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Mandala Art

  • Category
    History
  • Published
    2nd Sep, 2022

Context

India’s Mandala art, which has its roots in ancient philosophy, is now getting famous worldwide. In a recent event, a spectacular ‘Mandala’ art installation, The Knowsley Mandala, was unveiled in the United Kingdom (Liverpool).

Background

  • The art 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.
  • In Hinduism, the mandala imagery first appeared in Rig Veda (1500 – 500 BCE).


In Buddhism, the Sand Mandala painting originated in Vajrayana Buddhism for meditative purposes.

Analysis

What is a Mandala?

  • In the ancient Sanskrit language of Hinduism and Buddhism, mandala means “circle.”
  • Traditionally, a mandala is a geometric design or pattern that represents the cosmos or deities in various heavenly worlds.
  • A mandala is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Asian cultures.

Mandala in Hinduism & Buddhism:

  • In Hindu philosophical systems, a mandala or ‘yantra’ is usually in the shape of a square with a circle at its centre.
  • A traditional Buddhist mandala is a circular painting that is meant to help its creator discover their true self.
  • Significance of Mandala motifs:
  • Hinduism and Buddhism: By entering the mandala and proceeding towards its centre, you are guided through the cosmic process of transforming the universe from one of suffering into one of joy and happiness.

Mandala art therapy 

  • Mandala art therapyis a kind of psychotherapy.
  • This therapy is used in treating depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, grief, anger management, improving self-esteem, management of addictions, relieving stress, improving symptoms of anxiety, and coping with any kind of physical illness or disability.

Symbolism in Mandalas

Wheel with eight spokes (Dharmachakra)

The circular nature of a wheel works as an artistic representation of a perfect universe. The eight spokes represent the Eightfold Path of Buddhism, a summary of practices that lead to liberation and rebirth.

Bell

Bells represent 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 represent creativity and the pursuit of knowledge.

Lotus flower

A sacred symbol in Buddhism, the symmetry of a lotus depicts balance. As a lotus reaches up from underwater into the light, so too does a human reaching for spiritual awakening and enlightenment.

Sun

A popular basis for modern mandala patterns, suns tend to represent the universe, often carrying meanings related to life and energy.

 

Fun exercise

  • Create your own Mandala to heal yourself.
  • Use your intuition as a guide as to what medium one would want to use for the Mandala.
  • You can use things like sand, watercolours, crayons, pastels, pencils, paint, flowers, leaves, rocks, gems, etc. to create mandalas.
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