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The History of the Mandala

“That said...the word Mandala is derived from the root Manda, which means essence, energy or spirit, and by adding the suffix la to any Sanskrit word, it becomes the container or vessel for it; thus revealing the Mandala as a container for essence, energy or spirit.”

- June-Elleni Laine

Teal, Green and blue mandala.

Photo by Alesia Kozik from Pexels

The mandala has been around for, literally, centuries. When we first see a mandala, we don't link it to a religion. We usually see it as a piece of art from Asian countries that we feel really good about, or that we find aesthetically pleasing. Maybe the symmetry of some of them? The dots that are so easy to get lost in. Or the colors that pop out. But where did the Mandala actually come from and why do we love it now?

The Mandala was created by Buddhists as early as 563 B.C.E. Painters were specially trained to paint many different stories and scenes, using techniques that were passed down generation to generation. As the Buddhist monks travelled the Silk Road, Buddhism naturally expanded, as well as the art and symbolism used.

Mandala Tapestry with Shantel

The mandala can have two different meanings. The first meaning can be described as "internal nirvana." The symmetry of the designs is believed to help in meditation and bring it's user true peace and calmness. The other meaning pertains to the Universe and the delicate balance that all life in the Universe needs to be complete. However, the elements that make up the mandala can have a meaning on their own.

"A mandala is a symbol of the universe in its ideal form, and its creation signifies the transformation of a universe of suffering into one of joy. It can also be used as an aid to meditation, helping the meditator to envision how to achieve the perfect self."

https://asiasociety.org/exploring-mandala

Whatever your use for the mandala is, it is true for you. Your intentions with the mandala in your home or sacred space is exactly what it means for you. There's no right or wrong answer to the question, "am I using it correctly?" Now, when you see a Mandala, you'll know a bit of the history behind it and why we still love it to this day.

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