Author Topic: Buddhist Symbols  (Read 28741 times)


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Re: Buddhist Symbols
« Reply #15 on: July 12, 2012, 09:10:55 AM »

The swastika (Sanskrit svastika, "all is well") is a cross with four arms of equal length, with the ends of each arm bent at a right angle. Sometimes dots are added between each arm.

The swastika is an ancient symbol found worldwide, but it is especially common in India. It can be seen in the art of the Egyptians, Romans, Greeks, Celts, Native Americans, and Persians as well Hindus, Jains and Buddhists.

The swastika's Indian name comes the Sanskrit word svasti, meaning good fortune, luck and well being.

In Hinduism, the right-hand (clockwise) swastika is a symbol of the sun and the god Vishnu, while the left-hand (counterclockwise) swastika represents Kali and magic. The Buddhist swastika is almost always clockwise, while the swastika adopted by the Nazis (many of whom had occult interests) is counterclockwise.

In Buddhism, the swastika signifies auspiciousness and good fortune as well as the Buddha's footprints and the Buddha's heart. The swastika is said to contain the whole mind of the Buddha and can often be found imprinted on the chest, feet or palms of Buddha images. It is also the first of the 65 auspicious symbols on the footprint of the Buddha.

The swastika has also often been used to mark the beginning of Buddhist texts. In China and Japan, the Buddhist swastika was seen as a symbol of plurality, eternity, abundance, prosperity and long life.

The swastika is used as an auspicious mark on Buddhist temples and is especially common in Korea. It can often be seen on the decorative borders around paintings, altar cloths and banners. In Tibetan Buddhism, it is also used as a clothing decoration.

- "Swastika." Damien Keown, A Dictionary of Buddhism (Oxford UP, 2003), 287.
- "General Buddhist Symbols: Swastika." A View on Buddhism Accessed March 2005.
- Reading Buddhist Art: An Illustrated Guide to Buddhist Signs and Symbols (Thames & Hudson, 2004)


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Re: Buddhist Symbols
« Reply #16 on: July 12, 2012, 11:16:12 AM »
We offer them on our shrines, we mentioned them in our offering prayers... but what do they represent I've always wondered... and walah here it is and what it symbolizes....

The Seven Jewels of Royal Power are the accessories of the universal monarch (Skt. chakravartin). They represent different abilities or aids that a king must possess in order to stay in power and can be symbolically offered to the Buddha. These seven objects collectively symbolize secular power. They give the ruler knowledge, resources and power.

In the Buddhist interpretation a comparison is drawn between the outward rule of the secular king and the spiritual power of a practitioner. To the spiritual practitioner the Seven Jewels represent boundless wisdom, inexhaustible spiritual resources and invincible power over all inner and outer obstacles.
These seven jewels can also be found in the long mandala offering ritual.

The Precious Queen - who represents the feminine pole, where the chakravartin is the masculine aspect. Those working to abandon negative mental states regard her as mother or sister. Her beauty and love for her husband are representative of the radiating, piercing joy of the Buddha's enlightenment.
The Precious General symbolises the wrathful power to overcome enemies.
The Precious Horse is able to travel among the clouds and mirror the Buddha's abandonment of, or "rising above", the cares of worldly existence.
The Precious Jewel which is sometimes depicted on the back of the precious horse, deals with the themes of wealth and unfolding (power and possibility). The jewel is said to aid the Chakravartin (Wheel-turning or Buddhist King) in his ability to see all things like a crystal ball. In the same way, a Buddha can perceive all things; recognising the manifold connections between all events, the relentless chain of cause and effect, and the nature of compounded existence. The Jewel can also symbolise a Wish-granting Jewel, a mythical gem which fulfills all wishes.
The Wat Sorasak stupa in Thailand The Precious Minister or Householder represent two different aspects of the rule of the chakravartin which are closely related. The minister aids the chakravartin in carrying out his commands expeditiously, while the householder provides the very basic support. The wisdom of the Buddha, like the minister, is always present to him who has realised it, allowing him to cut through the bonds of ignorance. While the householder represents the support of the lay community, without which the monastic community could not continue.

The Precious Elephant is a symbol of the strength of the mind in Buddhism. Exhibiting noble gentleness, the precious elephant serves as a symbol of the calm majesty possessed by one who is on the path. Specifically, it embodies the boundless powers of the Buddha which are miraculous aspiration, effort, intention, and analysis. The image at the right says it all: a stupa - symbolic of the mind of a Buddha with a basis of strong elephants.
The Precious Wheel, sometimes depicted on the back of the precious elephant, is the same as the Dharmachakra, or the Wheel of Truth above.

Jessie Fong

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Re: Buddhist Symbols
« Reply #17 on: July 12, 2012, 12:21:34 PM »
Ever wondered how the begging-bowl came into being?  I would rather call it an "Alms bowl" or "Monks' bowl".

from :

The Begging-bowl refers to the the story that shortly before the Buddha reached enlightenment, a young woman named Sujata offered him a bowl of milk-rice. At that moment, he was practicing austerity by eating extremely little. But he realised at that moment that he would need to have more strength for the final steps to enlightenment, and further fasting would only reduce his energy. After he reached enlightenment, he is said to have thrown away what little was left in the bowl to signify his renunciation of all material possessions. Finding the middle way between extreme austerity and complete attachment to life is an important principle of Buddhism.

The bowl also points to the monk's way of life; going from the monastery into the village each morning and living off what is put into it by lay people.


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Re: Buddhist Symbols
« Reply #18 on: July 15, 2012, 11:50:15 AM »
I have been noticed that there were a symbol of the Dharma wheel with deer on top of the Tibetan monasteries that i visited in India and Nepal and i liked it as it looked very beautiful and i was curious about the meaning, below it the meaning of what they represent which i would like to share it with everyone here.

The Dharma Wheel and Deer are represent the first teachings given by the Shakyamuni Buddha at Deer Park in Sarnath, Varanasi, India.

The reason for a wheel is that shortly after the Buddha achieved enlightenment, Brahma came down from heaven to ask him to teach by offering him a Dharma Wheel.

The Dharma Wheel has eight spokes, symbolizing the Noble Eight-Fold Path. The three segments represent the Buddha, the Dharma (the teachings), and the Sangha (the spiritual community). The three different parts of the wheel each represent one of the superior trainings: the hub represents the training in discipline, the spokes training in wisdom, and the rim training in meditation.

The Deer represents the Buddha’s first teaching or turning of the wheel of Dharma (dharmachakra parivartan) in Deer Park. The Buddha’s demeanor was so wondrous and peaceful that even the animals came to listen to him.

In the Tibetan tradition, monasteries which contain the complete collection of scriptures called the Kangyur and Tengyur have these statues of a deer on either side of a Wheel of Dharma.


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Re: Buddhist Symbols
« Reply #19 on: July 27, 2012, 07:45:13 AM »
The Eight Auspicious Symbols

Right-Coiled White Conch
The white conch which coils to the right symbolises the deep, far-reaching and melodious sound of the Dharma teachings, which being appropriate to different natures, predispositions and aspirations of disciples, awakens them from the deep slumber of ignorance and urges them to accomplish their own and others' welfare.

Precious Umbrella
The precious umbrella symbolises the wholesome acitvity of preserving beings from illness, harmful forces, obstacles and so forth in this life and sufferings of the six realms.  It also represents the enjoyment of benefits under its cool shade.

Victory Banner
The victory banner sysmbolises the victory of the activities of one's own and others' body, speech and mind over obstacles and negativities.  It also stands for the complete victory of the Buddhist Doctrine over all harmful and pernicious forces.

Golden Fish
The golden fish symbolises the auspiciousness of all living beings in a state of fearlessness, without danger of drowning in the ocean of sufferings, and migrating from place to place freely and spontaneously, just as fish swims freely without fear through water.

The golden wheel symbolises the auspiciousness of the turning of the precious wheel of Buddha's doctrine, both in its teachings and realisations in all realms and at all times, enabling beings to experience the joy of wholesome deeds and liberation.

Auspicious Drawing
The auspicious drawing symbolises the mutual dependence of religious doctrine and secular affairs.  Similarly, it represents the union of wisdom and method, the inseparability of emptiness and dependent arising at the time of path, and finally at the time of enlightenment, the complete union of wisdom and great compasion.

Lotus Flower
The lotus flower symbolises the complete purification of the defilements of the body, speech and mind, and the full blossoming of wholesome deeds in blissful liberation.

Vase of Treasure
The treasure vase symbolises an endless rain of long life, wealth and prosperity and all the benefits of this world and liberation.

When  we offer these to the Guru or Buddha, it symbolises we wish all beings enjoy all these inexhaustile wealth of the 8 auscipicious signs!


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Re: Buddhist Symbols
« Reply #20 on: July 27, 2012, 09:56:50 PM »
This is a picture of the 8 Auspicious Symbols:


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Re: Buddhist Symbols
« Reply #21 on: July 28, 2012, 07:21:33 AM »
The footprint of the Buddha is an imprint of Gautama Buddha's one or both feet which is considered a Buddhist relic and also a symbolic representation of the Buddha. Here are some information of the footprints:

The footprints of the Buddha (Buddhapada) are one of the early representations of the Buddha in the anticonic (no statues) stage of Buddhist art. The Buddhapada are highly revered in all Buddhist countries, especially in Sri Lanka and Thailand.

Symbolizing the grounding of the transcendent, feet have been objects of respect in India long before Buddhism.

According to Buddhist legend, after the Buddha attained enlightenment, his feet made an imprint in the stone where he stepped.

In another tradition, the infant Buddha took seven steps after his birth to symbolize his spiritual domination of the universe.

The footprints of the Buddha symbolize the Buddha's presence, as they are believed to be the imprints where the Buddha actually touched the ground.

At the same time, the Buddhapada signify the Buddha's absence now that he has entered nirvana, and thus are a reminder of the Buddhist ideal of nonattachment.

The Buddha's footprints are usually depicted with the toes of all one length and with a dharmachakra (wheel) in the center

Other early Buddhist symbols also appear on the heels and toes, such as the lotus, the swastika and the triratna (Three Jewels).

Some Buddhapada can be very large and detailed, displaying the 32, 108 or 132 distinctive marks of a Buddha in a checkerboard pattern.

These symbols are also seen on the bottom of the feet of large statues of the reclining Buddha.

Sculptures of Buddha's footprints are usually protected in a special temple structure, where the faithful bring flowers and other offerings to them. The Buddhapada image can also be found on Tibetan thangkas.

Jessie Fong

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Re: Buddhist Symbols
« Reply #22 on: July 28, 2012, 02:40:12 PM »
How about the 8 sensory offerings - water, water, flower, incense, light, perfume, food, music; relating to how a very important guest (treated as a VIP) should be received.

1. Water : offering water for cleaning the face or mouth, signifying auspiciousness, and an offering of water that is fresh, cool, smooth and clean and comfortable to the throat and stomach

2. Water : (2nd bowl) to wash the feet symbolic of purification.

3. Flower: symbolic of generosity

4. Incense symbolising moral ethics/discipline

5. Light signifying stability and clarity, dispelling ignorance

6. Perfume : we can offer perfume or fragrance to signify joyous effort

7. Food : as a nectar to feed the mind

8. Music : Nature of music is wisdom


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Re: Buddhist Symbols
« Reply #23 on: August 19, 2012, 03:14:21 PM »
The Stanzas Of Offering Water From The Pure Vision is An Ocean Of Blessings:

HUNG Offering a lake of nectar possessing the eight qualities of pure water

to all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas,

by acceptance of the offering, may I and all sentient beings

accumulate merit and wisdom, purify obscurations, and liberate all beings.


One night in a dream a white dakini appeared to Dudjom Lingpa. She said that she was Sukha Siddhi and proceeded to recite the above offering stanzas for the sake of all sentient beings. She said that this wishing prayer included everything. This vision arose in the dream of Dudjom Lingpa after a prayer for water offering was requested of him by Lama Tsultrim Dorje. It has recorded by Dudjom Ligpa’s secretary, Phuntsog Tashi.

The water is poured into the bowls from left to right. If the offering is poured correctly, obscurations are dispelled and benefit is obtained. If the water is poured incorrectly, obscurations may increase. It should be poured carefully and steadily, with an even flow, not with irregular movement.

The bowls should be in a straight line, close by not touching. The bowls should be filled by not to the point of overflowing.

Water is a modest offering, neither the cheapest nor the richest.

The bowls of water, from left to right have the following representations:

1.Argham (Chod yon): Pure stream water gathered from all the universe, offered to the Three Jewels. The purity of the water has eight qualities: crystal clarity, coolness, sweetness, lightness, softness, freedom from impurities, it is soothing to the stomach, and it makes the throat clear and free.
2.Padhyam (Shab sil): water for cleaning an object of refuge, as water offered for a Lama to clean himself.
3.Pushpe (Me tog): represents all the offering flowers in the universe, including medicine flowers, fruits and grains. (Flowers may be placed in the bowl instead of water.)
4.Dhuppe (Dug po): represents burning all appropriate incense for the whole universe. (Incense may be placed in the bowl instead of water.)
5.Aloke (Mar me): water representing an offering of all natural lights (sun, moon, stars) and all man-made lamps, to dispel all darkness in the mind. (A candle may be placed in the bowl instead of water.)
6.Gendhe (Dri chab): water representing perfume, pleasant to smell and drink and put on the body. (A small bottle of perfume may be placed in the bowl instead of water.)
7.Nivide (Shalse): water representing food offered to the Three Jewels. (Wrapped candy or an object representing food may be placed in the bowl instead of perishable food or water.)

A Conch shell, Ting-shang, or object representing sound may be placed to the left of the food offering to the Three Jewels.

The seven offering bowls are traditionally set foremost on the shrine, with candles or lamps, two or more, just behind them.

The offering stanzas and mantra are said only when opening the shrine in the morning. When the shrine is closed in the evening, no prayer, mantra or anything special is said. The water bowls are simply emptied, wiped dry and overturned.


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Re: Buddhist Symbols
« Reply #24 on: August 19, 2012, 03:33:40 PM »

This symbol can be found nearly everywhere where Tibetan Buddhism is present, in various forms. It represents the teachings of the Kalachakra tantra, one of the most complex tantric systems.

This symbol was developed in Tibet and is a schematic representation of letters in the Lantsa script. The symbolism behind this logo is vast and has explanations referring to the outer world, the human body at its gross and subtle levels, and the practice of Kalachakra.


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Re: Buddhist Symbols
« Reply #25 on: August 22, 2012, 06:41:10 AM »
Many Buddhist symbols need to be considered within the culture of the people who follow it. Therefore, many of the early symbols relate to ancient India and can be found in Hinduism as well, although possibly with a somewhat different meaning.

The historical Buddha lived around the sixth century BCE, but no Buddhist artifacts are known from before the third century BCE. In the scriptures, it is mentioned that the Buddha did occasionally use images like the 'Wheel of Life' to illustrate the teachings. The first archaeological evidence, mainly of ornamental stone carvings, comes from the time of the Emperor Asoka (273 - 232 BCE), who converted to Buddhism and made it a popular religion in India and beyond .

In the second century BCE, people started to excavate Buddhist monasteries in rock, creating a large amount of artwork to withstand the ages. Probably the earliest typical Buddhist monument is the stupa, which was often specially decorated. The first actual Buddha images appeared around the first century BCE, so until then the artwork was largely symbolic in nature.

With the appearance of Buddhist Tantra around the 6th century, a wealth of new artwork and symbolism appeared, as imagination and visualization form a major technique in meditation practices. From this moment on, a pantheon of deities and protectors appeared, together with a vast collection of symbolic items, such as the vajra and bell, mandalas etc.; see the page on Tantric Symbols. This tradition was mainly preserved in so-called 'Tibetan Buddhism', and partially in the Japanese Shingon tradition.


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Re: Buddhist Symbols
« Reply #26 on: August 24, 2012, 03:14:13 AM »
The Golden Wheel or Dharmachakra is an attribute of many Buddhist deities, and the specific emblem of Vairocana, the white Buddha of the center or east and "Lord of the Tathagata or Buddha Family'.  The eight spokes of this golden wheel represents the eightfold Noble Path of the Buddha, and as a hand-held attribute the wheel may be mounted upon a small handle or lotus base.  The 4 directional segments behind the wheel's pokes are often coloured to represent the 4 directions, elements and Buddhas, with white in the east (bottom), yellow in the south (left), red in the west (top), and green i the north (right). 

Dondrup Shugden

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Re: Buddhist Symbols
« Reply #27 on: February 02, 2015, 05:56:47 PM »
Flags of a country explains the core values of what the country stands for.  Same is true for the universal Buddhist flag.  Find out what the colours of the Buddhist flag symbolises and it is amazing to know.