What is a Mandala?
Meaning of the concentric symbol
Mandala Meaning and Definition
The shape of the circle underlies almost every mandala. Mandalas are concentric in structure. This means that the lines and patterns lead to the centre, the centre of the mandala, around which everything is arranged, whereby the arrangement is not random. In almost all mandalas there are seemingly endless reflections and symmetries.
A mandala shows the whole universe
Depending on its geometry, a mandala shows an entire universe or just a small microcosm of it. Mandalas are reliably ordered and at the same time full of diversity due to their recurring arrangement of many shapes and patterns, which is why they have generated great fascination among people for centuries. In today’s physical world, a mandala serves many as a meditation aid or pictorial representation of self-discovery.
Mandala means circle
Mandalas are always arranged concentrically
The Basic Mandala Shapes
- The circular shape symbolises the entirety, the soul of life. It supports concentration on the essential and the order of the mind. The centre, the focal point serves as a gathering point of energies.
- A triangular shape connects positive, neutral and negative energies and symbolises the eternal equal flow and dependence on each other.
- The star shape is an image for the freedom of the spirit and creativity. The star points in all directions and connects the many facets of life.
- The square represents the palace of the spirit as the residence of the gods. For this reason, Hindu temples and palaces are always arranged in a square, with a gate in each direction. In the middle there is always an altar for the god to whom the respective temple is dedicated.
A Mandala has many forms
The basic shape of mandalas is always round
Mandalas in Buddhism
In Buddhism, a mandala has a high significance in meditation. The creation of mandalas serves Buddhist monks as a special form of spiritual purification and symbolises a healing blessing for all living beings.
In meticulous detail work, the mandala is constructed from the inside out, thus creating a structure that represents the spiritual palace of the mind. Buddhas and Bodhisattvas (enlightened beings) are supposed to appear in it, descending from their spiritual realms to bless the world and its monks with love and wisdom for the creation of the mandala. By the way, Buddha means enlightened person, or awakened one.
The mandala represents the spiritual development of the monks in the present as well as in the future. The creation is meant to ultimately bring the practitioner closer to enlightenment.
The completion of a traditional mandala takes 7 days. Afterwards, it may be viewed by all and used for meditation.
Afterwards, the structure is destroyed in a ceremony. This symbolises the discontinuity of life and that detachment from earthly things is an important step towards understanding the universe. At the same time, it symbolises the simple beauty of things and the value of consciously appreciating every moment.
Buddhist Mandala from Sand
Creating a mandala is a meditative practice
Mandalas im Hinduism
Mandalas in Hinduism show diagrams that depict the universe. The word mandala means circle or circular, with symmetrical patterns enclosing the sacred centre.
The centre of the mandala is called Bindu and symbolises the mythical mountain at the centre of the universe. Reaching this mountain represents enlightenment through meditation. In Hinduism, the universe is divided by energy lines that charge the world with divine energy. In the mandala, these are represented by triangles and squares, which accumulate large amounts of energy at the points of intersection.
Each temple displays a mandala
The basic form of a Hindu temple
A mandala determines the structure of temples in Hinduism
Mandala Meaning in Modern Times
Over the centuries, mandalas have lost none of their captivating effect on people. Today, the word mandala is increasingly used as a generic term for circular, concentric images. Countless versions and variations of traditional mandalas exist.
They are combined with modern designs and painted or printed on everyday objects. Mandalas have also been used as floor and stage decorations at music festivals since time immemorial, where they accompany music and dance as a visualisation of diversity, freedom and harmony.
Although the original mandalas rarely have the same meaning, old and new creations of mandalas are becoming more and more popular.
Also a modern mandala is fascinating
Mandalas are becoming more and more popular in the western world as well
Mandala decoration and its effect
Mandala decoration is becoming increasingly popular in the western living world. The concentric patterns and recurring shapes in mandalas have a focusing and concentration-enhancing effect on the human mind, which is why mandalas can be a useful aid when working or studying.
Originally, a mandala tapestry was used as an aid to meditation, to enhance the process of self-discovery. The contemplation of the complex, twisted structures focuses the mind so that unwanted thoughts cannot intrude and the contemplator thereby attains a state of higher consciousness.
Mandala cloths are therefore often used to design meditation sites or yoga spaces to support physical or spiritual rituals.
In addition, many mandalas contain symbols or animal images that exude a special serenity and tranquillity, making mandalas in the bedroom and above the bed also suitable as a sleep aid. They are often found as canopy beds or oriental canopies. Due to the diverse visual offer in their colours, shapes and patterns, they invite you to wander your thoughts and dream.