Phurba

The Phurba (Tib., pronunciation between 'pur-ba' & 'fur-pu', alt. transliterations: phurpa, phurbu or phurpu) is a three-sided dagger, peg, stake or nail like ritual implement traditionally associated with Tibetan Buddhism or Bön. The Sanskrit term for phurba is kilaya. The phurba or kilaya is one of many iconographic representations of divine attributes of Vajrayana [1] or Hindu deities, respectively. When consecrated and bound for usage [2], the phurba are a nirmanakaya manifestation of Dorje Phurba or Vajrakilaya. One of the principal methods of working with the phurba and to actualize its essence-quality is to pierce the earth with it; sheath it; or as is common with shaman, to penetrate it vertically, point down into a basket, bowl or cache of rice (or other soft grain if the phurba is wooden). [3] The terms employed for the deity and the tool are interchangable in Western scholarship. In the Himalayan shamanic tradition the phurba may be considered as axis mundi. Müller-Ebelling, et. al. (2002) affirm that for the majority of Nepalese shaman, the phurba is cognate with the 'world tree', either in their visualisations or in initiatory rites or other rituals.

The phurba is used as a ritual implement to signify stability on a prayer grounds during ceremonies, and only those initiated in its use, or otherwise empowered, may wield it. The energetic of the phurba is fierce, wrathful, piercing, affixing, transfixing. The phurba affixes the Elemental Process of Space to the Earth, thereby establishing an energetic continuüm. The Phurba, particularly those that are wooden are for shamanic healing, harmonizing and energy work and often have two nāgas [4] (Sanskrit for snake, serpent and/or dragon, also refers to a class of supernatural entities or deities) entwined on the blade, reminiscent of the Staff of Asclepius and the Caduceus of Hermes. Phurba often also bear the ashtamangala, swastika, sauwastika and/or other Himalayan, Tantric or Hindu iconography or motifs.

The phurba as peg or nail is of the energetic of affixation: uniting all that which is disparate or disassociated.

Fabrication & components: pommel, handle, blade

The fabrication of phurba is quite diverse. Phurba are often segmented into suites of triunes [5] on both the horizontal and vertical axes, though there are notable exceptions. This compositional algorithm highlights the numerological importance and energetic of three and nine in this potent instrument. Phurba may be constituted and constructed of different materials and material components, such as wood, metal, clay, bone, gems, horn or crystal. Wooden phurba are favoured by shamans for healing and energetic work.

Like the majority of traditional Tibetan metal instruments, the phurba is often made from brass and iron (terrestrial and/or meteoric iron [6]), as well as copper in some cases.

Pommel

The pommel of the phurba often bears three faces of Vajrakilaya or Dorje Phurba, one joyful, one peaceful, one wrathful, but may bear the umbrella of the ashtamangala or mushroom cap, yidam (like Hayagriva), Snow Lion, or chorten, among other possibilities.

Handle

The handle is often constituted by a vajra (or dorje), weaving or knotwork design. The handle generally sports a triune motif as is common to the pommel and blade.

Blade

The blade is usually comprised of three triangular facets or faces, meeting at the tip; representing, respectively, the blade's power to transform the negative energies of attachment/craving, delusion/ignorance, and aversion/fear.

Energetic & ritual usage

As a tool of exorcism, the phurba may be employed to hold demons or thoughtforms in place (once they have been expelled from their human hosts, for example) in order that their mindstream may be re-directed and their inherent obscurations transmuted. More esoterically, the phurba may serve to bind and pin down negative energies or obscurations from the mindstream of a person or thoughtform (or tulpa) of a group, project etc., in order for purification to be administered.

The phurba as an iconographical implement is also directly related to Dorje Phurba or Vajrakilaya, a wrathful deity of Tibetan Buddhism who is often seen with his consort Dorje Phagmo or Vajravarahi. He is embodied in the phurba as a means of destroying (in the sense of finalising and then freeing) violence, hatred, and aggression by tying them to the blade of the phurba and then transmuting them with its tip. The pommel may be employed in blessings. It is therefore that the phurba is not a physical weapon, but a spiritual implement, and should be regarded as such. The Phurba often bears the epithet Diamantine Dagger of Emptiness (see Shunyata, Void, Space, Æther and 0 (number)).

As Müller-Ebelling, et. al. (2002: p. 55) states:
The magic of the Magical Dagger comes from the effect that the material object has on the realm of the spirit. The art of tantric magicians or lamas lies in their visionary ability to comprehend the spiritual energy of the material object and to willfully focus it in a determined direction.


As Müller-Ebelling, et. al. (2002: p. 55) states:
The tantric use of the phurba encompasses the curing of disease, exorcism, killing demons, meditation, consecrations (puja), and weather-making. The blade of the phuba is used for the destruction of demonic powers. The top end of the phurba is used by the tantrikas for blessings.


As Beer (1999: p.277-278) states, transfixing phurba, scorpion and Padmasambhava:
The sting of the scorpion's whip-like tail transfixes and poisons its prey, and in this respect it is identified with the wrathful activity of the ritual dagger or phurba. Padmasambhava's biography relates how he received the siddhi of the phurba transmission at the great charnel ground of Rajgriha from a gigantic scorpion with nine heads, eighteen pincers and twenty-seven eyes. This scorpion reveals the phurba texts from a triangular stone box hidden beneath a rock in the cemetery. As Padmasambhava reads this terma text spontaneous understanding arises, and the heads, pincers, and eyes of the scorpion are 'revealed' as different vehicles or yanas of spiritual attainment. Here, at Rajgriha, Padmasambhava is given the title of 'the scorpion guru', and in one of his eight forms as Guru Dragpo or Pema Drago ('wrathful lotus'), he is depicted with a scorpion in his left hand. As an emblem of the wrathful phurba transmission the image of the scorpion took on a strong symbolic meaning in the early development of the Nyingma or 'ancient school' of Tibetan Buddhism...".

Cultural context

To work with the spirits and deities of the earth, land and place, indigenous people of the Himalaya and the Mongolian Steppe pegged, nailed and/or pinned down the land. Phurba is associated with the Vajrakilaya from India though may have arisen independently from the tent pegs of the nomadic peoples. The nailing of the phurba, is comparable to the idea of breaking the earth (turning the sod) in other traditions and the rite of laying the foundation stone. It is an ancient shamanic idea that has common currency throughout the region; it is prevalent in the Bön tradition and is also evident in the Vajrayana tradition. According to shamanic lore current throughout the region, "...the mountains were giant pegs that kept the Earth in place and prevented it from moving." (Kerrigan, et. al., 1998: p27) Mountains such as Amnye Machen, according to folklore were held to have been brought from other lands just for this purpose. Chorten (compare cairn) are a development of this tradition and akin to phurba.

(Kerrigan, et. al., 1998: p27) states that:
"Prayer flags and stone pillars throughout the country also pierce the land. Even the pegs of the nomads’ yak wool tents are thought of as sanctifying the ground that lies beneath...".


Traditions such as that of the phurba may be considered a human cultural universal in light of foundation stone rites and other comparable rites documented in the disciplines of Anthropology and Ethnography; eg., turning of the soil as a placation and votive offering to spirits of place and to preparation of the land as a rite to ensure fertility and bountiful yield.

Traditional lineage usage: anthology of case studies

In the Kathmandu Valley, sacred for its unabashed fertility and its wealth of temples and sacred sites, the phurba is still in usage by shamans, magicians, tantrikas and lamas of different ethnic backgrounds. The phurba is used particularly intensively by the Tamang, Gurung and Newari Tibeto-Burmese tribes. The phurba is also employed by the Tibetans native to Nepal (the Bhotyas), the Sherpas, and the Tibetans living in Dharamasala.

Müller-Ebelling, et. al. (2002: p. 29) chart the difference of the phurba traditions between the jhankris [7] and the gubajus [8]:
The phurbas of the gubajus are different from those of the jhankris. As a rule, they have only one head on which there is a double vajra as shown here. Gubajus focus on the head as a mirror image of themselves in order to meditatively connect with the power of the phuba. The three or more heads of the upper area of the phurba indicate the collection of energies that the jhankris use.


A 'Bhairab phurba' is an important healing tool of the tantric Newari gubajus. As Müller-Ebelling, et. al. (2002: p. 55) state:
Tantric priests (guruju) use Bhairab phurbas for the curing of disease and especially for curing children's diseases. For these cases the point of the phurba blade is dipped into a glass or a bowl of water, turned and stirred. The sick child is then given the magically charged water as medicine to drink.


Müller-Ebelling, et. al. (2002: p. ?) interviewed Mohan Rai [9] who in an interview is directly quoted as saying:
'Without the phurba inside himself [sic], the shaman has no consciousness'...'The shaman himself [sic] is the phurba; he [sic] assumes its form in order to fly into other worlds and realities.'
Therefore to extrapolate, the phurba is cognate with consciousness.

Müller-Ebelling et. al. (2002) affirm that some Kukri may be considered phurba, as ultimately, everything that approximates a vertical form. The phurba then is a phallic polysemy and cognate with lingam ~ the generative instrument of Shiva that is metonymic of the primordial energy of the Universe. The phurba as lingam, actualizes the yoni essence-quality of whatever it penetrates.

Cultural references

  • Quincy uses a phurba as a weapon in the videogame Suikoden.
  • The Ajanti Dagger from the film The Golden Child is a stylized phurba.
  • A phurba also appears in the 1994 movie The Shadow (1994).

Notes

1. ^ Embodied Nirmanakaya buddhas and sambhogakaya deities are attributed with Phurba.
2. ^ A working Phurba has the face(s), pommel and hilt bound (depending on the nature of the phurba) with fabric [often green according to Müller-Ebelling, et. al (2002)] and in this binding rite Dorje Phurba or Vajrakilaya is installed in the tool as a Nirmanakaya manifestation, by association the tool accessess all three realms of the Trikaya.
3. ^ Herein resides the rationale why the centrality of the phurba has often been overlooked by the observer and the scholar, as the phurba may not be a tool ostensibly engaged in a particular rite but is actualized on the principal altar away from all the 'action'.
4. ^ These naga are often considered to be Nagaraja and Nagarani: the divine Nāga couple who rule the underworld or underwater world.
5. ^ Triunes that are metonymic of the Gankyil; the Trishula; Triratna; the heavenly, earthly and hellish realms; three eyes, third eye; Trimurti; Trikaya; the directionality of left, middle, right and forward, stationary, backwards; past, present, future; polarities and their synthesis; upperworld or akash, middleworld or dharti and underworld or patal, etc.
6. ^ Thogcha means 'sky-iron' in Tibetan. Meteoric iron was highly prized throughout the Himalaya where it was included in sophisticated pollymetallic alloys for ritual implements.
7. ^ Jhankris may be understood as individuals who have a 'calling' to work with the phurba and are mostly of non-hereditary lineages of phurba workers.
8. ^ Gubajus may be understood as the priests, astrologers and healers amongst the Newari people of the Kathmandu Valley. Their purba traditions are of hereditary lineages which may be considered castes.
9. ^ Mohan Rai is a shaman from the border area of Nepal and Bhutan and belongs to the Mongolian people of the Rai and/or Kirati. Mohan Rai is the founder of the Shamanistic Studies and Research Centre, Baniya Goun, Naikap, Kathmandu, Nepal: [1] (accessed: Monday, February 26, 2007).

See also

References

  • Müller-Ebeling, Claudia and Christian Rätsch and Surendra Bahadur Shahi (2002). Shamanism and Tantra in the Himalayas. Transl. by Annabel Lee. Rochester, Vt.: Inner Traditions.
  • Kerrigan, Michael, Clifford Bishop & James Chambers (1998). The Diamond Path: Tibetan and Mongolian Myth. Amsterdam, Time-Life Books. ISBN 0 7954 3563 6
  • Beer, Robert (1999). The Encyclopedia of Tibetan Symbols and Motifs (Hardcover). Shambhala. ISBN-10: 157062416X, ISBN-13: 978-1570624162
  • Shamanistic Studies and Research Centre. Source: http://www.himalayanshamans.com/ (accessed: Monday, February 26, 2007)
  • Cleland, Elizabeth (2001). The Vajrakilaya Sadhana: An Euro-American Experience Of A Nyingma Ritual. Ottawa, Ontario: Carleton University. Source: http://www.collectionscanada.ca/obj/s4/f2/dsk3/ftp04/MQ57700.pdf (accessed: Monday, 26 February 2007)

External links



Tibetan}}} 
Official status
Official language of: Tibet Autonomous Region (PRC)
Regulated by: Committee for the Standardisation of the Tibetan Language
..... Click the link for more information.
Transliteration is the practice of transcribing a word or text written in one writing system into another writing system. It is also the system of rules for that practice.

Technically, from a linguistic point of view, it is a mapping from one system of writing into another.
..... Click the link for more information.
Tibetan Buddhism is the body of religious Buddhist doctrine and institutions characteristic of Tibet and the Himalayan regions which include northern Nepal, Bhutan, India (Arunachal Pradesh, Ladakh and Sikkim), Mongolia, Russia (Kalmykia, Buryatia and Tuva) and northeastern China
..... Click the link for more information.
Bön[1] (Tibetan: བོན་; Wylie: bon; Lhasa dialect IPA: [pʰø̃̀(n)]) is the oldest spiritual tradition of Tibet.
..... Click the link for more information.
The Phurba (Tib., pronunciation between 'pur-ba' & 'fur-pu', alt. transliterations: phurpa, phurbu or phurpu) is a three-sided dagger, peg, stake or nail like ritual implement traditionally associated with Tibetan Buddhism or Bön.
..... Click the link for more information.
The Phurba (Tib., pronunciation between 'pur-ba' & 'fur-pu', alt. transliterations: phurpa, phurbu or phurpu) is a three-sided dagger, peg, stake or nail like ritual implement traditionally associated with Tibetan Buddhism or Bön.
..... Click the link for more information.
Vajrayāna Buddhism (Also known as Tantric Buddhism, Tantrayana, Mantrayana, Mantranaya, Esoteric Buddhism, Diamond Vehicle, ', or 金剛乘 Jingangcheng
..... Click the link for more information.
Hindu ( pronunciation  , Devanagari: हिन्दु), as per modern definition, is an adherent of the philosophies and scriptures of Hinduism, and the
..... Click the link for more information.
The Trikaya doctrine (Sanskrit, literally "Three bodies or personalities"; 三身 Chinese: Sānshén, Japanese: sanjin) is an important Buddhist teaching both on the nature of reality, and what a Buddha is.
..... Click the link for more information.
The wrathful heruka Vajrakilaya is a yidam deity (or godform, refer thoughtform) who embodies the energetic activity of all the buddhas, manifesting in an intensly wrathful yet compassionate form in order to subjugate the delusion and negativity that can arise as obstacles to the
..... Click the link for more information.
The wrathful heruka Vajrakilaya is a yidam deity (or godform, refer thoughtform) who embodies the energetic activity of all the buddhas, manifesting in an intensly wrathful yet compassionate form in order to subjugate the delusion and negativity that can arise as obstacles to the
..... Click the link for more information.
The word sheath has a number of related meanings in English. In general usage, a sheath is any protective covering that fits closely around the object to be protected.
..... Click the link for more information.
Himalayas (also Himalaya, Hindi: हिमालय, IPA pronunciation: [hɪ'mɑlijə], [ˌhɪmə'leɪjə]
..... Click the link for more information.
axis mundi (also cosmic axis, world axis, world pillar and center of the world) is a symbol representing the point of connection between sky and earth. It offers means of travel and correspondence between the two realms.
..... Click the link for more information.
In linguistics, cognates are words that have a common origin. They may occur within a language, such as shirt and skirt as two English words descended from the Proto-Indo-European word *sker-, meaning "to cut". They may also occur across languages, e.g.
..... Click the link for more information.
World Tree is a motif present in several religions and mythologies, particularly Indo-European religions. The world tree is represented as a colossal tree which supports the heavens, thereby connecting the heavens, the earth, and, through its roots, the underground.
..... Click the link for more information.
Prayer is the act of attempting to communicate, commonly with a sequence of words, with a deity or spirit for the purpose of worshiping, requesting guidance, requesting assistance, confessing sins, or to express one's thoughts and emotions.
..... Click the link for more information.
Continuum (pl. -tinua or -tinuums) can refer to:
  • Continuum (theory), anything that goes through a gradual transition from one condition, to a different condition, without any abrupt changes or "discontinuities"

..... Click the link for more information.
Shamanism refers to a range of traditional beliefs and practices concerned with communication with the spirit world. There are many variations in shamanism throughout the world, though there are some beliefs that are shared by all forms of shamanism:

..... Click the link for more information.
Healing is the process by which the cells in the body regenerate and repair to reduce the size of a damaged or necrotic area. Healing incorporates both the removal of necrotic tissue (demolition), and the replacement of this tissue.
..... Click the link for more information.
Sanskrit}}}  | style="padding-left: 0.5em;" | Writing system: | colspan="2" style="padding-left: 0.5em;" | Devanāgarī and several other Brāhmī-based scripts  ! colspan="3" style="text-align: center; color: black; background-color: lawngreen;"|Official
..... Click the link for more information.
Serpentes
Linnaeus, 1758

Infraorders and Families
  • Alethinophidia - Nopcsa, 1923
  • Acrochordidae- Bonaparte, 1831

..... Click the link for more information.
Serpent is a word of Latin origin (serpens, serpentis) that is commonly used in a specifically mythic or religious context, signifying a snake that is to be regarded not as a mundane natural phenomenon nor as an object of scientific zoology, but as the bearer of some
..... Click the link for more information.
This article or section may contain original research or unverified claims.
Please help Wikipedia by adding references. See the for details.
This article has been tagged since September 2007.

..... Click the link for more information.
  • A list of deities from the different religions, cultures and mythologies of the world.
  • The title of an episode in the science fiction television series Max Headroom.

..... Click the link for more information.
The rod of Asclepius (also known as the rod of Asklepios, rod of Aesculapius or asklepian[1]) is an ancient Greek symbol associated with astrology and with healing the sick through medicine. It consists of a serpent entwined around a staff.
..... Click the link for more information.
caduceus (/kəˈduːsiəs/, -ʃəs, -ˈdjuː-; kerykeion in Greek is a (sometimes) winged staff with two snakes wrapped around it.
..... Click the link for more information.
Hermes (Greek, Ἑρμῆς, IPA: /ˈhɝmiːz/), in Greek mythology, is the Olympian god of boundaries and of the travelers who cross them, of shepherds and
..... Click the link for more information.
Ashta-mangalas are a set of eight auspicious symbols. There is some variation among different traditions concerning the eight symbols.

In the Digambara Jain tradition, the eight symbols are:
  1. Parasol (Chhatra)
  2. Banner (Dhwaja)
  3. Pot (Kalasha)

..... Click the link for more information.
swastika (from Sanskrit svástika
..... Click the link for more information.


This article is copied from an article on Wikipedia.org - the free encyclopedia created and edited by online user community. The text was not checked or edited by anyone on our staff. Although the vast majority of the wikipedia encyclopedia articles provide accurate and timely information please do not assume the accuracy of any particular article. This article is distributed under the terms of GNU Free Documentation License.