Yantram: Sacred Art Toolbox


Fishrock Studios; www.fishrock.com

A yantra is literally "any instrument for holding or restraining." In the yoga tradition yantras are geometric diagrams, composed mostly of triangles, squares, circles, and lotus leaves, that symbolically represent a chosen deity's energy field. Just as a mantra is an audio prop for meditation, so a yantra is a visual prop that focuses the meditator's awareness and, like a map, points the way back to its divine source. (For more information on yantras, see Yantra: The Tantric Symbol of Cosmic Unity by Madhu Khanna, Thames and Hudson, 1979).

Once upon a time yogis drew their yantras on paper, wood, cloth, even metal plates, but now, thanks to northern California multi-media producer and graphic artist Chuck Henderson, we can create yantras right on our computer screens with his new CD-ROM, Yantram: Sacred Art Toolbox. The toolbox has eight "studios," four of which access a library with nearly 170 images—including the entire 50-letter Sanskrit alphabet—that you can apply to your yantra. You can also scan your own images into the library and periodically download new images from the Fishrock Studios Web site.

Using this raw material, you can draw (with the mouse and keyboard), combine, vividly color, and even animate symmetrical circular patterns, variously sided polygons and pointed stars, and maze-like labyrinths. One of the remaining four studios—the aptly named Psychedelic Studio (think Fillmore Auditorium, circa 1968)—lets you develop mind-blowing Op-Art and rippled patterns that you can manipulate in real time.

I expect both amateur doodlers and professional illustrators will have a field day with Yantram. Once you get the hang of the ins and outs of the different studios, the sky's the limit on the designs you can cook up for things like posters, flyers, or just for hanging on your wall. But of course the core audience for Yantram is students whose meditation practice incorporates visual and devotional elements.

This software inspires us not only to learn more about the transformative dimensions of sacred geometry but also to express, integrate, and reflect on our own creative energy and its relationship to the Divine.