Sand Mandala Creation by the Tashi Lhunpo Monks
June 3 - June 9Free
Creation of the Sand Mandala
The making of a sand mandala is a Tantric spiritual practice in the Tibetan tradition. A mandala is a representation of the deities described in the Tantric texts, representing their celestial mansion. The Buddhist practitioner uses the image of the mandala to identify the enlightened qualities of the particular meditational deity. Mandalas are created for rituals of initiation, serving as supports for meditation and visualisation, mandalas are ultimately the tools for the attainment of enlightenment.
Millions of grains of coloured sand are painstakingly laid in place over a period of days or weeks. When the prayer is completed, the deities are respectfully requested to leave the Mandala. In the spirit of impermanence and non-attachment the mandala is ritualistically dismantled. The sand which is thought to be very blessed is usually poured into running waters to carry the healing energies throughout the world and spread blessings to as many sentient beings as possible. Small quantities of sand are often offered to people who have attended the ceremony. These, when scattered onto fields and gardens increase fertility and improve growth.
Known as Drol-ma in Tibetan, Tara is one of the widest worshipped deity in Tibet. Legend says that She was born from a lotus which appeared from the tears shed by Avalokiteshvara, (Bodhisatva of Compassion) when He realized the number of beings suffering in Samsara. As an expression of the feminine essence of Compassion, She is said to have made the vow : “Until Samsara is empty I shall work for the benefit of all sentient beings in a woman’s body”.
Tara’s main attributes are trifold :
- “Mother of all Buddhas”: She is regarded as the embodiment of all the Buddhas’ activity.
- “The Saviouress” : Tara’s name meaning “Star” is often interpreted as “She who leads
across“. Tara is reputed to have rescued many from imminent dangers. To Her devotees, Tara helps with the eight inner fears of pride, delusion, anger, envy, wrong views, avarice, attachment and doubt.
- “Tantric deity”: Tara is a deity of Vajrayana (Buddhist Tantra); this implies that She is potentially latent within every sentient being’s mind.
During the creation of the sand mandala the monks will invoke the 21 aspects of Tara as they recite mantra verses while they build up the sand mandala .This practice is called “the 21 Praises of Tara”. Each form of Tara has a specific mantra and accomplishes a special activity.
The Tashi Lhunpo Monastery
Tashi Lhunpo Monastery was founded in Tibet by His Holiness the 1st Dalai Lama in the 15th century and became one of the Great Six centres of the Gelugpa tradition. In the 16th century its Abbot was recognised by the Fifth Dalai Lama as an incarnation of Amitabha, the spiritual teacher of Chenrezig and the patron saint of Tibet. He was given the title ‘Panchen Lama’, and became – together with the Dalai Lama – the most important religious leader in Tibet.
After the Chinese invasion of Tibet, and the destruction of the Cultural Revolution a few monks made the journey to India. In 1972, under the guidance of His Holiness, Tashi Lhunpo Monastery was established in Bylakuppe, Karnataka State, South India. Here just over 300 monks now continue to follow the same tradition and principles in exile as in their monastery in Tibet. Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in exile is once again becoming one of the major centres of Buddhist study, best known for its artistic tradition and sacred music. The 11th Panchen Lama, born in 1989, was taken to China by the authorities at the age of six and is still being held in custody.
This event is free with normal admission to the gardens