Symbols in Buddhism

Question Three: Symbols in Buddhism






Question Three: Symbols in Buddhism

The Eight-Spoke Wheel

The wheel consists of the rim, eight spokes and the hub. The hub and the rim represent the axis of the world and the element of limitation. The spokes represent the eight paths to enlightenment outlined by Buddha.

The Conch Shell

Currently known as the avatar, the couch shell is an emblem of sovereignty, authority and power. The white conch shell signifies the Brahmin caste. Red and yellow conch shells represent kshatriyas (warriors) and vaishyas (merchants) respectively. The grey conch shell symbolizes shudras (laborers).

The Lotus

Unlike other water plants, the lotus has a strong stem and can rise to heights of 12 inches above the surface. Since the lotus penetrates the mud and water and reaches very tall heights, Buddhists use it to represent the hurdles that must be overcome to achieve enlightenment. In most cases, Buddha is either sitting on the lotus or holding it in their hands. A Buddha sitting on a blossomed lotus symbolizes attainment of full enlightenment. The color of the lotus also has a symbolic meaning. A white lotus represents spiritual perfection and mental purity. The red lotus signifies the original nature and purity of the heart. Blue and pink lotus symbolizes wisdom of knowledge and highest deity respectively. The Great Buddha is the only who holds or sits on a pink lotus.




Two Golden Fish

The golden color signifies happiness. Their number represents conjugal unity and fidelity. Furthermore, they symbolize River Gang and Yamuna. These two streams are believed to be scared rivers in India.

These four symbols are very common in art and architecture because of their strong symbolic meaning to the religion’s beliefs. They are painted and sculptured in temples. The symbols are painted on Buddha’s palms, forehead, throat, soles and limbs.


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