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The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions

John Bowker


(Skt., ‘instrument for supporting’).

A geometrical design representing the cosmos used in Hindu liturgy (pūjā) and meditation (dhyāna), especially in Tantrism. Though akin to maṇḍala, yantra differs in that it can be a three-dimensional object of worship made of stone or metal plates. Like maṇḍala, the yantra is a symbol of cosmogonic development from the absolute in the centre to the material world at the outer edges, and like maṇḍala is the visual equivalent of mantra. Yantras often have a seed (bīja) mantra inscribed upon them. In Tantric pūjā, the yantra, if made of stone or metal, is invested with power and meditated upon as the deity. The most famous yantra is the Śrīyantra.