Rituals and symbols of Buddhism


Ritual Objects of Buddhism and Hinduism

Added over 6 years ago

Astamangala (Eight Auspicious Symbols)

These are a suite or group of eight symbols endemic to a number of dharmic philosophies including Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism. They represent the enlightened mindstream and are also used as teaching tools, appearing together or singly in manuscripts and artwork and as a decorative motif on relics, statuary, buildings and jewellery. The exact symbols vary with the pholosophy being taught and with time. In Buddhism, the symbols often represent the gifts given by celestial beings to Sakyamuni Buddha on his attainment of enlightenment. They are:

A beautiful rock crystal kartika from Nepal, 18th-19th Century, from the Guimet Museum, Paris. Kartikas are more usually fashioned from brass or bronze, particulalry when used in Chod and sky burial ceremonies.White Parasol - protects one from evil desires
Two Fishes - beings rescued from the ocean of earthly existence
Conch Shell - proclaims the glory of turning to the right path
Banner - signifying the victory of Buddhism
Endless Knot - represents the endless cycle of rebirth
Vase - treasury of all spiritual wealth
Wheel - representing transformation and teaching
Lotus - symbolising the progress of the soul

hindu swastikaBell

The bell, topped by a half vajra and clasped by lotus petals and leaves, symbolises wisdom in Buddhism, traditionally considered to be a female principal. It is also the complementary object of the vajra, destroyer of ignorance, which represents the male principal. Used in harmony, the bell is held in the left hand while the vajra is held in the right hand. Together their interaction leads to enlightenment.


A small metal amulet container or prayer box carried by many Tibetan Buddhists as a portable shrine or altar. The Gau usually contains an image of a personal deity, a blessed written prayer or a sacred yantra diagram and a small offering of rice. Gaus may vary considerably in size and shape, depending on the requirements of the owner. Smaller gaus range in size from 2 cm to 10 cm in diameter are often worn as jewelry and thus may be made of beaten silver or gold and heavily decorated inside and out with precious stones or carvings. Larger gaus may have a window in front to view the contents and are generally encased in a protective cloth bag and carried slung over the shoulde

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