Prayer Wheel - Every Turn is Equivalent to Chanting Once
- by Catherine
- Last Updated: 2021-12-27
The Prayer Wheel is also known as the Mani Wheel, the cylindrical wheel, or the Row installations at the monasteries. It is related to the eight-character mantra and the six-character mantra (the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum). According to Tibetan Buddhism, the more mantras are chanted, the more devotion to the Buddha is expressed, and the suffering of reincarnation can be freed. Therefore, in addition to orally reciting the prayers, Tibetan people put the mantras into the prayer wheels. They believe that every turn of the wheel will have the same meritorious effect as reading the sutra once, and rotating constantly represents that they are repeatedly chanting the "Om Mani Padme Hum” mantras hundreds and thousands of times.
In Tibetan areas, you can see believers, regardless of gender, old and young, holding a prayer wheel in their hands, turning non-stop. Most Tibetans, especially the elderly, cannot recite sutras fluently, so they turn the prayer wheels instead of chanting. A prayer wheel is usually made from wood, copper, silver, gold, or other materials. The main body of the prayer wheel is cylindrical, with a shaft in the middle for rotation. In order to make the best use of this way of cultivating blessing and virtue, Tibetan people build pagodas and install prayer wheels everywhere in Tibet. They even carry a hand-held prayer wheel with them so that it is convenient to practice when they have a little free time.
The prayer wheel originated from Yungdrung Bön of Zhang Zhung. Tibetan Buddhist monasteries generally have a row of sutra cylinders that can be rotated one by one, ranging from a few to as many as dozens, which is very spectacular.
The prayer wheel can be large or small, and the small one can be held in the hand. This kind of hand prayer wheel is also called the hand-held Mani wheel, which is made from gold, silver, copper, etc., and there are also several types of large, medium, and small. The main body of the hand prayer wheel is cylindrical, with a shaft in the middle for rotation. Not only is the cylinder engraved with the six-character mantra of Tibetan Buddhism, but the middle of the cylinder also contains a mantra. The prayer wheels are generally made exquisitely. In addition to the engraved sutra and patterns of animals, with a certain symbolic meaning, they are also painted in color, just like handicrafts. Some prayer wheels are also inlaid with corals, gems, etc., which add value beyond their religious functions. There's an ear hole next to the hand prayer wheel, and a small sinker is attached. When the handle under the cylinder is turned, the small sinker also moves and accelerates the rotation of the prayer wheel by inertia. With the rapid rotation of the prayer wheel, the person who turns the prayer believes that his merits are also accumulating rapidly.
Although the hand-held prayer wheel can turn quickly, people who believe in Tibetan Buddhism think that it is still incomparable with the Row Installations. Because the sutras outside and inside the metal cylinder on the bigger prayer wheel are much more than those on the hand prayer wheels and have a larger radius of rotation, the accumulated merits are much higher than that of a hand prayer wheel turning a circle. In this case, people specially set a fixed time to go to the monasteries and turn the entire row of prayer wheels, even though they are still keen to spin the hand prayer wheel whenever and wherever possible.
Famous Tibetan Prayer Wheels
There are various large prayer wheels in Tibetan monasteries and temples. For example, at the entrance of many monasteries, there are usually two large prayer wheels. You can see Tibetans turning the wheel vigorously.
Outside the western wall of the Potala Palace, there is a row of prayer wheels. Tibetans spin the pray wheels clockwise with right hands, muttering the six-character mantra - Om Mani Padme Hum.
In the Jokhang Temple, there is a circle of prayer wheels around the temple. Tibetans who come to worship here must walk in a clockwise direction and spin the wheels with their hands to make them rotate with the six-character mantra.
The largest and tallest prayer wheel in the world is the Great Prayer Wheel on the top of the mountain at Guishan Park, in Shangri-La. This kind of prayer cylinder is very large, 21 meters high, and up to two meters in diameter. The cylinder can hold all the scriptures of Tibetan Tripitaka. It is said that six strong men can rotate, and it is equivalent to reciting Buddhist holy names 1.24 million times per revolution.
How to Use a Prayer Wheel?
The use of prayer wheels is very particular. If you travel to Tibetan areas, you must know the correct way to use a prayer wheel. It's the elementary respect for the local faith.
Hand-held posture: When holding a hand prayer wheel, your thumb must be flat and hold the handle together with the other four fingers instead of rushing up. In that posture is like pointing at the Buddha and Bodhisattva with your feet.
Rotation speed should be slow: When using a prayer wheel, please turn it slowly and steadily, and avoid turning it too quickly. People who are too impatient will feel hatred and anger easily, which violates Buddhist doctrines. It does not matter if the electric cylindrical prayer wheel makes a noise, but the hand-held prayer wheel cannot make a sound, and it is very bad if it makes a sound.
Don't turn counterclockwise: The No.1 taboo about the prayer wheel is to turn it backward. Turning it forward is to recite the scriptures once. When the turn is reversed, it will be reversed.
Placement: Although Buddhism emphasizes the inner practice, after all, the prayer wheel is a ritual item of Tibetan Buddhism. If you buy it as a souvenir, remember to place it in a quiet place.
The Significance of the Prayer Wheel
Tibetans believe that spinning such a wheel is equivalent to reciting scriptures, and it's the best way to repent of the past, purify negativities(bad karma), and accumulate merit(good karma). The merit of turning the prayer wheel increases with the number of rotations.
Circumambulation is to walk in circles around temples and other places, or pray around a specific route, which is a religious activity of Tibetan Buddhism. Tibetan people usually do circumambulation around temples to spin prayer wheel and pray.
A person who makes a full circumambulation is equivalent to reciting the Tripitaka once. A person who makes two circumambulations is equivalent to chanting all the Buddhist scriptures. A person who makes three circumambulations can purify negative karmas of body, mouth and mind. Ten circumambulations can eliminate bad karma as big as Mount Meru. A person who makes a hundred circumambulations can achieve the same merit as Lord Yama. A person who makes a thousand circumambulations can clear away one’s all obstacles and have enlightenment within. A person who makes ten thousand circumambulations can free all sentient beings from the suffering of rebirth.
Sand Mandala: A Exquisite Tibetan Buddhist Sand Art
Sand Mandala is an exquisite Tibetan Buddhist sand art that shows you the profound philosophy of the Buddhist idea of the universe and life. The making of a sand mandala comes from the ancient Tibetan Buddhist tradition. The creation involves several monks and long procedures.
Tibetan women have dark brown skin, as well as strong and elastic bodies. You will be attracted by their generous laugh, brilliant smile, and cheerful characters.
Tibetan Monks are a mysterious group in Tibetan Buddhism. Have you ever imagined the inside picture? Here's a brief introduction to their scholastic and daily lives.
Tibetan Sound Bowls
Tibetan Sound Bowls is a musical instrument wildly used in Tibetan Buddhism. These bows are also used in daily life such as in yoga meditation and psychotherapy.
Tibetan Prayer Flags
Prayer flags are the unique spiritual sustenance of the Tibetan people and a religious token for praying for well-being. Content and color on it hold meaning.
Tibetan architecture is bound to be influenced by people's emotions and mentality, which are derived from the specific natural environment and historical accumulation.
King Gesar of Ling
King Gesar lead a military life, promoted poetic justice, advocated Buddhism, spread culture therefore became the proud hero of the Tibetan people. According to legend, Gesar is also the incarnation of the Guru Rinpoche and his wisdom. And the Epic of King Gesar is the longest epic in the world.
Top 10 Demonic Deities in Tibetan Buddhism
These terrifying Buddhist demons don't just exist to scare you - they symbolize the mean and evil aspects of human nature. Tibetan Buddhists believe that everyone has Buddha nature and can attain enlightenment, but also believe that humans are inherently prone to succumb to their basest desires.
Top 8 Ritual Items of Tibetan Buddhism
Ritual items of Tibetan Buddhism are objects used by monks to conduct Buddhist activities and ceremonies. Buddhism gives them special functions, making them no longer ordinary artifacts, but more sacred and solemn.
As the crystallization of Tibetan wisdom and experience, Tibetan Calendar is widely used in the roof of the world and some other places with the old tradition. It calculates the day, month and year according to the wax and wane of the moon.
12 Tibetan Deities
The most popular Buddhist gods include Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Taras, Goddesses, Dharma Protectors, etc. The Tibetan deities in the list can be found in almost every Tibetan monasteries such as Shakyamuni, Guanyin, Manjusri, White Tara, Green Tara, Palden Lhamo, Dakini, and so on.
Email response within 0.5~24 hours.