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The Maṇḍala as Metropolis

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Chapter Summary

This chapter demonstrates the symbiotic relationship between religious and political symbolism shows how the templates for esoteric empowerment have been modeled on ideal urban environments. It provides an interesting reversal of the symbiotic equation between church and state. The evocation of the city in the mandalas demonstrates the symbiotic relationship that exists between political and religious symbolism, between secular and sacred architecture, and between imperial and Buddhist topologies. It also opens up the field to future scholarship in at least two interrelated areas. First, the uniquely Japanese pairing of the mandalas raises interesting questions about the nature of Chinese-Japanese Dharma transmissions. Second, Chinese and Japanese masters claim that their esoteric methods protect the state and liken their efficacy to city walls. This metaphorical link seems to be well supported by the visual materials, and future research will hopefully uncover more explicit textual links between the mandala and the metropolis.

Keywords: mandalas; metropolis; political symbolism; religious symbolism; symbiotic equation



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