Symbols of Buddhism : ashtamangala depictions

         There are eight auspicious symbols which are revered  in  Buddhism. They are represented together in an ashtamangala. The symbols in early Buddhism included: throne, swastika, hand-print, endless knot, vase of jewels, water libation flask, pair of fishes, lidded bowl. In Buddhism, these eight symbols of good fortune represent the offerings made by the gods to Buddha immediately after his enlightenment.Depictions in art are found in Asian countries wherever Buddhism flourished.

The ashtamangala in Chinese,Tibetan and Nepali Buddhism are  conch, endless knot, two goldfish, lotus,parasol,vase dharmachakra , dhwaja or victory banner.

File:Colossal Parasol with Eight Auspicious Symbols - Circa 1st Century CE - Gita Enclave - ACCN 00-72-5 - Government Museum - Mathura 2013-02-23 5570.JPG

 Eight symbols,1st century,Mathura Museum,Uttar Pradesh.

Biswarup Ganguly [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

8-SIGNS at JDWNRH 1.jpg

Four of the Ashtamangala symbols, Thimpu,Bhutan.

By Christopher J Fynn – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39168187

8-SIGNS at JDWNRH 2.jpg

Four of the Ashtamangala symbols, Thimpu,Bhutan.

By Christopher J Fynn – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39168185

File:Ashtamangala.jpg

Ashtamangala,Hall of Fame, Leh,Laddakh.

By Redtigerxyz (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The symbols represent various concepts ; the right turning conch shankha represents the  sound of the dharma, which awakens followers from the deep slumber  of ignorance.

The endless knot Srivatsa is the symbol of the ultimate unity of everything;the intertwining of wisdom and compassion.

The two goldfish or gaurmatsya symbolise the auspiciousness of all beings in a state of fearlessness without danger of drowning in samsara.In Buddhism, the fish symbolise happiness as they have complete freedom of movement in the water.

File:Window Samten-Chöling Tsakaling.jpg

Temple window with symbols,Bhutan.

©Christopher J. Fynn / Wikimedia Commons, via Wikimedia Commons

The lotus or padma symbolises purity and renunciation. The lotus flower has its roots in the mud at the bottom of a pond, but its flower lies perfect and unaffected  above the water.

The jewelled parasol or chatraratna represents the protection of beings from harmful forces and influences.

The  vase of treasures  or bumpa represents abundance  health, longevity and  prosperity; similar to the Kumbha or Kalasa in Hindusism.

The dharmachakra or wheel of law represents the Buddha and  the  Dharma teachings.

File:Ceiling of Global Vipassana Pagoda.jpg

Dharmachakra, ceiling, Global Vipassana Pagoda, Mumbai.

Joe Ravi [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

       The dhwaja or flag was a military standard of ancient Indian warfare. The symbol represents the Buddha’s victory over the four maras which tried to disturb him on his path to  enlightenment. These hindrances are excessive pride, desire, disturbing emotions and the fear of death.

Door with the ashtamangala symbols,Nepal.

By Christopher J. Fynn (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

File:Decorated tent near lake Qinghai (1).jpg

Decorated tent with symbols,China.

By Popolon (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Image result for ashtamangala

Bowl with eight symbols in fencai enamel,Hong Kong Museum of Art,Hong Kong.

By Mk2010 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

File:Invitation card.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ashtamangala symbols,wedding card,Nepal.

See page for author [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Auspicious symbols,wood carving,Tibet.

Source and copyright owner: Tibetan Museum Society [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

References :

  • Thomas, P/Epics, myths and legends of India, Bombay : D. B. Taraporevala and Sons.
  • wikipedia.org

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

© author

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Book lover, art history buff !
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