All you wanted to know about Mandalas

Acrylic on Canvas - Commissioned Mandala Art by Bhamini Shree

Hey there, welcome back to my blog, where we talk about a bunch of subjects including creativity, womanhood, inspiration and meaning. Today I am all set to unfold the mysteries of Mandala Art and take you on a creative journey with me in the process.

Mandala Art has recently gotten a considerable visibility and is widely being practiced, especially by the youth. A lot of us wonder what makes this art-form special or why we should invest my time, energy or even money in this art form. Few others inquire about the significance of owning one at work / home.

This blog answers the what and why of Mandalas and gives deeper insights into the spiritual aspect of this art-form.

" Mandala " - The word is derived from the Sanskrit word "Mandal" which means "circle".

You must be wondering how a mandala design in shape of a maple leaf is still a mandala! I know, right! I promise we will come to that at the end.

So, where were we? Oh the Sanskrit word "Mandal".

Hagia Sophia - Istanbul, Turkey

Yes, this art-form is actually quite ancient and has its deep connection en-rooted in religious art as well.

It has been adopted in Tibetan Mandala Art, Islamic Art, Hindu Yantra and finds its way into architectural designs and patterns too. One such fine example is Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.

If you closely observe the architectural drawings on the inner domes, the paintings and designs resemble Mandala Art.

More so, the architectural designs in 1st and 2nd AD, irrespective of the location, have near relation with this art-form. Okay this conversation is going on a slightly different tangent and it gives travel cravings! Okay, let's come back. (Please!!!)

So why is Mandala associated with spiritual healing?

Before I answer this, I want you to experience it through an exercise. Trust me, it is a very simple exercise and it's only you and this piece talking to each other.

Exercise 1 -

Let's start with drawing one very simple design. All you need to do is make a spiral. You might need a pen. If you haven't written or drawn in years, try looking for your pen tucked in the corner of the side sofa. Just kidding! And a paper.. You can use your the old newspaper too. Now make this spiral - Any size and width.

Done with Drawing 1? Now let's do the other one.

Exercise 2 -

Try giving this a shot. Start from the circle in the center, and then lines on all sides, followed by dome using alternate lines as reference points. You may also incorporate you own patterns inside. The idea is to let you explore Mandala as a journey.

I am assuming the second exercise is completed now. How did it feel? Enjoyed? Was it soothing? A very simple exercise, yet so soothing?

Now I will tell you why.

The entire art-form revolves around symmetry, which demands discipline, even without you having to know it. You would slow down your pace, borrow time, give it a small tiny bit of attention and haaaa, there you are with your wonderful creation.

Over years, my personal experience with Mandala has made me believe that this art-form is an artistic journey of the closely knit connection of the soul with the universe.

In the second exercise, for those few minutes or hours, you existed in the universe as a whole. That bill payment waited for you. That unfinished household chore did not bother you. That extra love handle was too much to even notice. You were not concerned about whether or not you will be a star performer at work this month. It was an experience of "YOU" within you, exploring yourself through your mind, embarking on a journey WITHIN.

Woah! That was something! Quite a journey itself.

Now you know why Mandala is considered spiritual and is believed to have therapeutic benefits.

Okay, as promised let's take this additional question - How is a mandala design in shape of a maple leaf, still a mandala?

It is not about the layout or the periphery that matters, but the detailing / inner patterns / circular look and feel that establishes the meaning. Whatever may the outer line / design look like, if it has Mandala as a core pattern inside, it still is an adaptation of "Mandala".

PS - Mandala is different from Zentangle.

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About Bhamini - Bhamini is a visual artist, art curator, art teacher, photographer and writer. She works on various mediums and art-forms including Mandala Art, Madhubani Folk Art and Abstract Expressionism.