Mandala art on Instagram has got us so charmed that at least once all of you must have tried drawing it. Along with its alluring look Mandala has a deeper theory and symbolism behind it. It is not just a trendy art but also a healing art.

It holds great symbolism in the Hindu and Buddhist cultures. A Mandala is a Sanskrit word that means “circle” or “discoid object” in a geometric pattern. It is believed to portray various aspects of the universe and is used as an instrument of meditation and symbols of prayer in Japan, Tibet and in China.

The most basic Mandala are circles contained within the square and arranged into sections arranged around a central point. It was typically produced on paper, the cloth was drawn on the surface with bronze or threads or built on stone. Mandala is a standalone work of art that holds symbolic and meditative meaning besides its vivid appearance. 

Image credits: Wall Mantra (L); How Stuff Works (R)

What is Mandala?

In Asian cultures, Mandala is a spiritual symbol. There are two ways to understand it. Firstly, the external appearance resembles the visual representation of the universe. Secondly, the internal is the guide for several practices that take place in lots of Asian traditions which includes meditation. The belief in Hinduism and Buddhism says that entering in Mandala and heading towards the centre guides you through the cosmic transformation of suffering into joy and happiness.

Get to know more about Mandala in detail with us. Rooftop conducts a step-by-step workshop on the Mandala.

A Brief History

Around 560 B.C. In Nepal, Gautama Budha was born. A folktale tells the story of Siddhartha that who left his kingdom after getting to know the real suffering of his subject. He acquired enlightenment through meditation and thoughtful action. Gradually, he began preaching his wisdom across parts of India and Nepal. During this process, he gained a reverent swarm of followers. He established Sangha, the first community of Buddhists.

While travelling the Silk Road, an ancient network of trade routes connecting east and west, these monks carried Buddhism and Mandalas to other lands. They educated the people about the art of drawing these spiritual patterns. Mandala has its roots in Buddhism but soon Hinduism and surrounding religions remodelled to this transformation. 

Tibet, India, China, Nepal, Bhutan and, Indonesia produced Mandala in the 4th century. Buddhist monks created these diagrams out of coloured sand and practised non – attachment which liberated them.

Symbolism of Mandala

Image credits: Britannica (L); Invaluable (R)

Mandalas are an object of meditation to help in one’s spiritual development. The image portrays the universe and the symbols represent the spiritual journey. The central idea of the Mandala is the never-ending cycle of birth – life – death and the relation between all living things. Buddhist tradition highlights the potential of enlightenment just like Budha and illustrates various obstacles that one can overcome to grow compassion and wisdom. Whereas Hinduism focuses on the realisation that you are divine. Some common symbols are:

  • Bell: This refers to openness and emptying the mind in order to clear the path for wisdom and clarity to enter.
  • Wheel with eight spokes: The eight spokes are the eightfold path of Buddhism that leads to liberation and rebirth. The wheel is circular which represents the universe.
  • Triangle: This represents action and energy if faces upward while if it faces downward then it represents creativity and the quest for knowledge.
  • Lotus Flower: One of the sacred symbols of Buddhism is Lotus. The asymmetrical lotus represents balance. Like lotus reaches out to the light from underwater, so do all human beings. They reach for spiritual insight.
  • Sun: This often carries meaning related to life and energy. This is popular in modern patterns of Mandala.

How to use Mandala?

Carl Jung, a brilliant psychologist, believed that the Mandala portrays the Self and drawing it gives a person sacred space to meet oneself. Moreover, he believed it is an effective form of art therapy. Healing circles and Native Americans use the art of Mandala . These circles mean restoration of body, mind and heart.

A variety of religious traditions and meditation use Mandala. Patterns are formed on the ground using metal and small tubes to create texture and organise the grains. In addition, the creation of the Mandala takes weeks whereas shortly after it is completed it is destroyed to symbolise the Buddhist philosophy for nothing is permanent.

If you find this tinkling your art bone and want to find out more about Mandala then Rooftop is here for you. With us, you can explore the art of Mandala in-depth and can know more about it through our guided workshops. Lucky for you we have Mandala Workshop coming up!

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