Mandala Art: The Indian Glory

Mandala as an art form first appeared in Buddhist art produced in India during the first century B.C. In the new age, the mandala is a diagram, chart or geometric pattern that represents the cosmos metaphysically or symbolically. Originally meant to represent wholeness and a model for the organizational structure of life itself, it is a cosmic diagram that shows the relation to the infinite and the world that extends beyond and within various minds & bodies. These can also be observed in rangoli designs in Indian households. They’re typically produced on paper or cloth, drawn on a surface with threads, fashioned in bronze, or built in stone. While extraordinary as a standalone work of art, mandalas hold symbolic and meditative meaning beyond their vibrant appearance.

The meaning of the word mandala in Sanskrit is circle. Mandala is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism. The circular design symbolizes the idea that life is never ending and everything is connected. The mandala also represents a spiritual journey within the individual viewer. The first level is understanding the unity in cosmos and second that each individual must find their own place within it. It is sometimes drawn as a circle enclosing a square with a deity on each side, this is mainly used to aid in meditation and yoga. Mandalas have many uses apart from meditation as the designs are meant to remove irritating thoughts and allow the creative mind to run free. But ultimately people create and look at mandalas to centre the body and mind. The colouring of the mandalas is used as a healing tool and is associated with reducing stress and anxiety. It also allows you to express your creative side which often we are not able to do in our daily lives and stresses.

There are various types of mandalas found in different cultures and used for a multitude of purposes, both artistically and spiritually. Below are three main types of mandalas and how they are used.

1. The Teaching Mandala Teaching mandalas are symbolic. Each shape, line, and colour represents a different aspect of a philosophical or religious system. The student creates his or her own mandala based on principles of design and construction, projecting a visual symbolization of everything they have learned. Teaching mandalas serve as colourful, mental maps for their creators.

2. The Healing Mandala Healing mandalas are more intuitive than teaching mandalas, and they are made for the purpose of meditation. Healing mandalas are intended to deliver wisdom, evoke feelings of calm, and channel focus and concentration.

3. The Sand Mandala Buddhist monks and Navajo cultures have long used sand mandalas as a traditional, religious element. These intricate designs use a variety of symbols made from coloured sand that represent the impermanence of human life.

(Mandala is the exponent of all paths. It is the path to the centre, to individuation. I knew that in finding the mandala as an expression of the self I had attained what was for me the ultimate)

(Things exist interdependently, and that interdependent existence of things happens in the fashion of orderly chaos)

(The flower’s perfume has no form, but it pervades space. Likewise, through a spiral of mandalas formless reality is known)

Authored by: Shreya Mahato

Edited by: Aditi Kiran