From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

BY Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Mandala, MaNdala, Mandala

maṇdala literally means 'a circular figure that embellishes’.


The word ‘maṇḍala’ has been used in various senses in the scriptures and allied works depending upon the particular field of knowledge. In the Ṛgveda it is the name of the ten books or sections into which it is divided based on the subject content.

In the ritualistic field, it is a circular diagram containing squares and triangles, generally prepared with colored 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:

  1. Sarvatobhadra
  2. Caturliñgabhadra
  3. Prāsādavāstumaṇḍala
  4. Hariharamaṇḍala
  5. Others

A temple when viewed from above, represents a maṇḍala.

In the works on political science,[1] maṇḍala is a part of a king’s territory. A maṇḍala is made up of four deśas, each deśa containing 100 villages. In some works, this definition has been reversed, making the maṇḍala a subdivision of deśa.
  1. Political Science is also called as arthaśāstra or rājyaśāstra.