From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

maṇdala (‘a circular figure that embellishes’) The word ‘maṇḍala’ has been used in various senses in the Hindu scriptures and allied works depending upon the particular field of knowledge. In the Rgveda it is the name of the ten books or sections into which it is divided, based on the subject content.

Sometimes transliterated as: Mandala, MaNdala, Mandala


In the ritualistic field, it is a circular diagram containing squares and triangles, generally prepared with coloured powders. When consecrated it acts like a fence or border protecting the ritual from evil influences and forces. The names of some of the maṇḍalas are: Sarvatobhadra, Caturliñgabhadra, Prāsādavāstumaṇḍala, Hariharamaṇḍala and so on. A Hindu temple when viewed from above, represents a maṇḍala. In the works on political science (arthaśāstra or rājyaśāstra) maṇḍala is a part of a king’s territory. A maṇḍala is made up of four deśas, each deśa contain¬ing 100 villages. In some works, this definition has been reversed, making the maṇḍala a subdivision of deśa.