Learn everything you need to know about mandala meaning

Mandala, often pronounced as mah-ndah-lah,” is a powerful spiritual symbol used in ceremonial rituals, worship, sacred art, and meditation. Mandalas are used by both Hindus and Buddhists to represent the universe. The name is derived from two different words, “la” and “manda”, which mean container and essence.

If you’re still wondering, “what does mandala mean” then I feel that this may help: the term mandala directly translates to “circle” in Sanskrit. A mandala can generally be recognized by its concentric circles and other geometric figures. In today’s world, the term mandala refers to any pattern or diagram with a radial balance.

The most basic form comprises a square with four gates in the shape of a T and a circle with a central point. However, a mandala may embody other geometrical shapes such as triangles and polygons to form a labyrinth disc that has a symbolic meaning.

Symbolism of Mandala

Mandalas are rich in symbolism in Hinduism and Buddhism; they evoke a deep aspect in both religions’ teachings. As the monks create the mandala, they impart the Buddha’s teachings. To unlock the hidden meaning of mandala symbols, one needs a much deeper understanding.

On the mandala structure, there is a square temple that is surrounded by several concentric circles. The outer circle resembles a ring of fire and symbolizes the way humans are transformed before they can enter the interior.

The second outermost circle is made out of diamond and symbolizes indestructibility. After that, the next circle is of the eight graveyards.

This circle represents all the aspects of human consciousness through which humans are bound to the cycle of rebirth. The inner circle is made using lotus leaves, which are a symbol of religious rebirth.

At the center, there is a dot over which there’s an image of the chief deity. This is symbolism to show that the chief deity is the center of the universe and has no dimensions.

The square temple contains the essence of the Buddha. Within the structure is a palace that is for the resident deities. The temple has four gates, which are a representation of  the following ideologies:

  1. The four directions, i.e., north, south, east, and west
  2. The four boundless thoughts, i.e., sympathy, compassion, loving-kindness, and equanimity.

Another symbol that is used in the mandala is a bell, which represents feminine energy.

The sacred meaning of mandala

Mandalas are more than just geometric figures. The mandala is not only rich in symbolism but also in sacred meaning. It’s a sacred figure that represents the various divine powers that are at work in the universe.

It represents a sacred area that serves as a collection point for Hindu gods and a receptor for universal forces. Several gods occupy a specific position in the figure, making the structure of the mandala highly elaborate.

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These images are formed from deep within our unconscious mind. Therefore, it can represent a dream in the psychoanalysis and search for self-unity and completeness.

When one mentally enters a mandala’s center, the person is symbolically given a tour through the cosmos to reality’s essence. The mandala symbolizes the totality of existence, both the inner and the outer.

During rituals, the mandala acts as a spiritual guidance tool employed to focus the adepts’ attention to induce trance or meditation. Simply put, mandalas are sacred symbols representing the essence of the universe.

Mandala construction by monks

The whole process of constructing a mandala is considered to be a very sacred and meditative ritual. It can take anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks to complete.

When monks construct a mandala, it helps them to participate in the Buddha’s teachings. However, before monks can participate in the construction of mandalas, they must go through a lengthy period of artistic and philosophical study. This takes approximately 3 years.

As is custom, four monks come together to work on a single mandala. To make the work easier, the mandala is divided into four equal quadrants, and each monk works on each. In the middle of the task, assistants are assigned to each monk to fill the colors.

A mandala is an essential image in Tibetan Buddhism; it’s made with careful placement of colored sand known as dua-tson-kyil-khor in Tibetan.

A mandala may also be constructed using bronze or 3-D stone figures, as seen in China and Japan. Some are also created using computer graphics, but they are often not considered sacred since non-Buddhists create them.

Generally, a mandala is constructed outward from the center where there is a dot. With the placement of this dot at the center, the mandala is consecrated to a particular deity. The deity is often depicted in an image over the center dot.

For purely geometric mandalas, the lines are drawn through the center to the four corners. This results in triangular geometric patterns. These lines are then used to construct a square palace with four gates and four quadrants assigned to the four monks.

While constructing the mandala, the monks work outwards to a series of concentric circles. They work in tandem, moving around the mandala. Since they move outwardly together to ensure that balance is maintained, they have to wait upon each other until each section is entirely completed.

While some mandalas are painted after they’ve been constructed, some are deliberately destroyed afterward.

Those that are painted serve as an enduring object of contemplation. On the other hand, those that are destroyed act as reminders of the impermanence of things in the traditional Tibetan Buddhist teaching. Once it’s been destroyed, the sand is poured into a nearby water body such as a river to distribute the positive energy.

Mandala drawing - How to draw your own mandala?

Drawing a mandala is a valuable stress-relieving pass time. It helps one to get in touch with their inner self and find their innermost desires through the journey of self-discovery.

The mandala that you draw could symbolize something that you want to achieve in life. It also has the potential to change how we see ourselves and our purpose to live.

In addition to it being deeply meditative, drawing a mandala unleashes our inner artist. Other benefits of drawing your own mandala include emotional stability, mental clarity, calm, and an increased sense of well being, understanding, and wholeness.

Before you can get started drawing your own mandala, you need to understand how they’re generally drawn. A mandala usually has one focal point at its center.

It is from this point that different shapes and designs emerge. All these are dependent on what’s going on in the drawer’s mind and can be anything that makes sense to them at that particular moment in time.

Here are the materials you need for you to draw your own mandala:

  • A piece of paper or manila
  • A pencil and an eraser
  • A pen or permanent marker to trace over the pencil lines
  • A ruler for drawing lines
  • A compass and protractor for drawing the circles. If you don’t have a compass, you could use round jar lids to make the circles.
  • Lastly, it would be best if you had coloring pencils.

After you have gathered your materials, it’s now time to get started. Alternatively, instead of using a piece of paper, you could use a piece of fabric and decorate t with embroidery to make a beautiful mandala design.

Follow these steps to draw your own mandala:

  1. Find an adequate working surface in an undisturbed area that has a minimal disturbance. The peace ensures that your creative juices keep flowing undisturbed.
  2. Get comfortable and make sure that you are relaxed.
  3. Create a purpose for your drawing. Do you want to express your feelings? Do you want to get in touch with your unconscious mind? Or do you want to draw the mandala for meditative purposes?
  4. Start by drawing a perfect square on the black canvas using a pencil and ruler. After taking precise measurements, put a dot in the exact center of the square.
  5. To help you achieve symmetry, split the image that you have just drawn into two. This will make it so much easier for you to create balance by drawing on one side that you drew on the other side.
  6. Draw circles around the central dot using the compass to make them perfect and neat.
  7. Make other dots that are an equal distance away from the center. These new dots should enclose the original central dot so that they make a perfect circle when they’re joined. Draw other circles around these new dots
  8. Within the figure are blank sections that you can fill with whatever pattern on the symbol that you like. Just draw whatever design that comes to mind.
  9. After you’re done with the drawing, and you really like the outcome, you can now color your mandala as you see fit.

Drawing mandala easily

Another way to draw mandalas is through software called OmniGeometry (we are an affiliate). You can make as many mandalas as you like and for any purpose. You can make coloring pages; you can choose to draw a tattoo and basically any geometric formation you choose, not just mandalas. You are, of course, welcome to learn more about the software capabilities at the attached link.

Coloring the mandala

It’s so much fun coloring a mandala. After you’ve drawn it, you might consider coloring it for a great finish.

The different colors used all have different meanings. Below are some meanings of the colors used. These should put you in a better position to choose the colors that resonate with your intentions.

  • Yellow stands for joy, laughter, and happiness.
  • Orange is for creativity, transformation, and self-awareness.
  • Red represents strength, high energy, and passion.
  • Pink is for gentleness, love, and femininity.
  • Purple is for spirituality and mystery.
  • Violet is for intuition and insight.
  • Blue is for inner peace, meditation, and healing.
  • Green is for physical healing, psychic ability, connection, and the love of nature.
  • White is for purity, consciousness, and truth.
  • Black is for power, deep thinking,  and shadow work.
Mandala coloring book - Click for details!
Mandala coloring book - Click for details!

Here are some instructions to help you create a colorful manifestation mandala:

  1. The first one is quite obvious; you need to have some coloring pencils ready.
  2. Next, you need to have a settled mind to focus on the colors. If it helps, play some relaxing music to set the mood.
  3. Choose the colors that you feel are helpful for your purpose following the above-listed meanings.
  4. Let the coloring flow; allow it to connect you with yourself and to inspire you. The colors should be allowed to come to you effortlessly. Do not force anything.
  5. If you feel inspired to use different colors on your mandala, flow with it. The colors that you use infuse your mandala with even greater meaning and symbolism.
  6. As you continue to color your mandala, focus only on how you feel as you ultimately achieve your goal. If you feel distracted in any way, take a few minutes to relax by taking deep breaths. Continue coloring only when the energy connection comes back.
  7. After you’re done coloring the mandala, look at it to feel its energy. Examine it keenly to see if there are any elements that you might have missed while creating it. It’s a good sign to affirm that you were in the right intuition, if there are any.
  8. Put the final image somewhere you will be able to see it daily. For example, you could have it as a wall hanging or as your screen saver for your phone/ laptop. This way, it’ll work its powerful magic on your life every day.

The mandala color deeper meaning

Colors have a special way of impacting the way we see things and the way we think. They hold different functions in the Buddhist spiritual art; this is especially so when used in mandalas.

The Buddhism color theory states that color is a concept of enlightenment usually represented by pure light. There are six main colors in the religious texts, five of which (all of them apart from black) represent the Buddha’s five personifications. All five colors are present in nature.

  • White: rest, peace, and contemplation
  • Yellow: Nourishment and restraint
  • Red: Subjugation
  • Blue: Healing, wisdom, and life
  • Green: Exorcism
  • Black: Anger and death

The five Buddha families and their colors

The five main colors that are used in mandalas correspond with the 5 Buddhas and their families. The concept of the “Five Buddha Families” is a great way of developing our minds to a higher consciousness level.

Each of the families embodies one of the five aspects of enlightenment: the neurotic states of our minds in anger, jealousy, ignorance, pride, and arrogance.

The 5 Buddha Families and their colors are as follows:

1. Vairochana

This is the head of the Buddha family. Vairochana is a white Buddha and sometimes blue.

2. Akshbhya

This is the head of the Vajra family. Askshobhya is the blue Buddha and sometimes white.

3. Ratnasambhaba

This is the head of the Ratna or the jewel family. Ratnasambhaba is a yellow Buddha.

4. Amitabha

This is the head of the Padma or the lotus family. Amitabha is a red Buddha.

5. Amoghasiddhi

This is the head of the karma or action family. Amoghasiddhi is a green Buddha.                                

What are the uses of a mandala?

From the mandala meaning, we can tell that they carry their own special kind of vibration energy. They can, therefore, be used to enhance one’s physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional health.

Their design virtually absorbs the mind and engulfs our thoughts with a special spiritual essence that takes the observer to a higher consciousness level. In some way, the mandala induces hypnosis. The mandala has quite several uses. In this section, we’ll have a look at two of its main uses:

1. Meditation

Mandalas are primarily used as a symbol for concentration and meditation. They help us find a way for ourselves to be more aware of who we are and our purpose in life. Meditation enables us to cultivate and find peace within our hearts.

While focusing on the mandala, allow your mind to wander. It almost feels as though you have fallen into the colors and started swimming in the patterns. During this time, you experience some lightness.

If you have a relaxed demeanor whilst still focusing on the mandala, it means that you achieved what you intended.

2. Therapy

Psychologists and counselors also use the mandala as a creative tool during therapies. The mandala technique allows the patients to create a mandala out of literally anything, e.g., sand and clay. Mandalas are a great healing source and offer patients different levels of awareness to get more in touch with their feelings.

The therapist may either let you draw the mandala and color it or color one that has already been drawn for you. Coloring the mandala had numerous health benefits for both kids and adults. Some of them include:

  1. Overall stress reduction due to less cortisol production (cortisol is a stress hormone)
  2. Better and longer concentration span
  3. Improved fine motor movements of the hands
  4. A reduced pulse rate
  5. Lower heart rate and blood pressure
  6. More production and release of feel-good hormones

Tips for a mandala for therapy

Besides its pattern, the meaning of a mandala is majorly dependent on its color. As seen previously, coloring a mandala brings a bunch of health benefits. We give you tips to experiment and have fun while coloring a mandala for therapeutic purposes.

  • After you have already chosen your pattern, decide what coloring medium you’re going to use.
  • Do the coloring in layers. Start by filling in a shape with a light shade, then go back over it again as many time as you would like until it achieves the shade you like
  • Alternatively, you can use two differently-colored pencils and blend them to achieve the desired color.
  • Always apply little pressure on the coloring pencil to avoid breaking the tip.
  • If you color outside the lines, use a white colored pencil to cover it up. These pencils will also help you fill in the valleys left behind while you were coloring.
  • Another great tip would be to use a colorless blender. This blender does not have any pigment; it functions to go over the already colored parts to remove any excess color or even the colors.
  • Always keep in mind that there is no right or wrong color for the therapy. The color combinations that you choose are entirely up to you.

Facts about mandala

Mandalas symbolize the universe. This means that a mandala can be drawn in any form of art as long as it’s in a circle; one does not need to have a degree to draw a mandala. The underlying idea is to try and discover yourself while you draw. Here are some impressive facts about mandalas to help you understand them better:

1. Appearance

Mandalas are common among two religions: Buddhism and Hinduism. They have also been seen in different philosophies.

2. Importance

Mandalas are of great importance in several traditions and spiritual rituals. Today, they’re used for therapeutic and healing purposes. Mandalas have been used to bring calm and to hypnotize during meditation. The idea is to be able to find internal peace through drawing.

3. Shapes and forms

While most mandalas are depicted with squares, they are solely founded on circles. Basically, circles are drawn from the focal point to relieve stress and any internal disturbance. The square has four gates, which form a T shape.

4. The empires

Some of the empires recognized as mandalas are Majapahit, Srivijava, Khmer, Champs, Bagan, and Ayutthaya.

5. The five deities and mandala

The “Five Deity Mandala” was created in the 17th century. It was first seen in a Tibetan painting. In the middle, there is the Rakta Yamari, also referred to as the enemy of death. At the corners, there are the other four deities: the Yellow, Green, White, and the Red Yamaris.

6. Different forms

The mandala comes in a wide array of forms. One of them is the “Stupa” that is spotted across the world in monasteries. The other form is “sandpainting,” which is a traditional depiction of the mandala. The sandpainting has Mt. Meru at its center, and around it is the different continents.

7. Self-discovery

Mandalas allow you to engage in a journey of self-discovery. This is especially important for anyone who may feel lost and would like to engage in an artistic activity.

8. Representation

There really aren’t any restrictions surrounding how a mandala may be represented. You may draw it on a piece of paper, on the sand, on fabric, on murals, or on any other place that you find appropriate.

Also, a mandala is used to represent wisdom in the universe. Analyzing it keenly makes you realize a hidden message within from different souls present in the mandala.

9. Intentions

While it’s possible to create mandalas from anything, and sometimes without a purpose, there usually should be an intention behind it. It would be best if you didn’t create such art without a purpose.

People mostly draw mandalas to express their feelings. The intention is to use the abstract form of art to bring about insight for its viewers.

10. Leisure and fun

Mandalas engage its drawers and viewers in a spiritual and self-discovering experience. Moreover, they are also drawn for utter fun and leisure. This means that you can draw a simple figure that will help you relax, which does not require much thought.

Types of mandalas

Mandalas come in different types, forms, and varieties. The two basic types of mandalas are the:

  1. Garbha-dhatu which translates to “womb world” in Sanskrit. In Japanese, it’s known as taizo-kai and means “in which the movement is from the one to the many.”
  2. Vajra-that, which translates to the “diamond world” in Sanskrit. In Japanese, it’s known as Kongo-kai and means “from the many into one.”

Other mandalas types:

1. Architectural mandala

Most of the buildings in Tibet and the Himalayas use mandalas to inspire the designs. The architecture of large stupa structures such as the Jonang Monastery Stupa and the Gyantse Stupa are examples of the architectural mandala.

Architectural mandalas are also evident in the design of some mosques and cathedrals. Basically, their structures feature a central pole around which other conical shapes are built. In some buildings, the pole may represent the axis of the world.

Architectural mandala
Stupa with structure of Mandala

2. Aztec mandala

This mandala represents the written form of communication that was previously used by the Aztecs. The Aztec mandala or calendar has a complex design with an equally complex meaning.

The most popular Aztec mandala is the massive Aztec stone calendar that was dedicated to the sun god. It measures 12 ft long and 3 ft thick. The Aztec mandala features common cultural symbols; each represents a god that rules that time.

According to their culture, the weather was very vital since it regulated the days and their crops. Some of the symbols representing the weather were:

  • The Wind was one of the creations of the gods and is a symbol of cleverness. He is also referred to as the god Ehacatl. Trees were created when Ehacatle fell in love with a mortal.
  • The light was also another creation of god and symbolized the warriors. There was also Tezcatlipoca, who was the god of twilight and, at the same time, the god of the North.
  • The rain was not only beneficial to the rain forest but also brought healing.
  • The Storm was also a creation goddess called Chalcihuilicue. She ruled the storms, the streams, the rivers, the seas, and baptism. Chalcihuilicue translates to “she of the Jade skirt.”
  • Earthquake symbolized practical in an area that had active volcanoes. Since they take time to erupt, they’re compared to great scholars.
Aztec mandala

Here are other symbols on the Aztec mandala and what they represent:

  • Flowers which represent dancing
  • Flint, which represents movement, was used to create fires, weapons, and other tools
  • Knives were common tools in the culture and symbolized self-sufficiency in a romantic way
  • Reeds that they harvested from the marshes represented something knowledgeable
  •  Grass represented something useful. The Aztecs used grass to weave their mats
  • Skulls represented change
  • Jaguars symbolized a great hunter who kills with a single blow
  • Deer symbolized nomadic movement and cooperation in a group
  • Rabbits meant clever and playful
  • Lizards meant dynamic and active
  • The Ocelot represented solitude, secrets, and intelligence
  • Crocodiles represent a sea monster with an insatiable appetite that emerges to create the cosmos. The Aztec community referred to the crocodile as Cipactli. To them, the crocodile also offered protection.

3. Bodhi mandala

The term “Bodhimandala” is used in Buddhism to mean “circle of awakening” and refers to the area where a bodhisattva attains full enlightenment to become a Buddha. The concept of the Bodhi mandala adapts a virtual reality aspect.

The fact that Bodhi mandalas are virtual means that they can only be constructed in cyberspace. They are constructed block by block by anyone as long as they have an internet connection. In some instances, grains are used instead of blocks.

The virtual Bodhi mandala comprises 8,400 blocks, and whoever likes it can adopt the blocks as long as they’re available. Adopting a block is the same as purchasing a “space.”

4. Body mandala

Unlike other mandalas, the body mandala is so different; it’s full of percussion and rhythmic dynamism. Basically, the body mandala is a recreation and idealization of the human body. The parts are imagined to be parts of the mandala in which Buddhas and other deities abide.

The body mandala theory depicts the human body and its senses, organs, veins, and nervous system as a pure entity. Painted depictions of the human body as mandalas can be found in the Hindu, Buddhist, Bon, and Taoist religions.

In Tantric Buddism, the body mandala was used as a spiritual teacher to teach in the major Anuttarayoga systems of practice such as Guhyasamaja, Vajrayogini, Chakrasamvara, and Hevajra Tantras.

The body mandala comprises of the mother tantra and the father tantra. In the latter, the body mandala shows the gross body, i.e., the limbs, arms and legs, the elements, and the aggregates. These body parts are generated as parts of the building and the different Buddha-figures.

In the mother tantra, the body parts are generated as the subtle energy system’s different channels transformed into the deities and the palace. The mother tantra mainly emphasizes the deities.

5. Butterfly mandala

The butterfly mandala’s design is centered on the insect’s metamorphosis from a caterpillar to when it becomes a butterfly. The butterfly mandala is symbolic of one’s ability to move gracefully from one past into a new state.

The butterfly symbolism is also centered on transcendence and personal growth. Our life is so much similar to that of a butterfly. We spend the early years of our lives in the “caterpillar” stage but slowly and gracefully, we transform into a new situation.

Mandala pattern meaning

Butterflies symbolize the embodiment of the divine feminine that opens our energies to the way of life. They are filled with so much grace and tenderness.

The butterfly mandala encourages us to meditate and to let go of any fears that we might have. This is a healthy way of letting go of emotional pain; it takes time, but it’s very effective in forgetting the past injustices.

Generally, the butterfly mandala symbolizes our ability to pursue change and growth in the emotional, spiritual, and physical aspects of our lives.

Moreover, these pieces impart a source of beauty, grace, and tenderness.  Natural gemstones are added to the jewelry to enhance their healing and transition effects further.

Mandala shape meaning

The color options for butterflies on mandala art and jewelry are unlimited. The process of coloring a mandala is quite therapeutic and has been shown to help a person move on from their past.

Butterfly mandala tattoos have become commonplace, with most people combining tattoos with other images to give their symbolism a deeper meaning. For example, they use the butterfly mandala and a lotus or a feather to represent a free and limitless spirit. 

Jewelry and art that are made using butterfly mandalas express a person’s readiness to embrace change. They remind us to stay strong throughout the process so that our efforts may bear fruits.

Mandala meaning in English
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Mandala drawing meaning
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6. Celtic mandala

The Celtic mandalas are used during meditation to set a person’s intentions. They can also be used as decorative art pieces that can either be adapted to quilt mosaic or appliqué patterns. Their patterns are quite attractive and easy to color.

Over the past couple of years, Celtic mandalas have gained popularity as more and more people seek to create a connection with their ancestors.

The desire to learn about the ancient way of life and the overall meaning has greatly influenced their increase in popularity.

There are different types of Celtic mandalas, all of which contain a central point with the symbols contained on the inside of the outermost circle. To create a more attractive design, all you need to do is repeat the patterns around the circle. Some of the most common types of Celtic mandalas are:

  • Celtic Knots. These represent the spirit’s timeless nature and teach us more about the birth and rebirth in the physical and the spiritual realm. The Celtic knot not only sharpens our understanding of our ancestors but also enhances our ability to see how our actions affect those who are around us.
  • Celtic Spiral. This symbolizes spiritual awareness and understanding. It also enhances positive energy and our desire to share it with other people.
  • Triquetra. This is a symbol with three corners, and it’s used to represent the holy trinity. It is used to bring us closer to God. Modern believers equate the Triquetra with the unity between the mind, body, and spirit.

Celtic mandalas can be found on decorative posters, key holders, tapestry, glasswork, and dome clothes’ designs.

7. Christian mandala

Mandalas are mostly associated with Buddhism and other religions in Asia. The Christian mandala is a sacred image that they use to connect to the spiritual realm. These images are often used as décor and can be found on the windows of churches and cathedrals. Almost all churches and cathedrals have an iconic glass window design that represents the Christian mandala.

Alternatively, in Christian architecture, a circular shape is cut out of the building’s top to let light and air. The opening opens up to the sky and symbolizes a direct connection between the earthly and the spiritual realm.

Some famous Christian mandala designs feature rosaries, crowns, halo, the communion wafers, the apse part of a church, and some baptismal font designs.

A common feature among all these symbols is that they have a circular shape. This round shape, just like in other mandalas, represents the universe.

8. Circle mandala

The circle is the heart of all mandalas. Circle mandala designs have a wide variety of meanings; adding new circles inside a mandala gives it a whole new meaning.

The purpose of having a circle within the mandala is so that the viewers are drawn inside and feel as though they’re inside the mandala. This phenomenon is common in all circles. That is why mandalas are built using this concept. From our definition above, we noticed that the word mandala literally translates to circle. When you get the feeling like you have been pulled in, you’re encouraged to feel as though you are a part of the mandala design and focus all your thoughts on that.

Mandala painting meaning

Circle mandalas are very helpful to help people concentrate and focus more when they’re meditating. The circle mandala symbolizes the oneness and wholeness of the divinity incarnate in man. The circles may also be perceived to represent completion or a new beginning. Circle mandala art is available in a wide variety of color combinations and unlimited patterns.

This flexibility gives a drawer so much freedom to express themselves by creating any design they like. Coloring a circle mandala has great therapeutic effects. You can color using pencils, crayons, pastels, or even charcoal.

Circle mandala patterns can be seen embedded in art, sculptures, jewelry, paintings, and tattoos. The patterns can either be complex or simple, and the colors can either be bold or muted. All these depend on a person’s preferences.

9. Ceiling mandala

Ceiling mandalas are usually seen on the ceilings of holy structures such as temples. Besides them being colorful and decorative, they’re also believed to offer blessings and protections.

Ceiling mandalas are an amazing way of adding pops of color to your ceiling in the living room or the bedroom. These accessories come in many styles and are perfect for transforming a room.

10. Cosmological & Geographical Mandala

The Cosmological and Geographical mandala is symbolic of the four continents alongside Mt. Sumeru, the universe, various types of cosmology, sacred realms, and pure lands like Tushita, Sukhavati, Shambhala, or Medicine Buddha Pureland. The mandala features a cosmic diagram illustrating the Indo-Himalayan imagery.

In the middle of the mandala is the mythological mountain, Mt. Sumeru. The mountain is represented by a pyramid that is upside-down with a lotus at the top.  The lotus symbolizes purity. At the base of the mountain are a representation of the sun and the moon. A three-legged bird and the moon represent the sun by a rabbit.

Mandala meaning strength
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Mandala name meaning
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11. Deity mandala

The deity mandala originates from the Indian Tantric literature, and its main purpose is for meditation. The deity mandala is used within the Tantric theory of Deity Yoga.

In the middle of the deity mandala is a principal figure that is surrounded by other figures. The term Deity is commonly used in Buddhism to refer to meditational deities and protectors.

There are 3 mandalas under the deity mandala. These are:

  1. Figure mandala
  2. Symbol mandala
  3. Geometric mandala
Deity mandalas are available in the form of amulets that offer the wear protection. These are either worn on the leg or neck. The amulets can also be hung inside a car or on the door of a house.
Buddhist mandala tapestry - Click for details!
Shakyamuni Buddha mandala - Click for details!

There are three main types of deity appearances based on their mood. These are described as follows in the Indian Sanskrit literature:

  1. Peaceful – Devi
  2. Semi-peaceful – Rishi
  3. Wrathful -Rakshasa

Deity mandalas are available in the form of amulets that offer wear protection. These are either worn on the leg or neck. The amulets can also be hung inside a car or on the door of a house.

12. Element Mandala

The mandalas of the elements are earth mandala, water mandala, fire mandala, wind mandala, and space mandala. These element mandalas are but just representations. The earth mandala is represented with a yellow square, the water with a white circle, the fire with a red half-circle, and the air with a blue triangle.

These five-element mandalas and their energies live within us. They’re connected to our chakras and correspond with colors, emotions, thinking styles, body types, character, and illnesses.

The mandala of elements is used to explain the relationship between diseases and their treatments. In the old Indian Ayurvedic, for example, the element mandala was the basis upon which their medicine was formed.

On the mandala, the elements are visualized to be underneath the world system and the palace. The visualization comes right after voidness meditation. This kind of meditation is done to understand what happens when we die than become reborn.

The mind gets to a clear state where it connects to higher levels of the elements. The representation of the element mandala underneath represents the purity of the highest level. During the visualization, the elements come from under the palace as clear light.

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13. Figure mandala

As we saw earlier, figure mandala is a part of the deity mandala. The mandala positions the images of the real iconographic figures properly around the mandala and does so correctly.

There are two categories found under the figure mandala, which we’ll look at as we proceed. They are the:

  1. Inverted-figure mandala
  2. Upright-figure mandala

14. Geometric mandala

Geometric mandalas are used for meditation to have a clearer view of life and creation in general. The mandalas are considered to be a gateway between the earthly realm and the divine realm. 

When using the geometric mandala as a meditation tool, it’s recommended that you start with much simpler designs as you progress. Otherwise, starting with complex designs will only leave you frustrated. The geometric mandalas are filled with layers and patterns that have deep meanings. However, the circle remains to be the most basic shape in geometric mandalas.

Other shapes include the semi-circle, triangle, and square. These shapes may also be seen as representatives of the four elements: earth, fire, water, and air.

The geometric mandala has been useful in construction when building structures, especially those considered sacred. Besides the temples, churches, and mosques, the geometric mandala also inspired Egypt’s pyramids.

The design of geometric mandalas features:

  • A center from which the rest of the patterns radiate from
  • A torus refers to a combination of two circles that are rotated around the focal point
  • Triangles that fill up the inside. These infuse the mandala with the ancient wisdom of the Egyptians
  • The flower of life design. This design is formed when the circles which are of a similar size overlap.
  • Platonic solids. Polygons may also be used in the place of the platonic solids. Their purpose is generally to fill up the geometric mandala.
  • Lines. These break up the circles to simplify the design.
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15. Healing mandala

The healing mandala design promotes deep reflection, relieves stress, and helps us to heal emotionally. Its design is often quite simple as it is intended to cultivate focus and peace that brings a sense of healing. If the designs were very complex, they wouldn’t invoke a feeling of calm.

For years, the mandala has been in use by therapists and counselors as a therapeutic tool. They usually indulge the patient in a coloring exercise to help them to relax. The whole point of this form of artistic expression is to encourage self-expression as you keep your mind clear from distractions.

An example of the healing mandala is the yin-yang symbol that has been proven to be very helpful when it comes to achieving balance in mind.

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16. Heart mandala

The heart mandala has a heart at its center. The heart generally symbolizes attraction and love. It is also a symbol of femininity and sensuality, unity, and cohesion. The heart mandala symbol may represent the love between family members, partners, and friends.

The heart symbol has a strong connection to the triangle. For this reason, it is also said to be related to the element of water, which is represented as an inverted triangle. The relationship between the two signifies psychic perception.

The colors that are used to clarify the meaning of heart mandalas further are:

  1. Green and pink signify a connection to the heart chakra
  2. Red signifies a connection to the root/power chakra
  3. Blue or blue-green signifies a connection to the water element. It enhances psychic perceptions as one meditates.
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17. Henna mandala

To the general public, henna is a temporary method of tattoo application. However, Henna mandalas are a part of the ancient tradition of Mehndi in Africa, India, and the Middle East.

The art of the henna mandala has been around for a period of over 5000 years. In ancient times, henna was applied to the arms and legs to cool the body. The creation of henna mandalas started after their staining capabilities were discovered.

Even today, henna mandalas are still an important part of the traditions. The mehndi is still applicable in today’s ceremonies and celebrations. This practice is, in its own way, a tool of expression.

Once you have henna to work with, creating patterns can be so inspiring; there is no right or wrong way of creating a henna mandala.

18. Jung mandala

This mandala is named after the most well-known psychiatrist in history. To him, mandalas were provided for endless purposes in the treatment scenario.

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Carl Jung

His works in various forms of art therapy have paved the way for modern treatment with mandalas.

Jung used mandalas to develop psychoanalysis that relies on free expression. The expression in the form of art is a really effective way of breaking one’s defense mechanism during therapy.

These mandalas help patients connect with whatever internal process they may be struggling to get perspective on.

Today, Jung is known as the “father of the modern mandala.” After him, mandalas have been put in extensive use in modern creative art therapy.

19. Kalachakra Mandala

The Kalachakra mandala is found among the Kalachakra system, one of the last and most complex tantric systems brought from Tibet to India.

Kalachakra mandala is the sand mandala that is constructed using colored sand. The mandala is of an intricate nature; it represents a 3-D palace with 5 floors, which has symbols with very detailed meaning. Here’s what you’ll find on each of the floors:

  1. The ground floor is the Body Mandala and has four entrances facing all directions. This floor measures 200 by 200 arm spans.
  2. The other floor is 100 arm spans high and features a platform that measures 100 by 100 arm spans. This is the Speech Mandala, and it looks very similar to the Body Mandala.
  3. The middle floor is the Mind Mandala sitting on a platform that is 50 arm spans above the Speech Mandala. It measures 50 by 50 arm spans. This floor looks similar to both the Speech and the Body Mandalas.
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The Mind Mandala has two more levels: the Exalted Wisdom Mandala and the Great Bliss Mandala. While the former is raised 25 arm spans above the Mind Mandala and measures 25 by 25 arm spans, the latter is only raised slightly above the Exalted Wisdom Mandala.

A gigantic green lotus sits on the Great Bliss Mandala; it’s here that the Deity Kalachakra resides with his consort Vishvamata. Eight Shaktis surround them. From the top of the Great Bliss Mandala, there is a roof, which is 200 arm spans high.

20. Imagined mandala

The imagined mandala is only considered applicable for use by only great teachers and their best students. One needs a high level of understanding to use such. The mandalas are mentioned in some ritual texts.

21. Initiation Card Mandala

Initiation Card Mandalas are also referred to as tsakali. They refer to small paintings that are constructed for use in Buddhist rituals and Bon initiations. A regular initiation card mandala is about the size of a regular floor tile.

The initiation card mandalas are used as the central shrine object and are made when many initiations are given. Such times are the Vajravali and the Mitra Gyatsa collections of initiations.

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22. Initiation Mandala

These mandalas are slightly larger than the Initiation Card Mandalas. They are placed on a table with other ritual objects and offerings.

The offerings are placed on the 4 edges of the table. The initiation of the mandala is the focal point for the tantric initiation ritual.

23. Inverted Figure Mandala

The inverted figure mandala refers to a mandala in which all the secondary figures are standing, half-inverted, or upright to the primary figure in the mandala.

The other figures in the composition outside the mandala circle proper are not considered part of the mandala. This means that they cannot be referred to as inverted.

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24. Letter Mandala

Letter mandalas are usually constructed using letters in place of the actual deities. They are a much simpler version of deity mandalas.

25. Mandala Plate with Deities

This mandala plate is glued to a wooden surface that has a thickness of about 1 inch. The mandala plate with deities has a rugged design. They’re mostly used in shrines or for rituals and initiations that are held every month. The most common mandala plates are:

  1. Amitayus
  2. Maha
  3. Vairochana
  4. Vajrayogini

The mandala plate is used as an offering mandala during a ritual where an offering is made to the universe. During the ritual, the plate is filled with rice placed on the shrine and shrine mandalas.

26. Mural Painting Mandala

The Mural Painting mandalas are painted pieces of art used for decorative purposes on walls, ceilings, and other permanent surfaces.

Mural Painting Mandalas feature an architectural aspect since the mural paintings bring out the architectural elements in a structure by incorporating them into the picture.

The artwork on murals is a great way to express one’s deeper feelings, such as love. The mandalas may be used to represent togetherness, peace, and harmony.

27. Painting Mandala

Painting Mandalas or scroll mandalas are constructed using paints and pigments. They are created using fine brushes to bring out the details clearly.

28. Protection mandala

Just as their name suggests, these mandalas are used to give protection to those who use them.
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It’s worth noting that the size of the protection mandala does not, in any way, affect its effectiveness.

The protection mandalas may be used for meditation purposes and also as part of a ritual. Some good examples of protection mandalas are the Tara Protection Mandala and the Srid-Pa-Ho Protection Mandala. These two are compelling protection tools, according to Tibetan traditions.

29.Sand mandala

A sand mandala is made using sand and comprises many symbols and letters. Sand mandalas have always been a temporary form of art.

The sand mandalas represent impermanence in life. The Buddhist monks take days to build the sand mandala to completion, and once ritual ceremonies have been enacted over them, the sand mandalas are dismantled.

After their deconstruction, the sand mandalas are then put in a water body such as a river. In Buddhism, sand mandalas are also symbols of cleansing and purification. The deconstruction process is still as important as the construction. Sometimes, sand mandalas are constructed using the dust of precious stones.

30. Scroll Painting Mandala

The scroll painting mandalas can be rolled and unrolled easily for transportation purposes. A good example of the Painting mandala is the “Thangka,” a traditional Tibetan Buddhist scroll painting. A lot of patience goes into making such a masterpiece.

31. Sculptural Mandala

Sculptural mandalas are created with stone, metal, wood, clay, or any other material that would create a three-dimensional artistic visual impact. Sculptural mandalas had varying sizes from a few centimeters to several meters. They were used in Buddhism to give sacred offerings.

Modern-day sculptural mandalas have added some non-traditional forms of motifs and represent a diverse range of styles. Such sculptures may be used to complement spaces in homes and sacred places.

32. "Self Blessing" Mandala

When used for meditation purposes, the self-blessing mandala summons a steady blessing force that holds you in its field. The blessings enable you to process your deep feelings into a gentle embrace. Meditation on a self-blessing mandala guides you all through the healing process.

33. Square mandala

Most mandalas feature a square structure in the middle; this represents a safe place with a balance in the opposites.

The square mandala symbolizes the middle, which is a meeting place. It contains the essence of the Buddha and has a palace that is the residence of the deities present. The square has four gates that symbolize various ideas, just as we saw in the introduction part of this piece.

The square mandala symbolizes the middle which is a meeting place. It contains the essence of the Buddha and has a palace that is the residence of the deities present. The square has four gates that symbolize a variety of ideas just as we saw in the introduction part of this piece.
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34. Symbol Mandala

Symbol Mandalas are much-simplified versions where instead of actually drawing the actual deities, their hand attributes are used. Only the symbols representing the deities are used when drawing the symbol mandalas; the retinue figures are filled using small circles painted. Sometimes, there is nothing at all that indicates the presence of the retinue figures.

35. Thread-cross Mandala

The thread-cross mandala is also referred to as the Namka. It is made up using thin pieces of wood on a frame wrapped with threads of multiple colors. The wooden pieces come together to form various shapes and patterns that are displayed vertically.

Regular Thread-cross Mandalas are flat, while there are some really made into 3-D to celebrate rituals.

36. Upright-figure Mandala

The upright-figure mandala features different secondary figures standing upright to the composition’s central figure as opposed to the inverted-figure mandala. The central figure of the composition is considered to be the individual viewer of the composition.

37. Yantra Mandala

The Yantra Mandala features unique 2-D or 3-D geometric designs; these mandalas’ symbolism has a rich tradition. The mandalas are actively used for meditative purposes in Vajrayana Buddhism. Before a person can reach a state of enlightenment, they ought to actualize the pathway to divine forces. Doing this allows a person to become whole and, therefore, function within the universe’s energies.

38. Lotus Mandala

The lotus mandala is a 3-D sculpture that is made of metal. It features a blossoming lotus and a stem that functions as a stand. This piece of artwork requires one to focus on it to achieve peace.

The lotus is a flower that is considered to have many layers, symbolizing the East Asian cultures. Another reason why the beauty of the lotus flower is appreciated in Asia is that it is native to most countries.

Lotuses are a part of numerous mandalas because they have a high complexity level, which perfectly fits the complex geometric design of the mandalas. Some popular mandala designs that feature a lotus are:

          1. Sri Yantra
          2. Ganesha Yantra
          3. Trident Yantra
          4. Garbhadhatu Mandala
          5. Nava Padma Mandala

39. Flower mandala

There are so many different types of flower mandalas. Some have a single flower whose petals radiating outwards. Other designs have many flowers in different sizes and colors.

The flower mandala features a series of overlapping circles that form flowers all through the mandala. This mandala is also known as the sacred geometry and is believed to bring spiritual enlightenment.

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Here is a list of some common flower mandalas and their symbolism:

  • White Rose

The white rose is often associated with spiritual awakening

  • Pink Dahlia

This flower is a symbol of self-love

  • White Lily

This flower mandala represents our choices and decisions

  • Blue Morning Glory

This flower represents grace in a sense that brings peace

  • Red Begonia

This flower is a symbol of balance

40. Sun Mandala

For a long time, the sun has been a symbol of energy and vitality. In some cases, the sun mandala is also used to represent creativity and passion.

Sun mandalas depict bright rays radiating from the center towards the outer ring of the mandala. These rays are of different sizes and are either wavy or straight. Some of the common sun mandalas are:

  1. Radiant Heat Sun Yantra
  2. Vitality Sun Yantra
  3. Creative Energy Sun
  4. Love Sun Yantra

The sun mandalas are not only used for spiritual purposes but also as decorative pieces.

41. Tibetan Buddhist mandala

The traditional Tibetan Buddhist mandalas are perhaps one of the best known type of mandalas. Usually found in monasteries, these sand paintings act as a representation of the universe. As each layer and its corresponding colors represent different spiritual teachings, practitioners meditate on the secrets revealed by them in order to reach a higher level of consciousness.

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