Terminology, Definition, and Form
The term yantra derives from the Sanskrit root yam (literally “to control, restrain, bend”) and has been used in Sanskrit literature to denote various objects (, p. 28; , pp. 10–11). Among the more prevalent meanings are instrument (e.g., denoting a surgical instrument), machine (e.g., a warfare machine), (mechanical) device or appliance (e.g., an oil-pressing device), and diagram, as used in ritual practice. The latter refers to yantras as instruments of restraint or of harnessing power (, p. 1028).
Throughout later Sanskrit texts and ongoing in contemporary literature, the term and concept of yantra have been very closely associated and partly confused with two related concepts, cakra and maṇḍala. The three terms are often used interchangeably and without clear distinctions, which makes a demarcation very difficult (, p. 560; , p. 68). Especially yantra and maṇḍalaare frequently used as synonyms, as both refer to diagram structures...
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