- A mandala is a geometric design that usually incorporates a circular shape in some form.
- It can also be created in the shape of a square, a mandala pattern is essentially interconnected.
- In Sanskrit, Mandala means “circle” or “centre”.
- It holds a great deal of symbolism in Hindu and Buddhist cultures.
- It is believed to be rooted in Buddhism, appearing in the first century BC in India.
- Over the next couple of centuries, Buddhist missionaries travelling along the silk road took it to other regions.
- By the sixth century, mandalas have been recorded in China, Korea, Japan, Indonesia and Tibet.
- In Hinduism, the mandala imagery first appeared in Rig Veda (1500 – 500 BCE).
The meaning of the motif
- It is believed that by entering the mandala and moving towards its centre, one is guided through the cosmic process of transforming the universe from one of suffering to that of joy.
- In Hinduism, a mandala or yantra is in the shape of a square with a circle at its centre.
Some common symbols used in the mandala are:
- Wheel with eight spokes: The circle of a wheel works as an artistic representation of a perfect universe. The eight spokes show the Eightfold Path of Buddhism, a summary of practices that lead to liberation and rebirth.
- Bell: In mandalas, bells represent the openness and emptying of the mind to allow the entrance of wisdom and clarity.
- Triangle: When facing upward, triangles represent action and energy, and when facing downward, they show creativity and the pursuit of knowledge.
- Lotus flower: This is a sacred symbol in Buddhism, the symmetry of a lotus depicts balance. When a lotus grows up from underwater into the light, so too does a human reaching for spiritual awakening and enlightenment.
- Sun: Sun is a popular basis for modern mandala patterns. It tends to represent the universe, often carrying meanings related to life and energy.
Mandala in modern Indian art
- While it continues to appear in thangka paintings, it has a central place in the practice of mainstream artists associated with the tantric and neo-tantric spiritual movements.
- In the 1960s Sohan Qadri and Prafulla Mohanty gained widespread recognition for their works that were imbibed with tantric symbolism, such as mandalas that are also used in the rituals of tantric initiation.
- Geometric compositions also dominated the works of artists such as Biren De, GR Santosh, Shobha Broota, and famously SH Raza, who visualised the Bindu as the centre of his universe and the source of energy and life.
Why in news?
Residents of Liverpool are marvelling over a mandala the size of one and a half football pitches in length created by artist James Brunt with materials such as leaves and rocks.