The outermost circle of this mandala is composed of a ring of fire, depicted here as stylized scrollwork. This symbolizes the process of transformation which ordinary human beings have to undergo before entering the sacred territory within. The next is made up of lotus petals, signifying absolute purity and divine auspiciousness. Finally seated inside his square palace (a symbol of perfection) is Yamantaka, the fierce buffalo-headed deity, who is credited with conquering death itself. He is the annihilator (antaka) of Yama, the Lord of Death. The bull form of Yamantaka, points to Nandi, the favorite bull of Lord Shiva. One is reminded here that Shiva too, is the terrible destroyer whose boon is the incomparable one of illumination. Indeed enlightenment does conquer death, or more precisely, the fear of death.
Floating all around, in a black vortex of doom and decay, are various wrathful forms, dancing skeletons (Citipati), and other gory images. These horrific icons remind us of our ingrained fears and the mammoth nature of the task awaiting us on the path to true enlightenment.
Of Related Interest:
Tibetan Thangka Painting: Black Mandala of Manjushri
Sterling Silver Jewelry: Mandala Double Box Pendant with Filigree