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date: 30 March 2023

Kālacakra-Maṇḍala: Symbolism and Constructionlocked

Kālacakra-Maṇḍala: Symbolism and Constructionlocked

  • Vesna A. WallaceVesna A. WallaceUniversity of California, Santa Barbara


The kālacakra-maṇḍala, whether as a purely mental object created in meditation through visualization or as a material object produced by the hands of artists and tantric masters, has a significant instrumental function in the Kālacakra tantric tradition. It is a complex, virtual object abounding in visual signs pointing to the transcendent, or sublimated, aspects of the practitioner’s outer and inner worlds. The kālacakra-maṇḍala is believed to have the capacity to induce desirable mental states, to produce religious knowledge in a nondiscursive manner, and to exercise purificatory agency. The maṇḍala’s expressive power and transformative agency dwell in its prescribed shape, structure, dimensions, colors, deity forms, emblems, mantric symbols, and other constitutive elements. However, its agency becomes fully effective when combined with the creative skills and mental powers of those who bring the maṇḍala into view. In the Kālacakra tantric tradition, the material kālacakra-maṇḍala, created for the rite of initiation, also has a social function in that it brings together the community of Buddhist tantric practitioners with shared religious goals.


  • Buddhism

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