Explanation of Wheel of Life

Explanation of Wheel of Life

is a symbolic representation of cyclic existence found on the outside walls of and monasteries in the Indo- region.

This pictorial presents basic concepts such as and rebirth in a manner that can be understood by uneducated or illiterate people.

Alternate translations for include the Buddhist , wheel of cyclic existence, wheel of becoming, etc.

The Viability of the wheel of life

In this segment, we will learn about the viability of of life. After that Short etymological description presented.

Etymology of the wheel of life

Wheel of Life is said to be sid Pai kor lo in .

The meaning of  Wheel of Life is BhavanachakrThe an in .

Iconography of the Wheel of Life

In the of the wheel of life, we will learn about posture, hand and leg gesture, and different representations of the wheel of life in and statues.

Posture of the wheel of life

Wheel of Life is held in the tight grasp of personified seen as a fierce wrathful figure who is red in color with one face and two hands.

The circular disc is pressed up against the mouth ready to be swallowed at any moment the immediacy of .

This wrathful figure is sometimes referred to as who is known as the Lord of Death and at other as the red female daemon of death possibly Yami the sister of Yama.

Describing the Wheel of Life Thangka

The thangka of the wheel of life is from Mongolia. It is made in between 1800 AD to 1899 AD. The wheel of life is from Buddhist lineage.

The base of the is , mineral pigment, fine gold line are used to make the painting.

Currently, this painting is in the .

First Bound

The innermost of the 4 concentric bounds shows a black pig who is the sign of , a green snake who is the sign of , and a rooster which means the sign of circling on a blue background.

They are often shown biting on each other’s tail.

Second Bound

The next is the second one which is made of a white half and a black half shows. Those individuals that have performed meritorious actions moving upwards in the circle of existence.

And those individuals who have performed bad actions moving downward, naked, led by red and green attendants of the Lord of Death.

Third Bound

The widest of the bounds is that of the of existence , asura, human, animal, the ghost, and hell. Each segregated by a red dividing.

At the top of the bound, there is the Realm of the highlighted by a heavenly being, the god Shakra, in a palace playing a stringed instrument.

Some traditions explain that the god depicted in this way is an emanation of .

To the right of the bound, there is the Asura Realm who is called a lower form of the gods that are always engaged in conflict.

To the left of the bound, there is the Human Realm and below that is the Animal Realm.

To the lower right f the bound, there is the Realm of ghosts. At the bottom of the bound, there is the Hell Realm with a central blue figure who is wrathful and holding a stick in the right hand and a on the left.

This form of Yama is not the same entity as the Buddhist protector Yama Dharmaraja. Yama in the hell realm holds a mirror to reflect those actions performed by each individual that comes before him.

In each realm, the various beings are portrayed engaged in their respective activities along with the occasional or .

Fourth Bound

The outer circle is composed of 12 scenes that represent the Twelve Links of Dependent Arising starting at the bottom left with three blind figures and then moving clockwise around to meet again at the bottom right where two figures carry bundled corpses to the funeral pyre.

Yama the Lord of Death, although portrayed in the , actually resides in the Realm of Ghosts and is the of the Pretas.

He lives in the city of Pretas, , 500 miles below the classical north Indian city of and is accompanied by thirty-six attendants.

His association with the Hell is in the capacity of a of karma, good and bad deeds. This model of Buddhist cosmology the environment and inhabitants is based on the literature of the Theravada and Sutrayana vehicles.

Within the system, various divergent models are presented with the foremost being that of the .

Wheel of Life with Shakyamuni Buddha Thangka

The large red figure of a personified Samsara who is wrathful with one face and two hands.


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