Significance of Bell & Vajra in Tibetan Buddhism

Significance of Bell & Vajra in Tibetan Buddhism

Buddhism has its origins in India over 2500 years ago and is still one of the most followed religions in the East. It has a big influence on several cultures around the world, including Western Cultures and in several areas like meditation, non-violence, etc.

Buddhist Artifacts have been around since a long time (Before Christ). Many of these artifacts origin from Nepal, Tibet and India. These artifacts include Mala Beads, Incense, Laughing Buddha, Singing Bowls, Prayer Wheel, Jewelry, Vajra, Tibetan Buddhist Bell, Dorje set, etc.

What are the Buddhist artifacts Bell & Vajra?

Vajra is a sacred tool that is of great importance and means thunderbolt or diamond in Sanskrit. It is associated with a ritual implementation in Vajrayana Buddhism, Tantra and Hinduism. It also symbolizes a male principle of creating and representing the method and skill in a religious practice. It signifies supreme indestructibility of knowledge.

Tibetan Buddhist Bell has become a permanent fixture of Buddhist reliquaries (Stupas). These are usually small bells along with a cloth handing attached to clappers. These bells ring when the wind blows. A bell consists of a handle. This is no simple handle it is half Vajra, a Lotus, a face and a vase of plenty. At times a Bell may also include a ring below the face.

Importance of  Bell and Vajra in Tibetan Buddhism

Vajra has a big significance in Tibetan Buddhism. There are several types of Vajra; like five spoke Vajra, nine spoke Vajra, etc. each with their own importance.

Each spoke of a five spoke Vajra emerges from a sea monster's mouth and represents freedom from cyclic existence. There are two lotuses at the hub of a Vajra. Lower one stand for eight goddesses and the upper one for eight Bodhisattva.

A five spoke Vajra signifies five wisdom; these are as per the list:

  • Mirror like wisdom:
Signifies that one has attained enlightenment and reflects mirror like wisdom.
  • The wisdom of equality:
Signifies that all ill feelings have been purified like unpleasantness and indifference.
  • Wisdom of individual analysis:
Signifies that discrimination no longer exists and allows all to benefit from each other’s sentient as per their own needs and disposition.
  • Wisdom of accomplishing activity:
Purifies the act of performing acts as per one's circumstances.
  • The wisdom of the sphere of reality:
Signifies that the consciousness is purified by wisdom from Buddha. Lower five spokes symbolize five mothers.

The importance of Tibetan Bell in Buddhism is high as well. Bells signify a call to prayer since they can be heard from a distance. Ringing of the bell also signifies the enlightened voice of Buddha's teaching; besides which it is often useful as a call of protection. This is a method to ward away evil spirits.

The bell has a great deal of importance in the western culture as well like the liberty bell and the Tzar Bell to represent freedom and unity. The Bells also show affection towards the Buddha and the Bodhisattva and promotes positive karma.

Bells are also useful in times of war (historically). Large bells are made from rich iron and bronze, and were at times used to make cannons during war time. Again during peace these cannons are restored into bells as well. There is a bell of good luck, of 127 tons at the Buddhist temple in Henan, China which is by far the largest functioning bell in history. It is believed the Tzar Bell was 216 tons however, it was broken in 1737.

Thus a Vajra and bell are sacred Tibetan Buddhist objects useful in Tantric ritual besides other things are of great significance