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Sri Yantra and its action on the brain 

Sri Yantra as the oldest tool for changing the psychophysiological state.


Summary :

Sri Yantra is a ritual image in Tantrism, used for meditation and concentration. Since ancient times it has been associated with profound cosmogonic and psychophysiological performances, many of which are direct analogs in modern scientific knowledge. Indeed, from the point of view of modern anatomy, physiology and neurology, the entire composition and the individual elements of the Sri Yantra are made with strict observance of the mechanisms of human perception and nervous activity, down to the peculiarities of their neuronal organization.  


Studies have shown that thanks to the properties of the Sri Yantra, it can be used successfully for the formation of specific psycho-physiological states, or for the selection of individuals with the type of organization of the nervous system required. It is also shown that the Sri Yantra can cause activation of the right dominant hemisphere of the brain, dampening the left, which is commonly used to achieve states of consciousness "  mystics  in some schools and religious practices.

Sri Yantra has very complex geometric properties. However, it is also associated with the deep and accurate interpretation of cosmogony and psychophysiology. This duality involves the main idea of the close relationship between the microcosm and the macrocosm in Tantrism.

According to the doctrine of Tantrism, each of the innumerable cycles of cosmic evolution begins with the division of the original Shiva-Shakti unity (Supreme Consciousness) as "  The Cosmic Egg  which is conceived as the timeless and immaterial state. At the beginning of this genesis, the categories of space, time, causality and matter appear, which then develop into more and more complex and plural forms. However, at some point the process of development turns into its opposite, which is - degradation or involution, again leading to the state of indissoluble Shiva-Shakti unity. The concentric figures of the Sri Yantra (a chain of triangles, lotuses and outer square lines) are a symbolic representation of the different stages of the process of evolution and involution, starting from a central bindu point (bindu - the Shiva unit - Shakti) to the outer square of protection - bhupure (bhupura - manifestation of the universe), which in turn separates the ordered world from the surrounding chaos.


On the other hand, in accordance with the doctrine of Tantrism mentioned above, the concentric levels of the Sri Yantra (a sequence of triangles, lotus petals and framing lines) represent the different energy units, or chakras, located along from the spine, starting from the bottom, Muladhara chakra (against bhupure Sri Yantra), which locates the energy of Shakti, called Kundalini, at the head of Sahaskhara chakra (placed at a central point - bindu of the Sri Yantra), where is the principle of the consciousness of Shiva.

Tantric practice involves using the Sri Yantra primarily as the map to initiate and control the movement of Kundalini along the spine. here the elements of Sri Yantra designate the different stages of this process and the necessary steps for the adept. As the movement of Kundalini is associated with cosmogony, it is believed that when the energy of Shakti enters the head chakra (and Shakti connects with Shiva) the adept gains an expansion of consciousness, the acquisition of direct knowledge of the universe.


It is interesting to analyze from a modern point of view, and through physiological properties and reasons, why Sri Yantra becomes so important. It is easy to see that the whole of its geometric composition differs in its austere beauty and during a long contemplation (concentration) it fascinates the eye, attracting the attention of the observer.


The study: 

We begin our study with the architectural elements of the composition of Sri Yantra. It is known that in the processing of visual information, the central nervous system uses the special neural structures, which are the Detectors of basic Characteristics: lines, angles, arcs, colors, etc. Processing and sensing of visual information begins in the retina, continues in the geniculate body, and ends in the cerebral cortex. The structure of the geniculate body (subcortical special formation) already contains primitive detectors that respond to the appearance of spots in the visual field in the form of concentric circles, in proportion to the degree of contrast.


The visual cortex is the main point of information conversion, and possesses the columnar structure in which each vertical column of neurons is responsible for implementing the conversion and sensing of information. From the visual cortex the information arrives in the areas of association of the cerebral cortex (parietal and frontal lobes), where it proceeds to  semantic analysis and thus synthesis with other types of information.

Why then when designing the Sri Yantra did we choose to use geometric shapes and simple colors? As shown in recent research, a triangle and a parallelogram - which are the basic elements of the composition of the central star - are the most stable geometric shapes, reliably detectable even in the presence of strong interference and distortion. . Thus, a triangle is detected in 100% of cases, even with a strong erosion of its contours, and a parallelogram - in 92% of cases.
The presence of the main color tones in the coloring of the Sri Yantra enhances the overall effect due to the activation of color detectors, of which there are only three types: "black and white", "red-green " and "blue-yellow". Through the activities of these three types of detectors alone, in fact, the entire multicolored world of the human eye is formed.


Thus, the Sri Yantra contains elements among those that make up most of the different types of neuron detectors, which cause the activation and consequent modification of the human psychophysiological state. This can lead to overexcitation of the general nervous system, but also to strong inhibition of all processes that are responsible for external perception. In terms of the number of detectors activated, the Sri Yantra is far superior to any other yantra, and truly lives up to its epithet "  Big  ".


Regarding the general architectural features of the Sri Yantra, first of all, we note its lattice structure. Images of this kind (known as rhythmic grids and oversaturated images), cause a number of visual illusions and rapid exhaustion of the nervous system. With long fixation their action is similar to rhythmic flashes of light, causing a bilateral hype-synchronization of alpha rhythm (resonance phenomena in the neural activity of the cerebral cortex) which are typical for the pre-hypnotic state.


This effect can be enhanced due to the nature of the concentric pattern of Sri Yantra, which promotes gaze fixation in the center of the yantra. It is known that one of the main conditions of natural visual perception is a constant movement of the image relative to the retina. In order to maintain these conditions, the visual system is endowed with a mechanism of periodic saccades of the eyepieces, of different amplitude.


If in some forced way we fix our gaze on the object, after 20-30 seconds we stop seeing it. When we fix the gaze voluntarily, we perceive color changes, in parallel with the illusion of the disappearance of the object, in the short term, out of sight. For someone unfamiliar with the psycho-physiological mechanisms of observation, these phenomena can produce a strong emotional impact and attribute supernatural properties to the object.


It is also important to pay attention to a very good correlation (increase) in the size of the elements of the Sri Yantra in the direction of the center-periphery. It is known that the retina is organized in the same way: in the center there are cells with high resolution and the ability to perceive colors, and peripheral receptors in turn predominate with black and white, and have a low resolution sensitivity. Such a composition leads to the fact that each type of receiver, and detector, works at its maximum load, and intensively, since the fragments of the image change proportionally depending on the visual fields.

Thus, the Sri Yantra combines a whole range of properties which are responsible for specific physiological effects and are widely used in modern therapeutic techniques.

To verify the discussed hypotheses, the Faculty of Biology of Moscow State University of the Ministry of Nervous Higher Education organized an experimental study (under the leadership of DMRamendik-rus.) in which, the subjects ( volunteers) had at their disposal the color image of Sri Yantra, and asked them to fix their gaze on the different elements of the yantra, at the command of the experimenter (duration of each fixation was 1 minute). As control images, three images were used (Figure 1.): concentric circles, made at appropriate levels of the Sri Yantra, rays converging towards the center, and a colored pattern obtained by mixing elements of the Sri Yantra in on a random uniform plan (pseudo-yantra).


The purpose of these presentations was to test the reaction of the participants on certain elements of the architecture of the Sri Yantra. These reactions can have a decisive importance of the stimulus. For the purity of the experiment the subjects concerned were not familiar with the techniques of relaxation and meditation, and they were informed neither about the nature of any image placed,  nor on the purpose of the experiment.

At the same time, we proceeded from the fact that if an objective and universal effect of the action of the Sri Yantra is present, then it must manifest itself in the most ordinary circumstances. The experiments were accompanied by the recording of the electroencephalogram (EEG), the left and right occipital (visual) regions and eye movements - EOG (EOG).

By making a small digression, we note that the recording and analysis of the electrical activity of the brain is one of the most precise means of determining the functional state or level of arousal, which characterizes the activity of human behavior, which is associated with the level of tone, and the activity of nerve centers.


In the passive wakeful state (the person is seated in a comfortable position with eyes closed, and not engaged in intellectual work) we observe the prevalence in the oscillations of EEG, similar in shape to a sine wave, with a frequency of 8-12 Hz and an amplitude of 30-80 micro-volts (called the alpha rhythm).

By reducing the level of consciousness (state of drowsiness) low frequency oscillations appear. With intense mental work, and open eyes, a so-called de-synchronization occurs (frequent low amplitude oscillations without rhythm (10-20 microvolts, at a frequency of 14-30 Hz, called beta rhythm ).


Alpha rhythm can also occur when the eyes are open, but at these times the ability to perceive external cues is reduced. It is obvious that in a state of introspection or meditation, the alpha rhythm is also observed on the EEG, and it is even possible that the EEG flattens out completely.


In all these experiences the reaction to the Sri Yantra was radically different in nature and intensity from the reaction to the control image. In this case, two diametrically opposed phenomena have been observed. For some of the subjects the Sri Yantra produced a calming effect, and they were characterized by the rapid recovery of the alpha rhythm, indicating a decrease in the level of arousal and the decrease in human contact with the external environment. 

In other subjects, whose Sri Yantra irritated, a strong inhibition of the alpha rhythm was observed, as in a state of stress "  irritated  (stimulated), with intense eye movement, despite the experimenter's insistence on concentrating. Table 1 shows the average percentage of alpha rhythm in rest/eyes closed, experienced during presentation of images, and with eyes closed after presentation of the Sri Yantra.


Table 1 . The % alpha rhythm measured on the EEG for two categories of the selected subjects and a variety of test images:

The table shows that the two types of subjects started out being in similar functional states, and in both cases,
the process of concentrating on images caused the "
  general stimulation  ".
In calm subjects arousal was minimal (lots of alpha rhythm) upon presentation of the Sri Yantra. Also, upon closing the eyes after concentration on the Sri Yantra, the amount of alpha rhythm decreased, although it normally increases when the eyes are closed.

In aroused people, the activity was significantly stronger in the course of the experiment, but especially - on presentation of the Sri Yantra. But after closing the eyes, the restoration of the alpha rhythm was observed, exceeding the original level (a kind of overcompensation).


Thus, the Sri Yantra demonstrates the ability to effectively change the background of a person's psychophysiological state in the direction of calming and relaxing him, but also enervating him. The impact of efficiency is not determined by the individual characteristics of the image, but by their whole.


In this respect, the Sri Yantra can be considered as a unique compositional solution. The nature of the impact of the Sri Yantra can be defined by the individual characteristics of the human nervous system, by its psychophysiological factors and by its initial motivation - attitude. Thus, the form of Shri Yantra is an extremely effective tool, applicable for attaining the desired state by forming the corresponding attitude, or for the selection of individuals with the desired type of nervous system.


Despite the marked uniqueness of Sri Yantra, its basic elements: triangles, arcs, contrasting and colored fields, etc., are found in other ceremonial images, not only in the various versions of Tantrism and in Buddhist yantras and mandalas, but also in other religions: Muslim filigree designs, monumental lines in the decorations of carpets, tambourines and shamans' clothes in Altai, among the signs of the Kabbalah, in Christian iconography, etc.


Despite all the differences in cultures and the rituals mentioned above, these present the unique desire to create in the participants a general psychophysiological state, which people identify objectively, without however being able to describe it in words. This state is characterized by the deep focus on an object outside or inside a person, until the abstraction of all other signals. At the same time the person experiences a vision of general super-consciousness of the world (namely: - the whole world, rather than the immediate environment), as well as the feeling of having extraordinary powers, a superpower over things and phenomenons. Such a view of the world often occurs in people who, due to a pathological process, surgery or the use of pharmacological substances, have their cerebral cortex of the left hemisphere inhibited or deactivated.


According to modern neuroscience, for the majority of people, the left hemisphere of the cerebral cortex specializes in functions associated with speech and discrete, logical, analytical thinking. The right hemisphere provides the integral perception of the world in non-verbal form (visual, sound, etc.). We can say that the left hemisphere treats subjects according to their denomination, and acts by the known rules of logic, distinct words (its work is connected with positive emotions). The right hemisphere operates on the objects themselves, in all their diversity, and functions with them according to their real or imagined properties, whether the names of these properties and actions are known or not (its work is emotionally neutral, or is related to negative emotions).


Normally the two hemispheres are closely linked and are in constant interaction, and the left hemisphere is dominant over the right. The work of the right hemisphere is usually hidden from the man himself, manifesting itself in the form of intuition, acts of creative insight, etc. In such cases, the decision comes before its formulation. Often a person has to spend a lot of effort trying to make others understand (verbalize) the phenomenon that is completely clear to him. An excellent example of such phenomena can be statements of outstanding mathematicians about the mechanisms of their creative activity.  


the  result  : 

Experiments have shown that the preferential activation of the right hemisphere took place during gaze perceptions on complex, but monotonous figures, homogeneous images, rhythmic low vowels, as well as during general relaxation, which is established in light sleep. These elements, as noted above, are present in many rituals. Also note that the process of concentration on the yantras is always accompanied by the repetition of the mantras, which are dominated by persistent (long) vowels and unvoiced consonants. Thus, another channel of information  is activated - the auditory, which is certainly an interesting challenge for the next research. Let us add that since all the elements of the Sri Yantra are associated with a certain semantic and philosophical process, the higher parts of the cerebral cortex are involved in concentration, which leads to coordination and improves the overall psychological effect. In this study, the effect of these factors was completely set aside.


Due to the inhibition and activation of the left hemisphere, and the activation of the right, the knowledge about the world, which is available to the person, comes before him in its natural diversity, and is also deprived usual typos of words, or pre-memorized rules of action. But how the person will interpret the environment is up to his imagination, and depends on his current ideology, and worldview.


To create an altered state of consciousness, two types of rituals have been used since ancient times. In the first case, it is calm, relaxation, concentration on a fixed image, accompanied by prolonged sounds (like the practice of meditation). The other type of practice involves movement with the acceleration of the rhythm, accompanied by a high pitched sound and surrounded by repeated rhythms and visual stimuli: ornaments, fire, etc. (For example, rituals in shamanism).


At first glance, it seems like these are two unrelated, and completely opposite practices. But, in reality, these are two physiologically possible ways to achieve the same goal - an abnormal rate of activity of the left and right hemispheres. In one case, this is done by means of voluntary calming, by shutting off the left hemisphere's supply of information, with the simultaneous charging of the right hemisphere, and the other practice is characterized by overload of the left hemisphere, followed reflexively by its inhibition.


The universal status of these two approaches is illustrated by their distribution in different cultural regions that have never been in close contact with each other, and some cultures have even reached remarkable levels in understanding how these mechanisms work. Thus, among the Mesoamerican Indians there is a clear separation of the two forms of perception of the world, called the TONAL and the NEGUAL, and there exists among them a system of elaborate techniques (developed, according to tradition, at the time of the Toltec civilization), the purpose of which is clearly stated: "the information overload of the general worldview  »  and  "  the disconnection of the internal dialogue  »  to develop left hemisphere dominance.




Table 2 . The ratio of the alpha-rhythm between the left and right hemisphere, for various experimental images:  

We observed a redistribution of functions between the hemispheres in the experiences with the Sri Yantra (Table 2). Concentration on the Sri Yantra, in comparison with other images, is presented by a significant activation of the right hemisphere, by ratio to the left (ratio of 0.78). It can be assumed that this property also plays an important role in the rituals of meditation with the Sri Yantra.



Conclusion : 

Thus, we can conclude that the individual elements and the whole composition of the Sri Yantra were created in ancient India, strictly in accordance with the mechanisms of human perception, and taking into account the nervous activity at the level of the organization of its functions. 

Therefore, we adhere to the use of both paths of development of science, on the one hand - in an "explanatory" way in order to achieve modern knowledge based on direct experiences, and, on the other - the "  receiving channel  »,  way of ancient science, based on centuries-old selection of daily trial and error performance. We can treat the Sri Yantra as a sort of crossroads where ancient achievement can be understood only in terms of the most recent psychological and neurological data.







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