11 Buddhism Symbols and their Meanings

The Banner of Victory
The Banner of Victory

Buddhist symbols serve to communicate the core ideas of Buddhism as well as the Buddha himself. Buddha lived in the sixth century BCE, but it wasn’t until the third century BCE that Buddhist symbols started to emerge. These Buddhist symbols first appeared in India before beginning to spread throughout Southeast Asia and the rest of the world. The practices and expressions of Buddhist life were impacted by various cultures as Buddhism expanded. We will discuss Buddhism symbols and their significance.

The essential ideas of Buddhist teachings were communicated through symbols in each of these civilizations, albeit the meanings of these symbols varied among Buddhist sects. As we shall see, enlightenment, which has enormous significance in Buddhism, is represented by a number of symbols. The goal of enlightenment is to achieve freedom from suffering by pushing out the thoughts of the worldly mind. The objective of the eight-fold path is nirvana. Here is the list of Buddhism symbols and their significance,

Buddhism Symbols and their Meanings

1. The Dharma Wheel, or Dharmachakra

The most significant Buddhist emblem is the Dharmachakra or Dharma Wheel. The Buddha gave his first teaching after attaining enlightenment at Varanasi, according to Buddhist legend, when the wheel was first rotated. The traditional Buddhist symbol is an eight-spoked wheel, but its early iterations varied in appearance. The Dharma, or the Buddha’s teachings, is symbolized by the wheel. The three swirls in the center of the wheel stand for the Buddha (or teacher), the Dharma (Buddha’s teachings), and the Sangha, the three jewels of Buddhism (the community).

The Dharma Wheel, or Dharmachakra
The Dharma Wheel, or Dharmachakra

2. The Lotus Flower

A significant and meaningful Buddhist symbol is the lotus flower. In ponds, lotus flowers bloom. The lotus flower develops through the murky, filthy lake waters, but keeps growing until it emerges and blooms. This cycle of development serves as motivation for persevering through pain and one’s spiritual path. The lotus flower is a symbol of human nature and the purity of enlightenment for Buddhists. In Buddhist art and texts, lotus flowers have evolved into significant Buddhist emblems. In Chinese and Japanese Buddhism, images of Guanyin or Kanon are also accompanied by lotus flowers

The Lotus Flower
The Lotus Flower

3. The Bodhi Tree

Buddhism uses the Bodhi Tree as a representation of enlightenment. The location where the Buddha reached Nirvana or Enlightenment is symbolized by this Buddhist icon. The original Bodhi tree is a fig that may be found at Bhod Gaya, India, a revered destination for pilgrims. According to Buddhist tales, cuttings from the original Bodhi Tree evolved to form numerous sanctuaries and centers of devotion. Buddhism uses the Bodhi tree as a symbol of both the Buddha and the Enlightenment.

The Bodhi Tree
The Bodhi Tree

Image Source: Wikimedia

4. Conch Shell

Another sign derived from Hindu nations is the conch shell. The conch shell was frequently blown during wars to signify victory or to declare war. The conch shell is a Buddhist symbol for the loud sound of Buddha’s teachings. The sound of the shell is loud and lively enough to rouse those who are dozing off or shrouded in ignorance. Fearlessness is a quality associated with the battle horn because soldiers are encouraged to show bravery and courage in combat. The shell might so stand in for Buddha’s fearlessness in pursuing the truth and enlightening the world with it.

Conch Shell
Conch Shell

Image Source: Kandukuru Nagarjun

5. Parasol

In Hindu nations, parasols were traditionally employed to shade the royal and noble classes. The more parasols someone had to protect them, the higher their social standing. Buddha is sometimes portrayed holding thirteen parasols, signifying his power and influence over society. The parasol can also be seen as a cover for protection, though. A person can be protected from the sun and rain by using an umbrella. In a metaphorical sense, the parasol shields people from suffering and the whims of life.

Parasol
Parasol

Image Source: Wikimedia

6. A Pair of Golden Fish

The Ganga and the Yamuna, India’s two rivers, were traditionally represented by two golden fish. The fish is a symbol of freedom of movement in Buddhist teachings. A person should make an effort to be joyful if life is going well and oppose its tide if facing challenges, just as fish freely swim in and against the direction of the tide. The carefree attitude of the fish is a metaphor for emancipation from the cycle of birth and death.

A Pair of Golden Fish
A Pair of Golden Fish

Image Source: Wikimedia

7. A Vase

The vase is a potent representation of prosperity, wealth, and good health. In Buddhist architecture, it is frequently represented as a gold-painted object with elaborate decorations. While many people link wealth and prosperity to material possessions, the vase is a symbol of the depth and breadth of meaning that the teachings and prayers of the Buddha possess.

A Vase
A Vase

Image Source: Wonderlane

8. The Banner of Victory

The banner of victory, a common victory sign in Indian combat, symbolizes Buddha’s triumph over worldly aversion, passion, desire, temptation, and pride. Buddha had to defeat the four maras—Devaputra Mara, Skandra Mara, Klesha Mara, and Yama Mara—on his path to enlightenment. Each mara represents a distinct fear, such as fearing death, preferring pleasure over pain, cowering in the face of difficulty, or shrinking in the face of difficulty. The victory banner instructs followers to recall Buddha’s victory over the four maras and his tenacity in the pursuit of truth.

The Banner of Victory
The Banner of Victory

Image Source: Wonderlane

9. The Eternal Knot

The infinite knot often referred to as the eternal knot, represents the enduring value of the Buddha’s teachings and discourses. Prince Siddhartha’s tale took place many years ago, but Buddha’s lessons and teachings are still applicable and still taught and practiced worldwide today. Because they can be used in human cultures and civilizations from any time period, his principles are ageless. The eternal cycle of life, death, and rebirth is another metaphor represented by the infinity knot.

The Eternal Knot
The Eternal Knot

Image Source: Wikimedia

10. Alms Bowl

Buddhist monks and followers ask for food, water, and cash in an alms bowl. Since the early Buddhist practices in India, this tradition has persisted. It serves as a reminder of the monks’ rejection of worldly possessions. On the other side, when people give to the begging bowl or put food and money in it, they show respect for the dharma of the Buddha and the monk’s tenacity in his or her search for enlightenment.

Also Read: Top 10 Most Popular African Tribes

Alms Bowl
Alms Bowl

Image Source: Ben30

11. Stupas

The spread of Buddhism in India and its neighboring nations was significantly aided by stupas. Buddha’s artifacts and items that may have been utilized by him while he lived on Earth are kept in stupas, which are buildings. They serve as a reminder to followers of Buddha’s actual presence on Earth as well as his immaterial presence revealed in his teachings.

Stupas
Stupas

Image Source: Wikimedia

These are the most important Buddhism symbols and significance you should know about. Kindly share and do post your comments.

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