Thangka paintings are Buddhist canvas paintings made of gold and other natural colours, depicting Buddhist deities, scenes or mandalas. They are usually small in size, each size ranging from 20 to 50 cm, usually square or rectangular. However, there may be paintings several feet long designed to be displayed on the walls of a monastery or as part of a religious festival. Thangka is commonly used for a number of different functions, images of gods can be used as teaching aids to describe the life (or lives) of Buddha, to represent historical events related to important lamas, or to tell myths involving other deities. Thangka are used as a centrepiece in meditation rituals and worshipper's rituals.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF MANDALAS
The Kalachakra Mandala is one of the most eye-catching Thangka paintings and appreciated for the symbolic elements that compose it and the visual representation of important teachings of traditional Tibetan Buddhism.
However, as explained by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, many mistaken interpretations have circulated among people who viewed the Kalachakra mandala simply as a work of art.
The Kalachakra tantra is considered the most advanced practice of the Vajrayana tradition. This complex system of teachings originated in India and incorporated into Tibetan Buddhist tradition.
The Kalachakra imitation is based on concepts of time (Kala) and cycles (Chakra) and, before approaching these rituals, the disciples should have acquired knowledge of the 3 principal aspects of the Mahayana doctrine: Samsara, Bodhicitta, and emptiness.
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Kalachakra Flower Mandala
The term mandala literally means circle or sphere. In religious context it means wholeness, unity or completion. The Tibetan equivalent for mandala is gyilkhor. It is a combination of the two words gyil meaning centre and khor meaning surroundings. Hence, in Tibetan tradition, mandala means the centre and the surroundings which cannot exist independent of each other but they complement each other and when combined together from a totality.
Kalachakra is made up of five fundamental concepts namely great bliss, wisdom body, mind and speech. The mandala is a huge palace constructed in such a way that it reflects each of these concepts.
Outer Kalachakra: the external environment, the universe and its cycles of arising and disintegrating.
Inner Kalachakra: the sentient beings living in the universe, and the cycles of death and birth and internal flows of breath and energy.
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Om Mantra Mandala
Om Mantra Mandalas are hand painted in the Kathmandu Valley. Thangka painting schools in Nepal help keep Tibetan traditions alive. Our small unframed Thangkas make these masterworks available to you without the need to travel all the way to Nepal. It's a perfect addition to your home, meditation area or altar space.
In the Hindu and Buddhist traditions the sound Om or “Aum” is associated to the Sanskrit syllable ॐ and it is considered to be the Yantra of creation.
In most of the Hindu texts and also in esoteric Buddhism practice the OM is placed at the beginning of almost every mantra as the famous “om mani padme hum”.
Mandalas are a spiritual guidance tool for focusing attention, for establishing a sacred space and as an aid to meditation.
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Buddha Life Mandala
This Buddha Life Thangka depicts the different events of the life story of the Shakyamuni Buddha.
Buddha's life thangka illustrates the life history of Buddha. Buddha was born in a royal family with king Suddhodhan and queen Mayadevi as the parents who ruled Kapilvastu, Lumbini, Nepal. The actual Buddha lived from 563 to 483 B.C. according to tradition. He was born to the Shakya clan's rulers, hence the name Shakyamuni, which means "sage of the Shakya clan." His conception and birth, according to the traditions that grew up around him, were both miraculous. She gave birth to him while standing in the garden, gripping a tree. Maya's child emerged completely grown from her right side and took seven steps. When he returned to the palace, an astrologer predicted that he would grow up to be either a great monarch or a famous religious teacher, and he was given the name Siddhartha ("He Who Attained His Goal"). Siddhartha's father, fearful that any bad experience might lead him to seek renunciation as a Buddhist teacher, and not wishing to lose his son to such a fate, shielded him from the realities of life.
The horrors of poverty, disease and even old age were thus unknown to Siddhartha, who grew up in a lavish palace surrounded by every comfort. He took three chariot trips beyond the royal grounds at the age of twenty-nine and saw an old person, a sick person, and a corpse for the first time. On his fourth journey, he saw a travelling holy man whose austerity inspired Siddhartha to pursue a similar path in his quest for liberation from the pain caused by the endless cycle of birth, death, and reincarnation. Siddhartha discreetly left the palace in the middle of the night. He gave up his luxury lifestyle and spent six years as an ascetic, striving to control his intrinsic hunger for food, sex, and comfort through various yogic disciplines. He sat and pondered all night under a pipal tree at what is now known as Bodh Gaya (“enlightenment place”). At the age of thirty-five, Siddhartha attained enlightenment and became a Buddha (“enlightened one”) after conquering the powers of the evil Mara.
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