Travelling to the Himalayan nations of Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan and India, you will often come across the 'Asthamangalas' or the eight auspicious symbols. Asthamangalas are sacred to both Hindus and Buddhists. Adorning temples, monasteries and Buddhist and Hindu homes, these auspicious symbols are believed to bring in good fortune and harmony and offer protection from evil forces. The 'Asthamangalas' or the eight auspicious symbols are:
(a) Srivatsa, or the endless knot symbolises reality where everything is interrelated and is bounded together in the web of karma. With no beginning or end, it also represents the infinite wisdom of the Buddha, and the union of compassion and wisdom.
Srivatsa or the endless knot
(b) Dhwaja, or the victory banner. These decorate the roofs of temples and maonasteris. It generally symbolises victory of good over eveil. Buddhists believe it symbolises the victory of Buddha's teachings over death, ignorance, disharmony and negativity.
(c) Kalash or Bumpa. It is the urn of inexhaustible good fortune. Bumpa is a sign of the inexhaustible riches available in the Buddhist teachings as well as a symbol of longevity, prosperity and good fortune.
Kalash or bumpa
(d) Dharmachakra or the Wheel of Truth for the Buddhists and 'Chamaru' or fan made of yak hair for Hindus (to drive away evil and negative energies). Mani wheels also symbolises dharma chakra.
Dharmachakra & Chamaru
(e) Matsya, or a pair of golden fish represents good fortune for Hindus, Jain and Buddhists. Buddhistsbelieve that living beings who practice the dharma need have no fear to drown in the ocean of suffering like fish in the water.
(f) Chhatra or parasol symbolising royalty and protection from evil influences,
(g) Sankha, or conch symbolises awareness. It is believed that the vibrant sounds of the 'Sankha' drives away evil spirits and destroy disease causing germs. In Buddhism the blowing of the conch symbolises the deep, far reaching and melodious sound of Buddha's teachings. it rises one from the deep slumber of ignorance.
(h) Padma, or the lotus symbolises purity of the body and mind. According to Hindu and Buddhist teachings the lotus signifies the growth of an enlightened soul. It springs up in a muddy surrounding (samsara/world) and rises up of the unclean surface (purification) to finally produce a beautiful flower (enlightenment). For Buddhist lostus blossoms represents purity, the stem stands for the practice of Buddhist teachings which raise the mind above the impurity of worldly existence, and enlightens the mind.