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In Tantric Hinduism and Buddhism (seeVajrayana), a diagram representing the universe, used in sacred rites and as an instrument of meditation. The mandala serves as a collection point for universal forces. By mentally entering the mandala and moving toward its centre, one is guided through the cosmic processes of disintegration and reintegration. Mandalas may be painted on paper or cloth, drawn on the ground, or fashioned of bronze or stone. Two types of mandalas represent different aspects of the universe: the garbha-dhatu (womb world), in which the movement is from one to the many, and the vajra-dhatu (diamond world), from the many into one.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on mandala, visit Britannica.com.