views updated Jun 11 2018

Maṇḍala (Skt., ‘circle’; Chin., man-ta-lao; Jap. and Korean, mandara; Tib., dkyil.ʾkhor). A symbolic pictorial representation of the universe, originating in India but prominent in Tibetan Buddhism. It is visualized in the context of Tantric ritual. Although maṇḍalas are commonly found on scrolls or as wall-paintings, for important rituals the maṇḍala is traced onto consecrated ground using coloured powders which may be erased upon termination of the ritual. In meditation, they can be visualized without external representation.

All maṇḍalas follow a precise symbolic format.

In Hinduism, maṇḍalas are described in great detail in the Tantras and Āgamas. For example, the Pañcarātra text, Lakṣmi Tantra (37.3–19), describes a maṇḍala of nine lotuses.

In liturgy (pūjā) a maṇḍala is the place where a deity is invoked by mantra. The placing of mantras upon the maṇḍala (nyāsa) gives it life, and the maṇḍala is then regarded, like mantra, as the deity itself (and not a mere representation of the deity). A maṇḍala is also visualized (dhyāna) by the yogin who aims at merging with the deity. Visualization is accompanied by mantra repetition and the practice of mudrā for the control of mind, speech, and body. See also CAKRA; YANTRA.


views updated Jun 08 2018


A mystical diagram used in India and Tibet to attract spiritual power or for meditation purposes. The term derives from the Sanskrit word for "circle," although a mandala may embody various geometrical shapes.

The Swiss psychologist Carl G. Jung, who regarded the mandala as an archetypal image from the deep unconscious mind, investigated mandalas created spontaneously by psychological patients.

(See also yantra )


Tucci, Giuseppe. The Theory and Practice of the Mandala. London: n.p., 1961.

Wilhelm, Richard, and C. G. Jung. The Secret of the Golden Flower: A Chinese Book of Life. Rev. ed. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1962. Reprint, New York: Causeway Books, 1975.


views updated Jun 08 2018

man·da·la / ˈmandələ; ˈmən-/ • n. a geometric figure representing the universe in Hindu and Buddhist symbolism. ∎ Psychoanalysis such a symbol in a dream, representing the dreamer's search for completeness and self-unity.DERIVATIVES: mandalic / manˈdalik; ˌmən-/ adj.


views updated May 18 2018

mandala a circular figure representing the universe in Hindu and Buddhist symbolism; in psychoanalysis, such a symbol in a dream, representing the dreamer's search for completeness and self-unity. The word comes from Sanskrit maṇḍala ‘disc’.


views updated May 29 2018

mandala. Geometrical figure with a centre, such as a circle, or polygon, or a square, often in the form of a labyrinth or maze with symbolic meanings.