The Mandala is similar to those on Roundworld, but with one important difference: instead of being coloured sand arranged by humans to depict or represent reality as they see it, on the Discworld the History Monks of Oi Dong watch the mandala because it is reality, and it dictates to them what they do. Based on the patterns in the Mandala, the Abbot orders his monks about, often sending them on perilous journeys to ensure the safe passage of time.
The term Mandala (Sanskrit maṇḍala "circle", "completion") is a term used to refer to various objects. It is of Hindu origin, but is also used in other Dharmic religions, such as Buddhism. In the Tibetan branch of Vajrayana Buddhism, they have been developed into sandpainting. In practice, mandala has become a generic term for any plan, chart or geometric pattern that represents the cosmos metaphysically or symbolically, a microcosm of the Universe from the human perspective.
In various spiritual traditions, mandala may be employed for focusing attention of aspirants and adepts, a spiritual teaching tool, for establishing a sacred space and as an aid to meditation and trance induction. Its symbolic nature can help one "to access progressively deeper levels of the unconscious, ultimately assisting the meditator to experience a mystical sense of oneness with the ultimate unity from which the cosmos in all its manifold forms arises".