Different types of Mandala Thangka in Tibetan Buddhism
What is Mandala?
A mandala is a circular round shaped in symbol widely popular in Tibetan Buddhism and Hinduism. Different Mandala represents different meaning but mostly a mandala is the representation of the universe with an inner & outer world. Here, in this article we have categorised different kinds of Mandala that can help you to understand and possibly choose the best Mandala Thangka painting for your spiritual practice or simply just for your home to attract positive vibrations.
1) KALACHAKRA MANDALA
The Kalachakra term means Wheel of time. It is one of the most explicit kinds of modern mandala which is the discovery of the Dalai Lama himself. It represents the external as well as microcosm substances of the cosmos.
A wheel is a circular figure which has no beginning or endpoint. And the same term is used to represent the energies of life and reality, no energy disappears and comes from nowhere. Everything in this world runs in a chain and energy borrowed from one’s life is transmitted to another. With the practice of the Kalachakra Mandala, one can reach the state of enlightenment.
The mandala is the mirror of the cosmos, not only in its external form but also in the microcosm. It is based on the assumption of a very close relationship between the universe, the mandalic circle, and human beings. The Kalachakra mandala is derived from the Kalachakra tantra founded by Shakyamuni Buddha. This highest yoga tantra offers ontological understanding of existence.
EXTERNAL KALACHAKRA (outer kalachakra)
The external kalachakra refers to all the environment: mountains, planets, solar systems, homes, constellation of stars, and so forth. OM AH HUM HO HAM KSHA is not really a Kalachakra mantra but more of a symbol to the six chakras individually. The union mantra, Kalachakra monogram is HA KSHA MA LA WA RA YAM. Using OM in the beginning of this mantra is always an excellent option and we tend to use SVAHA or PHAT at the end of any sacred mantras. Such action aims to increase your spiritual capacities. This Kalachakra mantra explains the whole universe and internal individual’s body, mind, structure, and enlightenment of the generation and completion which can be classified as the aspects of Kalachakra: Internal Kalachakra, External Kalachakra, and Alternative Kalachakra. Any sickness and human problem can be cured with this mantra and any external problems or obstacles can be expelled from this mantra. So there’s nothing excluded by this divine mantra.
Everything in this universe from huge galaxies, stars, and planets to the tiniest atomic smallest particle level everything is in a cycle. Everything co-exists and form within the range of this cycle. Time is the process of everything that moves, changes, and occupies space, even the tiniest microscopic elements. That means the whole universe is Kalachakra. It covers Astronomy, Astrology, and Mathematics.
As per Kalachakra tantra, we are the key to unlock the mystery of the universe.
At the most peripheral level, everything is contained in the natural phenomenon of cycle of changes.
INTERNAL KALACHAKRA (inner kalachakra)
The internal Kalachakra refers to the person’s body having a nature of channels, winds, and drops of essential fluids.
The internal Kalachakra is the understanding of every sentient being. It deals with understanding to a subtle level not only body or mind structures. The proper understanding of internal Kalachakra corresponding external Kalachakra builds our capacity to affect the external universe.
Since every individual is internal Kalachakra so we all have the capacity to contribute to the benefits of the external Kalachakra.
Our human body has everything that’s out there in the universe. Everything has a coalition. Our mind and body resonate with the wheel of time. It denotes the structure of the human body and its system of energies and the alternate Chakra. The qualities we possess as a human has resemblance with the wheel and the time. The loving nature makes us stay connected to all that depicts the wheel, compassion is like the time: inevitable without time. It’s the wheel of time inside us as the quality of kindness, loving and compassionate nature. Kalachakra states, every sentient being has Buddha-nature, which means everybody has temporary potential nature, but ultimately absolute Buddha-nature.
The Kalachakra mandala is made as a replica of a 3-dimensional divine palace. This mandala consists of five levels: body, speech, mind, pristine consciousness, and bliss mandala. Kalachakra mandala came from the source of Kalachakra tantra, teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha around 2600 years ago. This highest yoga tantra links human beings with the universe and cosmos as a whole.
The body mandala represents a year: 12 months. It’s the ground level of the mandala where 536 deities live. The speech mandala is on the second floor of the palace where 116 deities live. There are five colored bands in the foundation walls: green, black, red, white, and yellow which represent trust, effort, attention, concentration, and wisdom respectively. Next, the mind mandala has 70 deities residing on the third floor of the palace. There are three color bands in the foundation of the walls: white, red, and black which represent three paths of Buddhism: diamond, greater and lesser respectively. The pristine consciousness mandala is on the fourth floor of the Kalachakra mandala. The sixteen black pillars of this level, four on every four directions symbolize the phase of emptiness. Last but not least great bliss mandala is the representation of one’s phase of entering into happiness. It is the highest level of this sacred palace. The four dots on the four corners of this level represent the qualities of mind, consciousness, word, and body of the Kalachakra mandala.
The central part of this mandala has a lotus flower which is a sacred symbol in Buddhism. In some thangka paintings, this lotus flower is replaced by the two deities: Vishvamata and Kalachakra. There’s an imaginative roof over the palace and the whole palace of this painting is placed over four disks which represents the four main elements. They are fire, earth, water, and wind.
2) MANTRA MANDALA
The power of mantras influences everything. The right creation of the Mantra mandala opens the doorway into creation. There are different types of mantras that help us recognize the life and many facets of life. Sound is the essence of creation and mantras are derived from it. Its existence is before us and beyond us. These mantras help us in getting into the psychological structure of human beings.
If you don’t have the keenness to pay attention and be driven away by the mantra mandala itself, you cannot enjoy any aspect of creation actually. A mantra is a chant, simply a sound, a reverberation. First of all, what you are uttering is a mantra and you must look at it, mantra is a pure sound. It need not have any meaning. These are words that make you involved, engaged and for that, you have to look at the picture. The mantra is, you involve yourself in the sound because you, yourself, your physical body are a certain pattern of sound. When you look at the mantra thangka and reverb the sound, you’re trying to make yourself into a different pattern of sound so that this sound becomes an access point to the larger sound, which you call a cosmos.
Mantra mandala thangka paintings from LUCKY THANKA are handmade paintings by master artists and practitioners of Kathmandu Valley. These are encircled by the chanted mantra of Buddhism “OM MANI PADME HUM” which means praise to the jewel in the Lotus. It is the universal peace, iconic mantra which is probably the most famous of all Buddhist mantras.
So mantra mandala thangka is a combination, you get the combination right, it will open doorway into creation. Mantras are the existential meaningful words that give power to the surrounding, all living things and lives around. As a whole, mantras have influence on everything. The chanting of the mantra helps us feel the vibrations of the symbol and makes us visualize the connection of mind and universe. It helps to establish sacred space and get into a meditative, regenerative state of mind. The mantra helps us uplift values to our daily lives.
All you need to do is rely on this mantra, it is very very powerful that merely listening to it or chanting this mantra helps to remove negative auras. Any kind of problems that you have, you must practice gazing at these mantras and chant them to see magical changes in your lives. It will help you progress, get new ideas, and takes you to your goals and success.
THE MANTRA AND ITS BENEFITS
OM MANI PADME HUM is a six syllables word. The meaning of these six syllables is quite vast. The mantra OM is certainly common in Buddhism, Hinduism, and also other religions. In Buddhism, the word OM spelled as AUM and it represents body, mind, and speech. It also symbolizes the exalted pure body, speech, and mind. In summary, OM is the representation of the transformation of one’s impure 3 elements to the pure and ever-present state of the same 3 elements.
The path to pureness is indicated in the remaining four syllables. Buddhism believes that all beings have the potential to become a Buddha and one can practice the path and purify themselves by developing body, speech, and mind.
MA NE means jewel, joy and this represents the method aspect of the path, infinite altruism. Just like a jewel removes a person’s poverty, this bodhicitta mind can actually take away the poverty of all the kind of difficulties a person has in samsara and also lead you to full awakening. This is a powerful treasure, infinity altruism, the intention to become enlightened, compassionate, and loving.
PADMA, these two syllables represent lotus which means wisdom. There’s no contradiction when we have wisdom. There are many kinds of wisdom that we can develop but the main wisdom this mantra talks about is the wisdom of emptiness.
HUM represents the invisible unity of altruism and wisdom to achieve purity of those 3 elements. It carries the meaning of combination.
The six syllables as a whole means that the combined practice of infinite altruism, compassion, and wisdom, one can transform their impure body, speech, and mind into that of the Buddha. The substances for achievement of Buddhahood are within us and reciting of the mantra OM MANE PADME HUM can bring it to fullness.
The mantra thangka painting consisting of this magical, divine mantra helps to eliminate negative karma, remove internal and external obstacles that lie in the way of our spiritual development.
3) COSMOS MANDALA
These are two dimensional mandalas having multiple circular bands commonly made on cloth i.e. thangka painting.The cosmos mandala depicts the circuitous movement of planets, sun, moon, and the entire cosmos around Mount Meru.
This holy mountain is considered as the axis of the geocentric universe. Mount Meru is also termed Sumeru which is represented as the meeting point of both the physical and spiritual universe. Many temples, monasteries, and other art forms have been built as the symbolic representation of this mountain.The Meru Mountain is represented with various symbols and geometric designs in other art forms as well. In cosmos mandala, the mountain is made with an aerial point of view which appears as a small dot or is symbolized with the mantra OM in the center of the mandala.
This mandala represents the infinite relation betweem bodies and minds with the wholeness of a cosmic diagram. This classic mandala thangka can be made with more complex planetary cycles in larger paintings.
The various geometric shapes and symbols used in this painting depict various metaphysical state of mind. Its sacred design tends to propitiate the planets and invoke their blessings.
Cosmos means the universe and the Sun and the moon are the major bodies of the cosmos and the cosmos mandala itself.
The central OM symbol is surrounded by continuous rotation of wind and sound of om mantra. This continuous rotation around the om symbol condenses into basic elements: Wind, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. This condensation represents the state of accumulation.
The red triangles in the central circle depict fire, the fire stands for manifestation of transformation. Likewise, the element water represents liquid matter and is depicted by half circle or circles of the mandala. Earth is symbolized by yellow squares or cubes which represent solid matters. Gaseous matter is represented by the wind or air. The Cosmic Mandala is bordered/circumscribed by bands of flames in whirl manner.
The blue ether at the central background portrays comprehensive source of all elements. The expanding order of the elements is emulsified in the blue band circumcising the center.
SIGNIFICANCE OF COSMOS MANDALA IN THE LIGHT OF BUDDHISM
When people look at the cosmos mandala, people are often confused to address a meaning to the planets and different forms of lives, elements engraved in the mandala. The meaning isn’t something objective or verified in the mandala itself.
It allows us to be open in order to continue to get in touch with the wonders of life. It helps us discover more. It has the capacity to nurse you, heal you.
The holy mount Meru of this mandala is often mistakenly assumed to be heaven. In Hindu mythology, the mountain is considered to be the home for deities like Indra, various sages, and gandharvas. Religious mythological accounts show this to exist on top of this mountain.
The power of using mandalas in your daily life evokes deep state of relaxation and healings. It has the capacity to make an impactful therapeutic benefit in our day-to-day lives. There are hundreds of different mandalas that every individual can choose from to match their connectivity and benefit themselves.
Healing mandalas help your for soul activation and radiant manifestation through sacred words, symbols, color, and shaped engraved in the mandala. It’s definitely something to behold. These mandalas are definitely beautiful, magnificent, and filled with gorgeous colors in every area.
This sacred circle represents wholeness, health, unity, and harmony of life. These pieces of artwork are used in thangka paintings to evoke healing, spiritual development, and meditation. It symbolizes being one with the universe and directs the positive high level of energies in our lives.
It’s a great opportunity to use this as a technique to get yourself into the optimum window of regeneration. The really cool thing about our mandalas is that it allows you to access both parts of the brain when you gaze at it or keep in your daily workspace, room. It puts an impact on the prefrontal cortex of the brain which deals with our capacity of reasoning and judgement. And as we gradually go through the colors of the mandala it accesses our right side of the brain. You can use a mandala to model containment because they are self-contained images. They are also an auto hypnotic function. So, when we begin to focus on the coloring, staying within the shapes and the lines to focus and very specifically on the colors, shapes, and lines within that pattern, It brings the hyper focus to what we are doing. It makes us feel more grounded and more present at the instant moment.
Take about 10 minutes ahead of time to get into your daily work and allow your brain to tap into its imaginations and creativity. It’s soothing, containing and increases your concentration levels. It just allows us to be more focused so we can meet whatever challenges confront us.
4) BODHISATTVA MANDALA
Bodhisattva is a divine being who abandons all egotistical, unmindful interests and seeks only the greatest equality, freedom, independence and happiness of all mortal beings. They have the capacity to reach nirvana but delay in doing so by going through compassion for suffering beings. The historical Buddha, SIDDHARTHA GAUTAM was a bodhisattva prior to his enlightenment under the Bodhi tree.
Bodhi Dharma is also one of the most popular bodhisattvas who helped people in the time of crucial need embodying the perfection of virtuous ideas. Similarly, Avalokitesvara is also a popular bodhisattva commonly represented in the bodhisattva mandalas. Many other bodhisattvas have been depicted in Tibetan Buddhism art forms especially mandala thangka paintings. The main bodhisattvas that are included in artifacts are Avalokitesvara, Manjusri, Samantabhadra, Ksitigarbha, Maitreya, Vajrapani, and so on.
Avalokitesvara is known with many different names in different countries. The Dalai Lama is believed to be the incarnation form of him. The thangka painting of Avalokitesvara consists of a lotus flower on his hand and he is depicted in some paintings as female also. The Padma is the term for lotus flower in Sanskrit and since he holds a lotus flower, Avalokitesvara is also called PADMAPANI.
MANJUSHRI is also a bodhisattva, depicted as a male bodhisattva wielding a flaming sword in his right hand. He is the source of manifestation of great wisdom and meditation. Manjushri sits in the center of the mandala and is considered the peaceful form of Manjuvajra. This bodhisattva slashes past ignorance.
Bodhisattva thangka paintings can be seen with many bodhisattvas surrounding several Buddhas. This type of painting represents path for the awakening of a practitioner while taking the bodhisattva vows. These paths are the path of accumulation, application, seeing, meditation, and learning.
5) SHRI YANTRA MANDALA
Shri yantra mandala is a sacred geometric pattern of three chakras. It’s a diagram formed by interlocking nine triangles radiating from a dot. As per Advaita Vedanta Sage, Shri Yantra is the key to mastering the science of the creation of what you want and the destruction of what you don’t want.
The Shri yantra mandala thangka painting represents a microcosmic level of the universe as well as the human body. Each circuitous route in Shri yantra is equivalent to one of the chakras in the human body. The twirling and diversifying Shri yantra act as the universe. The tonoscopic image of the sacred sound OM matches with the geometric pattern of Shri yantra which is quite an interesting fact.
The earthward triangles represent the female philosophy, i.e. SHAKTI and the skyward triangles represent the male philosophy, i.e. SHIVA. This interlocking of 9 triangles: 5 downwards and 4 upwards lead to the creation of 43 smaller triangles.
A Shri Yantra mandala is worshipped and mediated as each of these 43 triangles represent a deity. The core dot is the spot of origination and unification where one amalgamates with the highest level of awareness, responsiveness, and consciousness. For yogis, this mandala is much like a tuning fork that helps connect them to the universal consciousness. These are great tools to sharpen our precise imaginative skills while meditating along.
6) SPIRITUAL MANDALA
Hindus and Tibetan Buddhists were the first practitioners of spiritual mandalas as spiritual tools. These are used for meditation purposes allowing the individual to become one with the universe. The symbolism for the creation of a mandala can be through the journeys of their lives. They reflect the individual’s path in life. The spiritual mandala can be chosen from which one you connect with the most. These bring you the sense of sight and the ability to seek light in the darkest times of your life. The mandala invokes your positivity and helps you reach for the best decisions in life. The spirit of the mandala acts as a key to unlock your inner wisdom. It brings the nurturing capabilities and complete dedication to all the things and beings you aim, and love respectively. The mandala believes that only when you truly forgive someone, only then your true healing begins.
SIGNIFICANCE OF HANGING A TIBETAN MANDALA THANGKA AT HOME
These paintings can do a cleansing of the atmosphere inside a place. If you are generally very disheartened, sad, and full of all mixed feelings for someone, it will work in helping you heal faster. These are great to extract out any kinds of emotional wounds that you may have.
Mandala thangka painting has the potential to bless the heart and mind of the practitioner. There are times when we feel stuck in constant negative patterns of failure, stress, and discomfort in our daily lives. If you are facing this repeatedly over and over again despite your efforts to make things better, then a lucky thanka painting is just for you. These paintings are so powerful to break the chain of the negative flow of energies around.
Any kind of fear that is constantly causing a lot of uneasiness in your life can be easily swept away with the practice of making a thangka painting or gazing at one. Gazing at a thangka painting opens up our minds and lets us address our worries, fears, and other concerns. It helps you solve your problems and bring clarity for what your next step should be.
Your mind will be refreshed and relaxed when you meditate along with visualizing the painting in your imagination.
In Buddhism, Buddha has stated that one’s master is the person himself. And one’s future entirely depends on them only. It’s mentioned in Buddhism that knowledge is very important to utilize human intelligence fully. And to utilize one must know the mental function system.
Mandala thangka paintings are pieces of artwork that are used to evoke healing, spiritual development, and meditation. They help us direct the flow of energies in our regular home space, workspace, religious gatherings, temples, and so on. Gazing at a mandala thangka can help you turn negativity and suffering into powerful manifestation forces. Different colors used in a mandala design represent different desired outcomes. Color in the spiritual realm supersedes physical color. That is why some mandalas can also be made colorless for you to fill with your imaginative colors and energies. These are great engaging tools for one to invest time in and be driven away by the magical healing powers of a mandala. They absorb the negative thoughts, emotions, and aura of a chaotic environment and transform them into constructive energies. It will bring you closer to divine manifestation.
These stunning design mandalas with beautiful craftsmanship harness powerful forces to begin your journey of self-discovery and enlightenment. The symbol of the mandala represents the core of the universe in its purest form, pulling powerful energies in your way. Having a mandala thangka painting develops balance, harmony, and joy in life. It relaxes and heals the body, mind, and spirit, stimulates creative thinking and problem solving, combats depression and anxiety, reduces stress. The benefit of a mandala thangka painting is uncountable and one must really invest into buying one to experience the undeniable magical powers it adds into your life.
loved reading your article. wish to see more in the coming days.