MANDALA

The Mandala is known in Tibetan as Chilkhor dkayil ‘kor.’chil means ‘center’ and Khor means ‘circumference.’ Thus it denotes the complete cosmogram of the deity it represents. The Mandala is most commonly thought of as the place of the gods. If one does not go into the deeper meaning, then it very much represents a palace, e.g. the walls, the gates, the guard, the roof, etc. if one delves into the deeper metaphorical meaning it could be understood as follows; the centre of the Mandala is the essence of the universe in which a fully enlightened entity resides, this being the main deity. This deity is surrounded by lesser deities whose holiness and importance decreases as on moves further away from the central figure. Another possible interpretation is that all scattered, abstract thoughts converge to focus upon the main point when the essence of the truth is fully realized. Some also view the Mandala as a representation of the universe with all things, including this world, contained within it. Consequently, most can gain an understanding of the mysterious mandala at a glance if an adequate explanation is given.

The outer circle, or perimeter, is called Meri Khorlo, meaning ‘Fire Mountain.’ This consists of a wall or barrier of fire, which usually appears in the five colors of white, yellow, blue, red and green. These colors symbolize the five colors of the five Dhayani Buddhas. 1 The fire barrier’s purposed is to safeguard the entrance of the Mandala from evil obstruction to the wind. In fact, it is more accurate to call it a ‘Vajra Net.’ It is said to be so intricately woven to be even, but also extends above to cover the complete inner Mandala. The floor of the Mandala is also constructed with the all-protecting Vajras.

The mandalas’ of wrathful deities contain eight great cemetery barriers, 2 each of which contains a large central tree.3 Residing in these trees are eight pure Dakinis. The cemeteries also contain eight great Stupas beside which reside eight protectors. One either side of the Stupas are the eight great forests within which reside eight great Saints. There are also eight large lakes with eight great Nagas, eight big mountains, eight hermits, and eight great coluds upon which sit eight offering Goddess. Finally there are eight great corpses, eight big fires, and eight flesh-eaters, ‘phra men ma. The body of Rudra is said to have been dissected into eight parts, with one of each distributed to each of the cemeteries. A river flows between each of these cemeteries.

The divine place or the Shalya Khang is enclosed by the six layers of: Tsikpa(wall), Doet-nan(gallery where the offering goddesses stand), phagu(precious gem studded beam), Darchet( drain), Sherbu (intricate patterns of pearl hangings) and Dhayab (overhanging roof). This innermost sanctum houses the main deity. The palace contains four main gates at the four cardinal directions of North, South, East and West; which are guarded by the four Guardians. Painted on the arch of the gates are Dharma Wheels flanked by two gazelles. Projecting above the gates are the Vajra prongs that originate from the mouth of Makhara chu sin who guard each gate on both sides.