Basic Mandala Symbolism
In both modern and traditional usage, there are certain components of mandalas that hold deep symbolic meaning. Perhaps the most important element of the mandala is the central point. In ancient Greek and Roman traditions this central point often signified the self. In Hindu and Buddhist traditions, the center represents the beginning point of contemplation of and devotion to the divine.
Description and Meaning of Traditional Mandala Symbols
Traditionally, mandalas have been used in religious practices as both a form of meditation and as a way of connecting with a spiritual being. In the Hindu religion, the mandala has such significance that most holy locations and temples are built using a mandala as a blueprint or template. Therefore, each tradition typically utilizes particular symbols that are relevant to the culture.
- Yantra: For the Hindu religion, the Yantra is a repetitive mantra that generally relates to spiritual deities. Therefore, when used in mandalas, the Yantra takes the form of a geometric pattern – typically a circular shape within a square – which is meant as an embodiment of a particular deity.
- Celtic: Celtic imagery hails from Western European nations, typically in the regions of Britain. Celtic designs are often symbolic of unity, balance, and energy. The Celtic cross is one of the most well-known symbols and is representative of the transition between heavenly and earthly realms.
- Wheel: The wheel shape lends itself to mandalas because of its circular nature. However, the wheel also holds deep meaning in Buddhism, as it represents the circle of life and embodies the process of finding enlightenment. In Native American cultures, the wheel is often used as a symbol of the connection between man and nature.
- Lotus: In Buddhist traditions the lotus is one of the most significant symbols. The lotus flower is a symmetrical shape, and, therefore, can be connected to balance and unity. However, it also holds significant meaning related to purity and connection with the divine.
- Vajra: The Vajra is a ritual object that has profound meaning in Buddhism and Hinduism. The Vajra is often used to represent conviction in beliefs and a strong spirit.