The Sri Chakra, frequently called the Sri Yantra.
The Sri Yantra in diagrammatic form.
The Sri Chakra or Shri Yantra is a yantra formed by nine interlocking triangles that surround and radiate out from the central (bindu) point, the junction point between the physical universe and its unmanifest source. It represents the goddess in her form of Shri Lalitha Or Tripura Sundari, "the beauty of the three worlds". Four of the triangles point upwards, representing Shiva or the Masculine. Five of these triangles point downwards, representing Shakti or the Feminine. Thus the Sri Yantra also represents the union of Masculine and Feminine Divine. Because it is composed of nine triangles, it is known as the Navayoni Chakra.
Together the nine triangles are interlaced in such a way as to form 43 smaller triangles in a web symbolic of the entire cosmos or a womb symbolic of creation. Together they express Advaita or non-duality. This is surrounded by a lotus of eight petals, a lotus of sixteen petals, and an earth square resembling a temple with four doors.
The Shri Chakra is also known as the nava chakra because it can also be seen as having nine levels. "Nava" means "nine" in Sanskrit. Each level corresponds to a mudra, a yogini, and a specific form of the deity Tripura Sundari along with her mantra. These levels starting from the outside or bottom layer are:
Trailokya Mohana or Bhupara, a square of three lines with four portals
The Sri Chakra (called the Shri Yantra) is the symbol of Hindu tantra, which is based on the Hindu philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism. The Sri Yantra is the object of devotion in Sri Vidya.
Shri Chakra as popularly mistook to be a symbol of Lakshmi is actually a representation of Lalitha Mahatripurasundari, an aspect of Parvati Devi. Shri does not mean Wealth in this context. In fact it is used to enhance the honour to be given to this highly revered Yantram.
The creation of the Shri Yantra is described in the Yogini Hridaya (Heart of the Yogini Tantra) which still does not exist in an English translation. This is said to be the second part of the Vamakeshvara Tantra:
From the fivefold Shakti comes creation and from the fourfold Fire dissolution. The sexual union of five Shaktis and four Fires causes the chakra to evolve. O Sinless One! I speak to you of the origin of the chakra.
When she, the ultimate Shakti, of her own will (svecchaya) assumed the form of the universe, then the creation of the chakra revealed itself as a pulsating essence. From the void-like vowels with the visarga (:) emerged the bindu, quivering and fully conscious. From this pulsating stream of supreme light emanated the ocean of the cosmos, the very self of the three mothers.
The baindava of the chakra has a triple form, dharma, adharma and atma, and matri, meya and prama. The chakra of nine yonis is the great mass of consciousness bliss and is the ninefold chakra and the nine divisions of the mantra.
The baindava is placed on a dense flowery mass and is the Chitkala. Similarly, the ambika form of eight lines is the circle of the vowels. The nine triangles quiver forth the effulgent form of 10 lines. The Shakti, together with her surrounding nine blossomed forth the 10 trikonas. The second quivering form of 10 lines has Krodhisha as first of the 10. These four chakras, of the nature of light, create the 14-fold form, the essence of perception.
At the very heart of the bindu or centre of the Shri Yantra is that which caused it to emanate. This is Kamakala, consisting of the three bindus or potentials. One is red, one is white, and one is mixed. The red bindu is ova, the white bindu semen, and the mixed bindu the union of Shiva-Shakti, the individual as potential Shri Cakra.
Father and Mother are represented in Shri Vidya by two limbs or aspects of Lalita known as Varahi and Kurukulla. The semen of Varahi, the father-form, gives four alchemical dhatus to the child. The ova of Kurukulla, the mother-form, gives five dhatns to the child. Consciousness enters via orgasm. The three bindus, collectively known as Kamakala (digit of sexual desire), are the root potential of sun, moon and fire. It is like sun and moon coming together in an eclipse, or the seed from which the plant human being grows.
Varahi's four alchemical dhatus are known as the four fires. Kurukulla's alchemical dhatus are known as the five saktis. The combination of these five saktis (downward pointing triangles) and four fires (upward pointing triangles), forms the complex figure in the centre of Shri Cakra.
Varahi's four fires are the 12 (3 x 4) sun Kalas, 12 sidereal constellations. Kurukulla's five triangles are the 15 (5 x 3) Kalas of the moon, 15 lunar days. The complete individual grows within nine months to be born as a Shri Yantra or plant. The flowering of this plant is shown by the 24 petals of the yantra. The above all gives rise to the familiar shape of the Shri Yantra. The yantra is usually arranged in one of two forms. In the Bhuprastara, it is two dimensional and laid flat, usually facing the east, but sometimes the north, depending on the practice. The Meruprastara has the yantra in a pyramidal form. Unless the yantra be decorated with the appropriate bija and other mantras, it is worthless. It is also dead unless it is installed with life and the individual doing the puja is initiated into one of the lines (parampara).
The Triple Goddess, from her own will to manifest, extends herself in a ninefold way, as modifications of moon, sun and fire. The attributions of the various mandalas shows the type of energy represented. The meditation in Bhavana Upanshad is a figurative way of describing this celestial city or mountain which is a human being.
The island of jewels is the gross human body with its 9 alchemical bases or dhatus. Each is figuratively described as a gem—diamond, emerald, sapphire, ruby &c. The sea of nectar (semen/ova) is the base for the arising of the human body. The diagram suns up the meditation. We can see that this island of gems is a very pleasant place to he, full of gardens, with a beautiful, begemmed palace, wafted with a gentle breeze upon which is carried great fragrance, cool, alluring.
This indicates the Kaula view that one gains liberation by a very pleasant way, enjoying as one goes. This paradise island is very, very close. Each of the elements in the island meditation has a subtle meaning associated with the esoteric physiology of Shri Vidya.
She, Lalita, united with Shiva, is subtlety of subtlety, hidden behind the curtain hanging from the canopy. Her forms may appear to become progressively less subtle, but she still remains herself.