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The religion of Buddhism is entirely based on the teachings that Buddha taught. Buddha spent a great deal of his life by providing the knowledge that worldly possessions do not equal happiness. On the other hand, he proclaimed that wisdom, morality, and the feeling of contentment worked positively in making a person happy.

Till today, the religion of Buddhism has over 500 million followers who are spread all across the globe. However, the majority of Buddhist people can be found on the continent of Asia.

One of the critical features of the Buddhist religion is that they use a particular set of symbols to signify specific aspects of dharma. These symbols are used in the faith as a way of imparting knowledge of Buddha among the standard population. According to East Asian cultures the cultures of East India, several symbols associated with Buddhism represent the array of gifts that God presented to Buddha right after he achieved his enlightenment.

Several Buddhist symbols exist in the religion, and most of the Buddhist symbols and their meanings are discussed below.

The meaning of life in Buddhism

The sole purpose of life in Buddhism is to end suffering. The teachings state that as humans, we will continue to suffer if we are continually striving after material things that do not give a long-lasting solution to happiness. The unending quest to hold on to these things often leads to desperation and causes sorrow.

It’s undeniable that material things give us joy but the fact that none of them lasts forever means that their loss often causes more suffering.

Buddhist symbols and their meaning
Two little Buddhist monks in Myanmar

Buddha usually focused his teachings on this problem and its solution. He taught on the importance to recognize the impermanence of material things in order to free ourselves from excessive attachment to them.

When a person is not very much attached to material things, it lessens the suffering and eventually ends the cycle of rebirth.

The Buddha and early Buddhists advocated the monastic life as the surest way to accomplish enlightenment. In Buddhism, it’s generally believed that one has to be reborn as a nun or as a monk before they can attain enlightenment.

It is also believed that one can attain enlightenment through contemplation, yoga, and other ritual means through the help of mantras and special postures.

A brief history of symbolism in Buddhism

Buddhism is a religion that is centered on compassion and wisdom and dates to way back. For this reason, it has a bucket load of history. 7.1 percent of the total world population is Buddhist- this translates to over 500 million followers worldwide. Buddhism has numerous teachings and symbols that help people to learn about the religion itself.

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The symbolism in Buddhism is believed to date back to a couple of centuries that immediately followed Buddha’s death.

At this time, people started representing Buddha’s teachings through art and symbols.

One of the earliest symbols was the wheel of dharma which Buddha used to illustrate his teachings. The historical Buddha lived during the 6th century BCE.

The use of symbolism in Buddhism may also be attributed to the fact that Buddha used quite a number of images in his teachings. After his death and as Buddhism continued to spread, Buddhism symbols became more common.

The first archeological evidence first comprised of art symbols, mainly stone carvings that date back to the period during which Emperor Asoka reigned. He played a huge role in popularizing Buddhism and helping it spread inside India and beyond.

Some of the earliest and most popular symbols in Buddhism include the lotus flower, the stupa, and the Dharma wheel. The lotus flower is used in different instances to represent different things.

The wheel also features 8 spokes and all of them have different meanings. The first actual Buddha images appeared around the first century BCE, so until then the artwork was largely symbolic in nature.

A whole lot of artwork and symbolism appeared around the 6th century including mandalas and other Tantric symbols. Initially, in East Asia Cultures, Buddhism did not portray the Buddha himself; the first hint of human representation appeared with the Buddha footprint.

Buddhist Symbols and Their Meanings

There are quite a number of symbols that are used in Buddhism; most of which stem from the teachings of the Buddha. Some of them arise from different cultures as Buddhism is passed down to represent the peoples’ faith and religious beliefs.

The symbols in Buddhism are pretty interesting to learn about. These symbols are considered sacred and are used in a variety of ceremonies such as the inauguration of a newly-chosen king and during ceremonies to represent offerings to the gods. The symbols are also used as decorative art in monasteries or as a focal point for use during meditation.

Here are some of the prominent yet standard symbols found in the Buddhism culture:

1. The Image of the Great Buddha

It is one of the Buddhist symbols and is also one of the most known icons in the religion of Buddhism.

The emblem consists of certain minor other symbols placed within the larger picture.

Three lines are curved and are placed on the neck of Buddha, and they stand for the deep voice that Buddha has.

This particular symbol is found in Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and China.

There are various sizes in which the logo appears, but the rough outlines always remain the same and thus making Buddha easily identifiable.

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2. The Triratna or The Three Jewels

The Triratna stands for the Dharma, Buddha, and Sangha, and they are the things where we take shelter as human beings.

The Dharma represents teaching, and Sangha stands for the monastic community.

The Triratna or ‘Triple Gem’ is one of the most ancient Buddhist symbols and is strongly associated with the path that Buddha created for people to follow.

3. The Footprint of the Buddha or the Buddhapada

Buddhapada is another symbol beside the Buddhist symbols lotus flower. The symbol consists of a print of both the feet or might contain the impression of one foot as well.

It represents the fact that Buddha was physically present even at the time when the religion of Buddhism consisted of no statues at all.

The period from the time the Buddha’s footprints are found is known as an ant-iconic stage. Today, the footprints represent Buddha’s absence since he has now entered nirvana.

These footprints ensure the fact that Buddha was a human being, and he resided on the earth. Moreover, these prints provide us with the path that we need to follow. They, therefore, work as a guide for us. Some of the footprints are found naturally, and men have built some of them.

Buddhist symbol - footprint of Buddha
Buddha footprint at the entrance of the Seema Malaka temple.

This symbol may incorporate an imprint of either one or both of Gautama Buddha’s feet. It is one of the earliest representations of the physical presence of the Buddha during the time when there were no statues in Buddhism.

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The Buddhapada reminds us of two things:

  1. That the Buddha was also human, as he walked on this planet
  2. That there is a path to be followed, and the “Enlightened One” left the prints as a guide

There are two forms of the footprints: those that occur naturally in stones and those that are man-made. The artificial ones are replicas of the “real” footprints and are considered to be representations of Buddha’s footprints throughout Asia.

The footprints usually have marks that set them apart such as the Dharma wheel that’s found at the center of the sole. Other distinctive marks that can be found on the footprints include the lotus flower, the swastika, or the three jewels.

There are other footprints that are quite large and very detailed. They feature the 32, 108, or the 132 auspicious signs of the Buddha are engraved on the sole following a checkerboard pattern.

The footprints are depicted with all the toes having a corresponding length. The sculptures are usually found in temples where they are protected using special structures where believers bring offerings to.

4. The Bodhi Tree or Leaf

The term Bodhi translates into ‘enlightenment.’ The Bodhi Tree also goes by the name of Bo. It has a significant part in the religious matters of the Buddhist religion followers and also had an essential place in the history of the religion of Buddhism.

There is a popular faith that says that Buddha achieved his enlightenment while sitting right under a tree of Bodhi. The particular tree has a real-life existence and is situates in the place Bodh Gaya, about 100km from Patna in Bihar. It is a major destination for pilgrims and is the most important pilgrimage site among the four main Buddhist pilgrimage sites.

One of the trees is in Anuradhapura and the other is in Sravasti. It takes anywhere between 100 and 3,000 years for a Bodhi tree to become fully grown.

Buddhist symbols - The bodhi tree
Ayutthaya Buddha Head in Tree Roots, Buddhist temple Wat Mahatha

One of the Buddhist symbolsthe Bodhi Tree is sacred and is shown as an old and large fig tree that has rounded heart-shaped leaves. The followers of Buddhism believe that in the present day, only two of the Bodhi trees are there that originated from the actual Bodhi tree under which Buddha achieved his enlightenment. The Bodhi tree stands as a symbol of hope and salvation.

5. The Dharma Wheel

The Dharma Wheel is also referred to as the Dharmachakra, the “Wheel of Truth/Law,” or the “Wheel of Transformation.” It is one of the most important symbols in Buddhism that’s not only used to represent the teachings of the Buddha but also represents Gautama Buddha himself. After the Buddha achieved enlightenment, Brahma appeared to him and offered the Dharma wheel.

The turning of the wheel is a metaphor for the rapid spiritual change engendered by the teachings of the Buddha.

The “first turning of the wheel of dharma” took place at the Deer Park in Sarnath while the “second and third turnings of the wheel of dharma” took place at Rajgir and Shravasti respectively.

The Dharma chakra represents rebirth; it also teaches that reincarnation can only be escaped by following the teachings of the Buddha.

Buddhist prayer beads
Buddhist prayer beads - click for details

Yama is the name of the creature that turns the wheel. Yama is the Lord of Death and therefore represents the inevitability of death. However, the presence of the Buddha outside of the wheel represents liberation.

Buddhist symbols - The Dharma wheel
The golden deer and the dharma wheel in tibetan monastery

The basic parts of the dharma wheel that were a huge part of the Buddha’s teachings:

  1. The wheel’s hub represents moral discipline that leads to a stable mind
  2. The wheel’s spokes represent wisdom that one has to apply for them to beat ignorance
  • The wheel’s rim represents focus and concentration which helps us to hold everything together.

The outer circle of the wheel represents the 12 links of dependent origination as stated below:

  1. On the top right is a blind man with a cane. He represents our ignorance of the true nature of the world.
  2. A potter molding a pot, moving clockwise. He represents that fact that we shape our own destiny with our actions
  3. A monkey climbing a tree. He represents the consciousness of our mind which wanders out of control
  4. The consciousness which gives rise to name and form. This is depicted as people who are traveling on a boat on the river of life.
  5. An empty house whose doors and windows represent the developing sensory organs. The six senses are sight, smell, taste, hearing, touch, and thought.
  6. Thought, which is the sixth sense, allows us to have contact with the world. This is represented as an embrace between lovers.
  7. An arrow piercing the eye. This represents the human feelings which can either be pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. Once we have contact with the world, we are able to feel.
  8. A man drinking alcohol or a couple falling in love. They represent our desires or our attachment to pleasant feelings.
  9. A monkey picking fruit(s). This represents the grasping of things that we desire
  10. From grasping, there arises existence. This is represented by a man and a woman making love
  11. Existence culminates in birth which marks the entry into the human realm. This is represented by a woman giving birth
  12. After birth, we all age and ultimately end up dead. This is represented by an old man carrying a burden.
Buddhist symbol - Dharma mandala tapestry
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Dharma mandala tapestry
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The middle ring of the wheel symbolizes the six realms of existence which are: humans, gods, demi-gods, animals, hell-beings, and hungry ghosts.

Within the wheel’s inner circle you will find symbols of the three root delusions which are: a snake symbolizing hatred, a rooster symbolizing ignorance, and a pig symbolizing greed.

The wheel’s spokes represent the Noble Eightfold Path that the Buddha set out during his teachings. Here are the eight steps that help us to achieve liberation from the cycle of rebirth and suffering on earth:

  • Right View: Actions have consequences, even after death. This is where the concepts of karma and rebirth are included.
  • Right Resolve: Create an environment of kindness and impermanence.
  • Right Speech: Avoid lying, rudeness, gossip and other negative types of speech.
  • Right Conduct: Don’t steal, injure, assault or kill others.
  • Right Livelihood: Limit possessions to only the essentials that you require for a normal life.
  • Right Effort: Work to prevent unwholesome states and thoughts which can disrupt meditation.
  • Right Mindfulness: Always remain conscious of your thoughts and actions.
  • Right Samadhi. Practice the four stages of meditation to unify the mind.
Dharma wheel pendant
Dharma wheeel necklace - Click for details
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Today, you will often find the Dharmachakra on images of the mandala or on the Buddha; the Dharma Wheel appears on the palms of the Buddha’s hands and the soles of his feet.

There are some wrathful deities that are depicted brandishing the Dharma Wheel as a weapon to conquer evil. The Hindu god Vishnu uses the wheel to conquer earthly desires and passions.

The Dharma Wheel is the final stage on the path towards a permanent relief from suffering; it’s the final goal according to the teachings of the Buddha. The Victory Banner and the Knot of Eternity combine and lead towards the Dharma Wheel.

6. The Umbrella or The Parasol (Chatra)

Normally, the umbrella is used to offer protection against different elements such as rain and the scorching sun. The parasol is the Buddhist symbol for strength and for protection from harm, illness, obstacles, and difficulties.

In East Asian Cultures, the umbrella or parasol symbol represents the safety and refuge that is offered by the Buddha and his teachings.

The symbol not only represents protection but is also a symbol of dignity, wisdom, and compassion. The parasol could also be used to represent the peace and cal that it provides.

The meaning of the symbol varies depending on the shape of the umbrella. Sometimes the shape of the dome is octagonal to represent the Eightfold Path. Other times its square to represent the four directional quarters.

Considering the fact that one had to be rich in order to possess an umbrella, by extension it represents wealth or royalty.

buddhist symbols images
Credit: Frater5

7. The Lotus (Padma) Flower

Among all the symbols in Buddhism, the lotus flower is the most famous and widely recognized of the peace symbol images. It symbolized inner peace, humanity, and life. The concept of inner peace being able to lift us up is an important cornerstone of Buddhism.

The Lotus Flower is a Buddhist Symbol for enlightenment. It also symbolizes “primordial purity” of the bid, speech, and mind, floating above the muddy waters of attachment and desire.

Buddhist symbol - lotus flower
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Buddhist healing symbols
Lotus essential oil difuser - Click for details
 

The mud represents suffering which is a vital part of human life in order to make us stronger. The struggle and suffering teach us to break free and resist the temptations of the evil one.

Choosing the right path makes us one with the Buddha. Purity is a really important aspect for you to be able to progress down the path of enlightenment to emulate the purity of the Buddha.

The lotus flower is a very important teaching, not only in Buddhism but for the whole of humanity. It brings hope and represents faith. The lotus’ beauty hides a dark underside. This is very uplifting teaching. The lotus represents our

 
Buddhist symbols lotus flower
Buddhist Lotus led string - Click for details

ability to live with wisdom and purity above the murky waters below. What this means is that the lotus grows out of the muck and into something beautiful. Even though the roots are stuck deep in the mud, the lotus still gives beautiful and sweet-smelling flowers.

It’s for this reason that the lotus is used to symbolize the full blossoming and transformation from suffering into blissful liberation. The lotus flower has eight petals which also represent the Eightfold Path of the Good Law.

Once all the petals are fully open, that represents total enlightenment. In Buddhism, different-colored lotus flowers have different meanings. Here is their significance:

White

This represents the purity of the mind, body, and spirit. White symbolizes the heart of the Buddha. The color is associated with the White Tara and proclaims her perfect nature, a quality that gets reinforced by the color of her body.

Red

This represents the heart, love, and compassion. Red lotus flowers symbolize the emotional attachment of the heart and other heart-centered emotions such as passion.

Blue

This represents wisdom, intelligence, knowledge, and learning. The blue lotus flower is used to symbolize the victory of the spirit over the senses. It’s often depicted as being only partially open so its center is not seen.

Pink

This represents the Supreme Buddha as well as the traditional and historical Buddhism. The pink lotus flower is considered to be the true lotus of the highest deity- the Buddha.

Purple

This represents mysticism and spirituality. Usually, the purple lotus is depicted as having either one or three stems. The petals are shown closed and opened; at times it’s depicted as a bud and other times it’s depicted as being fully bloomed. All these representations symbolize the different mystical and spiritual stages in the journey that we take towards enlightenment and self-awareness.

Gold

This represents total enlightenment and is often used to represent the Buddha

8. Lion

The lion is another important Buddhist symbol that represents the Buddha’s royal past. The lion is a representation of the power of the teachings of the Buddha which are considered to be as powerful as a lion’s roar.

In addition to representing the strength and power of the Buddhist message, the symbol of the lion is also a representation of royalty. 

buddhist symbols worksheet - The lion symbol

The lion symbolizes the royalty that the Buddha was a part of before he attained enlightenment- tradition has it that he was a prince. The lions are usually depicted on the throne that the Buddha sits on.

9. The Two Golden Fish

The two golden fishes are a symbol of happiness and freedom. Initially, the two fishes represented the two main rivers of India- the Ganges and Yamuna rivers. These two rivers are associated with the solar and lunar channels that originate in the nostrils and carry the alternating rhythms of breath.

In Buddhism, the fish are a symbol of luck and fortune. They also symbolize happiness and fearlessness. This is because the fishes are free to move around in the water with enough courage to face the unknown dangers in the ocean.

Two golden fish Buddhism symbol
Symbol of luck and fortune

Just as the fish swim freely in the water, it teaches us that we also have the ability to move around freely in this world of suffering and delusion.

The fish also represent abundance and fertility. This symbolism can be attributed to the reproduction rate of fishes.

The symbol of the two golden fishes also represents conjugal unity in marriage. This is due to the fact that fishes swim side-by-side- a pair of fishes is a common gift to newly-weds during weddings. The fishes appear standing vertically; with their heads downward (inwards towards each other) and their tails in the air. They’ve often depicted swimming just above a half-ring of red waves.

The symbol of the two golden fishes represents the two main pillars of all teachings of the Buddha: peace and harmony. These two are a critical part of the journey towards enlightenment.

10. The Conch Shell (Sankha)

In Buddhism, the Conch Shell is used as a symbol of the sound of the Buddhadharma awakening beings to their ‘Buddha nature.’ The sound reaches far and wide and is intended to make us see our ignorance and awaken from the deep slumber of ignorance.

The realizations that fill up our mind on the journey to enlightenment are known as the Dharma Jewel.

The deep, melodious, and pervasive sound urges believers to accomplish their welfare and the welfare of others.

The conche shell - Buddhist symbol
The sound of the Buddhadharma awakening

The shell is white in color and features a coil that coils to the right. The rightward spiral is extremely rare in nature and, therefore, represents the rare gift of the Buddha to us through his teachings. At some point in the East Asian traditions, the conch was used as a battle horn.

11. The Treasure Vase/ The Urn of Wisdom (Bumpa)

In Buddhism, the vase is a symbol of bountiful treasure which is the knowledge that is the teaching of the Buddha. It may also represent health, wealth, prosperity, long life, spiritual growth, and all the good things that come with enlightenment.

The treasure vase can be filled with many sacred things that we receive as gifts for practicing the dharma. These gifts and treasures include mindfulness, compassion, and loving-kindness. It is believed that no matter how much of the gifts are taken out; the vase always remains full of bountiful treasures.

It is for this reason that the vase is a symbol of longevity and unending blessings that come with enlightenment.

The type of treasures that the vase represents can never be exhausted. However, the treasures aren’t monetary. Instead, they represent an inner wealth of faith, more discipline, wisdom, and consideration of others.

The treasure vase symbol is depicted as a fat-bellied pot with a narrow, short neck, and topped by a large jewel. There are some traditions that involve the story of a treasure vase at a certain location such as in monasteries in order to generate more wealth.

Treasure vases that have been sealed with precious substances can often be found placed upon altars, on mountain passes, or buried at water springs to ensure that they consistently attract wealth and remain perpetually full.

In relation to Buddhism, the vase specifically represents the spiritual abundance of the Buddha-a treasure that can never run out, no matter how much is given away.

12. The Banner of Victory (Dhvaja)

different buddhist symbols
The Victory Banner

The Banner of Victory or the Victory Banner is a symbol of the victory of the Buddha over the demon Mara and what the demon represents including anger, greed, pride, lust, hatred, disharmony, material desires, fear of death, and other unpleasant things.

The banner is also a symbol of the victory of wisdom over ignorance. Legend has it that the Buddha himself raised the victory banner over Mt. Meru to symbolize his triumph.

The banner is meant to remind people of Buddha’s abandonment of delusions and encourage people that they must win over their own pride, greed, and lust in order to reach enlightenment. Such a triumph produces clarity about one’s self and the person’s role in this world.

The victory banner is basically a symbol of the Buddhist doctrine as a path to overcoming selfish desires in order to reach spiritual enlightenment.

Traditionally, cylindrical victory banners that were made using copper were placed at all the four corners of the temple and monastery roofs to symbolize the Buddha’s triumph radiating to the four directions.

13. The Endless/ Eternal Knot (Shrivatsa)

In Buddhism, the endless knot is the symbol of intertwining wisdom, compassion, and love. It represents the mutual dependence of religious doctrine and secular affairs. According to this perspective, everything is connected; having no beginning or end.

buddhist symbols and what they mean
Symbol of intertwining wisdom, compassion, and love (credit: Dontpanic)

The knot may also be used to represent the never-ending path of dharma. There is always growth to be achieved, wisdom to be cultivated, and truth to be seen.

The endless knot is portrayed as a single thread that flows and entwines in a closed geometric pattern symbolizing the interrelation of all phenomena.

The lines on the knot represent all of creation and remind us to respect others because every action is connected to the larger universe.

All that happens to us is a representation of a web of karma and its effects. This symbol teaches peace and harmony. It may also represent the unending and supreme wisdom of the Buddha. Also, the knot represents the illusory character of time as it’s endless.

14. The Empty Throne

As we saw earlier, Buddha was a prince.

This explains the origin of this symbol. The throne is also in reference to the idea of the spiritual kingship of the Buddha.

The emptiness of the throne symbolizes the mysticism of Siddharta Gautama.

The throne is depicted with decorations at the base from other symbols such as lions and deer.

Both of which are associated with the teachings of the Buddha. The image shows the Buddhist empty throne, attacked by the demon Mara.

buddhist mantra symbols

15. The Begging Bowl

This is the simplest symbol in Buddhism and it’s really important in the daily life of a Buddhist monk. 

It simply represents the life that the Buddhist monks choose to live.

 

This life is based on the teachings of the Buddha that warn against forming an attachment with selfish desires. Monks go from the monastery into the village each morning and live off what is put in the bowl by ordinary people.

16. The Swastika (Yungdrung)

The swastika is an ancient symbol of eternity, abundance, plurality, prosperity, well-being, and long life.

The symbol also symbolizes the footprints of the Buddha. The swastika is usually used in Buddhism to mark the beginning of Buddhist texts. It is also used to mark Buddhist temples on maps.

In some East Asian Cultures, the swastika is used as a clothing decoration, as a decorative border around paintings.

Swastika Buddhist symbol
Swastika, do not get confused with the evil one

The symbol is found worldwide and is depicted as a cross with four arms of similar length. The ends of each arm are bent at a right angle. Swastikas are commonly used as charms to bring good fortune.

The Buddhist swastika is usually clockwise and is said to contain the entire mind of the Buddha. It is usually found imprinted on the palms, chest, or feet of the images of the Buddha.

17. The Eyes of the Buddha/ Wisdom Eyes

The Eyes of the Buddha are often depicted as a giant pair of eyes on all the four sides of Buddhist shrines. This is to denote the all-seeing eyes of the Buddha and is representative of his presence all around. The eyes symbolize a person’s potential to awaken and see clearly during meditation. In between the eyes, there is a dot that represents a ‘third eye’ which symbolizes spiritual awakening.

Buddha eyes
Buddha's eyes on Boudhanath Stupa in Nepal

Where the nose is supposed to be is a symbol that looks like a question mark. This symbol is the Sanskrit character for the number 1 and signifies the unity of everything. The symbol also teaches us that the only way to attain enlightenment is by following the teachings of the Buddha.

18. The Four Guardian Kings

Four guardian kings - Buddhist symbol

The four guardian kings are symbols of protection.

They are the protectors of the four cardinal directions of the world and are often found at the entrance to temples and monasteries.

Each of the guardians has two hands and is dressed in the ornate armor and clothing of a warrior king. The guardian kings are depicted as either seated or standing.

19. Unalome

The Unalome symbolizes the journey to enlightenment. It teaches that the path is not always straight or even in the right direction. It further states that the journey is filled with suffering and all we have to do is keep moving and learn as we go. Also, this is one of the most popular Buddhist symbols for Tatto.

20. Vajra

The vajra is a Buddhist tantric symbol that is representative of the great spiritual power and firmness of spirit.

It symbolizes Vajrayana which is one of the three main branches of Buddhism.

The symbol is depicted as a club that has ribbed spherical heads.

Vajra - Buddhist symbols
He is holding the Varja in his right hand

It also symbolizes purity and indestructibility as well as irresistible energy which are attributes of a diamond and a thunderbolt respectively. The vajra also represents endless creativity, skillful activity, and potency.

21. Stupas

Stupas are representative of the enlightened mind of the Buddha. The stupas started being built since the early days of Buddhism. The stupas come in a wide variety of shapes and sices. One symbolism of the stupas is that they represent the five elements:

  1. The square base represents the earth
  2. The round dome represents water
  • The cone shape represents fire
  1. The canopy represents air
  2. The volume of the stupa represents the space

22. Mudras

In Buddhism, Mudras represent hand gestures that are used during ritual meditation. They serve as symbols in Buddhist art. They’re used to indicate a particular scene as depicted in Buddhist art as well as indicate the identity of a Buddha.

The hand gestures are used to generate forces that invoke a particular deity. There are 11 basic mudras of which 5 of them are commonly used in the images of the Buddha.

23. Abhaya Mudra

In Sanskrit, Abhaya means fearlessness. This hand gesture is a symbol of peace and protection; it’s made by raising the right hand to the height of the shoulder with the arm bent and the palm facing outward.

24. Bhumisparsha Mudra

The Bhumisparsha Mudra is commonly referred to as the “Eye Witness” mudra. The word Bhumisparsha means “touching the earth.” The gesture is formed with all the five fingers of the right hand extended to touch the ground.

25. Dharmachakra Mudra

This gesture symbolizes one of the most important moments in the life of the Buddha. This moment is when he preached his first sermon to his companions after his enlightenment in the Deer Park in Sarnath.

This mudra is formed by touching the tips of the thumb and the index fingers of both hands to form a circle.

The remaining fingers remain extended. In this mudra, the hands are held in front of the heart to show that these teachings came straight from the heart of the Buddha.

26. Dhyana Mudra

This gesture may be made with a single hand (the left hand) or with both hands. To do it, simply place your hand at the level of your stomach or thigh with the palm facing up and the fingers extended. When you use both hands, feel free to touch the thumbs at the tips to form a mystic triangle.

27. Varada Mudra

This hand gesture represents compassion, charity, and boon-granting. It’s often made using the left hand with the arm hanging naturally at the side of your body. The palms remain open, fingers extended, and the hand facing forward. The five extended fingers symbolize generosity, patience, effort, morality, and meditative concentration.

28. The Buddhist Flag

The Buddhist flag
The Himalayan treks symbol 🙂

The colors on the original Buddhist flag represent the rays of light that shone around the Buddha after he became enlightened. The waving of the flag symbolizes the hope that all nations will live happily under the shelter of the wisdom of the Buddha.

However, a more modern flag was designed in 1880 and it acts as a symbol for peace and faith. This is the flag that is now used worldwide to represent Buddhism. There are 5 colors on the flag and each one of them represents the colors of the aura that came from the body of the Buddha after he attained enlightenment.

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29. The mountains

There are two main mountains in Buddhist symbolism:

1. Mount Meru

This mountain has a pyramid shape and is the mythological axis of the Buddhist universe. It’s also believed to link the heavens above to the hells below.

2. Vulture Peak

This mountain is in Northern India. The Buddha is believed to have delivered a couple of sermons there.

30. Color symbolism

In Buddhism, colors have a wide range of uses in their art and rituals. Each of the five main colors represents a state of mind, a Buddha, a part of the body, and a natural element:

ColorState of MindBuddhaBody PartsNatural Elements
WhiteRest, ThinkingVairochanaEyesWater
YellowNourishingRatnasambhavaNoseEarth
RedSubjugationAmitabhaTongueFire
Blue(Black) Danger, KillingAkshobhyaEarsAir
GreenExorcismAmoghasiddhiHeadN/A

 

Conclusion - The Power of Buddhist Symbols

Symbols are a great guidepost for anyone who is looking to learn more about Buddhism. While memorizing the symbols is very important, it is recommended that you look past the symbols in order to know their true meaning.

Buddhism is a concept and you don’t need to know all the symbols for you to find inner peace. However, these powerful tranquility tools can help you find peace and serenity.

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