Referred to as an Art form is not just simple art but a convoluted spiral of symbolism, representations, meditation, prayers, and holy blessing. These are compound works combining geometric patterns, religious symbolism, and layers of meaning to create a Masterpiece.
The Term Mandala originated from the Divine Language of India i.e., Sanskrit. It means a “circle” or a “discoid object”. This circular pattern embraces a sense of wholeness and purity.
Mandala has a lot of value attached towards the spiritual traditions where mandalas may be employed for focusing the attention of practitioners and adepts, as a spiritual guidance tool, for establishing a sacred space and as an aid to meditation and trance induction.
Apart from spiritual beliefs, it also has religious representation. Religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Shintoism all believed in Mandala and its symbolism of holy purpose. They used it as a map representing deities and shrines.
It is also stated that the extent of Mandalas was spread by Buddhists that traveled across borders. They carried mandalas with them and brought the practice of creating these works of art to other parts of Asia. The earliest evidence of Buddhist mandala art dates to the first century B.C.E. but appeared in other regions, such as Tibet, China, and Japan by the fourth century.
In Tibet, the mandala is called Khyil-Khor, which refers to the center of all creation where a truly awakened being lives. This thought of Mandala is even deeper than what was mentioned in Sanskrit scripts.
“IN THE CENTRE OF THE MANDALA LIES THE PALACE, WHICH HAS FOUR GATES ORIENTED TO THE FOUR QUARTERS OF THE WORLD.”
The mandala can be defined in 2 ways:
Internally, guide for several psychophysical practices that take place in many Asian traditions, including meditation.
Externally, a schematic visual representation of the universe with cosmic energies and also depicting a geometric universe.
Symbology of Mandalas
In Hinduism Mandala simply refers to a square with Four Gates containing a Circle with a center point also called Yantra. Each gate found can be symbolized as a Letter T. A Yantra is similar to Mandala but with a smaller color palette used in Sadhanas.
If we dive deep there is a palace placed in the center of a Mandala which has four gates oriented to the four quarters of the world and is located within several layers of circles that form a protective barrier around it. Each layer symbolizes a quality (e.g. purity, devotion) that one must obtain before accessing the palace. Depending on the tradition it belongs to, inside the palace the mandala has symbols associated with different deities or cultural symbols such as a thunderbolt (symbol of the male), a bell (symbol of the female), a wheel (symbol of the Buddhist Eightfold Path) or a diamond (symbol of a clear mind) among others.
In Buddhism, the term appears in Rigveda and also Vedic Rituals use mandalas to this day. The whole context of Mandala is to confront and realize the transient nature of life.
Different types of Mandalas
- )Outer Mandalas: The outer mandala represents the universe or world-system. These types of mandalas are basically used for offerings.
- )Teaching Mandalas: The teaching mandalas are symbolic. Each shape, line, and color in teaching mandala represents different aspects of Buddhism. A monk learns to create mandalas while taking his monastic education.
- )Healing Mandalas: Healing mandala is made for the purpose of meditation, deliver certain wisdom. The healing mandala can be used for focusing and concentrating.
- )Sand Mandalas: The mandala is created of fine multi-colored sand, and then the sand grains are placed in concentric circles.
- )Kalachakra Mandalas: Kalachakra mandala is for the meditative purpose. Through the meditation on the Kalachakra mandala, monks invoke the qualities of the deity, striving in a ritualized way to enter the mandala and become the deity themselves.
- )Architectural Mandalas: It is a physical replica in three dimensions that depict a deity mandala. These mandalas are represented in 3D.
- )Buddha Mandalas: It shows the teachings of the Buddha Dharma and the endless circle of Samsara. There are eight rays of the wheel which represent The Noble Eightfold Path showed by the Buddha and the representation of wisdom.
- )Mantra Mandalas: Mantra mandalas are those kinds of mandalas which have some Buddhist deities or Buddhism symbol in the center and surrounded by the mantras.
- )Meditation Mandalas: Mediation Mandalas are those which are used to do meditation to accessing higher consciousness, establishing a sacred space.
- )Offering Mandalas: Offering Mandala is a symbolic offering made by Buddhist practitioners of the entire universe and presented to the religious teachers, Buddhas, and deities, of the past and present.