About the construction of the Shri Yantra (2000)


Have a look at the following two diagrams. Which figure is the central figure in the Shri Yantra? How do the two figures differ?

Figure 1
Figure 2

Figure 2 is the central figure in the Shri Yantra.

Figure 1 was constructed by removing the horizontal strip (Figure 3) from the middle of Figure 2 ...

Figure 2
Shri Yantra
minus
Figure 3

Asymmetric Center
=
Figure 4
Symmetric Fringe

... and replacing it with the symmetrical center (Figure 5) that the remainder of the design visually implies and therefore causes one to expect.

Figure 4
Symmetric Fringe
plus
Figure 5

Symmetric Center
=
Figure 1
Symmetric Yantra

Similarly,

Figure 4
Symmetric Fringe
plus
Figure 3
Asymmetric Center
=
Figure 2
Shri Yantra

The Symmetric Yantra (Figure 1) is a fairly simple geometric figure, and thus comparatively easy to draw with a pencil, compass and ruler.

The Shri Yantra (Figure 2), on the other hand, is actually a cleverly
drawn visual sleight-of-hand! It is an ancient illusion that is a precursor to similar 20th century perceptual illusions, in the same class of figures as those produced by the gestalt psychologists. Like the famous 'duck-rabbit' diagram, or the portrait of the 'young-woman/old-woman' (left), it demonstrates that we can be tricked by perception when the figure-ground relationship in a picture is reversed or otherwise tampered with. As in these other cases, the illusion that is deliberately built into the Shri Yantra makes it very difficult to draw, as you no doubt come to realize if, in fact, you did try to reproduce it with a pencil, ruler and compass. In order to achieve the intended effect one must keep in mind two goals that pull in different directions, just as in trying to draw the portrait of the young woman/old woman, you would have to keep in mind that every line you make is a line in two completely different portraits!

© J. Fudjack

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