Kalachakra teaching and initiation

Kalachakara Mandala -kalachakara bodhgaya 2017

kalachakara Mandala

The Tibetan word for  kalachakara mandala is kyilkor, which means “center and surrounding environment.” The kalachakara mandala of a tantric deity [in this case, the Buddhist deity, Kalachakra] includes the deity and his palace, which is also a representation of the mind of the deity.

Based on symbols familiar to the people of India during the Buddha’s lifetime, each mandala is a pictorial manifestation of a tantra. It may be “read” and studied as a text, memorized for visualization during meditation, and interpreted.

The most commonly known mandalas are depicted in two-dimensional form, showing a floor plan – like a blueprint – of the three dimensional palace of the deity, including the architectural design and the many decorative details. Every component is a symbol representing an aspect of the teaching.

The purpose of a mandala is to acquaint the student with the tantra and the deity and to allow the student to “enter into the mandala”; that is, to enter into the state of being in which the deity dwells.

A Teaching for Our Time

One of the important features of the Kalachakra Tantra is that it is given for a community. The Buddha offered it for an entire country, the mythical kingdom of Shambala, so historically the initiation has been given to large groups.

The Dalai Lama has remarked that in earlier times communities were separated by valleys, rivers, mountains or oceans, whereas today, with instant communication and transportation, our community includes the entire planet. This is another reason why he feels Kalachakra is a teaching for our time.

Practitioners use the Mandala to visualize in meditation the steps along the Path to Enlightenment. In the Kalachakra Mandala, 722 deities, or manifestations of the supreme deity Kalachakra, are portrayed within a circle of some 2 metres in diameter in the form of miniature human, animal and flora forms, abstract pictographs and Sanskrit syllables.

The sand is made from white stones ground and mixed with opaque water colors.
kalachakara mandala

  • 1. Mandala of Great Bliss with a lotus flower center housing six deities including Kalachakra and Vishvamata, Askshobhya and Prajnaparamita, Vajrasattva and Vajradhatvishvari surrounded by eight shaktis
  • 2. Mandala of Enlightened Wisdom
  • 3. Mandala of Enlightened Mind
  • 4. Mandala of Enlightened Speech
  • 5. Mandala of Enlightened Body
  • 6. Animals representing the months of the year
  • 7. Half vajras with half-moons, each adorned with a red jewel
  • 8. Geometric shapes symbolizing the six elements, which are the five physical elements (fire, water, earth, air, space) plus the wisdom element (consciousness)
  • 9. Thirty-six offering goddesses represented by Sanskrit seed-syllables
  • 10. Double vajras which correspond to each of the four directions
  • 11. Hanging garlands and half-garlands of white pearls surrounding the eight auspicious signs
  • 12. Downspouts, which release rainwater from the palace roof
  • 13. Half-lotus petal design symbolizing protection from afflictive emotion
  • 14. Seven animals pulling a chariot that holds two protective deities; seven elephants are here in the western quadrant
  • 15. Western gate of the Mandala of Enlightened Body
  • 16. Offering garden
  • 17. Earth element circle filled with interlocking crosses representing earth’s stability
  • 18. Water element circle containing wavelike ripples
  • 19. Senge Kangpa Gyepa, an eight-legged lion pulling a cart containing two wrathful protective deities
  • 20-21. This whole area is known as the cemetery grounds and is composed of the fire element circle (20) and the wind element circle(21)
  • 22. Wheel of Dharma with a pair of protective deities in the center
  • 23. Sanskrit seed-syllables
  • 24. Space element circle containing an interlocking fence of golden vajras
  • 25. Wisdom element circle, also known as the Great Protective Circle