Mandala, a Sanskrit word meaning circle, is part of an old tradition intended to evoke divine energies. As circles are a symbol of creation, mandalas go deep into the subconscious and allow feelings and stories to come out. Carl Jung used mandalas to connect the unconscious and bring to light one's uniqueness and individuality. As an effective healing tool, they go deep into the core of the psyche resulting in change on a deep cellular level.
The Yantra Mandala
Recognizing that in western society the left brain is often dominant and the right brain is suppressed, tantric scholar Harish Johari saw the need to play with symbols. When coming to the west he introduced the yantra, a form of mandala created in a circle that incorporates geometric energy patterns specific to deities and planets.
Coming from the tantric tradition, the yantra is the physical form of the deity, whereas the mantra is sound or consciousness of that deity. Both are very important tools for tantra, as they activate the two hemispheres of the brain, the verbal (mantra) and the visual (yantra). The right (feminine) hemisphere recognizes patterns and the left (masculine) hemisphere does the abstract, rational thinking. They only can work together when thinking is combined with a motor response. The mantra with the yantra is the most powerful combination as it activates both sides of the brain.
The yantra alone also activates both hemispheres. With symbols, the yantra works on the left hemisphere while the right hemisphere does the geometrical construction. By using archetypical, universal forms that are common in all existing phenomena, it brings one into a specific state of mind. Yantras which are composed of geometric forms like squares and circles give a structure or pattern to energy. Since all cultures have these kinds of shapes and symbols, they resonate in our DNA and can be helpful in healing and transformation.
The Vedic Square
After years of yantra workshops, Harish Johari saw that his students needed more to play with so he introduced the vedic square, a formula to create uncountable patterns. Although nothing is known about its origin in India, the designs coming from the vedic square were used as decorative patterns in many holy places in ancient India. Playing with these patterns engages both hemispheres. The visuals are purely geometric. By connecting points, lines form and these lines make patterns. The intuitive right brain will recognize these and the information behind them will be revealed to the left-brain which will see symbols in them.
The yantra mandala in the Harish Johari tradition can be regarded as contemporary, but has a strong tradition in the use of symbols. Used as a healing and meditation tool, it teaches the mind how to concentrate and become one-pointed. It also allows the student to play with energy patterns which have a centering effect. As yantras and mandalas are important tools to activate both hemispheres simultaneously, it allows one to go into an altered state of consciousness, creating more faith and leaving one feeling calmer and connected. It is a beautiful way to make friendship with a planet or deity or to create one’s own expression of the universal being.
Pieter Weltevrede and Mavis Gewant studied the ancient techniques of yantra and silk deity painting with Tantric Master Shri Harish Johari for many years and continue inspiring others through this art form. They teach internationally to students of all levels and locally at Ananda Ashram in Monroe. For more information, visit AnandaAshram.org.