Himalayan Art Resources

Mandala: Offering Plate

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Video: Mandala Offering Plate

A symbolic offering made by Buddhist practitioners that represents the entire universe and presented to the religious teachers, Buddhas and deities, of the past and present. The central point is Mount Meru with four surrounding continents.

A specific ritual object called a mandala plate is used for this ritual although anything flat and clean is also acceptable. Mandala plates filled with rice and multi-tiered are also commonly kept on a permanent shrine.

Shrine mandalas are constructed from a flat metal mandala plate and then three or four rings of metal, often engraved, embossed or repousse worked, and topped with a small replica of a heavenly palace or a Dharma wheel.

In the text Sheja Rabsal (page 13) of Chogyal Pagpa, he lists the four sides of Mount Sumeru as composed of silver in the east, lapis lazuli in the south, ruby in the west and gold in the north. A Kagyupa source lists crystal for the east and emerald for the north.

"...on an earth, completely pure, of great power with a ground of gold, ...surrounded by an outer wall of iron mountains, in the middle is ...the king of mountains Sumeru. East Purvavideha; south Jambudvipa; west Aparagodaniya; north Uttarakuru; Deha and Videha; Chamara and Apachamara; Sata and Uttaramantrina; Kurava and Kaurava; treasure mountains, wishing trees, wishing cows, uncultivated crops, precious wheels, precious jewels, precious queens, precious ministers, precious elephants, precious excellent horses, precious generals, great treasure vases; goddesses of beauty, garlands, song, dance, incense, flowers, lamps and perfume; sun, moon, precious umbrellas, banners - victorious in all directions..." (Extracted from the long text known as the Thirty-seven Heap Mandala Offering Prayer written by Chogyal Pagpa, 1235-1280).

Jeff Watt [updated 2-2018, 5-2022]