Nyasa can be translated as ‘imposition’ or ‘placing’ and refers to a major technique within tantric ritual practice whereby the sadhaka touches various parts of the body whilst at the same time pronouncing a mantra, and visualising a particular god/goddess (or sometimes an aspect of a god with a particular shakti). Nyasa is one of the techniques for ‘divinising’ the body.
There are many types of Nyasa, some of which are highly complex and elaborate and involve effectively incribing a yantra on one’s own body. Sometimes the 50 letters of the Sanskrit Alphabet are placed on the body, and the practitioner may also use Mudra to accompany the placing. Some tantric deities have particular modes of Nyasa associated with their ritual forms.
- Kara nyasa – imposition of mantras to parts of one’s hands
- Anga nyasa – imposition of mantras to bodily regions
- vyapaka nyasa – imposition of mantras with the body in entirety
- matrika nyasa – imposition of the mothers (i.e. the 50 phonemes)
- pitha nyasa – homologising body as the seat of one’s chosen deity