Voice of the Void

 Aesthetics of the Buddhist Mandala on the Basis of the Doctrine of Vāk in Trika Śaivism

D.K.Printworld New Delhi, India 2015

The research undertaken here about Buddhist mandalas  is basically designed under the philosophical question how the visible dimensions of forms are related to their invisible contents. The textual sources in reference to Buddhist mandalas teach that the essence of mandalas is Śūnya (Void) and their forms are the reflective images (pratibimba) of Śūnya. This volume investigates how the colourful form of Buddhist mandalas represents the prime concept of Śūnya, and what makes these mandalas visually powerful, leaving the impression of ‘spiritual enhancement’ in the heart of people who do not even know about the Buddhist doctrines. 


The mandalas permanently represented in the monastic complexes of Tabo and Alchi in the Western Himalayas have been focused in order to examine a prominent role of visual dimensions of mandalas. In order to comprehend mandalas in the context of Buddhist philosophy, the texts of the Yogatantra class have been looked up. Especially, the references to the tantric visualization-practice throw light on the internal experiences with mandalas.


Considering the fact that the Buddhist mandalas have been developed as a method of mantrayāna, being always combined with mantras and mudrās, this volume presents the concept of vāk (word, subtle sound, voice) as a key to explain how the ultimate state of Śūnya and perceptible forms of mandalas are related to each other. The doctrine of vāk developed in the tradition of Trika Śaivism in Kashmir provides us with a systematic way to explain the non-dualism between all phenomenal objects and the Supreme Divine. The doctrine of four levels of vāk is examined in the book for the purpose of interpreting the aesthetic phenomena and structuring the different levels of meanings of mandalas from the aesthetic point of view. On the basis of the vāk theory, the external forms of mandalas have been explored and their visual principles have been technically analyzed, in attempt to answer the question: how do the colourful forms of Buddhist mandalas resemble the formless Śūnya