Starting as an Indic symbol for meditation, musings about the universe, and striving towards the end of suffering leading to Nirvana, the mandala has actually had a much more practical legacy for political leadership in which one central ‘divine king’ is flanked and protected in tributary relationship by a ‘circle of kings’ that owes the one ‘man of prowess’ their allegiance and devotion in some binding fashion. Used in Hindu India, Buddhist Southeast Asia, and also in the Islamic Malay regions, mandalic polities have seemingly defied the odds against other systems of governance that would vie against them for legitimacy and acceptability among the subject peoples under their spheres of influence.
Williams, Mark S.
"Mandala and its significance in Magindanao Muslim society,"
Culture Mandala: The Bulletin of the Centre for East-West Cultural and Economic Studies:
2, Article 2.
Available at: http://epublications.bond.edu.au/cm/vol7/iss2/2