The Universal Language of Mandalas

Start Date:07-May-2024

End Date:10-May-2024



This is a first-hand report given by a participant.

I recently had the privilege of attending, ‘The Universal Language of Mandalas’, an online mandala workshop organised by NAMAH over 4 days with the wonderful Sacred Geometry artist, teacher and publisher, Vivechana Saraf and hosted by James.

The workshop allowed us to feel the essence of a mandala as a container for different cultures and realise the beauty of Sacred Geometry as a wholeness and oneness of a universal language stemming from nature itself, as the circle stemming from a dot of unity diversifies into creational patterns in different cultural expression.

Knowing that a circle is complete without edges, Vivechana’s empathic teaching methodology allowed us all to experience a transformative fullness, using the language of Sacred Geometry art, uniting temples, mosques, churches and Buddhist dharma wheels as unity consciousness.

We soon realised the sacred thread linking humanity through the unique languages of Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity via mandalas so intrinsic within nature itself and this quote by Sri Aurobindo says it all:

Mandalas are containers of sacred forms of art used for self-expression, with repeating patterns, opening the heart to receive the universal language of love by uniting polarities, so we see oneness in all aspects as a divine presence or commonality, binding us together within the circle of life as we roadmap back to our centre of being.

This equanimity was felt by us all during this 4-day workshop that always began with tuning into our inner silence and focusing on our own centre of being.

We studied how ancient cultures used patterns seen in nature and in the cosmos as the micro and macrocosm to view themselves within the world, using symbols. Cosmic law is based on harmonic resonance from the smallest diatom cell in algae, to sunflowers beautifully portraying the golden ratio or Fibonacci sequence to the Milky Way galaxy, as the mandala exists in everything everywhere, as a universal symbiosis without any separation.

Over the 4 days, we saw how common universal principles adapted to individual belief-systems, yet how mankind is connected via earthly and cosmic geometric symbology, giving the sentence “as above, so below” a more significant meaning through the sacred circle that is beautiful in its empty fullness or full emptiness, as the blueprint of existence.

On Day 1 we covered Hinduism as a culture that is over 4,000 years old, stemming from the Indus Valley civilisation.

In Hinduism, we believe in the unity of everything as the Brahmanda or infinity, through which the multiplicity of gods and goddesses are expressions of the symbols all contained within ourselves as a finite discovery of self-experience as a unique soul.

We looked at Hindu temples and understood how the architecture of the temple was based on certain principles, using the symbology of squares and circles.

Vivechana Ji guided us how to draw and paint an Ashthalakshmi mandala or 8-pointed unicursal star, or the infinite star, a symbol of Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess who blesses one with the abundance of health, wealth, patience, endurance, knowledge, patience, community and family.

The process for each mandala always began from the centre of our paper, so that we noticed our own centre of being, symbolising the bindu point, looking at itself and limiting itself by creating a circle around itself, yet showing us that there is always our soul intimately unique, yet divinely connected to the One Divine existence.

The 8-pointed star or Asthalakshmi mandala I painted:

We also looked at the vastu purusha mandala of 64 grid patterns as cardinal perfection. Vastu Purusha Mandala is an ancient Indian architectural concept that helps in designing buildings in harmony with nature and cosmic energies where the Brahma Pada is the centre of the garbha graha, in temples in India, where the main deity is placed, and this allowed us to appreciate Sacred kolam art that is daily drawn by village people in south India. Kolam patterns range from geometric and mathematical line drawings around a matrix of dots to free-form artwork and closed shapes.

Women in Tamil Nadu draw kolams mathematically, based on dots following complex patterns, some of which are based on the Fibonacci sequence, without compasses, using rice flour to attract birds and insects, as an eco-friendly sacred protection for their homes that is harmonious with all living beings, yet auspiciously attracting Lakshmi into their homes.

We learnt that Hindu temple architecture is based on the Manduka mandala of 64 pandas.

We were taught how to draw the Swastika padi Kolam which is related to the Christian cross.

I found this exercise so beautifully meditative as it merges both brain hemispheres and hence the body in its integrative practice, connecting us to our innate knowledge;

The Swastika kolam: 

On Day 2, we studied Buddhism (an offshoot of Hinduism), based on the teachings of  Gautama Buddha ,and how Buddhist sand paintings bought mandalas forward in the world.

As The Tao Te Ching (The Taoism book that discusses the nature of the Tao, objectivity and balance, non-action, and harmonious living), states:

“Stay in the centre of the Circle and let all things take their course.” We once again realised that the centre-point of the paper or our being is the beginning and origin of everything just like the bindu point in Hinduism, as the seed of everything in the journey of self-discovery going out to come back to centre again.

Here the Buddhist lotus represents the centre of Time as always being in the here and now, through which we create our own compass, going outwards like concentric circles of dimensions, experiencing portals or passageways of life. In the Buddhist culture, the deity is also always at the centre of the mandala.

We looked at the Buddhist wheel of dharma as well as the 4 Noble Truths to contemplate our own intentions through speech, actions, attentiveness and concentration, being mindful of Dharma as a passage-way of right conduct.

Buddhist monks painstakingly create sand mandalas as an act of worship, seeing the entire cosmogram as a roadmap to reaching enlightenment, truly imbibing the truth as sacred art. They then totally dismantle the mandalas, exemplifying the ebb and flow of life within the samsara wheel of life and death.

The Buddhist saying of, “No Mud, No Lotus”, is symbolised in Mandalas with the Eightfold Path as the 8-petalled lotus flower, symbolising the endless knot of infinity as the union of compassion and wisdom.

I really got very engrossed in drawing and painting the Mandala of Avalokiteshwara, the Buddha of Compassion as love, joy and equanimity in speech, body and mind with its vajara fence around the outside of the mandala, keeping out Asuric or demonic forces.

The Avalokiteshvara Mandala

Vivechana asked us to create symbols and words, entering us in our own unique version of the mandala, after teaching us that goldfish symbolise one not drowning in dharma, parasols symbolise dignity as a banner of victory over samsara and its suffering, conch shells symbolise dharma reaching far and wide and vases symbolise fullness of dharma.

The Buddhist mandalas also have gates like Hindu yantras and as one enters the gates, the Eightfold Path guides one to the centre point as the principle of Buddhism through the 8- petalled lotus flower as seen here:

Day 3 was a study of Islam as the Islamic culture, where sacred geometry is used to signify the beauty of God translated by their Prophet Muhammad who said, “God is beautiful and He loves Beauty.”.

It is the youngest world religion, focusing on Allah as the one World-Creator.

In the Islamic culture, unity is abstract where the divine essence is not to be compared to images like in the Hindu culture, rather, it is shown in multiplicity as abstract forms made beautiful through Sacred Geometry tessellations as art, making matter a part of divine finiteness to show its infinite nature in an ever-expanding mandala as beautiful adornments.

We looked at Islamic mosques that are simple externally but crystalline inside, almost looking like cellular structures giving a 3D effect.

Vivechana educated us on the three aspects of Islamic art:

1. Abstract geometry influenced by nomadic tribes, rather than mythology showing beauty as being impersonal as a divine essence.

2. The Arabesque culture where whimsical plant motifs are interwoven into the geometry making static geometry spiritual as seen in the Blue Mosque. Sri Aurobindo describes this perfectly here with his quote, stating, “The preoccupation with universal beauty even in its aesthetic forms has an intense power for refining and subtilising the Nature and at its highest itis a great force for purification.”

3. Calligraphy in Islam is used in sacred art, as words from their holy Book or Qur’an, ,are interlaced between geometric patterns both vertically and horizontally, coming into a field of action at the heart, wherein art and beauty merge into infinite repeated tessellations. The centre in any mosque faces Mecca (Islamic holy land of pilgrimage), which interestingly is at the golden mean Fibonacci point of planet Earth.

In Sufism there is a more mystical form of searching for God through the act of whirling in a vortex centred in love and devotion, as portrayed in Rumi’s writings focusing on the human being created to love and human love being a bridge connecting to divine love.

Here we can see the Heart of Oneness by Soulscapes, portraying this in mandalas

We drew a simple 8-pointed cross-pattern using the Sacred Geometry method as in the blue tile pictures so prevalent in Islamic culture everywhere from doors to tiles, ceilings and mosques.

On Day 4, we looked at Christianity   and how its mandalas are based on alchemy, transformation and miracles and a quote by Hermes is appropriate here,“God is an intelligent Sphere whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.”

Christianity is an Abrahamic religion where Jesus Christ reveals God as a salvation from sin, with the Cross as its universal symbol.

It was interesting to note how the Mexican talisman called the “eye of God”, the Hindu swastika with its 4 cardinal directions, the Christian cross, symbolising heaven and earth all translate divinity as the soul centre.

Christ emerging from the centre of the Cross, symbolises giving up attachment to the body as he resurrected and ascended to heaven.

We looked at the Kabbalah Tree of life as ascending in consciousness, the Vesica Pisces geometry as the divine womb of creation:

Christian art appears in churches with a cross with a circle around it, as seen in Westminster Abbey, showing cycles of nature, stars and planets with the pentagram being an important symbol in Christianity where the circle is divided into 5, not 6. 

The 5-folded Gothic patterns are seen in churches as stained-glass windows with an emphasis on doorways as portals. 

Light meeting the stained-glass symbolises hope, divinity, celestial beings, like angels and most of the rose-shaped windows are blue, symbolising the expansiveness of the sky.

Stained glass painstakingly processes lead to liquid gold as an alchemical process of transforming the soul to spirit as the rose pattern is seen in a lot of cathedrals:

Overall, in conclusion, the 4 days of heARTful contemplation with Vivechana Ji was sacred in so many ways and this final quote by the psychologist Carl Jung summarises unity within humanity and the importance of mandalas:

“I saw that everything, all paths I had been following, all steps I had taken, were leading to a single point – namely to a mid-point. It became increasingly plain to me that the Mandala is the centre. It is the exponent of all paths. It is the path to the centre, to individualism…. I know that in finding the mandala as an expression of the Self, I had attained what was for me, the Ultimate.”

I’m deeply grateful to have been a part of the mandala course, which I would highly recommend to anyone aspiring to delve into the language of Sacred Art, using geometry and mandalas. I continue to draw and paint them as part of my daily Sadhana towards Self- realisation as my own unique self-expression of the Divine…

How beautiful that a symbol can speak a thousand words, integrating our conscious awareness in the universal orderly manner as the law of nature which stems from harmony and love.


“Over the 4 days, I felt a sense of connection within and with-out. I started to feel more connected to myself, centred and grounded. There was a sense of belonging and nurturing. I also felt confident drawing complex mandalas.”

“I started with a curiosity to understand the universality of mandalas across cultures. It was an eye opener experience to see the underlying oneness and connection to the Divine. I felt a sense of calmness, getting absorbed in the process of understanding and creating the mandalas.”

“After the first day, I had a dream where I was being held by "my" mother. I think I was feeling a lack of nurturance and through the 4 days, I started to feel nurtured and nourished. The process felt like a yagna, offering and receiving.”

“Drawing circles, give so many straight lines, different petals, different new connections were surprising and amazing for me.... Mystic geometry was revealing itself through Mandala.”

“Yes, it touched light joyous feeling in heart…. that's the sacred space for me….”

“These workshops are really deep, sacred and beautiful. And perhaps 2.5 hours and just 4 days couldn’t do justice to it. And right brain cells do seek to learn more patterns. Perhaps it could be a longer course? Over weekends or something? If possible, short excerpts or notes could be shared on request? Nonetheless, Vivechana’s sessions are my personal favourite. It was the best! Thank you all 3 for coming together and putting this workshop together. Deep and humble gratitude! “

“Yes, it took me into meditative space. I was so engrossed.”

“Overwhelming! Very learning. I had many Aha moments in the workshops where I was able to connect dots of things happening around.”

“Yes, emotionally it gave me stability, something which can be experienced while learning Mandala.”

“All beings following different religions are just following different circles of theories, practices, but having Only ONE Centre.”

There are not enough words to put this experience in words. But if I were to say anything, I would say that so far, I’ve been practising the A B C D (basics, alphabets) of this language – now maybe I can form words, read some sentences or perhaps construct some. And hopefully from here it’s only upwards and onwards. “

“Mandalas hold a very deep, special and personal space in my heart and that just got amplified.”


“I have learned active meditation.”

“Mandala art techniques, video, different sharings by the team, patient teaching, art of making complex into a simple, structured way by Vivechana ma'am…. Thank you so much….”

[Benefit from most?]

“Learned a lot of new things for my growth.”

“The introduction, the teachings, the learnings shared by Vivechana at the start of the sessions. The humbling experience of drawing these sacred patterns working beyond our understanding.”