The word mandala in Sanskrit refers to a circle believed to represent the universe, its wholeness and the cycle of life. The intricate work of art incorporates geometric patterns, religious symbolism, and layers of meaning that can serve as a prayer, meditation practice, and holy blessing all in one.
In Buddhism, mandalas are the ideal form of the universe. The act of making a mandala symbolizes the universe’s change from a sorrowful existence to one of enlightenment. The mandala’s centre represents the start of each person’s path toward wisdom, knowledge, and enlightenment. Mandalas are frequently used in Bhutan as instruments of meditation, ceremonial rites, worship, and sacred art.
Mandalas are stunning pieces of art that can be used to decorate your home in addition to assisting you in achieving your personal development goals. Given how significant mandala is to Buddhist tradition, let’s explore its history, painters, therapeutic benefits, the process of creating one, as well as some of its more popular types respectively.
A Brief History
In roughly 560 B.C., Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, was born in Nepal. After becoming conscious of human suffering, Gautama abandoned his kingdom to seek enlightenment via meditation and thoughtful actions. He began preaching his philosophy throughout India, gaining fervent disciples and eventually founding the first sangha, or Buddhist monastic community.
These Buddhist monks travelled the Silk Road, a historic commercial network that united East and West and spread Buddhism in different countries. They brought mandalas with them and spread the art of creating these mystical masterpieces throughout Asia. Mandalas, which have their origins in Buddhism, have since found their way into Hinduism and other religious rituals.
The therapeutic benefits of Mandalas
Mandala art has grown in popularity in the West in recent years as a result of its powerful healing properties. For thousands of years, the ancient art form has captivated people for the following functions:
Mandalas are a type of meditation. We are believed to be made up of energies and vibrations that flow across in all shapes and hues causing imbalance and disharmony. Mandala meditation can be very helpful in bringing harmony and peace by balancing energies and vibrations in our bodies.
In mandala meditation, one begins by concentrating on the centre of the circle of the mandala. This is where you can ‘enter’ the Mandala and begin your journey with the symbols. You should remain focused and take in the mandala’s patterns and colours without becoming distracted. Continuing to relax and breathe as you delve deeper and deeper into the Mandala, you may begin to feel at ease and receive intuitive messages.
Mandalas make it simpler to connect with the most personal aspects of oneself assisting in the quest for self-awareness. They’re a fantastic tool for contemplating your role in the world and your relationships with others.
In today’s world, everyone is multitasking in an attempt to balance work and personal life. This causes a lot of mental stress, which if not addressed in a timely manner, can lead to mental health issues. Mandalas are excellent stress relievers. The elaborate designs provide something to focus on, thereby stopping your brain from going in circles around an issue and allowing it to rest.
The painters, both past and present, are devout laypeople who come from families where painting is a family tradition. Monks are among the painters. All artists are religious, and in Tibetan Buddhism, all painters must first go through a series of initiation procedures.
The making of painted mandala
Paintings are made in a systematic manner, consisting of five steps:
- Preparation of the painting surface: The most common support (the underlying material) is a cloth stretched over a wooden frame. A layer of gelatin is applied to the cloth to coat and stiffen it. Over the support, a top layer of gesso (white earth pigment, such as chalk or white clay) is added. The gesso is polished to create a smooth surface.
- Establishment of a design by a sketch of transfer: The painter consults with the client to determine what needs to be depicted. As an example, a diagram might be presented. A charcoal crayon is used to create the preliminary sketch. In brush and black ink, the final drawing enhances the original.
- Laying down the initial coats of paint: Mineral pigments and organic dyes are the two types of paints. Brushes are made up of a fine animal hair tip that is threaded to a wooden handle. Before being used as paints, mineral pigments are combined with a binder, commonly hide glue and used for the first colour coat.
- Shading and outlining: Shades and outlining are done with organic dyes.
- Finishing touches: To achieve an even surface, most painters conclude their job by scraping it with a knife-edge. The artist then uses a duster or rag to dust the painting and a little ball of parched grain flour dough to rub the surface. This restores the matte finish while also removing any leftover paint dust.
The making of sand mandala
Sand mandalas are works of art made to promote healing, tranquility, and cleansing. It represents the human path from ignorance to enlightenment. All sand mandalas are handcrafted with complex intricacies and need a great deal of patience, perseverance, and teamwork. A sand mandala can take weeks to build, yet it is destroyed after it is finished, highlighting the transience of all things in the universe.
The monks will perform a few ceremonies before beginning work on the mandala. Outsiders are rarely allowed to take part in the opening rites, which include chanting, dancing, and prayers. The monks begin the drawing process after the opening ceremony. The design normally starts with a dot in the center, where the image of the deity is drawn. The outer circle is often associated with wisdom in Buddhism. Monks begin filling the outline with colored sand from the center outward once the outline has been drawn. The monks will then use traditional metal funnels to pour millions of grains of colored sand into the space, cleaning and healing the space and its inhabitants.
Shortly after the mandala is completed and the ceremonies and public viewings are over, the mandala is purposefully destroyed by sweeping the sand to the side. This represents the law of impermanence, which states that nothing lasts forever and that everything is always changing. The sand is occasionally tossed into a river to disseminate the sacred sand around the world.