Eight Auspicious Signs or Symbols of Good Fortune བཀྲ་ཤིས་རྟགས་བརྒྱད་།

Eight Auspicious Signs or Symbols of Good Fortune

The eight auspicious signs or symbols of good fortune are the important part of the Tibetian culture. When you are travelling in Tibet, there are many signs and symbol in Monastery, hotel decorations, restaurant decoration and the decoration on the big public structures like bridges and airport. Today we are going to write about the Eight Auspicious signs or symbols of good fortune.Eight Auspicious Signs or Eight symbols of good fortune

In Buddhism, many different signs or symbols are used to illustrate abstract meanings. Among them, the most popular and common ones are the eight auspicious signs. We can see them on ceremonial scarfs and decorative-hangings of monasteries and in wall paintings on public buildings in Tibet.

To talk about their origin, in Buddhism these Eight symbols of good fortune represent the offering made by the gods to Buddha Shakyamuni immediately after he attained enlightenment. Brahma, the great god of the realm, was the first to appear with an offering of a thousand-spoked golden wheel, requesting Shakyamuni to turn the teaching wheel of the Dharma.

The great sky god Indra appeared next, presenting a white, right spiralling conch shell as a symbol of the proclamation of the Dharma. The earth goddess Sthanara (Tibet Sayi Lhamo) who had borne witness to the Buddha’s enlightenment, presented Shakyamuni with a golden vase full of the nectar of quaintly represented to the left and right of Buddha’s enlightenment throne, offering the golden wheel and the white conch shell.

8 auspicious symbols

Early Buddhist aniconic representations

Early Buddhist aniconic representations of Buddha’s footprints invariably depicted auspicious symbols as divine marks on the soles of his feet. These included the lion throne, victory banner, Vajra, water flask, elephant goad, hair-curl, eternal knot, swastika and conch shell; but the most common of these marks were the lotus and wheel.

As an insignia of the Chakravartin, an eight or thousand-spoked wheel adorns the palms and soles of Buddha images or bodhisattvas. One of the meanings of the word deva is “auspiciously drawn”, referring 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 India Vajrayana Buddhism the eight auspicious symbols were deified into eight goddesses, known as the Ashtamangala Devi, who each carry one of the auspicious symbols as their attribute.

Tibetan tradition identifies the eight auspicious symbols as forming the body of the Buddha, with the parasol representing his head, the golden fishes his eyes, the lotus his tongue, the treasure vase his neck, the wheel his feet, the victory banner his body, the conch his speck, and the endless knot his mind.

The representational meanings and the symbols of the eight Auspicious Signs are briefly presented below:

1. The White Parasol

The White Parasol

 

Represents the wish that Buddha’s teaching or the Dharma will be the protection for all the beings from the heat of ignorance

 

 

2. The Pair of Golden Fish

The Pair of Golden Fish

 

Represents the wish that all the beings attain wisdom and may be free from the ocean of suffering

 

 

 

3. The Lotus-flower

The Lotus-flower

 

Represents the wish that the Buddha and his followers be free of worldly stains

 

 

 

4. The White Conch Shell

The White Conch Shell

 

Represents the wish that all beings will hear the voice of Dharma

 

 

5. The Vase

The Vase

 

Represents the wish that all beings will have the holy knowledge of Dharma and that the Dharma itself is the greatest nectar

 

 

 

6. The Victory Banner

The Victory Banner

 

Represents the wish that the Buddha and his teachings will triumph over suffering

 

 

7. The Dharma Wheel

The Dharma wheel

 

Represents the teachings of the Buddha and the wish that they will always remain active or alive

 

 

 

8. The Eternal Knot

The Eternal Knot

 

Represents that the Buddha’s knowledge and deeds are boundless and profound.

 

 

 

You can read more about Eight Auspicious Signs here

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Tsampa or Roasted Barley Flour a Traditional Staple Food of Tibetan

The traditional staple food of Tibetan: Tsampa or roasted barley flour

Tsampa or roasted barley flour is a traditional staple food of Tibetan, for thousands of years, Tsampa has been the traditional staple food of Tibetan people. It is made of roasted whole-grain barley and is very easy to prepare, both at home and whilst travelling.

There are several ways to prepare Tsampa or Roasted Barley Flour and the process of making Tsampa is quite simple. All we do is to wash the whole barley grains, then roast them with sand or alone, and finally, we grind the roasted grains into powder. After that, it is ready for use.

How to make Tsampa, Roasted Barley Flour

In the farming areas, people mainly use water mills but in the nomadic areas, people use hand-mills to grind the roasted barley. There are few different qualities of Tsampa depending on the process of making Tsampa or the quality and the freshness of barley. Some Tsampa or Roasted Barley Flour is ground into very fine powder and others are quite coarse.

Water mill

Common form of eating Tsampa or Roasted Barley Flour

The most common form of eating Tsampa or Roasted Barley Flour is a porridge which we call “chamdur”. This is especially suitable for small children or patients as it is easy to swallow. Another form is Tsampa dough balls or “ba”; which can be molded by hand and eaten piece by piece. It is also possible to make Tsampa cakes by adding more butter and cheese to the dough.

Tsampa or Roasted Barley Flour is also found in Nepal, Bhutan, parts of Mongolia, Buryatia and nearby countries. In Turkistan it is called talkhan and in some parts of north China it is known as tso-miyen. In Indian Bihar Tsampa is made from chickpeas (sattu).

A European variation of Tsampa or Roasted Barley Flour can be found on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Finland’s talkkuna and nearby Estonia’s kama. “Gofio”, which is made from corn, is very popular in the Canary Isles, from where it spread along the Caribbean (Cuba, Dominican Republic) and Venezuela, Argentina, Chile. In North America it was part of the diet of some native inhabitants.

Barley farm

Barley:

  • Decreases levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) in the blood, thus decreasing the risk of heart disease. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 2006.
  • Barley is a rich source of vitamin E and the whole vitamin B complex. It contains many important minerals (phosphorus, calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, manganese, copper and zinc), eight essential amino acids and phenolic substances with antioxidant characteristics, is rich in fiber (insoluble and soluble), and has a large ratio of beta-glucans. It has also been found that juice from fresh young barley leaves is effective in cleaning and detox.
  • Nutritional value is in the form of saccharides.  Barley contains 75 to 85 %  saccharides, 11-13 % proteins and 2-3% fats.
  • It is the key ingredient in making beer and whiskey.  The meal is used as a base in soups, barley flakes in cereal products, and barley flour is added to pasta. Coffee substitutes frequently contain barley, and because of its high nutritional values, barley is used in animal feed.
  • Barley is one of the oldest agricultural crops. Cultivated more than ten thousand years ago, it spread from eastern Asia to North Africa and was the food of the gladiators and soldiers of ancient Greece and Rome. Infusions from barley were used to feed infants and as a strengthening agent for the sick and convalescent. Grain was also used as a measurement unit of weight and length.
  • In the region of the Czech, Republic barley was cultivated 5000 years ago and used to make porridge and flour but was later largely replaced by wheat.

 

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