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.
Mavis Gewant, Sacred Artist & Doula reflects on life