Shri Vidya

Doctrines The Shri Vidya is a Tantric tradition of Shaktas. It maintains a monistic metaphysics, that ultimately there is only one reality in the cosmos, the reality of consciousness identified with the Goddess Tripurasundari. Tripurasundari, a tantric form of Shri/Lakshmi, is manifested in her mantra (called the shri vidya) and in her sacred diagram of nine intersecting triangles within a circle (the shri cakra). The Shri Vidya devotee seeks for liberation from the cycle of reincarnation (samsara) by realising his identity with the Goddess.

History The Shri Vidya goes back to the 10th or 11th century and is still a thriving tradition in south India. Its origins lie in the non-dualistic traditions of Kashmir Shaivism, though the tradition traces its own line of gurus back to Shankara (788-820 CE), the famous Advaita Vedantin. Indeed, because of this linkage to orthodoxy, the tradition has lost much of its Tantric character. But the origins of the Shri Vidya are undoubtedly within Tantrism, specifically in the distinction in the Shakta Tantras between those of the Kalikula and those of the Shrikula.
The Shri Vidya develops from the texts of the Shrikula. Among these, of particular importance is the Yoginihrdaya dated to the 11th century. There is a tradition of independent texts and commentaries, particularly noteworthy is Lakshmidhara (17th-18th centuries) who wrote a commentary on the Yoginihrdaya. The Shri Vidya has aligned itself with brahmanical or smarta orthopraxy, through tracing its guru lineage back to Shankara; through becoming adopted by the Shankaracharyas of Shringeri and Kanchipuram; through aligning itself with the Adi Shaivas of the Shaiva Siddhanta; and through shedding itself of its earlier Tantric heteropraxy.

Symbols The most important symbol in the Shri Vidya is the icon (yantra, cakra) of nine intersecting triangles within a 'circle' or lotus. The shri cakra is a symbol of the interpenetration of the dynamic female energy (shakti) with passive, male consciousness (Shiva). This is used in ritual and meditation to help the practitioner realise his identity with the Goddess symbolised in the yantra. The shri vidya is the fifteen-syllabled mantra of the tradition, the sound equivalent of the shri cakra.

Adherents There are no figures available, but the Shri Vidya tradition has a significant following in south India and the Shankaracaryas with whom the Shri Vidya has become associated, have widespread popular support.

Main Centre
 The Shri Vidya has penetrated Adi Shaiva communities in south India and also the Advaita Vedanta centres of Shringeri in Kerala and Kanchipuram in Tamilnadu.