Sand Mandala
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The Sand Mandala is a Tibetan Buddhist Tantric ritual practice of creating a symbolic representation of the Universe.  Mandalas are related to Tantric doctrines, normally kept secret, and can take many forms from simple diagrams and more elaborate scroll paintings on cloth to complicated patterns of coloured sand and large three-dimensional carved structures.  They embody aspects of the Absolute, and are tools to meditation, initiation and visualization.  But their most profound symbolic value is that they embody the path to the sacred. 


As a rule a mandala is a strongly symmetrical diagram, concentrated around a centre and generally divided into four quadrants of equal size.  When constructing a sand mandala the surface is first cleaned and then consecrated.  Lengths of cord are dipped in wet chalk and then used to mark out an intrinsic system of measurements.  These are then filled using coloured sand that is gently teased out of long narrow metal pipes.  After completion the mandala is ceremonially dismantled and submerged in a body of water, symbolizing the transitory nature of life.                                 


The five monks who will construct the sand mandala come from the Drepung Loseling Monastery in Mundgod, Karnataka.  The original Drepung Monastic University was set up early in the 15th century around the Denbak area in Tibet. Soon the growing number of disciples led to the founding of seven different colleges amongst them the Loseling College which gained fame as ‘The Monastic College of a Million Brilliant Scholars’. Until today there have been seventy-nine successive abbots of the Loseling College.

In 1959, among those who followed His Holiness into exile in India, 1,500 monks were selected from the monastic universities of the Geluk, Nyingma, Kagyu and Sakya traditions as seeds of monasticism in exile. This was a unique but difficult cultural experiment beset with financial and emotional difficulties. The 230 odd Loseling monks were moved after 10 years in West Bengal to their present site in Mundgod, Karnataka. There, over the last 40 years with the hard work of the monks, the administrators and support from his Holiness The Dalai Lama as well as well as from around the world the Drepung Loseling Monastery has constructed a prayer hall in traditional Tibetan style which can accommodate 5000 monks and supporting buildings for monks, guests and visitors. More important one of the first works undertaken was the preservation and printing of sacred texts for the use of the monks and there exists now The Drepung Loseling Library Society for the preservation and diffusion of the teachings of the Buddha.