A mandala is a spiritual and ritual symbol in the Indian religions of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism representing the universe. In common use, “mandala” has become a generic term for any diagram, chart or geometric pattern that represents the cosmos metaphysically or symbolically; a microcosm of the universe. The basic form of most mandalas is a square with four gates containing a circle with a center point. Each gate is in the general shape of a T. Mandalas often have radial balance. The term appears in the Rigveda as the name of the sections of the work, and Vedic rituals use mandalas such as the Navagraha mandala to this day. Mandalas are also used in Buddhism. In various spiritual traditions, mandalas may be employed for focusing attention of practitioners and adepts, as a spiritual guidance tool, for establishing a sacred space and as an aid to meditation and trance induction.
Mayan Tzolk’in: One of several parallels between Eastern and Mesoamerican cultures, the Mayan civilization tended to present calendars in a mandala form. It is similar in form and function to the Kalachakra (Wheel of Time) sand paintings of Tibetan Buddhists. The tzolk’in wheel has 260 segments, surprising because the Mayans recognized that the calendar year is 365 days long. The inclusion of the specific number 260 could however relate to the 26,000 year cycle of the precession of the equinoxes. If so, this would indicate a remarkable awareness of these great cycles of time by this culture. Ultimately, the symbol was probably used for ritual purposes, and to measure the interval of a number of 9-month intervals like pregnancy, the cultivation time of some crops, and rituals that were performed at a 260-day spacing each year, for example, spring and fall.
Aztec Sun Stone: The Sun Stone of the Aztec civilization was once believed to be their equivalent of a Tzolk’in calendar, but is now thought to be a ceremonial representation of the entire universe as seen by the Aztec religious class. The earliest interpretations of the stone relate to its use as a calendar. In 1792, two years after the stone’s unearthing, Mexican anthropologist Antonio de León y Gama wrote a treatise on the Aztec calendar using the stone as its basis. Some of the circles of glyphs are the glyphs for the days of the month. The four symbols included in the Ollin glyph represent the four past suns that the Mexica believed the earth had passed through.