahi's four fires are the 12 (4 x 3) sun Kalas, the 12 Zodiac constellations. Kurukulla's five triangles are the 15 (5 x 3) Kalas of the moon, 15 lunar Tithis. These nine triangles also represent the nine stages of growth of the human child in the womb.
Surrounding the 43 triangles formed by the intersection of the nine triangles is the 16 petals circle. Surrounding the 16 petal circle is an eight petal circle. After that the three lines and at the outermost part of the Sri Yantra there are three lines called the Bhupura.
The 43 triangles constitute the six inner sections called Avaranas, the two circles of petals are two more Avaranas and the Bhupura of three lines is the last Avarana.
The nine Avaranas of the Sri Yantra have various presiding Devis. They are the Devi's Parivar (retinue) of total 108. In Srichakra pooja they are systematically worshipped one by one with their names and mantras. The presiding Deity of Srichakra, Devi, is known as Lalita Tripura Sundari.
Lalita means The One Who Plays. All creation, manifestation and dissolution is considered to be a play of Devi. Tri-Pura means the three worlds and Sundari means beauty. She is the transcendent beauty of the three worlds. Tripura also signifies: - She is the ruler of the three gunas of Sattvic, Rajas and Tamas; and sun, moon and fire - the zodiac and the planets, and therefore Time itself; She is also "tripura" as Will (Iccha), Knowledge (Jnana) and Action (Kriya). She is also "tripura" as intellect, feelings and physical sensation; and She is triple as the three states of the soul - awakening, dreaming and sleeping states. Her five triangles also represent the Pancha Tatwas and the Pancha Bhootas. (This is what the verse in Lalita Sahasranama means by -"Panchami pancha bhuteshi pancha sankhyopacharini ". It is difficult to say what She is not.
Lalita Tripura Sundari holds five flowery arrows, noose, goad and bow. The noose represents attachment, the goad represents repulsion, the sugarcane bow represents the mind and the flowery arrows are the five sense objects.
The Nine Avaranas
Now we will go to the Nava Avaranas (Nine Corridors) of the Sri Yantra. The Sri Yantra is the most guarded yantra.
When you sit facing east and with the tip of the top triangle pointing at you, the bottom right hand side corner of the Sri Chakra is guarded by Lord Ganesha. The bottom left hand side corner is guarded by Lord Surya. The top left side corner is guarded by Lord Vishnu and the top right corner of the Sri chakra is guarded by Lord Shiva. They must be worshipped before starting the pooja of the Nava-Avaranas.
After that the eight primordial directions are guarded by the eight Lokapalas. Indra guards the East, Agni guards the South East, Yama guards the South, Nirriti guards the South West, Varuna guards the West, Vayu guards the North East, Soma guards the North and Ishana guards the North East.
As if this is not enough, each of the first eight Avaranas are guarded by eight Bhairavas and eight Bhairavis! What is more is that these 64 pairs of Bhairavas and Bhairavis are assisted by 10 million yoginis each - total 640 million (64 crore). This is what the verse in Lalita Sahasranama says --"Maha chatu-shshashti-koti yogini ganasevita."