Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Mandala of Colored Powders - Dul-tson-kyil-khor

Two Tibetan Monks carefully, slowly scrape a small stick down the side of a long funnel. Tiny grains of emerald green sand fall from the tip like paint from an artist's brush. Methodically, carefully, a montage of color and detail takes shape; a dul-tson-kyil-khor, the Tibetan words for “mandala of colored powders”. More commonly referred to as a Tibetan Sand Mandala, this mixture of painting, sculpting, drawing and patience is an art form that has been practiced in Tibetan for hundreds of years.
The venerable monks of Drepung Loseling Monastery have been working on this mandala since August 29th for a few hours a day, three days a week. It is being created to honor His Holiness the Dalai Lama when he visits Emory University in October.

One of the most unique and fascinating forms of Tibetan art, the sand mandalas are more than just painstaking artistry of sand. They represent a diagram of the enlightened mind and the ideal world. Rendered as a palace, each object in the mandala has a spiritual significance reminding the creators and audience of the principles that guide them on their path to enlightenment. The mandala being created at DLM is a Mandala of Avalokiteshvara – the Bodhisattva of Compassion. Its purpose is to show a method of bringing peace and harmony to the world through the practice of Great Compassion and Wisdom.

The mandala itself is a depiction of a palace with a retinue of deities in the center surround by four gates and inner and outer walls. The outer walls are created with 5 colors( white,yellow, red, green, blue) representing faith, effort, memory, meditation, and wisdom. The gates in the center of each wall represent love, compassion, joy and equanimity – the Four Immeasurable Thoughts. In the center is an 8 petaled lotus flower representing the Lotus Family, the Buddha family that purifies passion into discriminating awareness. At the center is Buddha Amitabha in the appearance of Avalokiteshvara. He is represented by a lotus flower symbolizing freedom from attachment. The deities surrounding him represent purified states of suffering. On the eastern red gate is Buddha Akshobhya in the form of a vajra symbolizing purified hatred. On the southern yellow gate, the precious jewel representing Buddha Ratnasambhava symbolizes purified misery. On the white western gate sits Buddha Vaivochana as a dharma wheel symbolizing the purified aspect of ignorance. Finally on the green northern gate is the symbol of purified jealosy, Buddha Amogasiddhi as a flaming sword. The complete lotus serves to remind us of the importance of renunciation.
Buddha VaivochanaBuddha Akshobhya
Buddha AmogasiddhiBuddha Ratnasambhava
The mandala takes several days to create depending on the number of monks working on it. The DLM mandala will take about 16 days to complete. When on tour with the Mystical Arts of Tibetan they can create a mandala in 3 or 4 days. The process begins with a ceremony to purify the space and prepare the area where the mandala will be created. Then the outline and guides are drawn on the table using chalk and a simple compass, ruler, and string. The sand is crushed rock that has been dyed with the wonderful colors that make the mandala so beautiful but other substances can be used such as powdered flowers, herbs, and grains. In ancient times, precious and semi-precious stone were crushed to provide the colors in the mandala. When finished the mandala is dismantled in a ceremony and the sands are swept up and distributed in a clean water source to spread the healing energies throughout the world.
Green GateBlue Gate
Yellow GateWhite Gate