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The eight auspicious symbols
This set of symbols is very popular in Tibet, but is also known in Sanskrit as 'Ashtamangala', Ashta meaning eight and Mangala auspicious.
Umbrella or Parasol (chhatra) symbolizes wealth or royalty, as to possess it and pay someone to hold it one had necessarily to be rich. It symbolizes the "royal serenity" and power that is experienced by practicing Buddhist detachment. Furthermore, its daily use also symbolizes protection from evil, dark forces and enjoyment of the results under its cool shade.
The lotus does not grow in Tibet so Tibetan art only reproduces stylized versions of it. Nonetheless, it is one of the most used motifs in Buddhism since every important deity is associated in some way with the lotus, either depicted sitting on this flower or holding one in their hands.
The roots of a lotus are in the mud, the stem grows through the water, and the richly scented flower sits above the water, basking in the sun. This pattern of growth signifies the progress of the soul out of the primordial mud of materialism, through the waters of experience, and into the sun of enlightenment. Although there are other aquatic plants that flower above the water, it is only the lotus which, due to the strength of its stem, regularly rises eight to twelve centimeters above the surface.
Thus says the Lalitavistara: 'The spirit of the best of men is spotless, like the lotus which in muddy water does not adhere to it.' According to another scholar, 'in esoteric Buddhism, the heart of beings is like a closed lotus: the lotus flowers blossom as the Buddha's virtues develop. Precisely for this reason, in many representations the Buddha is seated on a lotus flower.
Significantly, the color of the lotus also has a strong influence on the symbology associated with it:
1). White Lotus (Pundarika in Sanskrit, Tib. Pad MA dkar PO): represents the state of spiritual perfection and total mental purity (bodhi). It is associated with White Tara (left image) and proclaims her perfect nature, a quality that is reinforced by the color of her body.
2). Red Lotus (Sanskrit kamala; Tib: pad ma Chu skyes): symbolizes original nature and purity of heart (hrdya). It is the lotus of love, compassion, passion and all other qualities of the heart. It is the flower of Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of compassion.
3). Blue Lotus (Sanskrit utpala, Tib. Ut pa la): is a symbol of the victory of the spirit over the senses, and signifies the wisdom of knowledge. It is the favorite flower of Manjusri, the bodhisattva of wisdom.
4). Pink Lotus (Sanskrit Padma; Tib. pad MA dmar PO): This is the supreme lotus, generally reserved for the highest deity. So, of course, it is associated with the Big Buddha himself.
Teoh Eng Soon, in his book "The Lotus in the Buddhist Art of India", locates the first appearance of the lotus in Buddhist art in the columns built by Asoka in the 3rd century BC. However, lotus is often found in early Buddhist texts.
The conch shell (Shankha), which is also used as a horn, symbolizes the depth and far-reaching melodious sound of the teachings, which are suitable for all disciples and awaken them from the sleep of ignorance to realize the welfare of all the beings '.
The Endless Knot (shrivatsa) is a geometric pattern that symbolizes the nature of reality, where everything is interconnected and exists only as part of a web of karma (actions) and its effects. Having no beginning and no end, it also represents the Buddha's infinite wisdom, and the union of compassion and wisdom. It also represents the illusory character of time.
The Banner of Victory (dhvaja) symbolizes the victory of the Buddha's teachings over death, ignorance, disharmony and the victory over all the negativities of this world. The roofs of Tibetan monasteries are often decorated with victory flags of different shapes and sizes.
The Wheel of Dharma (Dharmachakra), it is said that after Siddhartha Gautama attained enlightenment, Brahma came to him, offering a Wheel of Dharma to ask the Buddha to teach. It represents Buddhist doctrine (see above).