About 8 Auspicious Symbols in Buddhism – Ashtamangala
The eight auspicious symbols are called as Astamangala in Sanskrit and bkra-shis rtags-brgyad in Tibet. These symbols are the most well-known group of Buddhist symbols and are traditionally listed in the order of:
- A white parasol
- A pair of golden fishes
- A treasure vase
- A lotus
- A right-spiraling white conch shell
- An endless knot or ‘lucky diagram’
- A victorious banner
- A golden wheel
Table of Contents
- 1 - 8 Auspicious Symbols of Early Indian Assembly
- 2 - 8 Auspicious Symbols of Early south Indians
- 3 - 8 auspicious symbols of Jainism
- 4 - Newari Buddhist in Nepal and 8 Astamangala
- 5 - Tibetan paintings of the Buddha’s enlightenment
- 6 - Early Indian Buddhism Paintings of Buddha’s enlightenment
- 7 - Early Vajrayana Buddhism and 8 Auspicious Symbols
- 8 - Chinese Buddhism Defining 8 Auspicious Symbols
- 9 - 8 auspicious symbols Tibetan Buddhism
- 10 - The Parasol – The Protection
- 10.1 - What is the symbolism of Parasol in early Indian tradition?
- 10.2 - Adoption of Parasol by Indian Buddhists and Tibetan
- 10.3 - What is the meaning of Parasol in Buddhism?
- 10.4 - What is the symbolism of the Parasol?
- 10.5 - Structure of Parasol
- 10.6 - The decoration of the Parasol
- 10.7 - Different types of the parasol and their use
- 11 - The Golden Fishes – The Freedom and wealth
- 11.1 - What is the symbolism of the two fishes in Indian culture?
- 11.2 - What is the symbolism of the two fishes in Buddhism?
- 11.3 - What is the symbolism of the two fishes in Chinese culture?
- 11.4 - What is the symbolism of the two fishes in ancient Egypt and early Christians?
- 11.5 - Representation of the tow fishes in Art
- 11.6 - What is the symbolism of the two fishes in Hinduism?
- 12 - The Treasure Vase – The vase of Inexhaustible Treasures
- 13 - The Lotus – purity, and renunciation
- 13.1 - What is the representation of the Lotus in Buddhism?
- 13.2 - What is the relationship between Lotus and the Buddhist deities?
- 13.3 - The Importance of Lotus in Egyptians culture
- 13.4 - The Importance of Lotus in Hinduism
- 13.5 - Padmasambhava – The Lotus Born
- 13.6 - The reunion of Vajra and Padma
- 13.7 - Amitabha – The Lord of the Lotus Family
- 13.8 - Lotus with different numbers of petals
- 13.9 - What are the attributes of Lotus?
- 14 - The Right – Turning Conch Shell
- 15 - The Endless Knot – Curl of Happiness
- 16 - The Victory Banner – Warriors Chariot
- 16.1 - What is the meaning of Dhvaja in Sanskrit?
- 16.2 - What is the relationship between Hinduism and the Victory Banner?
- 16.3 - Indian History and use of the Victory banner
- 16.4 - Hindu counterpart of Mara – Kamadeva
- 16.5 - Buddha Defeating the Kamadeva sensual Temptation
- 16.6 - Honor to Buddha By Hindu Gods
- 16.7 - Tibetan Tradition and Victory Banner
- 16.8 - Attributes of the Victory Banner
- 17 - The Wheel – Power of Continuity
- 17.1 - What is the relationship between the wheel and the Hinduism?
- 17.2 - The wheel as a weapon
- 17.3 - Buddhism and the Dharmachakra
- 17.4 - The First Turning of the Wheel of Dharma
- 17.5 - What do the 3 components of the wheel symbolize?
- 17.6 - Description of the Auspicious Wheel
- 17.7 - What do the 3 swirls in central hub in the Auspicious Wheel represent?
- 18 - 8 Auspicious Symbols Tattoo
- 19 - 8 auspicious symbols wall Hanging
- 20 - 8 auspicious symbols feng shui
8 Auspicious Symbols of Early Indian Assembly
Originally the eight auspicious symbols formed an early Indian assembly of offerings that were presented to a king at his investiture, and are almost certainly of pre-Buddhist origin. This early Indian group of eight auspicious objects probably comprised of:
- Entwined knot or hair-curl
- Vase of jewels
- Water libation flask
- Pair of fishes
- Lidded bowl
8 Auspicious Symbols of Early south Indians
An early south Indian group included:
8 auspicious symbols of Jainism
Newari Buddhist in Nepal and 8 Astamangala
Brahma was the first of these gods to appear before the Buddha, and he presented a thousand-spoked golden wheel as a symbolic request for the Buddha to teach through ‘turning the wheel of the dharma’.
Tibetan paintings of the Buddha’s enlightenment
In Tibetan paintings of the Buddha’s enlightenment, the supplicating forms of four-faced yellow Brahma and white Indra are traditionally shown kneeling before the Buddha’s throne, where they offer their respective symbols of a golden wheel and a white conch.
In early Indian Buddhism, the image of the Buddha was depicted in an aniconic or non-representational form, usually by an empty throne under a parasol and bodhi tree, or by a stone impression of his divinely marked footprints.
These footprints display various auspicious symbols as insignia of the Buddha’s divinity, such as the victory banner, lion throne, trident, Three Jewels, eternal knot, swastika, conch, and the pair of fishes, but the most common of this insignia was the lotus and the wheel.
Early Vajrayana Buddhism and 8 Auspicious Symbols
Chinese Buddhism Defining 8 Auspicious Symbols
In Chinese Buddhism these eight symbols represent the eight vital organs of the Buddha’s body:
- The parasol represents his spleen
- The two golden fishes his kidneys
- The treasure vase his stomach
- The lotus his liver
- The conch his gallbladder
- The endless knot his intestines
- The victory banner his lungs
- The golden wheel his heart
8 auspicious symbols Tibetan Buddhism
A similar Tibetan tradition identifies these eight symbols as forming the physical body of the Buddha, with:
- The parasol representing his head
- The golden fishes his eyes
- The treasure vase his neck
- The lotus his tongue
- The wheel his feet
- The victory banner his body
- The conch his speech
- The endless knot his mind
Tibetan Art And Illustration of Auspicious Symbols
In Tibetan art, the eight auspicious symbols may be depicted individually, in pairs, in fours, or as a composite group of eight.
When illustrated as a composite group they often assume the simulacra shape of a vase. In this form, the treasure vase may be omitted, as the other seven symbols embody the symbolic wealth of this vase in their vase-shaped outline.
Designs of these eight symbols of good fortune adorn all manner of sacred and secular Buddhist objects, such as carved wooden furniture, embellished metalwork, ceramics, wall panels, carpets, and silk brocades.
The Parasol – The Protection
Parasol is called chatra is Sanskrit and atapatra in Tibetan. The parasol or umbrella is a traditional Indian symbol of royalty and protection.
What is the symbolism of Parasol in early Indian tradition?
The parasol or umbrella is a traditional Indian symbol of royalty and protection. Its shadow protects from the blazing heat of the tropical sun, and the coolness of its shade symbolizes protection from the painful heat of suffering, desire, obstacles, illnesses, and harmful forces.
As a symbol of royalty or secular wealth, the greater the number of parasols carried in the entourage of a dignity, the higher his social rank would appear.
Adoption of Parasol by Indian Buddhists and Tibetan
Traditionally thirteen parasols defined the status of a king, and the early Indian Buddhists adopted this number as a symbol of the sovereignty of the Buddha as the ‘universal monarchy’ or chakravartin.
Thirteen stacked umbrella-wheels form the conical spires of the various stupas that commemorated the main events of the Buddha’s life or enshrined his relics.
This practice was later applied to virtually all Tibetan Buddhist stupa designs. The great Indian teacher, Dipankara Atisha, who revived Buddhism in Tibet during the eleventh century was reputed to have qualified for a retinue of thirteen parasols.
What is the meaning of Parasol in Buddhism?
According to Buddhist beliefs, the person or symbol underneath the parasol is the center of the universe. Once can come across several pictorial depictions of Lord Buddha, where he has a parasol over his head.
What is the symbolism of the Parasol?
As the parasol is held above the head it naturally symbolizes honor and respect, and it is for this reason that the parasol became such a prominent iconic symbol in early Buddhist art.
Structure of Parasol
A jeweled parasol was reputedly offered to the Buddha by the king of the serpent-spirits or nagas. This parasol was fashioned of gold, with nectar-emitting jewels around its edges.
The parasol was hung with sweetly tinkling bells and had a handle made of sapphire. Images of the Buddha often display an elaborate large white umbrella above his head, and this ‘large umbrella’ (Skt. atapatra) was later deified into the Vajrayana goddess Sitatapatra.
A jeweled parasol was reputedly offered to the Buddha by the king of the serpent-spirits or nagas. This parasol was fashioned of gold, with nectar-emitting jewels around its edges.
Sitatapatra, meaning the ‘White Umbrella’, is one of the most complexes of all Vajrayana deities, with a thousand arms, feet, and heads, and a ‘thousand million’ eyes.
The two-armed form of this goddess is often serenely depicted holding her white umbrella above the seated form of the Buddha.
The decoration of the Parasol
The typical Buddhist parasol is fashioned from a long white or red sandalwood handle or axle-pole, which is embellished at its top with a small golden lotus, vase, and jewel filial.
Over its domed frame is stretched white or yellow silk, and from the circular rim of this frame hangs a pleated silk frieze with many multicolored silk pendants and valances.
An ornate golden crest-bar with Makara-tail scrolling generally defines the parasol’s circular rim, and its hanging silk frieze may also be embellished with peacock feathers, hanging jewel chains, and yak-tail pendants.
Different types of the parasol and their use
There are different types of parasols sued for different ceremony and purposes. some of them are listed below:
- Ceremonial silk parasol
- Square and octagonal parasols
- The white or yellow silk parasol
- The white parasol
Ceremonial Silk Parasol
A ceremonial silk parasol is traditionally around four feet in diameter, with a long axle-pole that enables it to be held at least three feet above the head.
Square and Octagonal Parasols
Square and octagonal parasols are also common, and large yellow or red silk parasols are frequently suspended above the throne of the presiding lama, or above the central deity image in monastic assembly halls.
The white or yellow silk parasol
The white or yellow silk parasol is an ecclesiastic symbol of sovereignty, whilst a peacock feather parasol more specifically represents secular authority.
The white parasol
The white parasol that was presented to the Buddha essentially symbolizes his ability to protect all beings from delusions and fears.
The Golden Fishes – The Freedom and wealth
What is the symbolism of the two fishes in Indian culture?
Symbolically these two great rivers represent the lunar and solar channels or psychic nerves, which originate in the nostrils and carry the alternating rhythms of breath or prana.
What is the symbolism of the two fishes in Buddhism?
In Buddhism, the golden fishes represent happiness and spontaneity, as they have complete freedom of movement in the water.
They represent fertility and abundance, as they multiply very rapidly. They represent freedom from the restraints of caste and status, as they mingle and touch readily.
What is the symbolism of the two fishes in Chinese culture?
Fish often swim in pairs, and in China, a pair of fishes symbolize conjugal unity and fidelity, with a brace of fishes being traditionally given as a wedding present.
As fish were so plentiful in China, and formed an important part of the staple diet, the Chinese word yu, meaning both ‘fish’ and ‘great wealth’, became synonymous with material prosperity.
In the Chinese tradition of feng-shui, the keeping of goldfish is similarly believed to attract wealth.
What is the symbolism of the two fishes in ancient Egypt and early Christians?
The auspicious symbol of a pair of fishes is common to the Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist traditions. In ancient Egypt, a pair of fishes symbolized the fertile waters of the River Nile.
The early Christians adopted the paired fishes as an emblem of Christ as the ‘fisher of men’, and acrostically interpreted the letters of the Greek word for fish, ichthys, to mean ‘Jesus Christ, of God the Son and Savior’.
Representation of the tow fishes in Art
The two golden fishes, a male and a female, are usually depicted symmetrically and in the form of carp, with graceful tails, gills, and fins, and long tendrils extending from their upper jaws.
Carp are traditionally regarded as sacred fish in the Orient, on account of their elegant beauty, size, and longevity, and because of their association with certain benevolent deities.
The auspicious symbol of the two fishes that were presented to the Buddha was probably embroidered in gold thread upon a piece of Benares silk.
What is the symbolism of the two fishes in Hinduism?
The paired fish are often depicted with their noses touching, and in Hinduism, this is a symbol of the female sexual organ or yoni. A golden fish is the attribute of the great Indian Mahasiddha Tilopa, symbolizing both his realization and his ability to liberate beings from the ocean of cyclic existence.
The Treasure Vase – The vase of Inexhaustible Treasures
Origin of Treasure Vase – Indian Tradition
This womb-like sacred Kumbha is venerated in India at the great religious ‘pot festival’ of the Kumbh Mela. This festival is held in rotation every three years at the cities of Allahabad, Haridwar, Nasik, and Ujain, and commemorates the spilling of the divine nectar of the gods (Skt. amrita) at these four sacred sites
The Treasure vase in Buddhism
One form of the wealth goddess Vasudhara stands upon a pair of horizontal treasure vases that spill an endless stream of jewels. As the divine ‘vase of plenty’ it possesses the quality of spontaneous manifestation because however much treasure is removed from the vase it remains perpetually full.
How the treasure vase is represented in Tibetan culture?
The typical Tibetan treasure vase is represented as a highly ornate golden vase, with lotus-petal motifs radiating around its various sections. A single wish-granting gem, or a group of three gems, seals its upper rim as a symbol of the Three Jewels of the Buddha, dharma, and sangha.
The great treasure vase and the Buddhist Art
The great treasure vase, as described in the Buddhist mandala offering, is fashioned from gold and studded with a multitude of precious gems.
A silk scarf from the god realm is tied around its neck, and its top is sealed with a wish-granting tree. The roots of this tree infuse the contained waters of longevity, miraculously creating all manner of treasures.
Sealed treasure vases may be placed or buried at sacred geomantic locations, such as mountain passes, pilgrimage sites, springs, rivers, and oceans.
Here their function is both to spread abundance to the environment and to appease the indigenous spirits who abide in these places.
What is the symbolic meaning of the Treasure vase?
Its symbolic meaning was almost always associated with the ideas of storage and the satisfaction of material desires. In the sagas and fairytales of many different cultures, for example, there is the recurring idea of an inexhaustible vessel.
The Lotus – purity, and renunciation
In Sanskrit lotus is called as Padma or Kamala and in Tibetan, it is called as chuckles. It is one of the Auspicious symbols of Buddhism.
The lotus, which grows from the dark watery mire but is unstained by it, is a major Buddhist symbol of purity and renunciation.
What is the representation of the Lotus in Buddhism?
The Lotus represents the blossoming of wholesome activities, which are performed with complete freedom from the faults of cyclic existence.
What is the relationship between Lotus and the Buddhist deities?
The lotus seats upon which deities sit or stand symbolize their divine origin. They are immaculately conceived, innately perfect, and absolutely pure in their body, speech, and mind. The deities manifest into cyclic existence, yet they are completely uncontaminated by its defilements, emotional hindrances, and mental obscurations.
The Importance of Lotus in Egyptians culture
The lotus opens and closes with the sun, and in ancient Egypt, the sun was conceived of as arising from an eastern lotus at dawn and setting into a western lotus at sunset.
The Importance of Lotus in Hinduism
Similarly, Surya, the Vedic sun god, holds a lotus in each of his hands, symbolizing the sun’s path across the heavens. Brahma, the Vedic god of creation, was born from a golden lotus that grew from the navel of Vishnu, like a lotus growing from an umbilical stem.
Padmasambhava – The Lotus Born
Padmasambhava, the ‘lotus born’ tantric master who introduced Buddhism into Tibet, was similarly divinely conceived from a miraculous lotus, which blossomed upon Dhanakosha Lake in the western Indian kingdom of Uddiyana.
The lotus, as a divine womb or vagina, is a potent sexual metaphor in both Hindu and Buddhist Tantra. Padma and Kamala are synonymous Sanskrit terms for the ‘lotus’ of the female vagina, which is soft, pink, and open.
The reunion of Vajra and Padma
Likewise, the vajra is synonymous with the male penis, which is hard and penetrative. The union of vajra and Padma is a sexual symbol for the union of form and emptiness, or skillful means and wisdom. On an inner level, this union symbolizes the penetration and ascent of the psychic winds into the subtle body’s central channel, which pierces and opens the ‘lotuses’ of the channel-wheels or chakras.
Amitabha – The Lord of the Lotus Family
The lotus is the emblem of Amitabha, the red Buddha of the west and the ‘Lord of the Padma or Lotus Family’.
Amitabha’s qualities are indicative of the redness of fire, vital fluids, evening twilight, the summer season, and the transmutation of passion into discriminating awareness.
Lotus with different numbers of petals
The Buddhist lotus is described as having four, eight, sixteen, twenty-four, thirty-two, sixty-four, a hundred, or a thousand petals. These numbers symbolically correspond to the internal lotuses or chakras of the subtle body, and to the numerical components of the mandala.
What are the attributes of Lotus?
As a hand-held attribute, the lotus is usually colored pink or light red, with eight or sixteen petals. Lotus blossoms may also be colored white, yellow, golden, blue, and black.
The white or ‘edible lotus’ is an attribute of the Buddha Sikhin, and a sixteen-petaled white utpala lotus is held by White Tara.
The yellow lotus and the golden lotus are generally known as the Padma, and the more common red or pink lotus is usually identified as the Kamala.
The Sanskrit term utpala is specifically identified with the blue or black ‘night lotus’, but its transliterated Tibetan equivalent may be applied to any color of lotus.
The Right – Turning Conch Shell
The Right-Turning Conch Shell is called as dakshinavarta-shankha in Sanskrit and dunggyas-’khyil in Tibetan culture.
The white conch shell, which spirals towards the right in a clockwise direction is an ancient Indian attribute of the heroic gods, whose mighty conch shell horns proclaimed their valor and victories in war.
What are the different representations of Conch shell in Hinduism?
Vishnu’s fire-emanating conch was named Panchajanya, meaning ‘possessing control over the five classes of beings’.
Arjuna’s conch was known as Devadatta, meaning ‘god-given’, whose triumphant blast struck terror in the enemy.
As a battle horn, the conch is akin to the modern bugle, as an emblem of power, authority, and sovereignty. Its auspicious blast is believed to banish evil spirits, avert natural disasters, and scare away harmful creatures.
Vishnu’s fiery conch is held in his upper left hand and paired with the wheel or chakra in his upper right hand.
These two attributes are commonly held by the first five of Vishnu’s ten avatars or incarnations:
- Matsya – The fish
- Kurma – The tortoise
- Varaha – The boar
- Narasingha – The man-lion
- Vamana- The dwarf
Who is the ninth incarnation of Vishnu in Hinduism?
In the Hindu tradition, the Buddha is recognized as the ninth of Vishnu’s ten incarnations. It is perhaps more than coincidental that the two great heavenly gods, Indra and Brahma, are traditionally painted before the Buddha’s throne offering the attributes of Vishnu’s conch and wheel. Vishnu is also commonly known as the ‘great man’ or ‘right-hand god’.
These appellations are similarly applied to the Buddha, with his right-curling hair, and his body endowed with the thirty-two auspicious marks of the great man.
Hinduism classifying Conch Shell into Gender Varieties
Early Hinduism classified the conch into gender varieties, with the thicker-shelled bulbous conch being the male or Purusha, and the thinner-shelled slender conch being the female or shankhini.
Hinduism Classifying Caste Division comparing conch shell
The fourfold Hindu caste division was also applied: with the smooth white conch representing
- Smooth white conch represents the priestly or brahmin caste
- The red conch the warrior or Kshatriya caste
- The yellow conch the merchant or vaishya caste
- The dull gray conch the laborer or shudra caste.
A further division was made between the common conch shell, which naturally spirals to the left and is known as a vamavarta; and the rarer right-spiraling conch shell, which is known as a dakshinavarta and is considered most auspicious for ritual use.
The tip of the conch shell is sawn off to form a mouthpiece, and the right-spiraling wind passage thus created acoustically symbolizes the true or ‘right-hand’proclamation of the dharma. Brahmanism adopted the heroic conch as a ritual symbol of religious sovereignty.
What is the symbolism of conch shells Buddhism?
The early Buddhists similarly adopted it as an emblem of the supremacy of the Buddha’s teachings. Conch symbolizes his fearlessness in proclaiming the truth of the dharma, and his call to awaken and work for the benefit of others.
One of the thirty-two major signs of the Buddha’s body is his deep and resonant conch-like voice, which resounds throughout the ten directions of space. Iconographically the three conch-like curved lines on his throat represent this sign.
What are the attributes of the conch shell?
As one of the eight auspicious symbols, the white conch is usually depicted vertically, often with a silk ribbon threaded through its lower extremity.
Its right spiral is indicated by the curve and aperture of its mouth, which faces towards the right. The conch may also appear as a horizontally positioned receptacle for aromatic liquids or perfumes.
As a hand-held attribute, symbolizing the proclamation of the Buddhadharma as the aspect of speech, the conch is usually held in the left ‘wisdom’ hand of deities.
The Endless Knot – Curl of Happiness
The endless know is one of the auspicious symbols in Buddhism which is called shrivatsa granthi, in Sanskrit and dpal be’u in Tibetan culture.
What do you mean by Shrivatsa in Sanskrit?
The Sanskrit term shrivatsa means ‘beloved of Shri’. Shri refers to the goddess Lakshmi; the consort of Vishnu and the shrivatsa is an auspicious mark or hair-curl that adorns the breast of Vishnu. Lakshmi’s insignia on Vishnu’s breast represents the devotion in his heart for his consort, and since Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth and good fortune the shrivatsa forms a natural auspicious symbol.
What is the form of shrivatsa?
The shrivatsa either takes the form of a triangular swirl or an upright diamond with loops at its four inter-cardinal corners. Krishna, as the eighth incarnation of Vishnu, also bears the shrivatsa at the center of his chest.
Another name given to this hair-curl is nandyavarta, which means ‘curl of happiness’, and this curl is shaped like a swastika or a Greek hooked-cross (Gk. gammadion).
Representation of Swastika and endless knot
Indian and Chinese representations of the Buddha frequently show the nandyavarta or swastika on his breast as a symbol of his enlightened mind.
Another possible derivation of both the endless knot and swastika arose from the S-shaped markings on the hood of the cobra. This in turn gave rise to the nagayantra, where two or more entwining snakes form an endless knot design or yantra.
The endless knot or granthi also appears on clay seals from the early Indus valley civilization (circa 2500 BCE). In its final evolution as a geometric Buddhist symbol the eternal knot or ‘lucky diagram’, which is described as ‘turning like a swastika’, was identified with the shrivatsa-svastika since these parallel symbols were common to most early Indian traditions of the astamangala.
What is the representation of the Endless knot in Chinese culture?
The eternal, endless, or mystic knot is common to many ancient traditions and became particularly innovative in Islamic and Celtic designs.
In China, it is a symbol of longevity, continuity, love, and harmony. As a symbol of the Buddha’s mind, the eternal knot represents the Buddha’s endless wisdom and compassion.
As a symbol of the Buddha’s teachings, it represents the continuity of the ‘twelve links of dependent origination’, which underlies the reality of cyclic existence.
The Victory Banner – Warriors Chariot
The victory banner is called dhvaja in Sanskrit and rgyal-mtshan in Tibetan. It is one of the auspicious symbols among other 8.
What is the meaning of Dhvaja in Sanskrit?
The dhvaja, meaning banner, flag, or ensign, was originally a military standard of ancient Indian warfare. This standard adorned the rear of a great warrior’s chariot and was mounted behind the great parasol or royal parasol. Each standard bore the specific ensign of its champion or king.
What is the relationship between Hinduism and the Victory Banner?
Krishna’s chariot was adorned with a garuda-topped banner.
Arjuna’s bore the device of a monkey.
Bhisma’s bore the emblem of a palm tree.
primarily the dhvaja was the ensign of Shiva, the great god of death and destruction, whose banner was topped with a trident. This trident symbolized Shiva’s victory over the three worlds, or the ‘three cities’, which were located above, upon, and below the earth.
Indian History and use of the Victory banner
In Indian warfare, the military banner frequently took on horrific forms that were designed to instill terror in the enemy. The impaled head and flayed skin of an enemy or victim was one such gruesome emblem.
The heads and skins of ferocious animals, particularly those of the tiger, crocodile, wolf, and bull were commonly employed. Large effigies were also fashioned of other frightening creatures, such as the scorpion, snake, vulture, raven, and Garuda.
Hindu counterpart of Mara – Kamadeva
The crocodile-headed banner or makaradhvaja was originally an emblem of Kamadeva, the Vedic god of love and desire. As the ‘tempter’ (Skt. mara), or ‘deluder’, Kamadeva was the Hindu counterpart of Mara, the ‘evil one’, who attempted to obstruct the Buddha from attaining enlightenment.
In early Buddhism, the concept of Mara as a demonic obstructer to spiritual progress was presented as a group of four maras or ‘evil influences’.
These four maras were originally based upon the four divisions of Mara’s army: infantry, cavalry, elephants, and chariots.
- The first of these four maras is the demon of the five aggregates of the personality.
- The second is the demon of emotional defilements (Klesha-mara).
- The third is the demon of death (Mrityu-mara). The fourth is the ‘son of the god Mara’, or the demon of desire and temptation.
- The fourth mara, Devaputra-Mara, who is identified as Kamadeva, the ‘king of the gods of the highest desire realm’.
Buddha Defeating the Kamadeva sensual Temptation
The Buddha is said to have defeated the sensual temptations of Kamadeva in the dusk before his enlightenment by meditating upon the ‘four immeasurables’ of compassion, love, sympathetic joy, and equanimity.
At dawn, he overcame both the mara of the aggregates and the mara of defilements.
But it was only three months before the end of his long life that he finally overcame the mara of death, through the power of his fearless resolve to enter into the ultimate nirvana.
As a symbol of the Buddha’s victory over the four maras, the early Buddhists adopted Kamadeva’s emblem of the crocodile-headed makaradhvaja, and four of these banners were erected in the cardinal directions surrounding the enlightenment stupa of the Tathagata or Buddha.
Honor to Buddha By Hindu Gods
Similarly, the gods elected to place a banner of victory on the summit of Mt Meru, to honor the Buddha as the ‘Conqueror’ who vanquished the armies of Mara.
This ‘victorious banner of the ten directions’ is described as having a jeweled pole, a crescent moon and sun finial, and a hanging triple banderole of three colored silks that are decorated with the ‘three victorious creatures of harmony’.
Tibetan Tradition and Victory Banner
Within the Tibetan tradition, a list of eleven different forms of the victory banner is given to represent eleven specific methods for overcoming defilements.
Attributes of the Victory Banner
In its most traditional form, the victory banner is fashioned as a cylindrical ensign mounted upon a long wooden axle-pole.
The top of the banner takes the form of a small white parasol, which is surmounted by a central wish-granting gem.
This domed parasol is rimmed by an ornate golden crest-bar with makara-tailed ends, from which hangs a billowing yellow or white silk scarf.
The cylindrical body of the banner is draped with overlapping vertical layers of multicolored silk valances and hanging jewels.
A billowing silk apron with flowing ribbons adorns its base. The upper part of the cylinder is often decorated with a frieze of tiger-skin, symbolizing the Buddha’s victory over all anger and aggression.
As a hand-held ensign, the victory banner is an attribute of many deities, particularly those associated with wealth and power, such as Vaishravana, the Great Guardian King of the north.
The Wheel – Power of Continuity
The Wheel is called Chakra in Sanskrit and khor-lo in Tibetan. The wheel is an early Indian solar symbol of sovereignty, protection, and creation. As a solar symbol it first appears on clay seals unearthed from the Harappan civilization of the Indus valley (circa 2500 BCE).
What is the relationship between the wheel and the Hinduism?
The wheel or chakra is the main attribute of the Vedic god of preservation, Vishnu, whose fiery six-spoked Sudarshana-chakra or discus represents the wheel of the phenomenal universe.
The wheel represents motion, continuity, and change, forever turning onwards like the circling sphere of the heavens.
The wheel as a weapon
As a weapon, the rimless chakra had six, eight, ten, twelve, or eighteen sharply pointed blades, and could be hurled like a discus or swung upon a rope. The wooden wheels of the ancient India chariot similarly bore an equal number of spokes.
Buddhism and the Dharmachakra
Buddhism adopted the wheel as the main emblem of the ‘wheel-turning’ chakravartin or ‘universal monarchy’, identifying this wheel as the dharmachakra or ‘wheel of dharma’ of the Buddha’s teachings. The Tibetan term for dharmachakra literally means the ‘wheel of transformation’ or spiritual change.
The wheel’s swift motion represents the rapid spiritual transformation revealed in the Buddha’s teachings. The wheel’s comparison to the rotating weapon of the chakravartin represents its ability to cut through all obstacles and illusions.
The First Turning of the Wheel of Dharma
The Buddha’s first discourse at the Deer Park in Sarnath, where he first taught the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Noble Path, is known as his ‘first turning of the wheel of dharma’. His subsequent great discourses at Rajghir and Shravasti are known as his second and third turnings of the wheel of dharma.
What do the 3 components of the wheel symbolize?
The central hub represents ethical discipline, which centers and stabilizes the mind.
The sharp spokes represent wisdom or discriminating awareness, which cuts through ignorance.
The rim represents meditative concentration, which both encompasses and facilitates the motion of the wheel.
A wheel with a thousand spokes, which emanate like the rays of the sun, represents the thousand activities and teachings of the Buddhas.
A wheel with eight spokes symbolizes the Buddha’s Eightfold Noble Path, and the transmission of these teachings towards the eight directions.
Description of the Auspicious Wheel
The auspicious wheel is described as being fashioned from pure gold obtained from the Jambud River of our ‘world continent’, Jambudvipa. It is traditionally depicted with eight vajra-like spokes, and a central hub with three or four rotating ‘swirls of joy’, which spiral outward like a Chinese yin-yang symbol.
What do the 3 swirls in central hub in the Auspicious Wheel represent?
When three swirls are shown in the central hub they represent the Three Jewels of the Buddha, dharma, and sangha, and victory over the three poisons of ignorance, desire, and aversion.
When four swirls are depicted they are usually colored to correspond to the four directions and elements and symbolize the Buddha’s teachings upon the Four Noble Truths.
The rim of the wheel may be depicted as a simple circular ring, often with small circular gold embellishments extending towards the eight directions.
Alternatively, it may be depicted within an ornate pear-shaped surround, which is fashioned from scrolling gold embellishments with inset jewels. A silk ribbon is often draped behind the wheel’s rim, and the bottom of the wheel usually rests upon a small lotus base.
8 Auspicious Symbols Tattoo
There are millions of people following Buddhism. There is the huge number of tattoo lover who wants to have a tattoo of the 8 auspicious symbols of Buddhism, as it has great value and meaning.
8 auspicious symbols wall Hanging
In Tibetan culture, it is considered essential to have a set of Auspicious or Lucky Symbols displayed in the home for the harmony and prosperity of the family. Normally the wall hanging is made with beautiful woven eight auspicious symbols made of precious brocade.
8 auspicious symbols feng shui
The 8 auspicious symbols are popular choices for good luck emblems to use in feng shui applications. The Eight Mahayana Buddhist symbols are considered bringers of good fortune by the faithful. They adorn most temples and monasteries in Tibet. The symbols draw positive energies of prosperity and harmony into a feng shui design.