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The Mandala

The Mandala has been hand made from a single rectangular sheet of thin beaten copper. It measures 300mm by 270mm with an average thickness of 0.6 mm. Its surface is covered with intricate Tantric charms, inscriptions and trigrams associated with the iconography and symbolism of Buddhism. The lower part of the plate contains an undecipherable hand written Sanskrit text.  The metal surface is protected by a coating of red vermillion to consecrates the Mandala's sacredness.


For readers intrigued by the Tibetan and Buddhist Symbolism a few brief details are given below:

In the centre of the Mandala are the nine Mewa. These symbols  form a circular  quadratic arrangement which represents a magic square that consists of the numbers 1 to 9. When these numbers are added together, in either the vertical, horizontal or in a diagonal manner, they all summate to the total of 15.

The Mewa, represent the influencing auspicious and malefic aerial spirits of the seasons, whose frequent and complicated migration are studied by the Tibetan Lamas, to determine which spirit has arrived in a particular place or time when an event has happened or an undertaking is performed. The most malignant of these evil spirits are black dogs, monsters with dragon tails, men on horseback, and the fabulous Phoenix. The seasons are specially assigned to these in the order of Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter respectively.

Surrounding the Mewa arrangement of numbers is an eight petalled lotus. It's petals contain linear Trigram symbols associated with the I Ching, the Chinese Book of Changes. These trigrams are known as Parka in Tibet. Their varied combination of broken and unbroken linear lines indicate the dominance of weak or strong aggregates through degrees of expansion and contraction (together with the male / female, yang  and yin principles). These aggregates represent a circular arrangement of I Ching trigrams known as a cyclic sequence and their symbols of affinities are as follows:-

Chen    - Thunder         Located in the East. 

Tui       - Lake                   

Li         -  Fire               Located in the South.

K'un     - Earth                       

Ken      - Mountain       Located in the West.

Ch'ien  - Heaven

K’an    - Water             Located in the North.

Sun      - Wind                 

It is this unique arrangement of trigrams which is the major source material for the mathematical analytical study and research work which is shown within my book.

For readers not familiar with the Trigrams of the I Ching, The Chinese Book of Changes, a brief meaning for each Trigram is given below:-


The year begins to show the creative activity of the Gods in the trigram Chen. It means the arousing which starts in the East and signifies the spring.

(The passage that follows explains more fully how this activity of the Gods proceeds in Nature. It is highly probable that it represents part of a cryptic message of great antiquity; an interpretation referable no doubt to the Confucian School of Thought).

All living things come forth in the sign of the arousing. The Arousing stands in the East.

The Arousing streams out of the Heavens as Thunder and Electrical Energy, in the form of Sound and of Lightning, awakening all the hibernating animals. Spring begins to stir, in nature there is germination and sprouting of new buds.


As all creatures awake, they sing in chorus at being alive and God gives them Joy at being reborn in the sign of the Joyous. It can be said that there is joy at being reborn in the trigram Tui, when creatures awake from their deep sleep to see and smell the fresh green world of plenty.

Therefore it is said,  He gives them joy in the sign of the Joyous.


The Clinging is the brightness in which all creatures, great and small, perceive one another. What was vegetative organic life passes over into psychic consciousness. It is the trigram of the South. It is said that the Holy Sages turned their faces towards the South, which they gave an ear to the meaning of the Universe. This means that in ruling they turned towards what is light, which is the high point of the year, mid-summer or in terms of day, mid-day, or noon.


After the summer follows the autumn, the ripening of fruits of the fields, which K'un, the Earth, the receptive bestows (devoted yielding). It takes care that all creatures are nourished. 

Therefore it is said, He causes them to serve one another in the sign of the receptive.  

It is the season of harvesting, of joint labour and of women receiving the bodies of men. Now is the time of toil, of the gathering of crops from the field and placing them into barns, the receiving of taxes and tolls. The Southwest represents the period of work and the fellowship that is formed by collective labour.


Keeping Still trigram, where the beginning and the end of all creatures are complete.

Fertilization - Therefore it is said,  He brings them to perfection in the sign of the Keeping Still, whose symbol is the Mountain (Mount Meru) and in the seed, in the hidden stillness, the end of everything is joined to the new beginning.

Death and Life, dying and resurrection, these are the thoughts awaken by the transition from the old to the new. A time of solitude and deciding what to do with the harvest - store for food, regrowth, and/or rebirth. A time of rest after work of the summer, keeping still stops expansion.


It is said, He battles in the sign of the creative.  

This is the trigram of the North West.  It means that here the dark and the light arouse each other.

Here the Good and Evil Gods fight for the souls of the dead. A stern season where the proof of deeds accomplished must be forthcoming.  Judgement is in the air.  From Earth our thoughts return to Heaven to Ch'ien the Creative.

(A battle is being fought, for it is just when the creative is coming to dominance that the dark Yin force is the most powerful in its external effects. Hence the dark and the light now arouse each other. There is no doubt as to the outcome of this battle, for it is only the final effect of the pre-existing causes that come to judgement through the creative).


The trigram K'an, the Abysmal located in the North - it is the symbolization of the gorge. Water shuns no effort, always seeking the lowest level, so that everything flows into it in the same manner, winter in the course of the year and midnight in the course of the day. 

It is said,  He toils in the sign of the Abysmal.

Preparing the earth and sowing the seeds for germination in the spring. The Abysmal is dangerous and using tools can cause infection and disease.


This trigram means the penetrating - wind/wood, as the seeds germinate they penetrate the soil to reach up to the light. Wind brings about dispersion - migration of birds.

The Sun, the gentle - the penetrating has for its image both, wind which melts the rigid ice of water and wood, which develops organically.

The characteristics of this trigram is to make things flow into their form (from waters of winter) to make them develop and grow into the shape and form pre-figured in the seed that was sown.



Continuing with the explanation and meaning of the Tantric symbolism we have, surrounding the eight petalled lotus containing the Trigram cyclic sequence, a stylized twelve petalled lotus that has mounted within its petals representations of the Cyclic Animals, associated with the Asiatic Zodiac System.

These animals were identified, starting at the top (South Pole Position and moving in a clockwise direction) we have:

         a  Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Bird, Dog, Pig, Mouse, Ox, Tiger, Hare, Dragon and a Snake.

The combination of these animals with the five Eastern Elements of Nature viz: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water, produces a 60 year cycle of time which is continuously repeated.

The Elements of Nature are sometimes represented by using colour as indicated below:

         Wood       - Green  

         Fire           - Red              

         Earth        - Yellow

         Metal        - White

         Water        - Blue

Thus, the cyclic animals form part of a colourful time wheel which is encased within the body of a snarling monster, supposedly a form of the wrathful Giant Golden Tortoise called “Rubal”. According to the Chinese Legend of Creation, Rubal surfaced from the depths of the Primal Ocean and was shot, by an arrow of immortality, from a bow wielded by the Bodhisattva Manjushri. Rubal rolled over, and on the underside of his shell Manjushri inscribed in hieroglyphics, the almanac of all time to come.  

Thus, the Tortoise consumed in flames in the centre of the Mandala, represents the Universe, its domed shaped upper-shell represents the Vault in the sky, the starry firmament and its belly under-shell the Earth, which moves upon the waters.

This together with its fabulous longevity led it to being considered as imperishable. The hands which emerge from frilled cuffs, holding sacred sceptres surmounted by demonic frogs are symbolic representatives of the element Earth, which occupies the four cardinal directions.  

In the centre vertical column, below the Time Wheel, are symbols which represent the Days of the Week and the associated Celestial Bodies, i.e.

A Sun              - Sunday                  - Sun

A Crescent       - Monday                - Moon   

A Red Eye       - Tuesday                - Mars

A Hand            - Wednesday           - Mercury               (The Messenger)

A Thunderbolt  - Thursday               - Jupiter                  (The Dagger or Phurba)    

A Garter           - Friday                   - Venus

A Bundle          - Saturday                - Saturn

These different days of the week are also associated with the Elements of Nature, i.e.,

Sunday and Tuesday          - Fire

Monday and Wednesday   - Water

Thursday                            - Air

Friday and Saturday           - Earth

At the bottom of the Central column is “Rahu”, the auspicious raven's head which represents the mysterious planet that eats the sun and causes eclipses.

In the top left hand corner of the Mandala is the Mystic Monogram which emerges from out of a seven petalled lotus. This complex monogram is composed of ten syllables of the ancient Indian character called “Ranja” or “Lantsa”.  The Tibetan name for this structure is “Nam-chu wang-den” meaning the All Powerful Ten, which refers to the ten seed syllables that form the monogram. These syllables consist of eight consonants, Y, R, V, L, M, S, K, and H together with the two vowels, O and U (the eight consonants are sometimes reduced to seven by combining K and S, in which case the whole is called the Seven Letters.

The consonants combined with the vowel A and the ending with M are the seed sounds of the Great Elements (Mahabhuta) i.e.,

·          “yam” for the element  AIR

·          “ram”  for the element  FIRE

·          “vam”  for the element WATER

·          “lam”   for the element EARTH

·          “ham”  for the element SPACE

These sounds are connected to the subtle centres (charka) of the Yoga body and are meditated upon bringing about an inner transmutation.

At the top of the Mandala on either side are the crescent moon (the sound O), and the flaming sun (the sound M), signifying night and day, Yang and Yin, etc.  The whole of which is enclosed within a double aureole sanctuary. (These are also diagrammatic representations of a partial and full ellipse of the sun).

NOTE: The mystic OM is symbolic of the Hindu Triad AUM, The Creator, Preserver and Destroyer. It is said that without the knowledge of this composition the understanding of the first book of the “Kalacharka” (Cycle of Time) is quite impossible.

The Three Eastern Deities portrayed at the top of the Mandala are the supernatural Bodhisattvas, the active reflexes from the relatively impassive celestial Buddhas.

The central figure is the metaphysical Bodhisattva of Wisdom, Manjushri or Manjughosha “The sweet voiced” the God of Wisdom or Buddhist Apollo. He is wisdom deified and appears to be a metaphysical creation unconnected with the other later namesakes of the Buddhist monks of the 4th and 5th centuries A.D. His chief function is to dispel ignorance. He presides over the Law and with his bright sword of divine knowledge cuts through all the complicated points; in his left hand he carries the Bible of Transcendental Wisdom, the Prajna- paramita, placed upon a lotus flower.  He is the especial patron of Astrology.

The figure on the right is “The keen seeing Lord, the great pitier and Lord of Mercy” Avalokita (or Avalokiteshvara or Mahakarupa). The spiritual son of the celestial Buddha Amitabha, he is the most powerful and popular of all the Bodhisattvas. Avalokita is a pure mythological creation and is seldom represented as a mere man. He is usually invested with monstrous and supernatural forms and attributes.  Avalokita's image appears to be modelled after that of the Hindu Creator “Prajapati or Brahma” and his image usually bears Brahma's insignia, the lotus and the rosary, and often the vase and the book. Here he is represented in the four handed form as a Prince, with the Thirteen Ornaments sitting in the Buddha posture with his front pair of hands joined together in a devotional attitude, and possibly clasping a jewel; while in his upper right hand he holds a rosary or the vase containing the elixir of immortality, and in his left hand a long stemmed lotus flower, which opens on the level of his ear.

The figure on the left is the wrathful form of the Bodhisattva Vajrapani “The wielder of the Thunderbolt” a metamorphosis of Jupiter (Indra) as the spiritual son of the second celestial Buddha, Akshobhya. He is of the fierce fiend type, usually depicted in black or dark blue in colour; in his raised right hand he wields a Vajra, whilst in his left hand he holds an implement, usually a bell or snare, or another type of implement according to his various titles of which there are fifteen or more.

Placed above the Sanskrit Text in the lower part of the Mandala, are two mountain peaks which are surmounted by large lotus flowers; these represent the two peaks of the mystical mountain Meru. Legend has it that mount Meru had two extremities, one of which projects beyond the centre of the Land and the other beyond the centre of the Water, on each are the respective Gods/Deities of Good and Evil. In Tibet, mount Kailasa is thought to be mount Meru, the mystical centre of the Universe, and is revered by Hindus and Buddhist alike.  

For protection, against the negative effect of the Mewas, four cosmograms have been placed at the four corners of the calendar chart. In the upper right hand corner appears to be “The All Conquering Circle” devised by Padmasambhava the founder of Tibetan Buddhism. The circle emerges from a seven petalled lotus in the form of nine squares, each containing an invocation to the Gods for protection from the Mewas.

In the lower right hand corner appears to be the Charm of Mewa. A central disk and a stylised eight petalled lotus carrying nine pentagons containing invocations, which are probably mantras (magical formulae), and dharanis (spells or charms) asking the Gods for protection.

In the lower left hand corner are the nine mewa, surrounded by an eight trigram cyclic sequence, enclosed within an eight petalled lotus, which represents the flowering of Buddha's teaching. The lotus is surrounded by two circles enclosed within a smaller version of the tortoise which serves as an effigy of “Rubal”. These circles probably contain dharani and mantras, which no doubt consist of protective charms, auspicious wishes and Buddhist prayers.

On either side of the Calendar Time Wheel are two Longitudinal Banners, which contain versions of the trigrams as charms plus various other auspicious emblems. In the left banner are the following items: The Phur-bu (Tibetan dagger) which cuts through evil and ignorance, The Bum-pa (The Vase) which contains the Elixir of immortality and the Flaming Jewel at its base. In the right banner there are three Flaming Jewels, these are known as the Tri-rantna and represent Body, Speech and Mind, also the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha.

Between the Calendar Time Wheel and the longitudinal banners are two juggling figures, which appear to be holding the Sum and the Moon in either hand balancing no doubt Day and Night, Yang and Yin.

                                                     Copyright © J. C. Compton - 2007



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