By Swami Harshananda
The Śricakra is the most important and the most widely used symbol of the Śakti sect, the votaries of the Divine Mother. If God can be conceived as the Father in Heaven, He can as well be conceived of as the Mother Divine also. Though God is neither masculine nor feminine it is natural that anthropomorphic ways of worship are resorted to in religion. Once this principle is accepted, what form of the Deity can be more fitting for worship and contemplation than that of the all-loving Divine Mother.
Significance of Consorts of Trinity
Even though Mother-worship is very ancient, the ‘Father’ has not been neglected. In fact, the Father-Mother- Principle is one and the same. Just as fire and its burning power or the word and its meaning cannot be separated, similarly Śiva and Śakti exist. The consorts of the Trinity are:
The destroyer are the main deities in the Mother-sect, it is the various aspects of Pārvatī that are most widely used in worship, japa or contemplation. In fact, an entire branch of religious practice, the tantras, has developed around this Deity. Again, Durgā, Kālī and Lalitā are the three forms of Pārvatī which are most widely used for worship.
Shape of Śricakra
- The Śricakra is the symbol of the Lalitā-aspect of the Divine Mother.
- It is essentially a yantra, a geometrical diagram representing the form-pattern of the Goddess.
- The Śricakra consists of a dot at the center surrounded by nine triangles, of which five have their apexes downward and the other four, upward.
- The mutual intersections of these nine triangles form forty-three triangles in all.
- This is surrounded by two concentric circles with eight lotus petals and sixteen lotus petals.
- This again is surrounded by three more concentric circles.
- Finally on the outskirts, there is a square or three lines, the lines one inside the other, opening out in the middle of each side as four portals.
Significance of Śricakra
According to the Śāktatantras, scriptures of the sect of Mother worship, the ultimate Reality is one, a transcendental Absolute which is immutable and ineffable. It is pictured as Supreme Effulgence, Prakāśa. Desiring to become many, this Absolute starts reflecting on Itself. This deliberation is technically designated vimarśa which creates a throb or stir or spanda which develops as vibration or nāda and gets concentrated to a point or bindu.
This bindu, like a dicotyledonous seed, contains the Śiva-Śakti principle as one closely-knit unit. It then gradually swells, giving rise to the polarization of Śiva and Śakti, retaining simultaneously the original latent and potent status containing the Śiva-Śakti combination. These three units form a triangle and this process goes on until it results in the Śrīcakra. This is nothing but a representation of the Supreme Consciousness in its various levels of evolution.
We thus see that the Śrīcakra is a symbol of the Divine, its ovulation into the created universe as well as the universe itself. In other words, it represents the Absolute in all its aspects. The Śrīcakra can be used for permanent worship, either in the form of a yantra or a meru. The yantra can be drawn on a Bhurja leaf or plates of copper, silver or gold. The most common material for the meru is the pañcaloha.
- Dot means bindu.
- Nine triangles means trikoṇa.
- Square means caturasra.
- Śiva means father-principle.
- Śakti means mother- principle.
- Yantra means two-dimensional engraved figure.
- Meru means three-dimensional embossed figure.
- Pañcaloha means alloy of five metals gold, silver, copper, tin and lead.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore