Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Vajra or Thunderbolt

The Vajra: is the quintessential symbol of Vajrayana Buddhism, which derives its name from the vajra itself. The Sanskrit term vajra means 'the hard or mighty one', and its Tibetan equivalent dorje means an indestructible hardness and brilliance like the diamond, which cannot be cut or broken. The vajra essentially symbolizes the impenetrable, immovable, immutable, indivisible, and indestructible state of enlightenment or Buddhahood.

The form of the vajra as a scepter or a weapon appears to have its origin in the single or double trident, which arose as a symbol of the thunderbolt or lightning in many ancient civilizations of the near and Middle East. Parallels are postulated with the meteoric hammer of the Teutonic sky-god Thor, the thunderbolt and scepter of the Greek sky-god Zeus, and the three thunderbolts of the Roman god Jupiter. As a hurled weapon the indestructible thunderbolt blazed like a meteoric fireball across the heavens, in a maelstrom of thunder, fire and lightning.

In ancient Hinduism, the vajra, as a thunderbolt, became the chief weapon of the Vedic sky-god Indra. It controlled the forces of thunder and lightning, breaking open the monsoon storm clouds, bringing the welcome rains to the parched plains .

"According to legend, Indra's thunderbolt was fashioned from the bones of the great Rishi Dadhichi, who was decapitated by Indra in sacrifice. Dadhichi's 'indestructible' skull-bones gave Indra the most powerful of weapons. By its energy he slew innumerable of his enemy demons.

In mythological descriptions, Indra's thunderbolt or Vajra is shaped either like a circular discus with a hole at its center, or in the form of a cross with transverse bladed bars." The Rigveda, the most ancient text in the world, identifies the vajra as a notched metal club with a thousand prongs. What is significant is that all these descriptions identify the vajra as having open prongs, unlike the Buddhist one, which has closed prongs.

According to a Buddhist legend, Buddha Shakyamuni took the vajra weapon from Indra and forced its wrathful open prongs together, thus forming a peaceful Buddhist scepter with closed prongs.
The Buddhist Vajra hence absorbed the unbreakable and indestructible power of the thunderbolt.

The Vajra is generally two-sided but the Viswavajra or the double thunderbolt has four heads representing the four dhyani Buddhas of the four directions namely, Amoghasiddhi for north, Akshobhya, who presides over the east, Ratnasambhava, lord of the south, and Amitabha who reigns over the west. It is the emblem of the crossed vajra that is inscribed upon the metal base that is used to seal deity statues after they have been consecrated.
The vajra is indeed the most important ritual implement and symbol of Vajrayana Buddhism. It is so important that many of the Vajrayana deities have the word vajra prefixed to their names, two of them being Vajradhara and Vajrasattva.

When used in ritual, the Vajra is paired with the bell.

It represents the masculine principle and is held in the right hand, the bell, held in the left hand, represents the female principle.


Forumer said...

Hhhmm, a few nice arrivals here. Really artful my fren. And is that Vajra like a diamond too? Is it a stone too or what?

Best regards

DZI BEADS said...

Hi Forumer ,thanks for reply and ask good question .

Vajra is Just Only symbol of Hardness and weapon to many Gods and Bodhisatwa. So Vajra's Hardness is Compare with Diamond(which is hardest Minral in the world.)

So Vajrs also called as diamond.
vajra can be made out of stone or metal or wood or anything doesn't matter what it is made of. it's just symbol of indistructiblity.

Anonymous said...

I think the key here is the Tantric aspect. It's interesting to note that many ritual objects of Hinduism have become so stylised that the symbolism, which points to the objects function, has been lost. I personally figure that the Tantric aspect of enlightenment has been suppressed because it is not conducive to the building of armies and the building of empires through breeding! Yes generally Bodhisattva's don't breed and the illusionary nature of the man-made world is often mentioned in Buddhism as the greatest hell.

It's all about non-dualism and the “Yab Yum” is explicit in it's teaching.

Anonymous said...

The Thunderbolt Cherokee descendants send you greetings! The Thunder people of America are recorded very early by Eurocolonials. Indra and Thunder and linked here and in Asia! June, 2009

Anonymous said...

Do you have vajra from the first picture. The one with heads and dragons? Do you know where to find it?

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