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.
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.
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
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
Represents the wish that all the beings attain wisdom and may be free from the ocean of suffering
3. The Lotus-flower
Represents the wish that the Buddha and his followers be free of worldly stains
4. The White Conch Shell
Represents the wish that all beings will hear the voice of Dharma
5. 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
Represents the wish that the Buddha and his teachings will triumph over suffering
7. The Dharma Wheel
Represents the teachings of the Buddha and the wish that they will always remain active or alive
8. 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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