The Kalachakra Initiation and the Making of the Mandala


In 2006, I embarked on a journey to India to film the Kalachakra initiation at Amravati. As a filmmaker, I was excited to document this ancient Buddhist ritual and share it with the world. Little did I know that this experience would transform me in profound ways, spiritually and personally.

The 13-day gathering began on 3 January 2006 with preliminary teachings, and I was struck by the sheer number of Tibetans who had traveled from Tibet and from exile communities worldwide to attend the teachings. The energy and enthusiasm of the crowd were contagious, and I felt honored to be a part of this historic event.

However, the actual Kalachakra initiation was given on 13 and 14 January, and this was the highlight of my trip. The ceremony was a complex and awe-inspiring ritual that involved the creation of a mandala, recitation of prayers and mantras, and teachings on Buddhist philosophy and practice.

As I stood there with my camera, capturing every moment of the ceremony, I felt a sense of reverence and awe wash over me. The atmosphere was charged with an energy that was both palpable and profound, and I found myself swept up in the spiritual experience.

The Kalachakra (‘Wheel of Time’) ceremony in Amravati holds a special significance as the Indian holy town is believed to be the place where the historic Buddha Shakyamuni gave the Kalachakra initiations. In his opening address, the Dalai Lama highlighted the importance of this location and the sense of privilege he felt to be able to initiate the Kalachakra there. His words resonated with me, and I felt a deep sense of gratitude for being able to witness this ancient ritual in such a sacred location.

But it wasn’t just the Kalachakra initiation that impacted me spiritually. I also had the opportunity to film the making of the mandala at the Kalachakra temple in Dharamsala. This process was equally profound, as I watched the monks create the intricate design with painstaking attention to detail and meditative focus during 10 full days.

As I stood just 2 meters away from the mandala for the whole time, I felt an extraordinary energy emanating from the intricate pattern. It was as if the mandala was alive, pulsing with a vibrant energy that filled the room and resonated within me. I was moved to tears by the beauty and power of this ancient practice, and I felt a deep sense of connection to something larger than myself.

The experience of filming the Kalachakra initiation and the making of the mandala was transformative for me. It opened my eyes to a spiritual world that I had only glimpsed before, and it awakened a deep sense of curiosity and wonder within me. I left India with a renewed appreciation for the power of ancient spiritual practices and a sense of reverence for the wisdom and insights of the Buddhist tradition.