Auspicious Symbol

Groupings of the Auspicious Symbols

Some drawings depict the three main groups of auspicious symbols and offerings. They appear in Tibetan Buddhist art. These are the eight auspicious symbols and the eight auspicious substances. They are also the offerings of the five sensual enjoyments.

The eight auspicious symbols form the most well-known group of Buddhist emblems. Their origins trace back to the advent of Buddhism in India. The eight auspicious substances date back to the same period. Although they are less well known as an auspicious group.

Offerings in Buddhist Imagery

The offerings of the five senses were incorporated into Buddhist imagery at a later date. They are first referred to as a symbolic group in the Guhyasamaja Tantra. They came into revelation between the sixth and eighth centuries AD. They appeared as ritual symbols of the five sensory enjoyments at a later time. It occurred in different representational forms from the early Vedic period.

The Eight Auspicious Symbols (Skt. ashtamangala; Tib. bkra shis rtags brgyad)

The Buddhist Symbols

The eight auspicious Buddhist symbols (Tib. bkra shis rtags brgyad) consist of some symbolic paraphernalia. A parasol, a pair of golden fishes, a treasure vase, a lotus, a white right-spiraling conch shell. As well as an endless knot, a banner of victory, and a golden wheel. These first formed a grouping of early Indian symbols of royalty. They were present at such ceremonies as the investiture or coronation of a king.


The Lotus

The Lotus

The lotus blossom represents purity, renunciation, and divinity since it rises clean from the dirt. Most deities are represented with a lotus seat or throne, which means their intrinsic purity. Although they appear in cyclic existence, they are unfettered by their impurities, emotional obstacles, and obscurations. The lotus is opened and closed by the sun. Birth from the lotus represents a new pregnancy and the birth of a naturally divine creature free from karmic impurities. The wide-open eyes of Dakinis and Deities have been compared to lotuses. The lotus was revered as a holy symbol in Central Asia, Tibet, China, Egypt, India, and Persia. The blue lotus was particularly cherished in Egypt due to its sweet smell and aromatic oil essence, which completely erased the scent of divinity.

The lotus, in its beautiful forms and color variations, is one of Tibetan art's most prevalent religious symbols. The sun disc stands for ultimate bodhicitta, the moon disc for relative or conventional bodhicitta, and the lotus signifies renunciation and purity. The term "ultimate bodhicitta" alludes to a subtle physiological nature, whereas "conventional bodhicitta" refers to the selfless desire to become enlightened for the benefit of all beings.

The Endless Knot (Shrivatsa)

The Parasol

The endless knot is referred to as a Shrivatsa in Sanskrit, which means "beloved of the goddess Shri." The word "Shrivatsa" alludes to the good triangular mark or curl of hair that adorns Vishnu's chest and is initially an eight-looped knot. Shri is the name of Vishnu's spouse, Lakshmi. The eighth avatar or manifestation of Vishnu, Krishna, likewise sports the shrivatsa on his breast. The Lakshmi sign on Vishnu's breast represents his devotion. Lakshmi's goddess of prosperity and fortune, and the shrivatsa is a traditionally lucky object. The name "curl of pleasure" (nandyavarta) for this hair curl is another. It has a swastika, or Greek hooked cross, form. 

The Golden Fishes (Suvarnamatsya)Two-Golden-Fishes

A pair of fish is what the Sanskrit term matsyayugma signifies. Before Buddhism, they originally represented the Ganges (Ganga) and the Yamuna, the two main holy rivers in India. The lunar and solar channels are symbolized by these two rivers, respectively. The two golden fish are sometimes represented as carp, prized for their size, lifespan, and elegant beauty. Given their complete freedom in the sea, golden fish signify happiness in Buddhism. Since they increase so quickly, they represent fertility and abundance. Fish frequently swim in pairs. Hence a brace or pair of fish was occasionally presented as a wedding gift in China to denote marital unity and loyalty. 

The Parasol (Chattra)


The umbrella-like parasol is a Buddhist symbol of both protection and majesty. We are shielded from the scorching sun by its shadow. The coolness of the shade symbolizes a cooling down from the fire of sadness, desire, obstacles, illnesses, and bad energy. The parasol used to be viewed as a representation of a monarchy or material affluence. An opulent dignitary's entourage would appear to have a more significant social position if bearers carried more parasols. The rank of a king seems to have historically been indicated by thirteen umbrellas, which appear to represent the central sun and its twelve zodiac houses. Early Indian Buddhism used the sign of thirteen royal umbrellas to describe the Buddha's rule as the chakravartin, or supreme ruler, of all beings.

An eight, sixteen, or thirty-two spoked thin-arched wooden parasol is traditionally fashioned in Tibet from a thin circular wooden frame. The focal point is a long wooden axle pole with a metal lotus, vase, and jewel finial at the top. Stretched silk in shades of white, yellow, or other colors is spread across the domed frame. The rounded rim of the frame hangs a folded silk skirt with eight or sixteen dangling silk pendants. Typically, folded silk brocade strips are used to create the pendants. They are sewn together in a single, double, or triple valance pattern and hang at the same level as the pleated skirting. The parasol dome symbolizes knowledge, while the flowing skirt symbolizes compassion.

The Victory Banner (Dhvaja)The-Victory-Banner

The victory banner or symbol is referred to as the victory banner or dhvaja (ditanja), which is Sanskrit for banner, standard, flag, or ensign. The champion's ensign was a decoration on the victory flag. Arjuna's chariot had a monkey's device, Bhishma's featured a palm tree's emblem, and Krishna's chariot featured a garuda-topped banner. Shiva's flag, or ditaja, is also known as his lingam, or "sign of his erect phallus as the "producer of seed."

Early Buddhism embraced the victory flag as a symbol of military superiority in combat. The triumphal awakening of the Buddha and the downfall of Mara's army, whose demonic soldiers carried the divaja as a sign. The hosts of Mara stand for obstructions and filth. The victory flag symbolizes eleven strategies for eliminating these impurities in Tibetan Buddhism. 

The Treasure Vase (Nidhana Kumbha)

The Vase

The Kumbha, a traditional clay water container from India, is the inspiration for the golden treasure vase, also referred to as the "vase of boundless wealth." The top rim is fluted, the body is round, the neck is thin, and the base is flat. The Tibetan treasure vase is often shown as a very elaborate golden vase. A single burning diamond or group of jewels protrudes from its upper aperture, and lotus-petal patterns encircle its various parts.

The enormous treasure vase is composed of gold and is encrusted with various gems. Around the neck hangs a silk garment from the holy realm. The wish-granting tree's roots, which store the water of immortality and yield a variety of gifts, are used to close the upper opening of the structure. It can spontaneously manifest, much like the holy container of untold riches. The vase never runs out of riches, no matter how much is taken from it. Vases of prosperity are usually placed on shrines, along mountain paths, or buried near water sources to draw riches and promote environmental harmony. 

The White Conch Shell (Shankha)


The rare white conch shell from India has been used as the first trumpet from the beginning of time. According to ancient Indian epics, each hero of legendary battle carried a robust white conch shell that frequently bore a personal name. One of Vishnu's main emblems is the conch; it was given the name Panchajanya, which translates to "managing the five types of creatures" for Vishnu. The conch is comparable to the bugle when it comes to being a valuable war trumpet. It represents power, dominance, and sovereignty, and the sound of its explosion is believed to ward off evil spirits, prevent natural disasters, and keep poisonous creatures at bay.

Buddhism adopted the conch as a symbol of spiritual authority and a dharma truth-proclaiming emblem. One of the thirty-two primary markers of a Buddha's body is his loud and assertive voice, which is represented artistically in representations of the Buddha by three conch-like curving lines on his throat. The conch can also be viewed as an auspicious mark on the soles, palms, limbs, breasts, or foreheads of divinely blessed beings.

The Wheel (Chakra)


The wheel represents the sun, creation, authority, and protection. It first appears as a solar sign on clay seals recovered at early Indus Valley archaeological sites. In Vedic Hinduism, the six-spoked wheel, known as the Sudarshana Chakra, evolved into Vishnu's most defining characteristic. It equated Vishnu with the sun as the hub around which the wheel of creation and maintenance of the phenomenal cosmos revolved. The wheel represents movement, continuity, and change and is constantly going ahead, just as the spherical wheel of the sky.

The center of the wheel stands for moral discipline, the spokes for analytical comprehension, and the rim for meditative focus. The eight spokes, which point in eight different directions, stand for the Noble Eightfold Path of the Aryas, or virtuous beings, as taught by the Buddha. It includes proper comprehension, thinking, speech, action, livelihood, effort, awareness, and focus.

The Indian Grouping

The earliest Indian grouping of these eight precious objects comprised of many things. A throne, a swastika, a handprint, a hooked knot or hair-curl, a vase of jewels, among others. But also, a water libation flask, a pair of fishes, and a lidded bowl. A south Indian listing includes a whisk, a pair of fishes, an elephant goad, a mirror, a drum, a banner, a water vase, and a lamp.

The Jain and Newar Symbols

The Jains also adopted a list of eight auspicious symbols. It included a treasure vase, a water flask and two golden fishes. Along with a swastika, an endless knot, a hair-curl, a mirror, and a throne. In Nepal, the Newar Buddhist form of the ashtanangala re- places the golden wheel with a pair of fly whisks (Skt. Chamara), and most commonly the eight symbols form a composite vase-shaped arrangement.

Offerings to the Shakyamuni Buddha

In Buddhism, these eight symbols of good fortune represent the offerings made by the gods. It was for Shakyamuni Buddha immediately after he attained enlightenment. Brahma was the first to appear with an offering of a thousand-spoked golden wheel. He requested Shakyamuni to turn the teaching wheel of the dharma. The great sky god Indra appeared next, presenting a white, right-spiraling conch shell.

Buddha Holding Offerings

It presented as a symbol of the proclamation of the dharma. The earth goddess Sthavara (Tib Sayi Lhamo) borne witness to the Buddha's enlightenment. She presented Shakyamuni with a golden vase full of the nectar of immortality. Brahma and Indra stand to the left and right of Buddha's enlightenment throne. It is common in iconography. And they offer the golden wheel and the white conch shell.

Divine Marks on Soles and Palms

Early Buddhist aniconic representations of Buddha's footprints were invariable. They depicted auspicious symbols as divine marks on the soles of his feet. It included the lion throne, victory banner, vajra, water flask, and elephant goad. Along with eternal knot, swastika, and conch shell.

But the most common of these marks were the lotus and wheel. There is the spoked wheel an insignia of the chakravartin. An eight- or thousand-spoked wheel adorns the palms and soles of Buddha images.

The Ashtamangala Devi

One of the meanings of the word deva is 'auspiciously drawn'. It refers to the body markings on the palms, soles, breast, or throat of divine beings or gods. Indra, for example, bears the insignia of the shrivatsa or eternal knot on his breast. In early Indian Vajrayana Buddhism, the eight auspicious symbols were eight goddesses. The Ashtamangala Devi each carried one of the auspicious symbols as their attribute.

In his book, The Buddhist Tantras, Alex Wayman quotes the commentary of the Indian master Buddhaguhya on the eight auspicious symbols;

"Yoga displays itself as the eight emblems on the true nature of the body. The eight emblems of good luck are: the endless knot (slirivalsa) which is lotus-like; the wheel (chakra) which is frightening; the banner (dhvaja) which is victorious; the umbrella (chattra) which is dignified, the lotus (Padma) which is luminous, the flask (kalasha) of acute mind, the conch (shankha) of purity, the golden fishes (Matsya) of auspicious mind."

The Symbols As Buddha's Organs

In Chinese Buddhism, the eight symbols represent the vital organs of the Buddha's body. The parasol indicates the spleen, the two golden fishes are the kidneys. The treasure vase is the stomach, the lotus indicates the liver. The conch is the gall bladder, the endless knot forms the intestines.

The victory banner represents the lungs, and the wheel arises as the heart. An eight-spoked wheel - fashioned from bone or gold - adorns the breast of many Buddhist deities. It symbolizes the eight spokes or lotus petals of the heart chakra.

Buddha's Body

A Tibetan tradition identifies the eight symbols as forming the body of the Buddha. The parasol represents his head and the golden fish his eyes. The lotus is his tongue, and the treasure vase his neck. The victory banner is his body, the conch his speech, and the end-less knot his mind.

Symbols and Objects

Artistically the eight auspicious symbols may be depicted individually, in pairs, in fours, or in a group of eight. When illustrated as a collective group they often assume the simulacra form of a vase-shape. The treasure vase may be omitted as the other seven symbols form the outline of the vase.

Designs of these eight symbols adorn all manner of sacred and secular Buddhist objectsLike, carved wooden furniture, embellished metalwork, wall panels, carpets, and silk brocades. A beautiful Chinese brocade design depicts a pair of dragons holding the eight symbols in their claws. The eight auspicious symbols are frequently drawn on the ground in sprinkled flour or colored powders. They welcome visiting religious dignitaries to monastic establishments.

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