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Symbols in Tibetan Buddhism

Eight Auspicious Symbols

Parasol


Has its roots serving as an Indian symbol of royalty and protection. Traditionally, the more parasols an individual had, the higher they were in the social hierarchy. This tradition was adapted into Buddhism and and early depictions of the Buddha, where his thirteen parasols represented his sovereignty as the Buddha.


Conch Shell


The conch shell began as an Indian attribute of heroic gods, where shells represented victories in battle. As a Buddhist symbol, it represents the Buddha's teachings and the fearlessness of sharing these ideas to others.


Treasure Vase


The Buddhist style treasure vase is modeled after traditional Indian clay water pots. The vase is mostly used as a symbol of certain wealth deities, but also represents the endless quality of the Buddha's teachings.


Victory Banner


Originated as a military standard in ancient Indian Warfare. In Buddhism, the banner represents the triumphs of the Buddha over the four maras, or the hindrances on the path to enlightenment.


Dharma Wheel


Began as Indian symbol for sovereignty, power, and protection. The wheel is made up of three key parts, the hub, the spokes, and the rim. Respectively, they represent ethics, wisdom, and concentration. The eight-spoked wheel is meant to represent the aspects of the Noble Eightfold Path, the practices said to lead one out of the cycle of rebirth.


Gold Fish


Representation of the two great rivers of India, the Ganges and the Yamuna. When they were adopted into Buddhism, they came to symbolize happiness and spontaneity due to their freedom moving through water, also freedom from the cycle of rebirth.


Endless Knot


In Buddhism the knot serves as a symbol of the Buddha's endless wisdom and compassion in addition to eternal harmony. The endless cycle of rebirth.


Lotus Flower


The lotus flower is a plant that is known for its ability to grow unstained in murky waters. This quality of it remaining pure when surrounded by dirt and filth led to it becoming a Buddhist symbol of purity and renunciation. In addition, the lotus serves as a symbol of birth and represents the divine origin of deities when seen in artwork. In architecture the shape of the lotus is used to denote the purity of a space and the presence of the Buddha.

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