16 May 2014

Mandala

*MANDALA*



Is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism, representing the Universe. The basic form of most mandalas is a square with four gates containing a circle with a 
center point. Each gate is in the general shape of a T. Mandalas often exhibit radial balance.The term is of Hindu origin. It appears in the Rig Veda as the name of the 
sections of the work, but is also used in other Indian religions, particularly Buddhism. In various spiritual traditions, mandalas may be employed for focusing attention of 
aspirants and adepts, as a spiritual teaching tool, for establishing a sacred space, and as an aid to meditation and trance induction. In common use, mandala has become a 
generic term for any plan, chart or geometric pattern that represents the cosmos metaphysically or symbolically; a microcosm of the universe. For the religious Hinduism, A 
yantra is a two- or three-dimensional geometric composition used in sadhanas, or meditative rituals. It is thought to be the abode of the deity. Each yantra is unique and 
calls the deity into the presence of the practitioner through the elaborate symbolic geometric designs. According to one scholar, "Yantras function as revelatory symbols of 
cosmic truths and as instructional charts of the spiritual aspect of human experience. Mandalas are commonly used by tantric Buddhists as an aid to meditation.


 The mandala is "a support for the meditating person", something to be repeatedly contemplated to the point of saturation, such that the image of the mandala becomes fully 
internalised in even the minutest detail and can then be summoned and contemplated at will as a clear and vivid visualized image. With every mandala comes what Tucci 
calls "its associated liturgy contained in texts known as tantras", instructing practitioners on how the mandala should be drawn, built and visualised, and indicating the 
mantras to be recited during its ritual use. By visualizing "pure lands", one learns to understand experience itself as pure, and as the abode of enlightenment. The protection 
that we need, in this view, is from our own minds, as much as from external sources of confusion. In many tantric mandalas, this aspect of separation and protection from 
the outer samsaric world is depicted by "the four outer circles: the purifying fire of wisdom, the vajra circle, the circle with the eight tombs, the lotus circle. The ring of vajras 
forms a connected fence-like arrangement running around the perimeter of the outer mandala circle.
The word mandala is a Sanskrit term that means “circle” or “discoid object”. A mandala can be defined in two ways: externally as a schematic visual representation of the 
universe and internally as a guide for several psychophysical practices that take place in many Asian traditions, including meditation.
Mandalas are objects of devotion in Tantric Hindu and in Tantric Buddhism and they are also used in Jainism. They can be painted on paper, wood, stone, cloth or even on a 
wall. In some traditions, they can be reproduced in ephemeral material such as butter or coloured sand. In some traditons like Tibetan Buddhism, the role of mandalas is so 
strong that it could become an architectural structure and even whole temples may be built as giant mandalas.
Sometimes mandalas are associated with a symbolic palace. 


In the centre of the mandala lies the palace, 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. On othe 
occasions, mandalas can represent a particular deity or even a group of deities (which could number a few or even thousands). In these cases the deity or main deity is 
placed at the centre of the mandala, while other deities are placed around the central image. The main deity is considered the generative force of the mandala and the 
secondary deities are seen as manifestations of the power of the core image. In the many traditions where mandalas are used, there are different rites where the practitioner, 
at least metaphorically, establishes a dialogue with the symbol or deity at the core of the mandala by moving progressively from the outside towards the centre. Once within 
the centre, the practitioner connects with the central symbol or deity and he or she is able to perceive all manifestations as part of a single underlying whole and gets closer 
to the goal of enlightenment or perfect understanding.
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