The Kalachakra Mandala:
Man and the Cosmos

The Kalachakra (“Wheel of Time”) mandala is unlike other mandalas as it places a strong emphasis on cosmology, evident in the object’s basic construction and symbolism. The Kalachakra Tantra, the text from which this mandala is derived, clearly develops the concept of structural correlations and parallels among all things, in particular the connection between the universe, the mandala, and the human body. The tantra speaks of three closely interwoven levels: the outer, inner, and alternative wheels of time. The outer wheel comprises the outward appearances of the human environment, i.e., the universe. The inner wheel is made up of those who live in this environment. The alternative wheel encompasses the teaching of the analogies and correlations between man and the universe as well as the related yoga practice.

Kalachakra Mandala
Lhasa, Tibet; ca. 1650–1700
Distemper on cotton
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Frederick L. Jack Fund, 58.691
(HAR 87220)