History of Hindu Mandalas
Use of the circular shape as a pathway to meditation and spiritual connection has a history almost as long as mankind and is found in cultures from Asia to the Americas. In India, it is estimated that the mandala began to be used as a religious tool around the 4th century, and it remains important to this day for practitioners around the world as a guide to spiritual transcendence and healing.
One of the most common uses of the mandala was as a basis for design of Hindu temples. As these were sacred places meant to meditate on life and the divine, they were created using the circular template as a three-dimensional representation of the connection of the universe.
Mandala as Spiritual Art and Practice
The physical space contained in the mandala form is believed to represent the universe – including the earthly and spiritual realms – and is one of the chief ways that Hindu practitioners can focus and meditate on the sacred. Each design and element in a Hindu mandala serves a symbolic purpose, and therefore, contemplating or creating these works can be a highly detailed and ritualized process.
One of the chief symbolic purposes of the mandala is to represent the different layers of the universe – the spiritual realm, the lived environment, the inner experience of man – and how each of these layers can flow into and out of the next. Therefore, the mandala is perhaps the most essential tool when practitioners seek enlightenment or spiritual connection.