Everything You Need to Know About mandala Art
What is a Mandala?
Wondering what the beautiful circular designs mean that you may have seen in a Hindu or Buddhist place of worship. Mandalas are circular designs that hold a mystical meaning and showcase the connectedness of nature. In Sanskrit, the name means the sacred circle.
The design within a Mandala is believed to be different elements of nature. Mandalas are used for meditative purposes and hold a lot of spiritual value in Asian cultures. The Mandala is drawn on a variety of materials including paper, cloth, bronze and even stone. A typical Mandala is a circle within a square. The designs are arranged in sections that develop around a central point.
What is the History of Mandalas?
The history of mandalas is associated with Gautam Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. Gautam Buddha was born in Lumbini, now in Nepal. A prince by birth, he left his worldly duties in search of enlightenment. In his travels, he visited several countries spreading his knowledge. He came to India where he formed the first Sangha, or the community of Buddhist monks.
The Sangha travelled in different directions and the monks spread their preaching through mandalas. It is believed that the monks introduced mandalas in the spiritual context of Tibet, China and Japan as early as the 4th century. Even though the origin of mandalas was in Buddhism, they soon found adoption in Hinduism too.
The artisans of mandalas were held in high regard. They were commissioned by patrons and would create these artistic marvels by squatting down on the ground.
Different Types of Mandalas
Mandalas hold deep spiritual meanings. Different types of mandalas communicate the deeper meanings of life. Here is a look at the three different mandalas that are used for teaching, healing and concept sharing:
Teaching Mandalas: Teaching mandalas are like pictorial documents. Each line, dash and dot in the mandala are representative of a learning from the creator. Each element in the mandala signifies a different aspect of philosophy. They serve as a document that showcases everything that the creator of the mandala has learnt in life.
Healing Mandalas: Healing mandalas are used for meditative purposes. They are more intuitive than creative. A healing mandala intends to bring in peace and harmony and help the creator concentrate on his inner self, channelizing tranquility and inner peace.
Sand Mandalas: Sand mandalas signify religious pursuits. They usually showcase the fragility of life. They are created using coloured sand and showcase intricate patterns that offer a deep insight into the frivolity of life.
How to Interpret a Mandala?
It is not easy for everyone to understand a mandala. Some designs and patterns repeat themselves in a mandala. The mandala is believed to be an abstract depiction of Buddha's mind. The focal point of the mandala is a dot around which everything else is developed. This dot is believed to be free of dimension.
From the dot, designs are developed and these designs represent the Universe. All these designs are enclosed within a circle which is said to represent the cyclical nature of life. Here are a few common symbols that are used in a mandala to help you interpret the design:
Wheel with Eight Spokes: The circular wheel represents the Universe and the eight spokes depict the Eight Fold Path of Buddhism.
Bells: Bells signify the openess of the mind. An open mind is critical to let wisdom into the conciousness.
Triangle: You will notice a triangles within a mandala art. Triangles that point upwards represent action and energy. When facing downwards, the triangle represent artistic pursuit.
Lotus Flower: The lotus flower represents a beautiful concept of Buddhism. The lotus is appreciated for its pursuit of light and awakening. It rises out of the muck in search of sunlight. A lotus flower in a mandala is representative of the pursuit of the human soul for enlightenment and awakening.
The Sun: The sun in a mandala art represents energy, life and the Universe.
How Are Mandalas Used?
Mandalas are used for different spiritual uses. The Tibetan mandala is usually made of sand art. Created painstakingly through weeks of hardwork, this mandala represents the enlightened state of Buddha. This mandala is usually created on the ground, using metal and grains. A small tube is used to fix the alignment of the grains and create the texture that is typical of the Tibetan mandala.
Mandalas are also used for Yoga and meditation. A studio may position the mandala in the centre. A lot of places also encourage creation of mandalas during the meditation sessions. Native Americans use the mandala art for healing purposes.
Interestingly, these days mandalas are also used in dream catchers. The mandala in a dream catcher is believed to protect the sleeping person.
The concept behind a mandala is deep and inspiring. The central dot in the mandala is believed to be the human mind and everything else that the dot is surrounded with is representative of the thoughts, emotions and perceptions that we surround our mind with.
Gautam Buddha says 'All That We Are a Result of What We Have Thought.The Mind is Everything. What We Think, We Become.'
The mandala represents the state of Buddhahood and encourages a follower to navigate through the trivialities of life and attain true wisdom.
Mandalas are beautiful to look at. But what makes them more beautiful is the symbolism of the intricate artwork that showcases the truths of life, wisdom and attaining inner peace.
For those looking for inner harmony and peace, working on mandala art can be therapeutic. A lot of people who practice meditation take up drawing mandalas as a hobby. Their outer beauty is surpassed by their inner meaning.
The mind is a powerful organ and it can control your entire being. Surrounding it with negative thoughts, perceptions and ideas about the world can only bring misery to a person. The key to being happy and content is to surround yourself with positive thoughts and the keenness to learn from life.