Blue Lotus Assembly
Gateway of the Hidden Flower
New Kadampa Buddhism
True Awakening Tradition
Thought forms and visualisation:
Guru yoga ("Lama" yoga)
Symbols and tools
Ordination and transmission
Indra riding on
Airavata carrying a vajra
Vajra is a
Sanskrit word meaning both thunderbolt and diamond.
Additionally, it is a weapon won in battle which is used as a ritual
object to symbolize both the properties of a diamond
(indestructibility) and a thunderbolt (irresistible force).
The vajra is essentially a type of club with a ribbed spherical head.
The ribs may meet in a ball-shaped top, or they may be separate and
end in sharp points with which to stab. The vajra is the weapon of the
Vedic rain and thunder-deity Indra, and is used symbolically by the
dharma traditions of Buddhism,
Jainism and Hinduism, often to
represent firmness of spirit and spiritual power. The use of the
vajra as a symbolic and ritual tool spread from India along with
Indian religion and culture to other parts of Asia.
A viśvavajra or "double vajra" appears in the emblem of Bhutan
2 Early descriptions
2.1 In the Rigveda
2.2 In the Puranas
4 Accompanying bell
4.1 Usage of the bell
6 In popular culture
7 See also
9 External links
According to Asko Parpola, the
Sanskrit Vajra- and
Avestan Vazra- both
refer to a weapon of the Godhead, and are possibly from the
Proto-Indo-European root *weg'- which means "to be(come) powerful." It
is related to Proto-Finno-Uralic *vaśara, "hammer, axe", but both the
Sanskrit and Finno-Ugric derivatives are likely Proto-Aryan or
Proto-Indo-Aryan, but not Proto-Iranian, state Parpola and Carpelan,
because of its palatalized sibilant.
In the Rigveda
The earliest mention of the vajra is in the Rigveda, part of the four
Vedas. It is described as the weapon of Indra, the chief among Gods.
Indra is described as using the vajra to kill sinners and ignorant
Rigveda states that the weapon was made for
Tvastar, the maker of divine instruments. The associated story
Indra using the vajra, which he held in his hand, to slay
the asura Vritra, who took the form of a serpent.
On account of his skill in wielding the vajra, some epithets used for
Indra in the
Rigveda were Vajrabhrit (bearing the vajra), Vajrivat or
Vajrin (armed with the vajra), Vajradaksina (holding the vajra in his
right hand), and Vajrabahu or Vajrahasta (holding the vajra in his
hand). The association of the
Indra was continued with some
modifications in the later Puranic literature, and in Buddhist works.
Buddhaghoṣa, a major figure of Theravada
Buddhism in the 5th
century, identified the
Vajrapani with Indra.
In the Puranas
Vajra as the
Privy Seal of King
Vajiravudh of Thailand
Many later puranas describe the vajra, with the story modified from
the Rigvedic original. One major addition involves the role of the
Sage Dadhichi. According to one account, Indra, the king of the deva
was once driven out of devaloka by an asura named Vritra. The asura
was the recipient of a boon whereby he could not be killed by any
weapon that was known till the date of his receiving the boon and
additionally that no weapon made of wood or metal could harm him.
Indra, who had lost all hope of recovering his kingdom was said to
Shiva who could not help him.
Indra along with Shiva
Brahma went to seek the aid of Vishnu.
Vishnu revealed to Indra
that only the weapon made from the bones of
Dadhichi would defeat
Indra and the other deva therefore approached the sage,
Indra had once beheaded, and asked him for his aid in defeating
Dadhichi acceded to the deva's request but said that he wished
that he had time to go on a pilgrimage to all the holy rivers before
he gave up his life for them.
Indra then brought together all the
waters of the holy rivers to Naimisha Forest, thereby allowing the
sage to have his wish fulfilled without a further loss of time.
Dadhichi is then said to have given up his life by the art of yoga
after which the gods fashioned the vajrayudha from his spine. This
weapon was then used to defeat the asura, allowing
Indra to reclaim
his place as the king of devaloka.
Another version of the story exists where
Dadhichi was asked to
safeguard the weapons of the gods as they were unable to match the
arcane arts being employed by the asura to obtain them.
said to have kept at the task for a very long time and finally tiring
of the job, he is said to have dissolved the weapons in sacred water
which he drank. The deva returned a long time later and asked him
to return their weapons so that they might defeat the asura, headed by
Vritra, once and for all.
Dadhichi however told them of what he had
done and informed them that their weapons were now a part of his
bones. However, Dadhichi, realising that his bones were the only way
by which the deva could defeat the asura willingly gave his life in a
pit of mystical flames he summoned with the power of his
Brahma is then said to have fashioned a large number
of weapons from Dadhichi's bones, including the vajrayudha, which was
fashioned from his spine. The deva are then said to have defeated the
asura using the weapons thus created.
There have also been instances where the war god Skanda (Kartikeya) is
described as holding a vajra. Skanda is also the name of a
Buddhism who wields a vajra.
Buddhism the vajra is the symbol of Vajrayana, one of the three
major branches of Buddhism.
Vajrayana is translated as "Thunderbolt
Way" or "
Diamond Way" and can imply the thunderbolt experience of
Buddhist enlightenment or bodhi. It also implies
indestructibility, just as diamonds are harder than other
Buddhism (Vajrayana) the vajra and tribu (bell) are
used in many rites by a lama or any
Vajrayana practitioner of sadhana.
The vajra is a male polysemic symbol that represents many things for
the tantrika. The vajra is representative of upaya (skilful means)
whereas its companion tool, the bell which is a female symbol, denotes
prajna (wisdom). Some deities are shown holding each the vajra and
bell in separate hands, symbolizing the union of the forces of
compassion and wisdom, respectively.
Vajrasattva holds the vajra in his right hand and a bell in his left
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 vajracharya; one
of the five dhyani buddhas is 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, Vajrapani, and Padmasambhava.
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.
Different types of vajras. From left to right: 五鈷杵 gokosho,
独鈷杵 tokkosho, 金剛盤 kongōban (a tray), 三鈷杵 sankosho
and 五鈷鈴 gokorei (with a bell)
The varja is almost always paired with a ritual bell. Tibetan term for
a ritual bell used in Buddhist religious practices is tribu.
Priests and devotees ring bells during the rituals. Together these
ritual implements represent the inseparability of wisdom and
compassion in the enlightened mindstream. 
Usage of the bell
The bell is the most commonly used of all musical instruments in
tantric Buddhist ritual. The sound made by the bells is regarded as
very auspicious and is believed to drive out evil spirits from where
the ritual is being performed. When the bell is being used with the
dorje its use is varied depending on the ritual or the mantras being
chanted. During meditation ringing the bell represents the sound of
Buddha teaching the dharma and symbolizes the attainment of wisdom and
the understanding of emptiness. During the chanting of the mantras the
Dorje are used together in a variety of different ritualistic
ways to represent the union of the male and female principles.
The vajra is made up of several parts. In the center is a sphere which
represents Sunyata, the primordial nature of the universe, the
underlying unity of all things. Emerging from the sphere are two eight
petaled lotus flowers. One represents the phenomenal world (or in
Buddhist terms Samsara), the other represents the noumenal world
(Nirvana). This is one of the fundamental dichotomies which are
perceived by the unenlightened. The physical manifestation of the
vajra, also called dorje in this context, is the male organ.
Arranged equally around the mouth of the lotus are two, four, or eight
creatures which are called makara. These are mythological half-fish,
half-crocodile creatures 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 makara
come tongues which come together in a point.
The five-pronged vajra (with four makara, 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
The following are the five poisons and the analogous five wisdoms with
their associated Buddha figures:
wisdom of individuality, discriminating wisdom
wisdom of equanimity
The hollow of the bell represents the void from which all phenomena
arise, including the sound of the bell, and the clapper represents
form. Together they symbolize wisdom (emptiness) and compassion (form
or appearance). The sound, like all phenomena, arises, radiates forth
and then dissolves back into emptiness.
In popular culture
Param Vir Chakra, India's highest war time military decoration has a
motif of Vajra, the mythic weapon of
Indra created by the bones
donated by sage Dadhichi, as tribute to his sacrifice.
Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation
Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation
Volvo B7RLE services are
called as vajra
In Legend of Heavenly Sphere Shurato, the fictional Hachibushū
Shurato uses a black vajra as his main weapon.
The word vajra is given to a fictional species of alien insects that
serve as the main antagonists in the anime Macross Frontier.
In Soul Eater,
Vajra is Asura's weapon.
Dorje is the name of a Brighton area metal band.
It is the nickname of the
Indian Air Force
Indian Air Force aircraft Mirage 2000.
In the Call of Duty Zombies storyline, The Vril Generator is both
shaped, and used as a vajra.
In Fire Emblem Fates, the Avatar's sword, Yato, has a vajra hilt.
In the Marvel vs Capcom series, some of Strider Hiryu's attacks are
named after ancient weaponry, one of which being Vajra.
In the Anime/Manga Naruto, and Naruto: Shippuden, a vajra is used as
the symbol of the senju clan.
Vajra or Dorje
^ a b c d Ritual Implements in Tibetan Buddhism: A Symbolic Appraisal
^ Parpola & Carpelan 2005, p. 118.
Asko Parpola 2015, pp. 63-66, 114.
^ Douglas Q. Adams (1997). Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture.
Routledge. p. 112. ISBN 978-1-884964-98-5.
Rigveda 1.32, translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith
^ DeCaroli, Haunting the Buddha, p. 182
^ a b "Story of Sage
Dadhichi and the Vajrayudha". Retrieved
2009-09-20. [self-published source?]
^ a b "The Great Sage Dadhichi". Archived from the original on April
21, 2007. Retrieved 2009-09-20.
^ a b "
Dadhichi Rishi". Retrieved 2009-09-20.
^ The many faces of Murugan - the history and meaning of a South
Indian god. Fred W. Clothey and AK Ramanujan. p189-190
^ a b
Vajra at Encyclopædia Britannica
^ Beer, Robert (1999). The Encyclopedia of Tibetan Symbols and Motifs,
Shambhala, Boston. ISBN 978-1570624162.
^ Vessantara (2001). The vajra and bell, Birmingham.
Dorje - Benzar -
Thunderbolt - Firespade - Keraunos
^ "The Bell and the Sound Symbols of Dharma"
^ Satyindra Singh (20 June 1999). "Honouring the Bravest of the
Brave". The Tribune, Chandigarh. Retrieved 2014-08-13.
^ Sumit Walia (Jan 23, 2009). "The first Param Vir Chakra". Sify.com.
Parpola, Asko; Carpelan, Christian (2005). Edwin Francis Bryant;
Laurie L. Patton, eds. The Indo-Aryan Controversy: Evidence and
Inference in Indian History. Routledge.
Asko Parpola (2015). The Roots of Hinduism: The Early Aryans and the
Indus Civilization. Oxford University Press.
Dallapiccola, Anna L. Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend.
McArthur, Meher. Reading Buddhist Art: An Illustrated Guide to
Buddhist Signs And Symbols. Thames & Hudson Ltd, 2002.
Vessantara. Meeting The Buddhas. Windhorse Publications, 2003.
Vajra and Bell. Windhorse Publications, 2001.
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