About Vajrayana Temples
Vajrayana temples are traditionally created by enlightenened masters as a vessel for worship and making offerings. A temple’s design typically includes an outer perimeter where worshipers can circumambulate (while praying and reciting mantras), and where ceremonial rites, such as fire ceremonies, as well as traditional vajra dances and cultural folk dances can be performed. The temple’s interior always tells a story: paintings, wall murals, ceiling murals, and sculpture portray the various icons and lineage masters passed down from generation to generation through the centuries according to the tradition of each temple’s particular lineage. Special shelves are created to house precious texts, such as the cannon of Buddha’s teachings along with a wealth of meditation texts and commentaries on enlightenment teachings. Relic tombs (stupas) are also constructed in the interior and exterior of temples, housing the most precious relics of the enlightened ones.
A Portal to Enlightenment:
THE UNIQUE FEATURES OF A “MANDALA” TEMPLE
Padma Studios® unique mandala temple designs are inspired by the sublime pure lands (enlightened realms) of enlightened beings (deities). These enlightened realms are vibrant mandalas in which deities and their retinue reside, such as Guru Padmasambhava’s pure realm mandala, known as Zangdok Palri, or Vajrayogini’s pure realm mandala, known as Kechara.
Our mandala temple designs, created by master mandala architect Pema Namdol Thaye, utilize tigse (traditional line measurement) according to celestial measurements found in ancient Buddhist texts in order to recreate pure lands in this physical world. The specific design features of each mandala temple are influenced by the particular qualities, attributes, and wisdom expressions of its particular deity.
So what is the difference between a traditional temple and a mandala temple? The traditional temple serves as an exalted container for the practices, ceremonies, and teachings of the temple’s particular wisdom lineage. With a mandala temple, it has similarity with a traditional temple in regards to its function, but there is a difference in its physical design with the added benefit that the entire design of the mandala temple is a direct expression of the wisdom deity itself.
As the artist himself describes:
To illustrate more deeply: when one enters a traditional temple, one typically enters through the main door of the temple and moves toward (and makes offerings to) the various alters and thrones usually located at the back of the temple - which display various statues and paintings of icons and Gurus - and then one sits down to pray, meditate, or receive teachings facing the main shrine. Entering a mandala temple is a unique experience in that the entire temple - both its interior and exterior - is a complete and intact full-scale three dimensional mandala. The mandala temple has a door on each side of the mandala, each facing one of the four directions. One can enter through any of its four doors as there is no “front” or “back” of the temple, and each door represents the four limbs of the deity (symbolizing the four immeasurable thoughts of love, compassion, appreciative joy, and equanimity). Upon entering a mandala temple, one would circumambulate within the inner chamber of the temple, around the sculpted inner deity figures, which would be located in the very center of the room. Because there is no front and back of a mandala temple, one could sit anywhere, in any of the directions, facing the inner central figures during one’s meditation and prayers.
Zandok Palri Mandala Temple
Pema Namdol is honored to be fulfilling the request of His Holiness Pema Shepa Dudjom Yangsi Rinpoche for him to design and assist with the building of a new Zangdok Palri Mandala Temple in Yangleshö, Nepal.
Pema Namdol is working closely with His Holiness Dudjom Yangsi Rinpoche to develop a brand new Zangdok Palri concept design and create an intricate full-scale Zangdok Palri mandala—with its accompanying blueprints—which will become the foundation for the mandala temple’s majestic creation in years to come.
Golden Buddha Mandala Temple: Pantheon of 100 Buddhas
In 2010 Pema Namdol created a full scale model of Golden Buddha Mandala Temple: Pantheon of One Hundred Buddhas and accompanying blueprints. This mandala temple is currently being built in Sikkim, India, under the auspices of the H.E. Rigzin Dorjee Rinpoche.