IMAGES AND SYMBOLS
Monastries and many buildings in Sikkim are richly decorated with symbols and icons. These symbols are painted or embossed on the walls or on Tankas. These paintings may depict the life of Buddha or some Tibetan saint, the Wheel of of Life or a diety surrounded by lesser deities. Wheel of Life The Wheel of life is one of the purest Buddhist emblems. This emblem can be seen in the entrance of almost all the monastries. This emblem is also widely depicted on thankas or religious scrools. The circular form of this wheel symbolizes the ceaseless worldly existence. This wheel is held in the clutches of a monster with its claws and teeth and signifies the pastionate clinging of the people to existr in this world. The hub of the wheel contains a cock, a snake and a pig. The cock signofies lust or desire, The snake signifies anger anf the pig symbolises ignorances and stupidity. These are shown in the center of the wheel as it is said that they are the root cause of the trouble on earth. In the intermediate circle of the wheel of life, the five worlds are drawn as advised by lord Buddha. The ring between the intermediate world and the inner most circle of ignorance, lust and envy is drawn in half white and half black. White area symbolises good deeds and Black symbolises bad or evil deeds. People going upwards in White portion represent people who have performed good deeds in theirt lifetime and are now going to take rebirth in the world of gods. People going in the Black portion indicate hell or the world of animals. In the intermediate circle there are five parts that of which the two upper parts symbolise heavenly and human worlds. The remaining three worlds in the lower path symbolise sinful deeds leading to a world of animals, ghosts and hell. Outermost circle shows twelve phaces of life.
Eight lucky signs and their significance:
- THE DUG (PARASOL): the Parasol of authority symbolises the authority of Buddha. The Parasol protects the head from the scorching heat of Sun just as the law protects the mind from the scorching passion.
- THE BHUMPA (VASE): The Vase represents a repository of limitless material wealth, good health and long life.
- THE CONCH SHELL (DHUNGKAR): It symbolises reverberating sound of Dharma and signifies the awakening of sentient beings from the sleeping state of theiir ignorance. It persuades themtowards the path of noble deeds that are beneficial to others. Gautam blew the conch shell when he decided to preach the law. the Conch shell is blown in commemoration of this event whenever there is a special sermon by a high lama.
- THE BANNER OF VICTORY (GYALTSEN): This symbol signifies the fortune of having victory of good over the evil forces which hinders the success of noble goals and also proclaims the victory of peity over evil. It is used in processions.
- A PAIR OF GOLDEN FISHES (SERNYA): Symbolises resurrection of eternal life, rebirth etc. The pair signifies the ability to swim with ease without obstruction in the ocean of this world. They may also be taken to symbolise the eye of perception as fish can see through muddy water. The fish couple suggests mutual aid andf indispensability between male and female material life.
- THE LOTUS FLOWER (PEMA): It symbolises the ultimate goal namely enlightenment. As the Lotus comes out of dirt but does not carry any dirt similarly law is free of all earthly matters.
- KNOT OF ETERNITY (PALBHEU): It is law without beginning and without end which symbolises Eternity. The curly hair on the chest of Buddha has the appearence of Knot Eternity. It is also called as lucky net and symbolises Brahamajala representing all the theories and philosophies of the universe.
- THE WHEEL OF DHARMA (CHOEKYI KHORLO): It symbolises the propagation of Buddha's teaching. The first sermon setting in motion of the cycle of law is symbolist in a wheel with eight spokes, which stand for eight fold path.