Definition of Mandala
and Other Related Terms
Mandala Meanings and Definitions
I included this Definition of Mandala page (in addition to the mandala meaning page)
for further clarification due to the many schools of thought surrounding the use of mandalas.
This page is a suppliment that deals with defining terms surrounding the mandala. For information on how to use mandalas, click here
Below is a brief definition of mandala, but also many other definitions - primarily of the Hindu ilk. It is the my belief that by understanding these terms and other cultural uses, we may more clearly understand the nature of the mandala's origins & purpose.
As always, I have taken great care in obtaining the most accurate information. However, this is merely a brief summation of a very in-depth subject. Furthermore, I encourage an independent pursuit of knowledge if this is a subject of intense interest.
With that said let's get on with our definition of mandala and other related terms.
Mandala Definition and Other Related Terms
The definition of mandala literally means "circle". It's when we define mandala in energetic terms we find that mandala meaning deals with a visual aid that pulls in the human consciousness. That's why mandalas are so effective in meditation. The circular, often concentric design of mandalas tends to visually magenetize consciousness and awareness, allowing focus to draw inward - which is a wanted result in meditation.
The term chakra is Sanskrit, and it means "wheel". There are seven prime energy centers of the body according to Indian tradition, and these are represented visually by chakras. Learn more about the chakra symbols here.
Maha means "great" or "supreme" - in other words...big juju. :)
Vidya means, literally, "wisdom" - particularly of the feminine kind. You will see the two words "maha" and "vidya" together, and that means great wisdom of the goddess (generally). See more on this under the mahavidya section of this page to follow.
Shri simply means "holy" or "sacred". In reference to the mandala, one may see the term "shrimandala" this simply means a holy or sacred mandala used for the purpose of expressing that which is divine, or inducing a holy/sacred meditative state.
A mantra is a sound or layers of sound with inherently great power. It is essentially the sound of the god or goddess. Often the sound "aum" is used in a meditative mantra because it is the harmonic divine sound of god. If you think about it, the "ah" sound is evident in almost all terms for god (God, Allah, Buddha, Jehova, etc). Use a mantra when you wish to focus your consciousness off of the external/material/banal world and move it inward into the realm of god.
A yantra combines both the concept of mandala and mantra. It is a visual mantra, actually. A yantra embodies the sound of god in a visual symbol or icon. It commonly is a geometric representation of the goddess or devi in Hindu wisdom.
What Are Mahavidyas?
Taking the definitions above in consideration, Mahavidya is literally translated to mean
"supreme wisdom." Mahavidyas are representative of the ten dominant Hindu
goddesses. They are symbols of the whole gamut of feminine divinity. Primarily, they are
depicted as extremely powerful goddesses to be reckoned with in the Hindu bevy of
The ten Mahavidyas are as follows:
- Tripu Sundari (aka Shri or Shodashi)
- Tripur Bhairavi
What are the Chakra Symbol Mandalas?
These are symbols that represent the seven wheels or energy centers of the body
(spiritual and physical).
Briefly, the chakra symbols are listed here in order:
- Solar Plexus/Manipura
- Third Eye/Ajna
For more information on chakra symbols,
please click here.
I hope you enjoyed these thoughts on the definition of mandala. Find more information on mandalas, and symbolic meanings by following the in-site links listed at the end of this page. Thanks for reading, and happy meditations!
An Important Note About Signs, Symbols and Their Meanings
Signs and symbols cultivate their meanings according to culture, context, passage of time in society as well as mass societal opinion. What's cool and highly important is that signs and symbols earn their most powerful meanings from our own personal perspectives.
This website strives to provide you with the best, time-honored information when defining signs and symbols. However, in the final analysis, "Beauty (and symbolism) is in the eye of the beholder."
Having said that, it's in our best interest to invest the time to do personal research on symbolic events happening to us. This website is just one perspective in an ocean of variety and diversity in the realm of symbolism. So dive in! There is a whole universe of deeper meanings to explore! You can start your research by clicking on the links at the end or to the side of this page. Odds are good I've got a follow-up article about this symbolic topic. ;)
As always, thanks for your willingness to learn more about the language of symbolism. It's a language that is universal and everywhere. It's super-groovy to travel with you on your symbolic path, and maybe offer a little translation along the way. Thanks for reading and exploring!