Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir, India - September 3, 2011: Buddhist monks making sand mandala in Diskit gompa (monastery) at Nubra Valley. This is a Tibetan tradition of creation and destruction of mandala made from colored sand. Mandala - is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism, representing the Universe.

The Kalachakra Mantra emblem of Buddhism is complicated and comprehensive. Additionally it is called the “Tenfold Powerful One”. It’s thus named because it is composed of ten unique parts. This ancient symbol is composed of a mantra of seven syllables surrounded by a ring of fire. Above and to the left and right of the mantra are 3 additional symbols, thus totaling ten portions of the design. The emblem’s many components are intertwined with one another to make an elaborate pattern. The Sanskrit term Kalachakra means “time wheel”. The entirety of this Kalachakra mantra is: “OM AH HUM HOH HAM KSHAH MA LA VA RA YA HUM PHET”

However, the mantra is believed to have only seven elements because “Ham Kshah Ma La Va Ra Ya” is grouped together as one section. The color and significance of this Part of the mantra is as follows:

Ham (blue): enlightened wisdom of this mandala deities,
Kshah (green): the deities’ body, speech and mind,
Ma (red): the mandala palace,
La (yellow): the element of earth,
Wa (white): the element of water,
Ra (red): the element of fire,
Ya (black): the element of air,

The first part, “Om Ah Hum Hoh” signify the body, speech, mind and intellect, respectively. These four syllables are reputed to have the ability to cleanse the body and mind in one’s attempts to attain enlightenment. The mantra is topped with a crescent and ring (usually regarding as the moon and sun, or visarga and bindu), which represents Om, or educated body. In addition to Om, an individual will discover a nada, or fire, which represents both Ah and Ho collectively, which is enlightened language and wisdom. Beneath Om is Hum, that is the educated mind. To the left of this mantra is a gold E, which identifies the Kalachakra, or method. To the right is a blue Vam, or Vishvamata, meaning wisdom. There might be some variation on colours and interpretations of Kalachakra symbol in various schools of thought.

The Kalachakra symbol essentially reflects the entirety of this 2,500 year-old Kalachakra tantra which is recited in an attempt to purify the body and head. This tantra is about time, like the cycles of the planets, the cycle of our own breath, and the many cycles in our lives and bodies. There’s also a designation of “inner” and “outer” portions of this tantra. The inner part references the inner workings of beings, such as our chakras. Naturally, the outer part deals with outside affairs. The association between the outer and inner regions can be likened to the relationship between the body and mind. Of the five chapters of the complete Kalachakra tantra, the first two deal with the outer realm and the succeeding three together with the interior. The former is known as the “floor Kalachakra” and the latter is the “other” or “alternative Kalachakra”.

The Kalachakra tantra is enormously important to Buddhist monks and nuns, as it’s widely utilized in initiation practices which help to bridge the gap from being a layperson to entering Buddahood. The present Dalai Lama, H.H. Tenzin Gyatso is known to provide Kalachakra initiations to tens of thousands at the same time. The Dalai Lama believes that these initiation practices even benefit people that aren’t in presence of these initiations, due to its great karmic influence on the world. The Kalachakra headline emblem itself is in ready supply. The emblem can be found everywhere in areas of the world that practice Buddhism.

The Kalachakra can be utilized in the notorious sand mandalas of the Buddhists. Monks will spend weeks or months painstakingly building huge circular artworks, or mandalas, made just of coloured sand. The Kalachakra sand mandalas include all 722 deities inside the construction of the mandala. These awesome, breathtaking mandalas finally see their demise once the monks destroy the picture in a systematic manner. Each segment (and deity) is eliminated in a particular order. The sand is collected in a jar and “released” into character, usually by being poured into a moving body of water like a river. This ritual is done to remind us of the impermanence of existence. The Kalachakra adds the additional dimension into the sand mandala by referencing the permanent cycle of change, with death and rebirth being the most pervasive cycle in existence.