It is used as weapon of war and as an important component
of offerings. It is often carried by Shiva. It may be held
by the fire god Agni or may issue from his body.
It is made of small wooden handle topped by strong and sharp
metal hook. The handle is sometimes in the form of Vajra.
It is the attribute of many tantric deities. When the goad
surmounted b a Vajra, it is called Vajrankush.
It is a symbol of the never ending cycle. It is string of
beads. The beads are of a kind of seed of dried fruit. It
may be made of other material also such as crystal. In Buddhist
Tradition, it is a special symbol of Avalokiteswar. It is
also symbol of Prajnaparmita, Chunda, Vasundhara. In Hindu
tradition, Brahma, Shiva, Ganesh and Saraswati also carry
Bana is an arrow. It is the symbol f awareness appears with
tantric deities Marici, Kurukulla
It is stringed musical instrument. It is a favourite instrument
of Saraswati, goddess of wisdom, learning and arts.
Chaitya or the Stupa, which represents the Buddhist Universe,
is the Buddhist sanctuary, sometimes square and sometimes
round, with spires or steps on the capital. Each spire or
step represents a heaven, the uppermost portion being a point
which is supposed to be the highest peak of Mount Sumeru,
a mythical mountain whence the Buddhichitta loses itself in
sunya. On the four sides of the chaitya the figures of your
Dhyani Budhas Akkshobhaya. Ratna Sambhav, Amitabha, Amoghasiddhi
are placed. The place of Vairochana is in the centre. In some
Chaitya Vairochana is placed to the east along with Akshobhaya.
It appears often above the image of deities. In Buddhist Vajrayana
tradition symbolizes complementary of opposites. Both Sambar
and Shiva have the crescent moon as their hair dress.
For containing blood in tantric ritual. Held by Kali and other
manifestations of Shiva Sakti, by Mahakala and other guardian
deities and their Dankinis. Kapala is made of severed head
of a man or the cup made of a skull, or a bowl. The skull
cup is of two kinds, when it is filled with blood it is called
Asrkkapala, and when with flesh it is called Mamsa kapala.
It is used inTantric ritual. The deities are appeared to partake
of the blood or the flesh of the demon carried in these cups.
The thunderbolt or diamond that destroys all kinds of ignorance,
and itself is indestructible. The Vajra is symbol of Indra
also. In tantric rituals, the Vajra symbolized the male principle
which represents method in the right hand and the Bell symbolized
the female principle, is held in the left. Their interaction
leads to enlightenment. Also the Dorje or Vajra represents
the "Upya" or method Tibetans name Vajra as "Dorje".
In Tantric Buddhist iconography, the battle axe is held by
ferocious deities to symbolize Iconography, it is a weapon
held in the hand of Parasuram, the sixth Avatar of Vishnu,
who descended to this world to fight Kshatriyas caste of warriors
at the call of Bramins.
The hell representing the female aspect stands for "prajna"
or "wisdom". This is held in the left hand Dorje
held in the right and they are always used in combination
during the religious ceremonies. So Belt & Dorje are inseparable
ritual objects and two together lead to enlightenment.
It is a symbol of Buddhist goddesses such as Pancharaksa,
Usnisasita. It protects from the evils. It is one of the eight
symbols of good luck.
It is often held by supporting Hindu deities and semi divine
beings and attendants. It is one of the eight symbols of good
It is sacred lamp fed with Ghee (butter). People offer it
to the Gods and Goddesses.
It is a pot made of metal for burning incense which is to
be offered to the gods and goddesses.
It is a small double drum with a leather string tied over
the narrow middle part of it, where knotted, wooden or bone
ends make of rattling sound on the drum's memeberances, when
swung. It is appeared along with the trident (Trisula) in
association with Shiva cults. The tantric symbol known as
the Damaru is a hand drum made of two half skulls.
Dhanusa is a bow. It is generally carried in the left hand.
It appears with the tantric deities such as Marici, Kurukulla.
With the bow and the arrow Marici, inflicts pain to the Maras
and wicked beings. Like Bajra and Chanta, bow an arrow symbolize
the complementary of method and wisdom.
It signifies the victory of Buddhism.
A staff with a tapering end used as a weapon in close combat.
It is symbol of Vishnu. A club made of human bone with a skull
on the end of it is carried by Devi, Durga, Kali and Bhairab.
A trumpet is made of human thigh - bone. It is a ritual object
used at the time of tantric ceremony and blown to drive away
evil spirits. Damaru goes side by side which gives "Magical
Music" for the celestial journey. Music is considered
to be similar to a mantra.
In Hindu tradition, Kalasa contains the primeval water carried
by Brahma, the creator. In Buddhist iconography, the Kalasa
helds Amrit, the water or the elixir of immortality. It appears
with Padmapani. It is also one of the auspicious sign and
symbolizes plenty among the eight Astamangalas.
A weapon symbolizing severance of all material and this worldly
bond held by Mahakala and by the Dankinis embracing the Dharmapalas
and the Yidams such as Yama and Yahantaka.
It is a symbol of enlightenment, used to destroy ignorance,
the enemy of liberation from the bonds of worldly attachments,
hence of continuous misery. It is a special symbol of Manjushree.
The sword in the hand of Manjushree is called the Prajna Khadga
or the sword of wisdom which is believed to destroy the darkness
of ignorance by the luminous rays issuing out of it.
It is a kind of club, made of bone of forearm or leg, sometimes
of wood and metal. It is a magic wand held by tantric deities,
Dakinis and Vajrayana saints. It is generally surmounted either
by Vajra or Kapala or the Trishula or the banner or all of
them. In any case for a Khatwanga the skulls are necessary
and it will be so called even if nothing else in present.
It is a symbol of Shiva. In its usual form it is a cylindrical
piece of stone or wood standing on its narrow end. The top
is usually rounded. The lingam is frequently founded in combination
with the Yoni, a plate like disc with a drain, which supports
Mandala (Literally meaning a circle) is a Tantric meditation
device. It is a visual aid for concentration and introvertive
meditation leading to the attainment of insights and to activation
of forces culminating in "Siddhi" supernatural forces.
The Mandala is the graphic representation of this process.
It is not only theoretical but practical as an operational
scheme involving a clear plan for practical realization of
the process within oneself. It thus becomes an instrument
(Yantra). There are many types and verities of mandalas depending
on the nature of the central deity. The most classic pattern
of mandalas are of the Dhyani Buddha. This pattern appears
in the oldest tantrics, in the oldest tantrics, the mandala
represents "Palace of Purity" a magic sphere cleansed
of spiritual obstacles and impurities. The square of the 'sacred
palace' proper is enclosed in multiple circles of flame, vajra,
eight cemeteries (appears only in wrathful deities) louts,
then the inner square to reach of the deity of the Mandala.
It is first incarnation of Vishnu, therefore may be associated
with him. Suvarna matsya, the two golden fish, symbolizing
beings rescued from the ocean of misery of earthly existence.
It is also one of the eight auspicious sighns of Astamangalas.
It is a three peacock feathers spread in a kind of a fan.
The feathers are from the peacocks.
Ramnant of early fertility rites. Worshipped as divine and
semi-divine beings. Frequent ornament of guardian tantric
deities. Nagas have power to bring or with held rain. So,
they are regarded as gods of rain. They are believed to be
the protector of the law of Buddha.
A Mongoose vomiting jewels is associated with god of wealth
Kubera and his Buddhist counterpart, Jambala. It is believed
to be the receptacle of all gems and when the god of wealth
presses the animal, it vomits forth all the riches.
Padma is a lotus which may be of any colour except blue. The
blue lotus is designated by the word Utpala or Nilotpala.
In Tantric works the Padma is the day lotus, while Utpala
stands for the night lotus. It is regarded as especially sacred
by all classes of Indians. When the lotus shows petals in
both the upper and lower directions it is called the Viswapadma
or the double lotus. Padma indicates purity of descent. In
Buddhist tradition it symbolizes self creation (Hence it is
the sign of Swayambhu). In Vajrayana it represents the female
principle. White open padma appears above the left shoulder
of Avalokiteswara Padmapani, his spiritual Parents are Dhyani
Buddha Amitabha and White Tara.
A "Magic dart" used especially for the ritual slaying
of human effigy of foe.
It is exclusively Buddhist praying instrument which always
bears the mystical word "OM MANI PADME HUM" numbering
six syllables in the mantra of Avalokiteswara. The syllables
are carved outside the wheel as well as kept inside the wheel
printed in the paper in numerous numbers. When it turns one
round it means the mantra is read how much mantra has kept
inside the wheel.
It is a symbol of transcendental wisdom accompanies both Buddhist
and Hindu deities such as Brahma, Manjushree, Sarswati, Prajnaparamitta,
Avalokiteswar, Vasundhara associated with wisdom, learning
and arts. The book is sometimes placed on louts. In Buddhist
iconography, the Pustaka as a symbol represents the Prajnaparmita,
treaties on transcendent wisdom supposed to have been given
to the Nagas by the Buddha to guard until mankind had become
wise enough to grasp its profound truths.
An offering vessel; a symbol of Vishnu. In Hindu tradition,
the conch shell seems to have been extensively used in wars
by ancient Indian. The white conch shell whose humming sound
proclaims the glory of the saints. It is especially given
as a symbol to the gods as the sound vibrated through a shell
penetrates far and wide.
It represents Dharma which protects like a shield.
It is an endless knot. It is also considered luck knot, life
knot or love knot.
It is a Hindu sun god. In Buddhism it is associated with moon
as symbol of basic unity of the apparently different relative
and absolute truth; appears separately in the upper part of
thang-kas. It is a special symbol of Akashgarbha.
Used both in Hinduism and Buddhism as a symbol of the Law.
It is also an auspicious sign (Swasti in Sanskrit is well
being). It is one of the sixty five marks of Buddhahood found
in the imprint of Buddha's foot. As a Buddhist symbol it represents
the esoteric doctrine of Buddha.
When two thunderbolts are crossed it is called a Viswa Vajra.
It is the emblem of Amoghasiddhi. In Buddhist Tantra the word
generally designates Sunya or Void which cannot be cut, cannot
be destroyed but which destroys all evils.
It symbolizes the three fold Jewels namely Buddha, Dharma
and Sangha. The meaning of these there fold jewels Buddha,
Dharma and Sangha is title signifying "The Enlightened"
or "The Awakened", Buddha, the doctrine and community
propounded by Siddhartha Gautam.
It is also called Sula. It is the favourite weapon and symbol
of Shiva. The three forked weapon sumbolizes Shiva's creation,
protection, and destruction. It is carried by members of Shaivists.
In Buddhist iconography, it is regarded as a representation
of Tri Ratna, the three fold jewels - Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.
It is also carried by Agni, Mahakala and Padma Sambhav
(Half Closed Lotus)
Elongated petals, blue, characterizes the Green Tara, consort
of one of the Dhyani Buddha. It is designated by the word
Utpala or Nilotpala. In tantric works Utpala stands for Night
lotus. It is the special symbol of Manjushree and Green Tara.
It is the name of the text which expound the mystic philosophy
and the principles of action leading to the attainment of
"Enlightment" i.e. the state of mind of total independence
from the bonds of existence in the span of one's life.
Yab - Yum is a Tibetan word consisting of two particles yab
and yum. The word 'Yab' in Tibetan means the 'honorable father'
and 'Yum' means the 'honorable mother'. The combined word
therefore, means the father in the company of the mother or
in her embrace.
Yantra is a nucleus of the visible and knowable, a linked
diagram of lines by means of which visualized energies is
concentrated. There are different kinds of Yantras and Sri
Yantra is the Great Yantra. Other lesser yantras (Om yantra,
Kali yantras, etc.) are obviously segments out the all embracing
Sri yantra. Yantras may be made in permanent form of many
substances. The most important is rock crystal. Its clear
colourless substance which can be shaped so as to focus light
at its apex in a very good emblem for the all, inclusive substance
of fundamental reality just as colourless light includes all
the possible colours of light. So crystal can serve as analogy
for the substance which includes all substance.
The crown worn by Buddhist priests of Vajrayana during the
religious performances is known as Mukha (ritual crown). Invariably,
the crown bears images of four of the five Dhyani Buddha to
establish cosmic principle. The Dhyani Buddhas represented
here are Vairochana, Akshyovya, Ratna Sambhaba, and Amitabha.
The fifth member Amoghasiddhi is not shown physically but
is symbolized by the thunderbolt at the top of the crown.
KALASH (Full Vessel)
Poorna Kalash is a water vase which is full of all the characteristics
of goodness as it is full of all goodness. It is treated as
an auspicious object for all human beings. When the religious
ceremonies are held Poorna Kalash is kept ate the centre surrounded
by eight vessels. In Poorna Kalash, there will be the signs
of eight auspicious symbols.
Sukunda is an oil lamp with combination of lamp and oil container.
It is made of metal in artistic design. Oil was stored in
the main section of the large pot and burnt in the bowl beside
the neck with the aid of a wick. The filling of oil was done
by a metal spoon known as Sumicha. Sukunda is the most important
object for every religious and social performance. There must
be the inscription of Ganesh in it, whose presence is always
needed for the performances as the god of bestower of success.
Ghau is a portable shrine in which an image of the owner's
personal deity (Ishta Devata) is kept wrapped in silk cloth.
Most Tibetans used Ghau at home and during traveling. At home,
it is kept on alter but when traveling it is fastened at the
cross belt. Generally, Ghau has trefoil shapes to and a window
in the middle through which one can see the personal deity.
Ghau is made of two parts which fit together to form a box.
The back is usually left plain and the front is richly decorated.
Water is perhaps the most important both in Hindu and Buddhist
ritual and is always present on the alter in a costly pot
or in some other container. The pot whose shape is just like
a flat shape jar with a pipe to bring out the water from the
pot and which is richly decorated with precious stones and
metal is known as Bhumba.