Impacts of Ritual and Ritual Objects in Buddhism

Rituals :

Rituals form is an essential part of the Tibetan Buddhism. Throughout the year, in the temples and the different other places, daily as well as special rituals are performed. The special rituals are carried out to settle the deities; to carry rainfall and good harvest; to avoid disparaging storms, disease and death; to control devils and evil spirits and finally to overpower the passions of the mind and ego.

Meditation is an important ritual which is agreed out with the help of certain hand signs and chanting of mantras. The method for meditation varies in different traditions but the aim is same, to assist the inner spiritual development.

Non initiates of Tibetan Buddhism perform rituals like contribution of food, flower and water. They assume religious pilgrimage, song prayers, light butter lamps at the local temple and occasionally also fund monks to carry out the rituals on their behalf.

Ritual Objects :

Concerts of rituals require the presence of certain objects. Each ritual object has an emblematic meaning and many of them are in addition the hand held objects of different Buddhist divinities.

  • Offer Bowl : They are kept on the altar and hold seven outer contributions including drinking and cleansing water, flower, incense, light, perfume, food and music.
  • Butter Lamps : Butter Lamps are consistently seen in Buddhist Temple and Monasteries and help in centering the mind while meditating. Initially, simplified yak butter was used; however now, it has been restored by vegetable oil. They are seen as eliminator of darkness externally while theoretically, they turn tedious and uninspired mind into enlightened one. The lamps are handled by the monks of the monasteries and are sometimes kept in a separate enclosure so as to avoid any accidental fire hazard.
  • Mandala : A mandala is a blessed geometric figure representing the universe. It functions as a holy area open to deities and forces. The centre of Mandala is used for focusing attention during meditation.
  • Prayer Wheels and Prayer Flags : Prayer Wheels are wheels on spindle and decorated on them are the prayers and the mantras. It is supposed that spinning of the prayer wheel in a clockwise direction sends prayer to all the Buddhas. This spiraling of the prayer wheel is comaparable to oral performance of prayers. The prayer wheels are made of copper and silver and have bamboo grip.
  • Phurpa : Quiet often referred as a magic blade, phurpa is made use of by high level tantric practitioners to overcome evil spirits and to destroy obstacles. It indicates stability on a prayer ground during ceremonies. Guru Padmasambhava is thought to be the creator of this implement.With the help of this implement that he bound the evil spirits and sacred the ground which became the site for the Samye Monastery. The practitioner first believes and then performs the sadhana of the phurpa. This is followed by an invitation to the divinity to enter the phurpa. Though doing so, the practitioners imagines that he is shocking and overpowering the evil spirits by insertion them under the point of the phurpha.
  • Dorje : It is a small clubs which the Tibetan lamas hold in their right hand during religious ceremonies. Dorje obtains from the Sanskrit word vajra and is believed to eliminate all kind of ignorance. It is itself considered eternal. It is representative of the male belief which represents kindness of Buddha. In rituals, dorje is paired with a bell, drilbu, which symbolises female principle.
  • Drilbu : The bell or the Drilbu is an enormously important ritual object in Tibetan Buddhism. The sound of the bell, very much like that of a trumpet and the drum, is believed to advise the evil spirits to keep a remoteness from the sacred area where the rituals are being performed. It is used beside with the dorje in rituals and is representative of the wisdom. The male and the female principle, as indicated by the dorje and dribul, combine to achieve enlightenment. The use of the bell and vajra differs as per the ritual performed or the sadhana songs.
  • Kapala or the Skull Cap : The skull cap is developed as a libation ( pouring out of liquid offering in honour of a deity) vessel for a number of Vajrayana deities, primarily furious. During rituals, it is very important that the right kind of skull cap is chosen.

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