The term mandala literally means a circle or sphere. In religious context it means wholeness, unity or completion. The Tibetan equivalent for mandala is gyilkhor. It is a combination of two words gyil meaning centre and khor meaning surroundings. Hence, in Tibetan tradition, mandala means the centre and the surroundings which cannot exist independent of each other but they complement each other and when combined together they form a totality.
The term Kalachakra is derived from two words Kala meaning time and Chakra meaning wheel. This concept is symbolized as a deity which signifies ‘the wheel of time’ whereby the events of the universe are considered to be cyclical in nature and therefore life itself is ephemeral in nature. In case of the Kalachakra mandala, it includes the deity Kalachakra seated at the centre of his palace and many other components and symbols, each with a significant meaning, occupying the surroundings.
Kalachakra is made up of five fundamental concepts namely great bliss, wisdom, body, mind and speech. The mandala is a huge palace constructed in such a way that it reflects each of these concepts:
- The ground level has 4 huge entrances to the palace and it represents the Body mandala.
- The Speech mandala is located on a platform inside the body mandala and it is also similar in structure to the body mandala.
- Within the speech mandala, the Mind mandala is erected which has two more levels representing wisdom and great bliss.
- The Wisdom mandala rises nearly 25 arm-spans above the mind mandala.
- Finally, the Great bliss mandala is located on a platform in the wisdom mandala and consists of a magnificent green lotus that acts as the seat of the Kalachakra deity and his consort Vishvamata.
The grand five-storey palace houses 722 deities in all with the principal deity and his consort present together in a blissful state at the top storey.
It is quite common two see two-dimensional images of the Kalachakra mandala in various Buddhist temples. These images are a representation of the floor plan of the palace of the Kalachakra deity. The mandala images are commonly used by Buddhist practitioners as a tool to aid them in the path towards spiritual enlightenment.Tags: Kalachakra, Spirituality, Buddhism