Do you know what Buddhism is? Buddhism is a spiritual belief system that started a long time ago. Actually, this culture traces its root to India. However, the system has spread to many parts of the world. Currently, Buddhism is being practiced in countries like Thailand, Japan, Tibet, Sri Lanka and Korea.
Well, the manner in, which Buddhism has influenced different cultures is evident in the vast Buddhist symbols being used nowadays. In today’s article, we are going to look at different Buddhism symbols and their meaning with regard to Buddhism.
Having said that, let’s expound on the different Buddhist symbols and their respective meanings. Notably, there are eight major Buddhist symbols. There are others but these have great importance to the Buddhists. They are famously referred to as “Eight Auspicious symbols of Buddhism. A clear understanding of these symbols is a great way of learning Buddhism. Indeed each of these symbols has a specific meaning relating to a specific Lord Buddha teaching.
Well, when these symbols are brought together they create a powerful union. This has a lot of influence to people practicing Buddhism. For instance, Tibet religion has greatly been influenced by Buddhism.
The meaning of Buddhism Symbols
Before expounding on the meaning of each of the symbols it is important to highlight them. Now, here are the “eight auspicious symbols of Buddhism.
- Parasol or chattri
- Lotus Flower or padma
- Golden Fish or suvarnamatsya
- wheel of life or dharmachakra
- Treasure Vase also known as kalasha
- Conch shell or sankha
- Victory banner also called dhvaja
- Endless Knot or shrivasta
Now, let look at the meaning of each of the symbols
1. Wheel of life also known as dharmachakra
It is the most important of all the symbols of Buddhism because it represents Lord Buddha teachings. It signifies spiritual change that was brought about by Lord Buddha teachings. The fir teaching of Lord Buddha is believed to be at Deer Park in Sarnath. The eight spokes in the symbol represent the eightfold path that Lord Buddha prescribed in his teachings.
2. Parasol also known as chattri
This Buddhist symbol stands for protection and royalty. It signifies the protection of Buddhism believers against defilement heat. It symbolizes protection against earthly emotions like desire and suffering. Buddhists believe that the central axis holds upholds the earth just as the “axis Mundi” holds the parasol in place.
Additionally, it is beloved that the parasol signifies the importance of the person beneath it. Buddhists believe that the centre of the universe is the one beneath the parasol. In fact, there are numerous pictorial depictions of Lord Buddha having the parasol over his head.
3. Lotus Flower or Padma
Lotus flower is believed to signify the “progress of human soul” The flower grows from mud through the water and once on the water surface it bloom into a lovely flower with a fantastic scent. It implies that the same way the lotus flower is born in mud; human beings are born in a network of materialism. The lotus flowers is seen to develop through the water to the surface; similarly, human souls grows gaining experience of different things until it acquires ultimate enlightenment, the same way the flower blooms in maturity.
4. Golden Fish or suvarnamatsya
This symbol consists of two fish that are standing vertically with their heads inclined towards each other at the top. The symbol is believed to signify the holy Indian rivers of Yamuna and Ganges. On the other hand, these rivers stand for respiratory system of the human body. Buddhists believe that the golden fish stands for happiness. This is because in water fish are completely independent. Moreover the symbol signifies, fertility, because the fish procreate in rapidly in water. They are also a symbol of courage to face the hardships and suffering.
5. Treasure Vase also known as kalasha
This symbol signifies wealth. In other words, it means having things in abundance. The treasure vase has a fat vase with a slim neck. It has a jewel at its mouth meaning that it if filled with treasure. The Treasure is believed to exert harmonious influence on its surroundings. Buddhists have a common practice of burying similar treasure vases in water springs, mountains as well as placing them in altars.
6. Conch shell or sankha
This is a much respected symbol in the Indian culture. It is believed that the symbol can protect against evil. The symbol signifies authority and power. Buddhists usually use this symbol to announce significant religious assemblies. In Tibet, the conch shell is used to carry holy water when there are religious ceremonies as well as a musical instrument.
7. Victory banner also called dhvaja
The symbol according to Buddhism signifies knowledge victory over ignorance. In India the symbol has a huge military significance. It signifies Lord Buddha’s enlightenment. Additionally, it signifies overcoming of defilement and adversity.
8. Endless/eternal Knot or shrivasta
If you look at the symbol keenly you will realize that it is made of intertwined lines which are right-angled. The endless knot has got lops that are never ending. Likewise, these loops have no beginning. It is very popular in the Chinese art. The symbol signifies endless wisdom that Lord Buddha had. The symbol is believed to have a lot of inspiration behind.
Buddhism started in India but spread to other countries. The spiritual culture belief has influenced religious beliefs of people in different countries like Thailand, Tibet, Japan, and Sri Lanka among others. Buddhism influence is evident in different symbols being used in these countries. These symbols have different meanings, as discussed above.