Vajra


Vajra
See Vajra (Macross Frontier) for the fictional alien race.
Vajra.jpg
A Viśvavajra or "double vajra" appears in the emblem of Bhutan.

Vajra (Devanagari: वज्र, Chinese: 金剛 jīngāng; Tibetan རྡོ་རྗེ། dorje,[1][2][3] Japanese: kongō 金剛) is a Sanskrit word meaning both thunderbolt and diamond.[2] As a material device, the vajra is a ritual object, a short metal weapon—originally a kind of fist-iron like Japanese yawara—that has the symbolic nature of a diamond (it can cut any substance but not be cut itself) and that of the thunderbolt (irresistible force).

The vajra is believed to represent firmness of spirit and spiritual power.[4] It is a ritual tool or spiritual implement which is symbolically used by Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism, all of which are traditions of Dharma. Because of its symbolic importance, the vajra spread along with Indian religion and culture to other parts of Asia. It was used as both a weapon and a symbol in Nepal, India, Tibet, Bhutan, Siam, Cambodia, Myanmar, China, Korea and Japan.[citation needed]

King Vajra was Yadava dynasty's last surviving king, son of King Aniruddha. Vajra is also a common male name in Tibet and Bhutan. Vajra / Dorje can also refer to a small sceptre held in the right hand by Tibetan lamas during religious ceremonies.

Contents

Tantric Buddhism

In Tantric Buddhism (Vajrayana) the vajra and ghanta (bell) are used in many rites by a lama. The dorje is a male polysemic symbol that represents many things for the tantrika. The vajra is representative of upaya whereas its companion tool, the bell which is a female symbol, denotes prajna. Some deities are shown holding each the vajra and bell in separate hands, symbolizing the union of the forces of wisdom and compassion, respectively.

King Vajra was Aniruddha's Son and Sri Krishna's great grandson. His mother was Aniruddha's wife, Daitya princess Usha. Krishna just before his death made Vajra the King of Yadava dynasty at Indraprastha.

It is the weapon of Indra, the god of heaven. This weapon was made from the bones of sage Dadhichi after he died.

Vajra and Vajrayana

In Buddhism the vajra is the symbol of Vajrayana, one of the three major branches of Buddhism. Vajrayana is translated as "Thunderbolt Way"[5] or "Diamond Way" and can imply the thunderbolt experience of Buddhist enlightenment or bodhi. It also implies indestructibility,[6] just as diamonds are harder than other gemstones.

Vajrasattva holds the vajra in his right hand and a bell in his left hand.

In the tantric traditions of Buddhism, the vajra is a symbol for the nature of reality, or sunyata, indicating endless creativity, potency, and skillful activity. The term is employed extensively in tantric literature: the term for the spiritual teacher is the vajracarya; instead of bodhisattva, we have vajrasattva, and so on. The practice of prefixing terms, names, places, and so on by vajra represents the conscious attempt to recognize the transcendental aspect of all phenomena; it became part of the process of "sacramentalizing" the activities of the spiritual practitioner and encouraged him to engage all his psychophysical energies in the spiritual life.

An instrument symbolizing vajra is also extensively used in the rituals of the tantra. It consists of a spherical central section, with two symmetrical sets of five prongs, which arc out from lotus blooms on either side of the sphere and come to a point at two points equidistant from the centre, thus giving it the appearance of a "diamond sceptre", which is how the term is sometimes translated.

Various figures in Tantric iconography are represented holding or wielding the vajra. Three of the most famous of these are Vajrasattva,[4] Vajrapani, and Padmasambhava. Vajrasattva (lit. vajra-being) holds the vajra, in his right hand, to his heart. The figure of the Wrathful Vajrapani (lit. vajra in the hand) brandishes the vajra, in his right hand, above his head. Padmasambhava holds the vajra above his right knee in his right hand.

From "Natural Great Perfection" by Nyoshul Khenpo and Lama Surya Das, 1995, comes this description:

The ground of the Madhyamika is the two truths, the absolute and the relative. The path of the Madhyamika is the way to directly experience the truth of the union of the relative and the absolute.[7]

The vajra is a tool for training the mind for sudden awakening to Madhyamika.

Symbolism

The vajra is made up of several parts. In the center is a sphere which represents Sunyata,[6] the primordial nature of the universe, the underlying unity of all things. Emerging from the sphere are two eight petaled lotus flowers.[3] One represents the phenomenal world (or in Buddhist terms Samsara), the other represents the noumenal world (or Nirvana). This is one of the fundamental dichotomies which are perceived by the unenlightened.

Arranged equally around the mouth of the lotus are two, four, or eight mythical creatures which are called makaras. These are mythological half-fish, half-crocodile creatures[4] made up of two or more animals, often representing the union of opposites, (or a harmonisation of qualities that transcend our usual experience). From the mouths of the makaras come tongues which come together in a point.[4]

The five pronged vajra (with four makaras, plus a central prong) is the most commonly seen vajra. There is an elaborate system of correspondences between the five elements of the noumenal side of the vajra, and the phenomenal side. One important correspondence is between the five "poisons" with the five wisdoms. The five poisons are the mental states that obscure the original purity of a being's mind, while the five wisdoms are the five most important aspects of the enlightened mind. Each of the five wisdoms is also associated with a Buddha figure. (see also Five Wisdom Buddhas)

The following are the five poisons and the analogous five wisdoms with their associated Buddha figures:[citation needed]

Poison Wisdom Buddha
desire wisdom of individuality Amitabha
anger, hatred mirror-like wisdom Akshobhya
delusion reality wisdom Vairocana
greed, pride wisdom of equanimity Ratnasambhava
envy all-accomplishing wisdom Amoghasiddhi

The wisdom of individuality is also known as Discriminating Wisdom.

The Black Crown of the Karmapas is called Vajracrown.[8]

See also

References

  1. ^ Sarat Chandra Das (1902), A Tibetan-English dictionary with Sanskrit synonyms, Bengal Secretariat Book Depôt 
  2. ^ a b Vajra or Dorje
  3. ^ a b Vajra - Dorje - Benzar - Thunderbolt - Firespade - Keraunos
  4. ^ a b c d Ritual Implements in Tibetan Buddhism: A Symbolic Appraisal
  5. ^ Vajrayana
  6. ^ a b Vajra at Encyclopædia Britannica
  7. ^ Natural Great Perfection: Dzogchen Teachings and Vajra Songs page 51
  8. ^ The Black Crown of the Karmapas see also: The Four Enlightened Activities: "The prongs of the vajra represent the four enlightened activities of pacifying, enriching, magnetizing and destroying."

Further reading

  • Dallapiccola, Anna L. Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend. ISBN 0-500-51088-1
  • McArthur, Meher. Reading Buddhist Art: An Illustrated Guide to Buddhist Signs And Symbols. Thames & Hudson Ltd, 2002.
  • Vessantara. Meeting The Buddhas. Windhorse Publications, 2003.
  • Vessantara. Vajra and Bell. Windhorse Publications, 2001.

External links


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Vajra — Der Vajra oder Dorje (sanskrit: वज्र, vajra; tibetisch: rdo rje; japanisch: 金剛, kongō) ist ein buddhistisches Ritualobjekt. Er ist das essentielle Symbol des Vajrayana; der Begriff Vajra gibt diesem seinen Namen, auch wird er in vielerlei… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Vajra —   [ vadʒra, Sanskrit], 1) im Hinduismus Bezeichnung für den »Donnerkeil« und Blitzstrahl des vedischen Gottes Indra; 2) im Vajrayana (»Diamant«) Bezeichnung der »Leerheit« (Shunyata) als der eigentlichen Natur der Wirklichkeit, die als in allem… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • vajra — ● vajra nom masculin (mot sanskrit signifiant foudre) Dans les Veda, nom de l arme d Indra …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Vajra — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Vajra (homonymie). Vajra tibétain à neuf branches Le vajra, mot sanskrit signifiant « diamant » ou « foudre », est un symbole important et un instrument ri …   Wikipédia en Français

  • vajra — /vuj reuh/, n. Hinduism. (in Vedic mythology) the thunderbolt of Indra. [ < Skt] * * * Five pronged ritual object extensively employed in the ceremonies of Tibetan Buddhism. It is fashioned out of brass or bronze, the four prongs at each end… …   Universalium

  • Vajra — Un vashra de oro. En idioma sánscrito, la palabra vajra (pronunciada vashra) significa tanto ‘diamante’ como ‘rayo’. vajra, en el sistema AITS (alfabeto internacional de transliteración sánscrita), en el que la letra jota se pronuncia como en el… …   Wikipedia Español

  • vajra — noun a) A Buddhist ceremonial mace and symbol, usually interpreted as both a diamond and a thunderbolt. At the centre is a five pronged vajra draped and bound with a coloured silk scarf, representing one of the Five Buddha wisdoms or activities.… …   Wiktionary

  • vajra — Objeto ritual de cinco puntas muy utilizado en las ceremonias del budismo tibetano. Es de latón o bronce, y las cuatro puntas en cada extremo se curvan hacia la quinta punta, ubicada en el centro, para crear la forma de un botón de loto. En… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Vajra — n. Indra s thunderbolt …   English contemporary dictionary

  • vájra — वज्र …   Indonesian dictionary


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