Buddhist Ritual Items, Hand made Treasures of Vajrayana

Importance of Buddhist Ritual Items:

Buddhism emerged in northern India during the late 6th and early 4th centuries BCE, during a period of rapid societal development and religious activity. Buddhism is a realization of the true nature of reality and spiritual creation. The word "Buddha" in Buddhism means "enlightened." Meditation and other Buddhist rituals are means to modify yourself in order to cultivate the virtues of consciousness, compassion, and knowledge.

While Tibet has some of the most spectacular sights and immersing culture in the world, there is also a religious aspect to this incredible place. Tibet's principal religion is Buddhism, and Tibetan Ritual Items are one of Tibetan Buddhism's most unique elements. Buddhist monks and laymen use them almost every day, and they are a significant element of Tibet's history and culture.

Buddhist ritual items symbolize several components of Buddhism and its set of profound symbols. Different objects play different roles in Tibetan Buddhism and assist to distinguish it from other types of Buddhism. Tibetan Buddhists usually give offerings and gifts to Buddhas in the hopes of receiving good luck and fortune. The ceremonial artifacts can aid in ensuring that this process runs smoothly and that the gift bearer's wishes are heard by the Buddha. Most of the Buddhist items are beautiful and well-crafted. They resemble rare metals and stones in terms of shape, texture, and color. Among the various objects, gold appears frequently. 

The Eight Auspicious Symbols

The eight symbols of good fortune in Buddhism reflect the gods' presents in Shakyamuni Buddha shortly after he acquired enlightenment. Brahma, the great god of the form realm, was the first to appear. He presented Shakyamuni with a thousand-spokes golden wheel and demanded that he turn the dharma teaching wheel.

Next, the mighty sky god Indra arrived, holding a white, right spiraling conch shell as a sign of the dharma's announcement. Shakyamuni was given a golden vase full of the nectar of immortality by the earth goddess Sthavara (In Tibetan: Sayi Lhamo), who had witnessed the Buddha's enlightenment. Brahma and Indra, who offer the golden wheel and the white conch shell, are usually depicted to the left and right of Buddha's enlightenment throne in iconography.

The Eight Auspicious Symbols are listed below to help you better appreciate the significance and distinctiveness of these essential artifacts:

  1. The Lotus
  2. The Endless Knot
  3. The Golden Fishes 
  4. The Parasol
  5. The Victory Banner
  6. The Treasure Vase
  7. The White Conch Shell
  8. The Wheel
Statue of 8 Auspicious Symbols
Image of Eight Auspicious Symbols

1. The Lotus (Padma)

The lotus flower, which emerges from the muck unstained, is a symbol of purity, renunciation, and divinity. Most deities sit or stand on a lotus seat or throne, which symbolizes their inherent purity; they manifest in cyclic life but are free of its defilements, emotional hindrances, and obscurations. The sun opens and closes the lotus. Birth from the lotus denotes an immaculate conception and a being born who is naturally divine and free of karmic blemishes. Deities' and Dakinis' appealing, wide-open eyes have been compared to lotuses. The lotus was embraced as a sacred emblem throughout Egypt, India, Persia, Tibet, China, and Central Asia. In Egypt, the blue lotus was especially revered because of its fragrant perfume and aromatic oil essence, which obliterated the scent of divinity. 

Green Tara holds the Indian blue lotus, which signifies the deity's purity and compassion. The Tibetan translation of the Sanskrit term utpala usually refers to the blue lotus, although it can also refer to a variety of other colored lotuses. The sixteen or one hundred petals of the white lotus are grasped by deities such as White Tara. It indicates her purity and the perfection of all her characteristics. The Kamala, a red or pink lotus, is the most commonly depicted of hand-held lotuses and lotus seats. The yellow utpala lotus is a little alpine bloom that grows in Tibet and is not a water lotus. The black or 'night lotus' is a dark indigo nilakamala (blue lotus) species.

In Tibetan art, the lotus is one of the most common religious symbols in all of its color variants and aesthetic shapes. The lotus represents renunciation and purity; the sun disc represents ultimate bodhichitta, and the moon disc represents relative or conventional bodhichitta. The selfless desire to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings is known as conventional bodhichitta, while ultimate bodhichitta refers to a subtle physiological essence.

2. The Endless Knot (Shrivatsa)

Shrivatsa is a Sanskrit word for the endless knot that means "beloved of the goddess Shri." Shri refers to Vishnu's consort, Lakshmi, and the shrivatsa is an auspicious triangle mark or curl of hair that graces Vishnu's breast and was originally an eight-looped knot. Krishna, as Vishnu's eighth incarnation or avatar, also wears the shrivatsa on his chest. The emblem of Lakshmi on Vishnu's breast symbolizes his devotion. Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth and good fortune, the shrivatsa is a natural auspicious symbol. This hair-curt is also known as nandyavarta, which means "curl of bliss." It's shaped like a swastika, or Greek hooked cross.

3. The Golden Fishes (Suvarnamatsya)

Matsyayugma is a Sanskrit word that means "a pair of fishes." They began as a pre-Buddhist symbol of India's two principal sacred rivers, the Ganges (Ganga) and the Yamuna. These two rivers represent the lunar and solar channels, respectively. The two golden fishes are often depicted as carp, which are revered for their graceful beauty, size, and longevity. Golden fishes are thought to represent pleasure in Buddhism since they have perfect freedom in the water. Because they multiply so rapidly, they symbolize fertility and abundance. Fish commonly swim in pairs, and in China, a brace or pair of fishes was sometimes given as a wedding present to symbolize conjugal togetherness and fidelity.

4. The Parasol (Chattra)

The parasol, often known as an umbrella, is a Buddhist symbol of both protection and royalty. Its shadow protects us from the sun's blazing heat. The shade's coolness represents relief from the heat of sorrow, desire, impediments, sicknesses, and negative energies. The parasol was once considered a symbol of secular prosperity or royalty. The more parasols carried by bearers in an affluent dignitary's entourage, the higher their social status would appear. Thirteen umbrellas, apparently representing the center sun and its twelve zodiac houses, appear to have traditionally denoted the status of a king. The emblem of thirteen royal umbrellas was adopted by early Indian Buddhism as a symbol of the Buddha's sovereignty as chakravartin or universal monarch.

The king of the nagas is reported to have presented the Buddha with a jeweled umbrella. It is typically made of gold with amrita-emitting jewels around its edges, hung with gently tinkling bells, and had a sapphire handle. The Buddha is usually depicted with an exquisite and large umbrella above his head. This large umbrella (atapatra) was later deified into the thousand-armed, headed, and footed goddess Sitatapatra. Her name apparently means 'the white umbrella' in Vajrayana Buddhism.

A traditional Tibetan parasol's structure is made out of a thin round wooden frame with eight, sixteen, or thirty-two thin arched wooden spokes. A long wooden axle-pole runs through the center, with a metal lotus, vase, and jewel finial at the top. Stretched white, yellow, or multicolored silk is draped over the domed frame. A folded silk skirt with eight or sixteen hanging silk pendants drapes from the frame's round rim. Typically, the pendants are made from folded silk brocade strips. They hang at the same level as the pleated skirting and are stitched together in a single, double, or triple valance design. The draping skirt represents compassion, while the parasol dome represents wisdom.

Statue of Dukar Deity
Statue of Dukar or Sitatapatra Deity holding the Parasol

5. The Victory Banner (Dhvaja)

The victory banner or dhvaja (ditanja), which means banner, standard, flag, or ensign in Sanskrit, is the name given to the victorious banner or sign. The victory banner was ornamented with the ensign of the champion. Krishna's chariot had a garuda-topped banner, Arjuna's had a monkey's device, and Bhishma's had a palm tree's insignia. The ditaja is also known as Shiva's banner, whose symbol is the lingam, or "sign of his erect phallus as the "provider of seed."

The victory flag was adopted by early Buddhism as a battle standard of military superiority. The Buddha's triumphant enlightenment and the defeat of Mara's forces, whose demonic troops bore the divaja as a symbol. The hosts of Mara represent hindrances and defilement. The victory banner is thought to represent eleven methods for conquering these defilements in Tibetan Buddhism:

  • Development of Knowledge
  • Development of Wisdom
  • Development of Compassion
  • Development of Meditation
  • Development of Ethical Vows
  • Abandoning False Views
  • Generating Spiritual Aspiration 
  • Selflessness 
  • Emptiness
  • Formlessness
  • Desirelessness 

A list of eleven distinct forms of the victory banner is given in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition for conquering the powers of evil. The Buddha's victory over the entire universe is believed to have been symbolized by a victory banner placed on the summit of Mt Meru. The parasol and victory banner is positioned to the south and north of Mt Meru, respectively. They are paired with the sun and moon in the northeast and southwest, two auspicious symbols in the mandala offering.

6. The Treasure Vase (Nidhana Kumbha)

The golden treasure vase, also known as the 'vase of inexhaustible treasures,' is based on the Kumbha, a traditional Indian clay water container. The base is flat, the body is circular, the neck is slender, and the upper rim is fluted. A highly ornate golden vase is typically shown as the Tibetan treasure vase. A single flaming jewel or ensemble of jewels protrudes from its upper opening, while lotus-petal designs radiate around its numerous portions.

The massive treasure vase is made of gold and adorned with a variety of jewels. A silk cloth from the divine realm is tied around the neck. Its upper aperture is sealed with the roots of a wish-granting tree, whose roots store the water of immortality and produce a variety of treasures. It has the quality of spontaneous manifestation like the divine vase of limitless treasures. No matter how much treasure is taken from it, the vase remains constantly full. Wealth vases are typically put on shrines and on mountain routes, or buried at water springs, which attract wealth and bring harmony to the environment.

7. The White Conch Shell (Shankha)

Since time immemorial, the rare white conch shell of India has served as the first horn trumpet. Each hero of fabled combat carried a mighty white conch shell, which often bore a personal name, according to ancient Indian epics. The conch is one of Vishnu's principal symbols, and Vishnu's conch was given the name Panchajanya, which means "controlling the five kinds of beings." The conch is akin to the bugle in terms of its usefulness as a battle horn. It is a symbol of strength, authority, and sovereignty, and its blast is said to drive away evil spirits, avert natural calamities, and keep toxic creatures away.

The conch was embraced by Buddhism as a sign of religious sovereignty and an emblem that boldly asserted the dharma's truth. The deep and powerful voice of a Buddha is one of the thirty-two major indicators of his body, which is artistically portrayed in depictions of the Buddha by three conch-like curving lines on his throat. The conch can also be seen as an auspicious mark on divinely endowed beings' soles, hands, limbs, breasts, or foreheads.

By cutting off the tip of the right-spiraling white conch, auspicious blowing horns can be made. The right-hand spiraling wind channel so formed acoustically represents the Buddha dharma's authentic or 'right-hand' declaration. The conch is decorated with a metal mouthpiece and an ornamental metal casing extending from the shell's mouth as a Buddhist ritual instrument. The casing is made of copper, bronze, silver, or gold, and it is adorned with auspicious symbols and motifs.

8. The Wheel (Chakra)

The wheel symbolizes creation, sovereignty, protection, and the sun. It first appears as a solar symbol on clay seals discovered at early Indus Valley archaeological sites. The six-spoked wheel, known as the Sudarshana Chakra in Vedic Hinduism, became Vishnu's major attribute. It identified Vishnu with the sun as the central hub around which the phenomenal universe's wheel of creation and preservation revolves. The wheel, like the circular wheel of the sky, depicts mobility, continuity, and change, and it is always moving forward.

The wheel became a symbol of the Buddha's teachings in Buddhism. The wheel is identified as the dharma chakra or 'wheel of the law' as an emblem of the chakravartin or 'wheel turner.' Dharmachakra is a Tibetan word that signifies "wheel of transformation or spiritual change." The fast rotation of the wheel represents the rapid spiritual transformation described in the Buddha's teachings. It depicts the overcoming of all obstacles and illusions as a weapon of change. The 'initial turning of the wheel of dharma' refers to Buddha's first discourse at Sarnath's Deer Park, where he taught the truth (dharma) of the Four Noble Truths which are listed down below:

  • The Truth of Suffering
  • The Truth of the Cause of Suffering
  • The Truth of the End of Suffering
  • The Truth of the Path that Leads to the End of Suffering

The wheel's hub represents moral discipline, the spokes represent analytical understanding, and the rim represents meditative concentration. The eight spokes represent the Buddha's Noble Eightfold Path of the Aryas, or righteous creatures, and point in eight directions. Right understanding, thought, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, and concentration are all part of it.

The Eight Auspicious Substances 

The second group of early Buddhist emblems consists of eight auspicious substances, lucky articles, or bringers of good fortune. The eight substances, like the eight auspicious symbols, are most likely of pre-Buddhist origin and were incorporated into early Buddhist iconography during its beginnings. They are thought to reflect manifestations in the Buddha's life, and they, along with the eight auspicious symbols, were eventually deified in Vajrayana Buddhism to form an eight-offering deity. The following is a list of the Eight Auspicious Substances to help you better understand the significance and uniqueness of these important artifacts:

  1. The Mirror
  2. The Medicine
  3. Curds or Yoghurt 
  4. Durva Grass
  5. The Bilva Fruit
  6. The Right-Spiraling Conch
  7. The Vermilion Powder
  8. Mustard Seed
Statue of Medicine Buddha

The purpose of a mirror is to allow one to see oneself clearly. The mirror is the perfect emblem of emptiness or pure mind in Buddhism. It is clear, bright, and gleaming, reflecting all objects and remaining unaffected by the images that arise in them. It reveals all phenomena to be empty at their core as if they were a passing show.

The 'bathing ceremony of the deity' is a Tibetan rite in which water is sprinkled on the reflected image of a statue or thangka. Water that has soaked the deity's form is thus considered sanctified water. The mirror is also used in divination and many traditional healing and exorcism rituals.

 2. The Medicine (Gorochana)

The valuable medicine is made from the liver, intestine, or gall stones found in elephants, bears, and cattle, among other species. Gorochana refers to the stones or bezoars found in animals such as bulls, cows, oxen, and yaks. The noises made by the animal while sleeping are said to signal the presence of bezoars. According to tradition, the god Indra threw the five valuable jewels into the ocean: gold, silver, coral, turquoise, and pearl. Elephants, bears, snakes, frogs, peacocks, vultures, geese, and pigeons absorbed these valuable compounds, which produced bezoars within their bodies. As a result, the intestinal stones collected from these critters vary in color and medicinal potency. These bezoars have medical characteristics that include poisoning, promoting clear thinking, and reducing fevers and communicable infections. Superiors, mediocre, and infers are all poisoned. Earlier versions of these stones were said to cure seven, five, or three poisoned persons.

The best quality of gorochana is believed to come from an elephant's brain or forehead, while the second-best quality comes from a cow. Gorochana is said to resemble the yellow yolk of a boiled egg in size and appearance, and the yellow pigment extracted from it is used as a tonic and sedative, as well as a sacred mark (tilaka) on the forehead. Gorochana is said to give clear eyesight when mixed with honey and rubbed on the eyes, allowing one to see all of the world's treasures. The grey or white stone obtained from the crown of a king cobra's head is said to give a snake-charmer control over all lesser serpents and immunity to their venom. The antidotal properties of serum were also attributed to the occidental toadstone, which was made from a toad's skull.

3. Curds or Yoghurt (Dadhi)

Curds have traditionally been considered a healthy food in India and were undoubtedly one of the most important components of the diet in ancient times. It is highly valued as a digestive stimulant in Ayurvedic medicine and is suggested as a treatment for diarrhea and emaciation. Colostrum curds, which are formed from a cow's first milk after giving birth to a calf, are particularly regenerative. Its pristine white nature represents spiritual sustenance and the renunciation of all harmful behaviors.

Milk, yogurt, and ghee, three white liquids obtained from the sacred cow, are considered concentrated essences of plants. The 'three whites' derived from the cow, milk, curds, and ghee, are three of the five 'nectars' of the cow, the other two being urine and excrement. Before they contact the ground, the cow's urine and dung are collected in jars and combined with the three white substances in a bronze vessel. This mixture is next boiled, and once cool, the viscous liquid's upper scum and sediment are eliminated, leaving only the center section, which is then spread out and dried in the sun. The powder is then combined with saffron and formed into pills.  These pills, along with consecrated medicinal pills, are used in rituals. The cow must be pregnant, golden or orange in color, and have intestinal stones called bezoars, which are used to make the valuable medicinal gorochana.

 4. Durva Grass (Durva)

Durva, durba, and darbha grass are all frequent names for the same grass. Bermuda grass (Capriola dactylon), Bahama grass, scutch grass, or devil grass are common names in the Western world, and it is often used as pasturage. It's known as 'panic grass' (Panicum dactylon) or 'bent grass' in the East. It can also be found as a white grass called as chanda. Durva grass is a robust trailing grass with a knotty stem that culminates in leafy heads. Its natural habitat is marsh or wetlands, yet it is so hardy that it will sprout new branches even when completely dry.

Durva grass is thought to have gained its hallowed status as a result of the unintentional leaking of amrita during the famous churning of the cosmic ocean, when a few drops fell onto durva grass. A similar tale surrounds the holiness of kusha grass (Pon cynosoroides), in which Garuda delivers amrita to the nagas in exchange for his mother's liberation. Indra took the amrita vessel from its resting place in a grove of kusha grass, and the naga serpents, assuming the amrita was on the kusha grass, licked the jagged edges of the grass, splitting their tongues into serpent forked tongues.

5. The Bilva Fruit (Bilva)

The Bengal quince (Aegle marmelos) is another name for the bilva fruit (Aegle marmelos). It's a giant orange-sized round fruit with a firm skin and a mottled reddish-brown appearance. The bilva fruit was given the name "wood-apple" because of its rough, wood-like skin. It's a strong astringent that's well-known in traditional Indian folk medicine for its cleansing properties. The unripe center of the fruit was the best-known remedy for diarrhea and dysentery, especially when prepared into a jam.

The bilva was considered the purest of all fruits and was used as the main offering to temple deities. Much of the Shiva and Shakti symbolism related to the bilva fruit and tree developed during the Hindu tantric period, far after Shakyamuni Buddha's time. Regardless of its pre-Buddhist meaning, the bilva fruit has always been regarded as the most precious of all fruits. Shakyamuni is claimed to have been given the bilva fruit by Brahma, and in this act of reverence and supplication, he humbles himself before wisdom and enlightenment greater than his own.

6. The Right- Spiraling Conch (Dakshinavartashankha)

The conch appears in the eight auspicious symbols, the eight auspicious substances, and the five sensory offerings as a vessel containing perfume. The Buddha's tremendous proclamation of the dharma, and Indra's presentation of it, signify the supremacy of Buddha's doctrine. Indra, the great sky god, is claimed to have given the white conch shell to Shakyamuni. In Buddhism's Vajrayana tradition, Indra was worshipped as a god who offered the Buddha a conch shell, along with Brahma, who offered the golden wheel. Indra is known as Shakra, the "king of the gods," or Shatakratu, an Indra epithet that means "powerful" or "one who has performed the sacrifice a hundred times."

7. The Vermilion Powder (Sindura)

The brahmin ruler or merchant Kargyal is reported to have given a vermilion powder to the Buddha. Cinnabar or natural vermilion, both forms of mercuric sulfide generated from naturally existing mineral deposits, are occasionally identified for this orange or red powder. A heating procedure separates the mercury from the sulfur content of cinnabar, and this process can be carefully reversed by recombining sulfur and mercury to generate crystalline cinnabar. The conversion of cinnabar into mercury and back to cinnabar exposed the elements' mutability and gave rise to the Indian and Chinese alchemical traditions.

During the time of Shakyamuni Buddha, the vermilion powder was undoubted of immense ritual significance. Its red color represents power, particularly the alluring power of love and desire, which later manifested as Vajrayana deities like Vajrayogini and Kurukulla. Vermilion powder is used to make sand mandalas also to paint monasteries, temples, shrines, and furniture.

8. Mustard Seed (Sarsapa)

The wrathful form of the bodhisattva Vajrapani offered the white mustard seed to Shakyamuni Buddha. As the Buddha's fable of asking a distressed widow for mus tard seed from a house where no one had died indicates, it was a common household product at the time of the Buddha. Everyone in the family had mustard seed, but no one had been spared the agony of loss. The widow's anxiety was relieved as she listened to their horrific experiences.

The mustard seed is grown for its oil, which has been used in cooking and for lighting oil lamps. There are two types of mustard: white mustard and black mustard. Mustard seed is a wrathful substance in Buddhism, used in destructive ceremonies against negativities and hindrances that manifest as obstructive demons. To exorcise ghosts or evil spirits, the mustard seed might be infused with exorcism mantras and burned or flung away. A sarshaparund, or 'red mustard spirit,' is a type of spirit that possesses young infants, and may be related to leprosy. Mustard seed is one of the main 'magical materials' utilized in ritual weapons against bad spirits in Vajrayana destructive action rituals.

The Five Offerings of Sensory Enjoyment 

The five sensory offerings are the most exquisite objects that attract the five senses: sight (rupa), hearing (shabda), smell (gandha), taste (rasa), and touch (rasa) (spersha). They are presented as offerings to the deities or gurus as objects of the most pleasant sensory pleasures, indicating both the donor's wish to please the enlightened beings and a gesture of sensuous renunciation. They are usually shown as individual symbols or as a composite set of five objects within an offering bowl in thangka paintings as offerings to the peaceful deities. They are usually presented and touched by the presiding lama in rituals of request, and typically take the form of a mirror or wheel, a pair of cymbals, incense or a conch shell, fruit, and silk cloth.

To help you better understand the significance and distinctiveness of these important artifacts, here is list of The Five Offerings of Sensory Enjoyment:

  1. Mirror [Sight]
  2. Musical Instruments [Hearing]
  3. Perfume and Incense Offering [Smell]
  4. Fruit and Food Offering [Taste]
  5. Silk Cloth [Touch]

 

Image of Offerings
Click for more Buddhist deities thangka with offerings

1. The Mirror [Sight]

The mirror represents the element of space and consciousness. It is clear, pure, and bright, and it impartially reflects all phenomena. The mirror does not cast judgment on whatever appearances come as reflections, whether they are beautiful or ugly, essentially good or evil. It is fully unaffected, unblemished, and unaltered. Similarly, the beautiful or ugly, good, neutral, or bad quality of the thoughts that originate and pass has no effect on pure consciousness. Their essence is void, devoid of substance, but they manifest on the screen of consciousness or within the emptiness of the mirror.

2. Musical Instruments [Hearing]

Stringed instruments, Flutes, Cymbals, and Tibetan singing bowls are among the musical instrument offerings. In Tibetan art, the evolution of numerous Asiatic stringed instruments is referred to as "the lute." The melodic scaled instruments are Indian rages, which are prominent in early Vajrayana Buddhist singing and dancing traditions. Tibetan Singing Bowls are made up of flutes and cymbals.

The transmission and development of stringed instruments in the Eastern, Islamic, and Western worlds are intriguing to compare. Strings for Asian Lutes were traditionally made of wound silk thread while twisted, stretched, and dried goat intestines in the case of specific bowed instruments. The melodic structures of the Indian rages were absorbed into the charyagiti tradition of mystical songs of spontaneous realization of dohas in early Indian Vajrayana Buddhism. The musical skill of playing 'Tibetan singing bowls' has become a trendy and pseudo-mystical type of entertainment in recent years. Modern Nepal and India's vibrant bazaars are fantastic locations to explore, browse, and bargain for the instruments. 

3. Perfume and Incense Offering [Smell]

A shankhapatra is a conch shell set on a small tripod that is used as a water oblation vessel in pujas or rituals in India. The conch is commonly filled with saffron-scented water or water perfumed with the five aromatic substances of saffron, sandalwood, musk, camphor, and nutmeg as a Buddhist oblation or offering vessel. In India, liquids for 'conch perfume' (shankhanakha) include rosewater, aloe, and champaka flowers (nagi). Water should be collected from a waterfall by a pre-adolescent kid, as with many other natural ingredients or herbs utilized in Vajrayana rituals. The perfumed water is represented as a 'swirling offering' in iconography and is pale blue with white waves that form crests, reflecting the smell of the liquid.

Powdered juniper leaves are the main component of Tibetan incense, which is often burned in charcoal-fired braziers or incense burners. Traditional Tibetan stick incense is made by hand from a paste of juniper powder mixed with medicinal herbs, saffron, sandalwood, aloes, musk, and other fragrant ingredients. Dhup, or traditional Indian incense, is a waxy substance made from floral and wood essences.

4. Fruit and Food Offering [Taste]

Fruit offerings or ceremonial cakes are examples of food offerings. The Tibetan ritual cake offering is based on the ancient Indian sacrificial offering, which consisted of numerous food gifts made to the gods. The Indian ritual of bali merged with the Bon tradition of presenting sacrificial cakes made of butter and barley flour in early Buddhist Tibet. The numerous types of sacrificial cakes evolved into a complex ritual pantheon in Vajrayana Buddhism, with unique shapes, colors, and decorations for different deities and classes of spirits.

5. Silk Cloth [Touch]

Silk fabrics are always shown in graceful flowing motions, as though the cloth or scarf is floating on a divine breeze. The breadth of a bolt of silk, or a sari, is often passed through a finger-ring by Indian silk sellers to demonstrate the fineness of their silk. The holy silk thread is said to be so fine that a square large enough to cover Mt Meru can be drawn beneath a fingernail. A white silk scarf is traditionally handed to a lama or teacher as an auspicious offering, reflecting the offering of a pure mind, heart, and motivation.

Silk offerings are generally painted in white, yellow, or red like heavenly silk ribbons, but there are no set criteria for depicting them artistically. The three acts or karmas of pacifying, enriching, and magnetizing are represented by a white, yellow, and red cloth. As the fourth karma of destructive activity, black is never offered as a cloth offering to peaceful deities, as it represents and attracts malignant spirits or energies.

Leave a comment