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Monks of the Labrang Tashikyil Monastery build a sand mandala on the fifth floor of Baker Center on March 7. The monks discovered the mandala was destroyed when they came back Tuesday morning. 

Monks’ sand mandala destroyed in Baker Center on Monday night

The monks from the Labrang Tashikyil Monastery forgive accidental destruction of sand mandala and start over to finish by original Thursday deadline.

The monks of the Labrang Tashikyil Monastery spent roughly four and a half hours working on a sand mandala on the fifth floor of Baker Center on Monday.

And on Tuesday, they had to start it all over again.

When they arrived in Baker Center on Tuesday morning, the monks discovered the mandala they were working on was destroyed, Tenzin Dawa, the leader of the mandala, said

“Everybody was very shocked,” Dawa said. “It’s never happened to us before, and we have been traveling since 2011.”

Brian Collins, a chair in Indian religion and philosophy and the host of the monks, said he received a call from Dawa who laughed on the phone, saying he had a “surprise” for Collins.

When he arrived at Baker to meet the monks, he realized the surprise was not a very good one.

“I was mortified,” Collins said. “They've been doing this for years and years all over country, and this is the first time it ever happened (to them).”

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The monks put up a “do not touch” sign next to the mandala after they left Monday evening, and Collins said he is unsure whether the sign was ignored or the destruction was done intentionally. He added that the entire ordeal makes the university look “negligent.”

Only a small section of the top of the mandala remained Tuesday morning, Collins said. He added that the mandala looked “completely erased” by an eraser or a vacuum and did not look like someone had stepped on it.

The monks decided to restart the mandala and work to finish it by their Thursday deadline — when they are scheduled to have a mandala destruction ceremony. The monks will take fewer breaks in order to make up for the work they did on Monday, Collins said.

The mandala was supposed to be worked on Monday through Thursday ending with a mandala destruction ceremony that includes sprinkling the sand in the Hocking River, according to a previous Post report.

Collins said a representative from Baker Center apologized to the monks, saying they would put up a barrier around the mandala while it is still being worked on this week. 

“The custodial staff serviced the area in question last night because of a miscommunication that has since been resolved,” Steve Mack, the director of Facilities Management, said in an email. "The space will now be cordoned off each night by Baker University Center staff, and we will not be servicing the area until Friday after the event is concluded.”

The monks and Collins are not sure of what actually happened Monday night, and Collins encouraged anyone who has any information about the mandala to speak to him.

The monks are very forgiving and understand it was a mistake, Dawa said.

“We talked to the people who (were) working here, and he apologized to us,” Dawa said. “And I said ‘No it’s OK — it’s totally OK.’ ”

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