The unavoidable Tibetan Buddhist ritual implements
Tibetan Buddhism, in the form of Vajrayana ritual, provides a critical set of techniques for dealing with everyday life.
Tibetans came to see these techniques as vital for their prosperity in this life.
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Tibetan Buddhism rituals
Tibetan Buddhism rituals are generally more elaborate than in other forms of Buddhism, with complex altar arrangements and works of art (such as mandalas and thangkas), many ritual objects, hand gestures (mudra), chants, and musical instruments.
A special kind of ritual called an initiation or empowerment (Sanskrit: Abhiseka, Tibetan: Wangkur) is central to Tantric practice.
These rituals consecrate a practitioner into a particular Tantric practice associated with individual mandalas of deities and mantras. Without having gone through initiation, one is generally not allowed to practice the higher Tantras.
Tibetan Buddhism ritual implements
This is a list of the most used Tibetan Buddhist ritual implements.
Thangka is an art. A thangka is a Tibetan Buddhist painting on cotton, silk applique, usually depicting a Buddhist deity, scene, or mandala. Thangkas are traditionally kept unframed and rolled up when not on display, mounted on a textile backing somewhat in the style of Chinese scroll paintings, with a further silk cover on the front.
Vajra is a ritual scepter symbolizing compassion and skillful means, and also a symbol of indestructibility.
In tantric rituals, the vajra is the necessary counterpart of the bell, which symbolizes the wisdom of emptiness.
Vajra and bell are a set where both have the same number of spokes. Their number varies from one to one thousand, yet the most commonly known are the five-spoked ones called “Samaya vajra and bell” and the nine spoked called “wisdom vajra and bells”.
The size of the vajra can vary from 4 inches to twenty, and the bell should be in proportion.
A mandala is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism, representing the universe. In common use, “mandala” has become a generic term for any diagram, chart or geometric pattern that represents the cosmos metaphysically or symbolically; a microcosm of the universe.
A prayer flag is a colorful rectangular cloth, often found strung along trails and peaks high in the Himalayas. They are used to bless the surrounding countryside and for other purposes. Prayer flags are believed to have originated with Bon. In Bon, shamanistic Bonpo used primary-colored plain flags in Tibet. Traditional prayer flags include woodblock-printed text and images.
A prayer wheel is a cylindrical wheel on a spindle made from metal, wood, stone, leather or coarse cotton. Traditionally, the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum is written in Newari language of Nepal, on the outside of the wheel. Also sometimes depicted are Dakinis, Protectors and very often the 8 auspicious symbols Ashtamangala. At the core of the cylinder is a “Life Tree” often made of wood or metal with certain mantras written on or wrapped around it. Many thousands of mantras are then wrapped around this life tree. The Mantra Om Mani Padme Hum is most commonly used, but other mantras may be used as well. According to the Tibetan Buddhist tradition based on the lineage texts regarding prayer wheels, spinning such a wheel will have much the same meritorious effect as orally reciting the prayers.
A kapala or skullcup is a cup made from a human skull and used as a ritual implement (bowl) in both Hindu Tantra and Buddhist Tantra (Vajrayana). Especially in Tibet, they are often carved or elaborately mounted with precious metals and jewels.
Dhvaja, meaning banner or flag, is composed of the Ashtamangala, the “eight auspicious symbols.”
A khata or khatag(Tibetan: ཁ་བཏགས་ ; Dzongkha: དར་, Dhar, Mongolian : ᠬᠠᠳᠠᠭ / Mongolian: хадаг / IPA: [χɑtɑk], khadag or hatag, Nepali: खतक khada, Chinese 哈達/哈达; pinyin: hādá/hǎdá) is a traditional ceremonial scarf in tengrism and Tibetan Buddhism. It originated in Tibetan culture and is common in cultures and countries where Tibetan Buddhism is practiced or has strong influence.
The phurba or kīla is a three-sided peg, stake, knife, or nail-like ritual implement traditionally associated with Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, Bön, and Indian Vedic traditions.
Applique Thangkas are made of silk, either by appliqué or embroidery.
During some festivals, giant applique thangkas are designed to be unrolled against a wall in a monastery for particular religious occasions
A kartika is a small, crescent-shaped hand-held ritual flaying knife used in the tantric ceremonies of Vajrayana Buddhism. The kartika is said to be “one of the quintessential attributes of the wrathful Tantric deities.” It is commonly known as the “knife of the dakinis.”
Chutor is a type of water offering to Dzambhala, the god of wealth, is the Tibetan Ritual Set for Water Offering.
Mani stones are stone plates, rocks and/or pebbles, inscribed with the six syllabled mantra of Avalokiteshvara, as a form of prayer in Tibetan Buddhism. The term Mani stone may also be used in a loose sense to refer to stones on which any mantra or devotional designs are inscribed. Mani stones are intentionally placed along the roadsides and rivers or placed together to form mounds or cairns or sometimes long walls, as an offering to spirits of place or genius loci. Creating and carving mani stones as devotional or intentional process art is a traditional sadhana of piety to yidam. Mani stones are a form of devotional cintamani.