Sri Yantra, shown on the left, is the most important of Hindu yantras or geometric devices used for meditation. This represents Shakti and Shiva, Creation and Destruction. One can meditate outwards, starting at the central bindu (dot) and slowly going outwards, meditating on the creation process, from simplicity to complexity, from unity to diversity. Or one can meditate inwards, meditating on the destruction process, eliminating complexity one by one until you arrive at the central bindu. There is, of course, symbolism involved in each of its component parts, which this site explains.
There is great mathematical interest in the Sri Yantra as it is quite complicated to construct, especially the forms with spherical triangles. Correctly drawn, all the intersections should be correct and vertices of the large triangles should fall on the enclosing circle. This needs an advanced understanding of mathematics which the Hindus did not have at the time when it was first seen in the Atharva Veda (12 BC?). There are other points of interest. When correctly constructed, the base angle of largest triangles is the same as that of the Great Pyramid of Giza built in 2600 BC. From its proportions, one can derive Pi (π) and Phi (φ), the Golden Ratio. This research paper describes the complexities for mathematically inclined readers (quite beyond me!!). For practically minded people, this site shows how to construct this Yantra.
One interesting story (I don’t know if it is indeed fact) is that when Dr.Hans Jenny, Swiss researcher in Cymatics (study of relationship between sound and form) used a Tonoscope to record the ‘form’ of the sound Om, it produced a perfect Sri Yantra!
What has the Sri Yantra to do with my music blog? There is a researcher who says that Ragas and Raginis can be derived from the proportions of the geometrical elements of the Sri Yantra. But what triggered me to write of this Yantra today is that the song I have chosen is in praise of Lalita, Tripura Sundari whose symbolic representation is the Sri Yantra. Just as this yantra can be used as a focus for meditation, Mayamma written by Shyama Shastri (1762-1827) in Raga Ahiri can ease you into a tranquil state. A song in Telugu, it is sung in vilambit kaal (slow pace). The raga creates a devotional mood and a stilling of the mind. To know a bit more about the raga, click here.
The poet-composer says ‘When I call out to you as ‘Mother’, will you not respond to me?’. The predominant mood of the song seems to me to be surrender, especially in the first charanam where the poet repeats नम्मिति (I trust in you) thrice, surrender and affirmation in one. (See footnote for lyrics). Surrender is an important concept in Hindusim which I have not talked about before. In the Bhagawat Gita, Sri Krishna says :
सर्व धर्मान् परित्यज्य माम् एकं शरणं व्रज ।
अहम् त्वाम् सर्व-पापेभ्यो मोक्षयिष्यामि मा शुचः ||
Dharma means not only religion, but also duty, virtue, custom, law, decree, righteousness, customary observance etc. ‘Leave every dharma’, Krishna says ‘and surrender only to me, I will deliver you from all sins, do not worry’. It is this sense of surrender that rings loud and clear in this beautiful song.
To listen to a beautiful version of this song by T.M.Krishna, click here.
For an instrumental version, listen below to Maestro Lalgudi Jayaraman on the violin
Footnote (Lyrics) :
माट्लाड रादा (नातो) अम्बा ||
न्यायमा मीनाक्षम्मा मीनाक्षि(नी )किदि
निन्नुविना वेरे दिक्के वरुन्नारु ||
सरसिज भव हरि हरनुत सुललित नी पद पङ्कजमुल
स्थिरमनि नम्मिति नम्मिति नम्मितिनि
करुण जूडवे कात्यायनि कालिका भवानि
परमेश्वरि सुन्दरेषु राणि बालांबा मधुरवाणि ||
विमुत जन पाप विनोचनी ओ जननि घन नील वेणी
विदल्लित दानव मण्डल शमनी (दमनी ?)
वनज लोचना सुधाकरानना वरदायकि
अनमयु निनु कोरियुन्नानम्मा बङ्गारु बोम्मा ||
अभयमोसगि नन्नु ब्रोवुमु ओ वरदा नेर दातवु गदा
अम्बिका बिड्डपै गॊप्पग दयरादा अखिल लोक जननि
अनाथ रक्षकी अनेटि बिरुदु गादा वैभवमु गल
श्यामकृष्ण सोदरि वीर शक्ति त्रिपुर सुन्दरि ||
Transliteration and Translation :
mAyammA yaninE pilacitE mATlADa rAdA (nAtO) ambA
When I call out to you as ‘Mother’, will you not respond to me?
nyAyamA (mInAkSammA) mInAkSikidi
ninnuvinA vErE dikkevarunnAru
Is this fair mother Meenakshi? Who else is my sanctuary but you?
Charanam 1 :
sarasija bhava hari haranuta sulalita nI padapankajamula
sthiramani nammiti nammiti nammitini
karuNa jUDavE kAtyAyani kALikA bhavAni
paramEshvari sundarEshu rANi bAlAmbA madhuravANi
O lovely one, extolled by Brahma who resides on a lotus, Vishnu and Maheshwara. I steadfastly trust only your lotus like feet, I affirm (by repeating). Please show mercy O Katyayani, O Kalika, O Bhavaani, O Supreme Goddess. O Queen of Sundaresha (Lord Shiva of Madurai), O Balamba with the sweet speech.
vimutajana pApa vimOcani O jananI ghana nIlavENi
vidaLita dAnava maNDala shamanI (damanI?)
vanaja lOcanA sudhAkarAnanA varadAyaki
anayamu ninu kOriyunnAnammA bangAru bommA
O Mother, you dispel the sins of your worshippers. Your dark tresses are like rainclouds. O destroyer of demons! O lotus-eyed one! O Moon-faced (=beautiful)! O giver of boons! I constantly pray to you, o Golden One!
Charanam 3 :
abhayamosagi nannu brOvumu O varadA neradAtavu gadA
ambikA biDDapai goppaga dayarAdA akhilalOka jananI
anAtha rakSaki anETi birudu gAdA vaibhavamugala
shyAmakrSNa sOdari vIra shakti tripurasundari
Please grant me refuge. O granter of boons, are you not very generous? O Ambika! Don’t you have abundant compassion for your child? You are the protector of the whole universe. You are called the protector of destitutes. O sister of the celebrated dark-skinned Krishna. O courageous Shakti, Tripura Sundari.