A yantra literally means a machine. A machine is a combination of very purposeful forms. If you make some forms very purposefully and assemble them together – ten gear wheels for instance – it becomes a machine. A yantra is a form, simple or complex, towards a certain purpose. A combination of yantras becomes a larger yantra – a larger machine.
If you look at the human form, it is a phenomenal machine – the most sophisticated machine on the planet. Yet, as children, we have all wanted a bicycle, which is a much simpler machine than a human being. Why? A human being’s two legs are great mobility-wise, but to go faster than that, we need an additional yantra. So as kids, a bicycle was the thing, and we thought that with a bicycle, life was made. That yantra, the bicycle, created such a phenomenal impact. Later on, we saw somebody driving around on a Yamaha motorbike and suddenly that was the yantra to have. And still later, somebody rode past you in a Mercedes car. Suddenly, you wanted that yantra.
Similarly, we have yantras which enhance our “mental-scape” too. A computer is a product of our minds, but still, if we are asked to multiply 1736 with 13,343, we reach for a calculator – a yantra. Everything that the calculator has, the mind has. It is not that the calculation is not possible in the mind. It is, but this purposeful form or yantra allows us to use our body in a much better way; a yantra allows us to enhance the physical body we have. A machine is useless without the human being. It only enhances the human being. Even though you already have the body – a phenomenal yantra – with you, as your aspirations and activities increase and go beyond a certain scope, you will go on adding more and more yantras. This is because it is possible to perform different types of activities better with specific machines for those activities.
In earlier times, the process of building temples was fundamentally to create such powerful yantras for everyone. Temples were powerful yantras that the whole town could benefit from. In South India, the Pancha Bhuta temples, the five major temples that were built in South India, were not for any god but for the five elements of nature: earth, fire, air, water, and space. These temples were positioned in such a way that the most significant temple, the base temple was on the magnetic equator – not the geographic equator, but the magnetic equator that passed through Tamil Nadu. The other four temples were built in proper alignment to the base temple so that the whole region benefited from this magnificent yantra.