The Kalachakra Mantra symbol of Buddhism is complex and comprehensive. It is also referred to as the “Tenfold Powerful One”. It is thus named because it consists of ten different parts. This ancient symbol is made up of a mantra of seven syllables surrounded by a ring of fire. Above and to the left and right of the mantra are three additional symbols, thus totaling ten parts of the design. The symbol’s many parts are intertwined with each other to form an elaborate pattern. The Sanskrit word Kalachakra means “time wheel”. The entirety of the Kalachakra mantra is:


However, the mantra is considered to have only seven parts because “Ham Kshah Ma La Va Ra Ya” is grouped together as one section. The color and meaning of this portion of the mantra is as follows:

Ham (blue): enlightened wisdom of the mandala deities
Kshah (green): the deities’ body, speech and mind
Ma (red): the mandala palace
La (yellow): the element of earth
Wa (white): the element of water
Ra (red): the element of fire
Ya (black): the element of air

The first part, “Om Ah Hum Hoh” represent the body, speech, mind and wisdom, respectively. These four syllables are reputed to be able to cleanse the mind and body in one’s efforts to achieve enlightenment. The mantra is topped with a crescent and circle (usually regarding as the sun and moon, or visarga and bindu), which represents Om, or enlightened body. On top of Om, one will find a nada, or flame, which represents both Ah and Ho together, which is enlightened speech and wisdom. Beneath Om is Hum, which is the enlightened mind. To the left of the mantra is a golden E, which refers to the Kalachakra, or method. To the right is a blue Vam, or Vishvamata, which means wisdom. There may be some variation on colors and interpretations of Kalachakra symbol in different schools of thought.

The Kalachakra symbol basically represents the entirety of the 2,500 year-old Kalachakra tantra that is recited in an effort to purify the body and mind. This tantra is all about time, such as the cycles of the planets, the cycle of our own breath, and the various cycles in our bodies and lives. There is also a designation of “inner” and “outer” portions of the tantra. The inner portion references the internal workings of beings, such as our chakras. Naturally, the outer portion deals with external affairs. The relationship between the inner and outer areas can be likened to the relationship between the mind and body. Of the five chapters of the entire Kalachakra tantra, the first two deal with the outer realm and the succeeding three with the inner. The former is called the “ground Kalachakra” and the latter is the “other” or “alternative Kalachakra”.

The Kalachakra tantra is vastly important to Buddhist monks and nuns, as it is commonly used in initiation practices that help to bridge the gap from being a layperson to entering Buddahood. The current Dalai Lama, H.H. Tenzin Gyatso is known to give Kalachakra initiations to thousands at one time. The Dalai Lama believes that these initiation practices even benefit those who are not in attendance of these initiations, on account of its good karmic influence on the world. The Kalachakra mantra symbol itself is in ready supply. The symbol can be found everywhere in regions of the world that practice Buddhism.

The Kalachakra is also utilized in the infamous sand mandalas of the Buddhists. Monks will spend weeks or months painstakingly constructing huge circular artworks, or mandalas, made only of colored sand. The Kalachakra sand mandalas contain all 722 deities within the structure of the mandala. These awesome, breathtaking mandalas ultimately see their demise when the monks destroy the picture in a systematic fashion. Each section (and deity) is removed in a specific order. The sand is collected in a jar and “released” back into nature, usually by being poured into a moving body of water such as a river. This ritual is performed to remind us of the impermanence of life. The Kalachakra adds the extra dimension to the sand mandala by referencing the permanent cycle of change, with death and rebirth being the most pervasive cycle in life.

Author's Bio: 

The Kalachakra mantra and the < a href="">Kalachakra mantra symbol is an interesting topic for Sylvia Smelcer, who is the owner of e-commerce Buddhist websites.