While visiting the Denver Art Museum, one piece of art that, for me, was the most inspiring and mind boggling was the Hayagriva Mandala. Created by monks from the Seraje Monastic University of India, this piece of art is made of many different colors of sand. What struck me were the little intricate details, some of which were so small that you would need a magnifying glass to see them. Used for meditation, this artistic achievement stands for great blessings and devotion. It is said that the process of making one will help the monk reach enlightenment.
Each Mandala pattern is of geometric shapes and spiritual symbols and each pattern is different. The tool that the monks use to move and place the sand is called a chak-pur (funnel) along with a small metal rod used to help vibrate the sand out of the chak-pur. These are the only tools used. Look closely at the picture of a Mandala. It’s amazing that the detail is so crisp and well-formed using just two tools.
These creations are often worked on by more than one monk, with each monk completing a ring. Each ring can take as many as six days to complete. This requires patience and trust as you must wait to start your ring until the other person has completed theirs. I think the most difficult parts would be waiting on others and having people depend on you to create your ring correctly. The monks start in the center of the Mandala and work outwards.
The creation of a sand Mandela is a Buddhist religious ritual from the Tibetan culture. The ritual is first performed with chanting and dancing. Once that part of the ritual is complete, the monks begin the process of creating a master piece. After completing the Mandela, the work is deconstructed or destroyed and the sand gathered up and thrown in a river so that the blessings can be spread further. The creation of a Mandala is about blessings.
Can you imagine spending days creating these amazing designs only to have it destroyed in the end? A friend told me one time that it represents the past and we are not to live in the past but the present. This provokes some interesting thoughts. I will admit that my knowledge of Buddhism is limited only to what I have read on my own and what was taught at the university. For me, I look at this great piece of art and think maybe I could learn to be more dedicated and patient. Whether it’s my own Christianity or just working with others on a project, I need to learn true devotion and patience.
Our society is all about rushing from one thing to the next. Even I admit that I over-schedule my week. We often live for the future but forget to live in the present and sometimes we are stuck in the past. This is way the Hayagriva Mandala struck me so. It made me think about my own life. Art should do that to us, make us think and leave an impression in our minds.
Written By: Kristy Trowbridge
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