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Mandala Meaning and Importance!

Mandala is regarded as a spiritual symbol in various ancient cultures and traditions across the world. It represents wholeness and universe. The generic term of Mandala is any form or figure representing cosmos symbolically.

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The mandala’s purpose is to help transform ordinary minds into enlightened ones and to assist with healing. According to Buddhist scripture, mandalas constructed from sand transmit positive energies to the environment and to the people who view them. They are believed to effect purification and healing.

The history and evolution of sand mandalas

Sand mandala was first discovered in a book of Tibetan Buddhism known as The Blue Annals. This ancient history book was written by Go Lotsawa Zhonnu Pel in the 14th century. This is where the term of sand mandala was first discovered. In earlier times, this mandala was more of a spiritual and metaphysical concept than a tangible one.

The purpose of Tibetan sand mandalas in Budhhism

The Buddhist sand mandala was a path to access the power that was present in the universe through mantras. With time, it changed into mandala sand art which was judiciously practiced by the Buddhist monks. It was a tradition that was followed for the same reason and that is to reach and unlock the powers of the universe.

  • It is an art that is followed by the monks and is seen as a discipline of meditation which is studied in depth for years.
  • The mandala sand art is a pathway for those who want to purify their souls and enlighten their minds and then transform their minds from being ordinary to an enlightened one.
  • After mixing the sand mandala with water and then giving it back to the Earth, the completed mandala is both a beauty and a blessing for all beings in the universe.
  • This mandala art is also a metaphor for the human life cycle.
  • It shows that each human being grows up from a child to a dependent human being and aligns themselves with the complexity of the universe such as their relationships, memories, structures, and experiences.
  • However, as death comes, the human being finally disintegrates and returns to the place from where their journey started which is the earth.
  • In the same way, the sand that is found in the earth is disintegrated and mixed with water and given a form, but eventually mixes with the earth itself to give a beautiful design for everyone to appreciate.
  • The sand mandala is mostly formed by the request of a guru or a teacher.

tibetan mandala

Learn about the materials used to create sand mandalas

  1. There are several materials used in the creation of a perfect and beautiful sand mandala.
  2. In earlier times colored rocks and gems were crushed to form as the powder for the this mandala. However, in current times, different colors are dyed into white rocks to change in grains for the creation of the mandala sand art.
  3. The grains that are formed are dense in nature so that they are not destroyed extensively while sneezing or if a wind blows as it may happen with less dense grain powder.
  4. The various colors used in the mandala sand art are white (formed by crushing gypsum), red sandstone, red and black mixed to form brown, yellow ochre, red and white mixed to form pink, charcoal, and gypsum mixed together to form blue and several other colors which are also formed by mixing two or three colors together.
  5. Other materials used in the mandala sand art are flower pollen, powdered bark and roots, and cornmeal according to the availability of these items.
  6. Different colors are used in the mandala to make it more colorful and appealing.
  7. The blueprint is first designed by the monks on the wooden platform with the help of a chalk.
  8. The monks making the mandala wear masks so that they do not destroy their art by breathing into it.
  9. After designing the blueprint, the monks take the help of chalk-pur. These are small funnels or tubes. Gently tap them with the help of metal rods so that a vibration is created which will lay down the various colored sands into the blueprint in a controlled and proper manner.
  10. Large compasses are also used to draw the circles correctly.
  11. A skilled mandala maker will be able to lay down the sand like a liquid with the help of these instruments and design a well-formed mandala sand art.
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Method Of Designing A Sand Mandala

  1. The process of designing the sand mandala begins by firstly declaring the area as sacred or holy by reciting a sacred chant, burning incense sticks and playing Tibetan music with Buddhist instruments.
  2. The team designing the mandala consists of almost 20 monks and the leader of the team would use white chalks or white pencil to mark out the blueprint of the mandala design.
  3. Designing of the blueprint takes around 3 hours to complete.
  4. Compasses and straight-edged rulers are used to form the architectural design of the sand mandala.
  5. The leader draws the complete design from his memory which has been passed down from his teacher. The four gateways of the mandala made from sand are assigned to each individual monk who along with his team works on the completion of the specific quadrant.
  6. The assistants of the appointed monk fill in the areas and forms whereas the appointed senior monks look after the detailed filling.
  7. The work of adding colored sands to the sand mandala always begin from the center of the mandala which is the seat or the residence of the guru or principal teacher.
  8. After the completion of the sand mandala, the area is once again declared sacred through the same ceremony process.

mandala art

Destruction Process Of Sand Mandala

Each sand mandala is ritualistically dismantled once it has been completed. This process symbolises the Buddhist doctrinal belief in impermanence.

  • In the closing ceremony, the colored sand is swept towards the middle to show that every process has a beginning, middle and an end just like human life.
  • The swept sand is collected in jars, or taken to the water or distributed to those present upon their request.
  • The deities are removed in a particular order during the destruction of the mandala.
  • The complete process is seen as a blessing of the whole region.

The sand mandala is an auspicious tradition which can be followed by you as well. There are different ideas for creating a mandala with sand that is available in today’s time. Following the tradition with a clean heart would serve as a blessing to everyone.

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