Seated in the center of his square shaped palace structure is the Great Buddha himself. The perfect square shape indicates that the absolute space of wisdom is without aberration. This square form defines the architecture of the mandala described as a four-sided palace or temple. A palace because it is the residence of the presiding deity of the mandala, a temple because it contains the essence of the Buddha.
The word 'Buddha' in Sanskrit means "to be awakened." Expressed in visual images, Buddhas are not mere objects of worship, but mirror of our innermost being, icons of the journey from ignorance to illumination.
The Enlightened One displays the Dhyana mudra. Dhyana in Sanskrit means meditation, the practice of this mudra is said to lead to the attainment of spiritual perfection. The concentric squares making up his abode have four gates each, each opening in one of the four directions. While the smallest square has stupas marking its entrance, the largest has four kirtimukhas, or faces of victory guarding the gates. As a guardian of doorways, the kirtimukha is popular all across the Indian continent, China, and South East Asia.
Surrounding the squares are similar circular concentric bands. The outermost of which depicts the eight charnel (cremation) grounds. These represent the eight aggregates of human consciousness which tie man to the phenomenal world and to the cycle of birth and rebirth. Next is a circle composed of a ring of fire, depicted here as a stylized scrollwork. This symbolizes the process of transformation which ordinary human beings have to undergo before entering the sacred territory within.
Next is a wide circular region wherein float various sacred syllables and mantras.
Finally the innermost circle is made up of lotus petals, a symbol of auspiciousness.
Floating around the mandala proper are various deities from the Buddhist pantheon, both wrathful and peaceful. Interspersed in between are also various narrative episodes from the life of the enlightened one, and other fantastic visions of enlightenment, completing this picture of a paradisiacal universe of compassion.