Kalachakra is usually used to refer to a very complex teaching and practice in Tibetan Buddhism. Although the teaching is very advanced and esoteric, there is a tradition of offering it to large public audiences. The Kalachakra tradition revolves around the concept of time (Kala) and cycles (Chakra): from the cycles of the planets, to the cycles of human breathing, it teaches the practice of working with the most subtle energies within one’s body on the path to enlightenment.
The Kalachakra deity represents a Buddhahood and thus omniscience. Since Kalachakra is time and everything is under the influence of time, Kalachakra knows all. Kalachakri, his spiritual consort and complement, is aware of everything that is timeless, not time-bound or out of the realm of time. In Yab-Yum, they are temporality and atemporality conjoined. Similarly, the wheel is without beginning or end. The term “wheel” evoked herewith is a principal polyvalent sign, teaching tool, organizing metaphor and iconographic device within Indian religions. Some “wheel” cognates are the asthamangala symbol of the dharma chakra, Vishnu’s Sudarshana Chakra and the theory of samsara.
The Kalachakra refers to many different traditions: for example, it is related to Hindu Shaiva, Samkhya, Vaishnava, Vedic, Upanishadic and Puranic traditions and also to Jainism. The Kalachakra mandala includes deities which are equally accepted by Hindus, Jains and Buddhists.
The Kalachakra deity resides in the center of the mandala in his palace consisting of four mandalas, one within the other: the mandalas of body, speech, and mind, and in the very center, wisdom and great bliss. The Kalachakra sand mandala is dedicated to both individual and world peace and physical balance.