The Mandala, (Sanskrit for
Circle), is an ancient form of Tibetan Buddhism.
Mandalas are drawings in three dimensional form that is
made of sand.
In Tibetan, this art is called "dul-tson-kyil-khor",
mandala of colored powder". Millions
of grains of sand are painstakingly laid into place on a flat platform
over a period of days. When
finished, to symbolize the impermanence of all that exists, the colored
sands are swept up and poured into a nearby river or stream where the
waters carry healing energies throughout the world.
When requested, the monks arrange to preserve a mandala, though
this is not traditional.
The most common substance used in the creation of
dul-tson-kyil-khor is colored sand.
Other popular substances are powdered flowers, herbs or grains,
and also powdered and colored stone.
In ancient times, powdered precious and semi-precious gems were
also used. Thus, lapis
lazuli would be used for the blues, rubies for the reds, and so forth.
subject for a Tibetan sand painting is known in Sanskrit as a mandala or
In general, all
mandalas have outer, inner, and secret meaning.
On the outer level they represent the world in its divine form;
on the inner level, they represent a map by which the ordinary human
mind is transformed into the enlightened mind; and on the secret level,
they predict the primordially perfect balance of the subtle energies of
the body and the clear light dimension of the mind.
The creation of a sand painting is said to effect a purification
and healing on these three levels.
tantric system has its own mandala, and thus each one symbolizes an
existential and spiritual approach.
For example, that of Lord Avalokiteshvara symbolizes compassion
as a central focus of the spiritual experience; that of Lord Manjushri
takes wisdom as the central focus; and that of Vajrapani emphasizes the
need for courage and strength in the quest for sacred knowledge.
Medicine Buddha mandalas are created to generate healing powers.
creation of a sand mandala begins with an opening ceremony.
Monks consecrate the site and call forth the forces of goodness
through chanting mantras accompanied by flutes, drums and symbols.
outline of the mandala on the wooden platform is then drawn.
The following days see the laying of the colors.
The sand, colored with vegetable dyes or opaque temper, is poured
to the mandala platform with a narrow metal funnel called a "chakpur"
which is scraped by another metal rod to cause sufficient vibration for
the grains of sand to trickle out if its end.
The two "chakpurs" are said to symbolize the union of
wisdom and compassion. The
mandalas are created whenever a need for healing of the environment and
living beings is felt. The monks consider our present age to be one of great need in
this respect, and therefore are creating these mandalas where requested
throughout their world tours