Tibetan prayer wheel

Last updated
Tibetan hand prayer wheel Tibetan prayer wheel.jpg
Tibetan hand prayer wheel

Prayer Wheels (Tibetan: mani ´khor lo) are widely used in Tibet and areas where Tibetan culture is predominant.

Contents

Hand prayer wheel

The most common form of these objects are hand prayer wheels (Tibetan ma ni lag ´khor ) which consist of a metal cylinder and a handle which also serves as axis around which the cylinder can revolve, being set in motion by a small weight which is attached to it by a string or chain. The cylinder contains a paper roll on which Buddhist texts are printed. When the prayer wheel is spun in prayer, the mantras inside become potent with the person's intent.

Other forms of prayer wheels

Apart from hand prayer wheels there exist large size fixed prayer wheels which are often aligned around Buddhist shrines and are set in motion by pilgrims who circum-ambulate the building in a clockwise direction. Prayer wheels larger than human size are to be seen in separate rooms in Tibetan Buddhist temples and can also be set in motion by pilgrims. With the help of a small bell the number of revolutions can be counted. The cylinders of fixed prayer wheels are often inscribed with the formula “Om mani padme hum” (meaning “jewel in the lotus”) in ornamental Lantsa (Ranjana) letters. Prayer wheels (perhaps more accurately called “mantra mills”) can also be set in motion by wind or water power; they are used particularly during Tibetan festivals.

Origin of prayer wheels

Some experts believe that the prayer wheels evolved from revolving octagonal Chinese bookcases which were first recorded in the 9th century CE. This assumption is supported by the existence of octagonal prayer wheels in Mongolia.

See also

Related Research Articles

Prayer wheel devotional tool in Buddhism

A prayer wheel is a cylindrical wheel on a spindle made from metal, wood, stone, leather or coarse cotton. Traditionally, the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum is written in Newari language of Nepal, on the outside of the wheel. Also sometimes depicted are Dakinis, Protectors and very often the 8 auspicious symbols Ashtamangala. At the core of the cylinder is a "Life Tree" often made of wood or metal with certain mantras written on or wrapped around it. Many thousands of mantras are then wrapped around this life tree. The Mantra Om Mani Padme Hum is most commonly used, but other mantras may be used as well. According to the Tibetan Buddhist tradition based on the lineage texts regarding prayer wheels, spinning such a wheel will have much the same meritorious effect as orally reciting the prayers.

Tibetan Buddhism is the form of Buddhism practiced in Tibet where it is the dominant religion. It is also found in the regions surrounding the Himalayas, much of Chinese Central Asia, the Southern Siberian regions such as Tuva, as well as Mongolia.

Amitābha Celestial Buddha of Mahayana Buddhism

Amitābha, also known as Amida or Amitāyus, is a celestial buddha according to the scriptures of Mahayana Buddhism. Amitābha is the principal buddha in Pure Land Buddhism, a branch of East Asian Buddhism. In Vajrayana Buddhism, Amitābha is known for his longevity attribute, magnetising red fire element, the aggregate of discernment, pure perception and the deep awareness of emptiness of phenomena. According to these scriptures, Amitābha possesses infinite merit resulting from good deeds over countless past lives as a bodhisattva named Dharmakāra. Amitābha means "Infinite Light", and Amitāyus means "Infinite Life" so Amitābha is also called "The Buddha of Immeasurable Light and Life".

Avalokiteśvara Buddhist bodhisattva embodying the compassion of all buddhas

Avalokiteśvara or Padmapani is a bodhisattva who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas. This bodhisattva is variably depicted, described and portrayed in different cultures as either male or female. In Tibet, he is known as Chenrezig, and in Cambodia as Avloketesvar. In Chinese Buddhism, Avalokiteśvara has evolved into the somewhat different female figure Guanyin, also known in Japan as Kanzeon or Kannon. In Nepal Mandal this figure is known as Jana Baha Dyah, Karunamaya, Seto Machindranath.

Tibetan people ethnic group

The Tibetan people are an ethnic group native to Tibet. Their current population is estimated to be around 6.8 million. In addition to living in Tibet Autonomous Region, significant numbers of Tibetans live in other parts of China, as well as in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan and the western world.

Buddhist symbolism

Buddhist symbolism is the method of Buddhist art to represent certain aspects of dharma, which began in the fourth century BCE. Anthropomorphic symbolism appeared from around the first century CE with the arts of Mathura the Greco-Buddhist art of Gandhara, and were combined with the previous symbols. Various symbolic innovations were later introduced, especially through Tibetan Buddhism.

Japamala

A Japamala or mala is a string of prayer beads commonly used in Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, Buddhism and Shintō for the spiritual practice known in Sanskrit as japa. The rosary is usually made from 108 beads, though other numbers are also used. Malas are used for keeping count while reciting, chanting, or mentally repeating a mantra or the name or names of a Deity.

Om mani padme hum Six-syllable Pali matra hum

Auṃ maṇi padme hūṃ is the six-syllabled Sanskrit mantra particularly associated with the four-armed Shadakshari form of Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of compassion. It first appeared in the Mahayana Kāraṇḍavyūhasūtra where it is also referred to as the sadaksara and the paramahrdaya, or “innermost heart” of Avalokiteshvara. In this text the mantra is seen as condensed form of all the Buddhist teachings.

Ranjana script abugida writing system

The Rañjanā script (Lantsa) is an abugida writing system which developed in the 11th century and until the mid-20th century was used in an area from Nepal to Tibet by the Newar people, the historic inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley, to write Sanskrit, Tibetan, and Newari. Many of the most famous Buddhist and Hindu texts produced in the region were written in Ranjana, which became one of the iconic scripts of Nepal. Nowadays it is also used in Buddhist monasteries in India; China, especially in the Tibetan Buddhist areas within the Tibet Autonomous Region, Sichuan, Yunnan, Qinghai and Gansu; Mongolia, and Japan. It is normally written from left to right but the Kutakshar form is written from top to bottom. It is also considered to be the standard Nepali calligraphic script.

Ashtamangala Eight auspicious signs in Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism

The Ashtamangala is a sacred suite of Eight Auspicious Signs endemic to a number of religions such as Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism. The symbols or "symbolic attributes" are yidam and teaching tools. Not only do these attributes point to qualities of enlightened mindstream, but they are the investiture that ornaments these enlightened "qualities". Many cultural enumerations and variations of the Ashtamangala are extant.

Tibetan culture

Tibet developed a distinct culture due to its geographic and climatic conditions. While influenced by neighboring cultures from China, India, and Nepal, the Himalayan region's remoteness and inaccessibility have preserved distinct local influences, and stimulated the development of its distinct culture.

Prayer flag Tibetan religious item

A Tibetan prayer flag is a colorful rectangular cloth, often found strung along trails and peaks high in the Himalayas. They are used to bless the surrounding countryside and for other purposes. Prayer flags are believed to have originated with Bon. In Bon, shamanistic Bonpo used primary-colored plain flags in Tibet. Traditional prayer flags include woodblock-printed text and images.

Cintamani wish-fulfilling jewel within Hindu and Buddhist traditions

Cintāmaṇi, also spelled as Chintamani, is a wish-fulfilling jewel within both Hindu and Buddhist traditions, said by some to be the equivalent of the philosopher's stone in Western alchemy. It is one of several Mani Jewel images found in Buddhist scripture.

Mani stone

Mani stones are stone plates, rocks and/or pebbles, carved or inscribed with the six syllabled mantra of Avalokiteshvara, as a form of prayer in Tibetan Buddhism. The term Mani stone may also be used in a loose sense to refer to stones on which any mantra or devotional designs are inscribed. Mani stones are intentionally placed along the roadsides and rivers or placed together to form mounds or cairns or sometimes long walls, as an offering to spirits of place or genius loci. Creating and carving mani stones as devotional or intentional process art is a traditional sadhana of piety to yidam. Mani stones are a form of devotional cintamani.

Kora (pilgrimage) ritual

Kora is a transliteration of a Tibetan word that means "circumambulation" or "revolution". Kora is both a type of pilgrimage and a type of meditative practice in the Tibetan Buddhist or Bon traditions. A Kora is performed by the practitioner making a circumambulation around a sacred site or object, typically as a constituent part of a pilgrimage, ceremony, celebration or ritual. In broader terms, it is a term that is often used to refer to the entire pilgrimage experience in the Tibetan regions.

Tibetan Buddhist architecture, in the cultural regions of the Tibetan people, has been highly influenced by Nepal, China and India. For example, the Buddhist prayer wheel, along with two dragons, can be seen on nearly every temple in Tibet. Many of the houses and monasteries are typically built on elevated, sunny sites facing the south. Rocks, wood, cement and earth are the primary building materials. Flat roofs are built to conserve heat and multiple windows are constructed to let in the sunlight. Due to frequent earthquakes, walls are usually sloped inward at 10 degrees.

Thekchen Choling is a registered Buddhist organisation in the Republic of Singapore. The organisation was started in 2001 by Namdrol Rinpoche and a group of his initial disciples. The organisation promotes non-sectarian Buddhism, emphasizing understanding of Theravada and Mahayana teachings.

The Kāraṇḍavyūha Sūtra is a Mantrayāna sūtra which extols the virtues and powers of Avalokiteśvara, and is particularly notable for introducing the mantra Om mani padme hum into the sūtra tradition.

Pabonka Hermitage building in Pabonka Hermitage, China

Pabonka Hermitage, also written Pawangka, is a historical hermitage, today belonging to Sera Monastery, about 8 kilometres northwest of Lhasa in the Nyang bran Valley on the slopes of Mount Parasol in Tibet.

Buddhist prayer beads

Buddhist prayer beads or malas are a traditional tool used to count the number of times a mantra is recited, breaths while meditating, counting prostrations, or the repetitions of a buddha's name. They are similar to other forms of prayer beads used in various world religions and therefore the term "Buddhist rosary" also appears.

References