(Note: The Acharya Mandaleshwar of the Attal Akhada Sri Swami Shukdevanadji is constructing a Temple in the form of the Maha Meru Shri Yantra in Amarkantak for many years now. This article pertains to this temple and to Shri Vidya.)
In the field of Tantra, the worship of Sri Vidya is considered to be an evolved, sophisticated, elite and mysterious system of worship of the supreme power in the form of the Divine Mother as the beautiful goddess, Tripura Sundari or Empress Beauty of the three Worlds. Sri Yantra is the instrument of this worship. In Sri Vidya worship, the system involves focusing of the entire energies of the universe. The Bindu or point in the Sri Yantra in one aspect signifies this process. This is the zenith of all methods of worship. Through this system of worship one may achieve almost anything that is desired. The main objective in all Hindu systems of worship including the path of Tantra is to achieve liberation from the bondage of Life and Death, from the never ending cycle of karma and repeated birth/ repeated death; an end to the endless cycle of cause and effect. To achieve the desired objective of Moksha a Sadhak has to be able to pray at all three levels that is the physical, the vocal, and the mental. For this worship the Sri Yantra temple is required as the temple makes the worship extremely effective and immediately fruitful.
As in all forms of Tantra, the Rishis instructed the disciples to maintain the secrecy, and mystery of this form of worship to prevent a misuse of these divine energies. In the following of these instructions over a long period of time, parts of this beautiful yet complex, powerful yet difficult form of worship are being lost to humankind forever. So mysterious and secret is this worship that many great sadhaks prefer to remain unknown to lead a life of solitude, prayer away from the eyes of humankind. Many leave their mortal bodies forever without ever initiating even one single disciple into the mysteries of this magnificent path of worship. All the masters believe that it is better to leave behind no disciples rather than to initiate an unworthy disciple. Some masters believe that they would only initiate a disciple if they ascertained that the birth of initiation of the disciple is the last birth of the disciple. Such is the level of individual evolution sought of the disciples by the teachers of this tradition.
The Sri Yantra Maha Meru Shaktipeeth is being established in Amarkantak to maintain continuity of this tradition, to prevent any further loss in the preservation of knowledge as well as to research and re-establish the lost knowledge of this tradition. This temple is being created keeping in mind all aspects of the ancient traditional knowledge of Sri Vidya. The methodology, the moment (time) as well as the layout of construction is being done in accordance with the methods of traditional design, architecture as well as astrological aspects. The construction is in keeping with the movement of the stars, construction of the temple was done in various phases in accordance with auspicious moments/ star constellations on the basis of the Hindu/Tantric calendar. Perhaps even in the centuries to come none may be able to challenge the methodology/foundations of this temple.
The Sri Yantra can be constructed in three different ways. These are Bhu Prastar (Flat level, at one level), Kacchap Prastar (turtle shaped or dome shaped) and Kailash Prastar (Mountain shaped). Maha Meru Prastar is similar to Kailash Prastar but there are some technical differences. This Sri Yantra Temple is being built in the method of Maha Meru Prastar being the first temple in the entire world to be built in this shape.
About 2000 years ago Ameresh Acharya had built the Kamakhya Shaktipeeth in modern day Guwhati, Assam in India. This temple was built in a similar way with the Sri Yantra at the top of the temple. However at a later date it was struck by lightning. When repairs were carried out, people were unable to construct the Yantra at the top and thus the Yantra on the temple was lost forever to be replaced by a different top structure. Even today, this Temple is held in great reverence in India. It is considered to be one of the largest centres of tantric practitioners in India.
In the traditional Hindu system there are four aspects. These are Kama (worldly desire), Arth (worldly fulfillment), Dharma (following of the path of righteousness), and Moksha (Liberation from the endless cycle of birth and death). To achieve all these aims over one or several lifetimes is the aim of every human. We can fulfill these by following various paths; however the higher objectives will be more easily fulfilled by sadhana and prayer. Here it must be said that the lower values always accompany the higher values and objectives. Hence one can fulfill all these four objectives of human life by following the path of sadhana and prayer. For this an initiation into these methods of worship would be required. Thus the Sri Yantra Temple shall be a living scripture for the initiation into these practices. It will be a beacon of knowledge and light to worshippers across the world in the centuries to come.
Location of the Temple
The temple is located in Amarkantak which is in the state of Madhya Pradesh in central India at a height of about 3500 feet. Amarkantak is unique in having the distinction of being the source of three rivers namely the Narmada, the Juhila and the Sonbhadra. The Narmada River is the only river in India around which a special religious trek is performed known as a Parikrama. The uniqueness of this Parikrama is that it is performed by walking bare feet on both banks thereby encircling the entire river. This is the only river where the Parikrama covers the entire river, whereas Parikramas of other rivers only utilize segments of the rivers. This parikrama is known to reward the sadhak with many special benefits including spiritual, material as well as health. Sadhaks who perform this parikrama may take from nine months upto as long as three years as the distance is about 2500 kms. The trek is very tough yet many sadhaks have been known to do the parikrama more than once. Some have even completed it as many as twelve times. Almost every sadhak has had some unusual spiritual experience during this period. Many have seen divine lights, occasionally some claim to have met many unusual sadhus who are in subtle form and for short periods assume a solid form to benefit humankind. Their objective seems be to inspire humankind or possibly their sighting may even be accidental. The Narmada River is known for Tapas as the rishis have performed numerous spiritual practices and austerities along the banks of this sacred river.
Most spiritual people in India maintain that one can feel the vibrations of spirituality along the breadth and width of this holy land. However there are some places in India where the spiritual vibrations are exceptionally strong. Most of these places have more than one sacred shrine or spot. Amarkantak is one of these places and has as many as twenty sacred sites. There are some other sites that are not known to even the general public in Amarkantak, even those who are residents of this small village. Many senior sadhus say that beneath the mountain of Amarkantak; even today live numerous sadhaks in subtle form who have been performing austerities for centuries. Such is the belief and mystery that surrounds Amarkantak.
The Maha Meru Sri Yantra Temple is being built in this sacred location and is surrounded by forest on two sides. On the western side of the temple, is present an ancient kund (a sacred pond) known as the Batte Krishna Kund. On the north to the temple is a water reservoir that was recently constructed by the government for the benefit of the local people. The temple is constructed on an elevated platform part of which was created by chiseling away the mountain thereby removing tons of rock, stone and mud. At the point the temple is present is the centre of three mountains ranges known as Maikal, Satpuda and Vindyachal. The borderline dividing north and south India also passes through this spot, apart from this there are five sacred Kunds (ponds) in Amarkantak including the Batte Krishna Kund. The presence of these five sacred kunds close to the temple is considered as beneficial to the location of the temple.
The length and breath of the platform on which this unique tantric temple is being constructed are 100 bows by 100 bows (1bow = 3 feet) therefore 300feet by 300feet or 90000 sq. feet area. The entrance to this beautiful temple is through an enormous gate having faces on four sides. The eastern face is of goddesses Maha Saraswati. There are also one statue each of the gods Ganesh and Kartikeya. The southern face is of the goddesses Maha Kali, the western of goddesses Maha Bhubaneshwari and the northern of the goddesses Maha Laxmi. Along with each face on four sides are statues of yoginis that accompany the goddesses. These are 16 in number on each side thereby being 64 in all.
The Maha Meru Sri Yantra Temple
This Sri Yantra Temple is a very powerful and beautiful temple. It is being constructed in the form of a Mandal or a sacred group. The length, breadth, height of the temple is 52 ft each. The construction of the temple is based on the basis of the principle of temple foundation and construction laid out by MahaRishi Agastya. The foundation of the temple called the Padambandh is the protection of the temple. According to the scriptures the word Padam (lotus) means knowledge, the connation of which is to design the temple on the basis of spiritual knowledge in keeping with the particular field of specific worship that a Sadhak (spiritual practitioner) undertakes. The second stage after the Padambandh is known as Sarpbandh. Arising from the base and surrounding the entire temple are images of two poisonous snakes. Their tails are entangled in each other, they surround the entire temple including the area where the statue of the goddess is installed and the prayers are carried out. The hoods of these two poisonous snakes are in a raised position at the entrance to the temple.
The upper part of the temple is known as Devbandh. On the external walls of the temple has been depicted the dance of time (Kaal Nritya) according to the best traditions of vaastu shastra (the science of architectural layout). 17 tattavas (states or levels of existence) have been imagined in Kaal Nritya. The form of Kaal Nritya has been imagined and in accordance, on the four edges, one paw each, of a very powerful lion has been depicted. The paws of the lion depict the action performed by each Jiva (karma). Stuck in the paws of the lion, a round shaped ball indicates the Jiva (the individual soul). Below the ball the poisonous snakes depict Kaal (the limitation of time i.e., the binding of an individual in the cycle of birth and death, limitation of eternality). According to spiritual philosophy the mortal being is said to be stuck in between the twin jaws of Karma and Kaal swinging in between the two like a pendulum to continue a cycle of repeated birth and death.
Above the Devbandh, the top of the temple has been constructed. This is in the form of a three dimensional Maha Meru Sri Yantra. The construction of a three dimensional Sri Yantra requires a lot of care as it is quite difficult to get the sizes and the angles of the triangles within the Sri Yantra correctly. Many volumes have been written on the Sri Yantra, its methods of construction as well as prayer methodology. It is impossible to even try to give any detail here except for the broad outline of the Sri Yantra. On all the four sides of the Sri Yantra are images of the Divine mother Maha Tripura Sundari along with attendants.
The Sri Yantra is made up of nine stages technically known as chakras that are the bindu or the central point, the trikona or triangle, the ashtkona or eight corners figure, the antar dashara or the inner ten angled figure, the bahirdashara or the outer ten angled figure, the chaturdashara or the fourteen angled figure, the ashtdal padam or the eight petalled lotus, the shodash padam or the sixteen petalled lotus and the bhupura, the square enclosure surrounding the entire triangles with portals. The figure makes 43 triangles, 28 marmas, and 24 sandhis (meeting points). The Sri Yantra has four upward facing triangles that are Shiv Triangles known as Srikantas; Superimposed on these are five downward facing triangles that are Shakti triangles known as Shivyuvatis.
The actual worship of the Sri Yantra can be very complex. Each of these figures mentioned above along with the 43 triangles have their goddesses. Each has a siddhi, a perfection to be achieved. Each in turn has a specific system of prayer. Therefore the path of Sri Vidya is beautiful path. A path meant for scholars and intellectuals.
The central goddess in Sri Vidya is Maha Tripura Sundari who is the central deity of the Sri Yantra. Within the temple a statue of the divine mother made of ashtdhatu (eight metals mixed to form a traditional alloy) is placed. It is about one and a half ton in weight and about 62 inches tall. It has been prepared in a village called Malai near the town of Kambkamb in southern India. This village is known for its workmanship and specializes in manufacturing statues made of ashtdhatu alloy.
Most of the terms used here are technical. Only people familiar with the Sri Vidya tradition will be comfortable with these terms. Others will have to undergo a study on the Sri Yantra to familiarize themselves with literature and the scriptures. As mentioned before many volumes have been written on this system, the Sri Yantra and the various mantras according to the levels of initiations. One of the high points of this system is that it has been preserved in its original form in continuity directly from the MahaRishi Dakshinamoorti. The present lineage is directly a continuation of this ancient lineage.
Surrounding the entire temple will be the group of temples or the Mandal. There will be 108 smaller Yantras under which facing both the internal as well as the external sides shall be placed statues of goddesses or consorts of the divine mother Maha Tripura Sundari. These will be 216 in number. Apart for this in all four directions four temples one each of Lord Shiva, Lord Ganesh, Southfaced Lord Hanuman and Lord Bhairav will also be constructed. After this 1,25,000 Sri Yantras shall also be established within the Sri Yantra Temple premises. This shall create a highly spiritually charged and divine atmosphere within this entire complex.