Recently a former student, Nitya wanted to interview me for a class he was taking and sent me the following questions:
The study of creating Yantras seems to point to a cultural region in India. How did you get introduced to the practice of making Yantras?
I never knew about Yantras until I met my teacher, Harish Johari in 1979. This was one of the practices he taught us. He was from North India and this knowledge was in his family for generations. He learned it from his Great Uncle who was also a householder yogi and tantrik like him. In the early 80’s he gave many Yantra Workshops and I was very interested in learning them all. So each year that he would come to the US, I would sit with him and learn the forms, colors and mantras.
Why did you decide to become an instructor in this art form?
According to my numerology, I am a number 3, ruled by the planet Jupiter. One of the qualities is “the teacher”. I always like to teach what I know. But to really answer this, my teacher told me that I was to teach this. He said that because of my patient and motherly nature, people would be able to learn this easier from me.
How does your identity associate with the practice of creating Yantras? Where are the connections in your cultural upbringing (how you were raised), and this art form?
I have been an artist my whole life and once introduced to this form, I understood the connection between art and the divine. For me, it’s a spiritual practice, a way to calm down, connect to a higher or god-like energy creatively and is also a meditation practice. I was raised Jewish, so I did not have any of this in my upbringing. Since many of the symbols in Yantras are universal, I do have an affinity to the 6 pointed star, which when many people see it say, that’s the jewish star or star of David, when in fact it represents the balance of male and female energies. Growing up Jewish, we were told we could not make any graven images and when I started my yantra studies, I learned that each yantra is a geometric representation of a god or goddess. Working with these sacred images for over 30 years, I have had many transformative experiences and also witnessed that in some of my students.
One of my favorite things to do is make a custom painting for you. I can make a yantra or mandala based on your astrological chart or numerology. Perhaps a Vedic Astrologer told you you needed a Venus Yantra to help your love life. I can also give you a Yantra Consultation and make something that can energetically change your life! See my blog post on The Benefits of Yantras to get a better understanding of how these sacred images can help you.
Here are a few of this year's commissions:
These paintings are filled with the energy of the deity or planets I am working with. A big part of my practice is chanting the corresponding mantra while I am creating the image. So for example when working with Venus, Om Shum Shukraye Namah Om. This infused the yantra with this particular energy. One of my clients wanted a special anniversary gift: Radha Krishna Mandala. This was created by the couples combined numerology and the style is using the Harish Johari Wash Painting Technique. If you are interested in a custom painting, contact me for a consultation and pricing.
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.
Benefits of making a Yantra:
If you want to learn in a Shakti filled environment, come to India in March!
Mavis Gewant, Sacred Artist & Doula reflects on life