Category Archives: Yungdrung Bon Sacred Symbols

The Lotus Hat of the Yungdrung Bön

Religious festival at Menri Monastery 2015. Photo credit: Unknown

Within the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition, the lotus hat is worn by those who have received the full ordination of a renunciant. The shape of the hat resembles a full, blue lotus. In general, it represents the purity of perfecting the rules of completely pure discipline. It is surrounded by either four, six or eight lotus petals that represent purification throughout the four directions. The thread which holds the lotus petals to the hat represents the activity of subduing throughout the intermediate directions. The twenty-five pleats represent the enlightened state of the five buddha families. At the crown of the head, there is an opening to attach the crown ornament which extends from the hat towards the sky.

Tönpa Tritsuk Gyalwa.

The founder of the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition, Buddha Tönpa Shenrap Miwoche showed the path of renunciation by becoming a monk at the age of 31. This was his ninth deed. (For more information about the Buddha’s ninth deed, see previous article: ) At his ordination, the six kinds of garments for a Yungdrung Bön renunciant fell from the sky. One of these garments was the lotus hat.

HE Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche wearing a lotus hat with the strips of cloth hidden underneath. Photo credit: Unknown

The long, thin strips of cloth that hang from the base of the hat near the ears are not mentioned within the texts. Therefore, the esteemed Yungdrung Bön spiritual master and scholar His Eminence Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche has stated that although it has become traditional to add them to the hat, they are not needed. Because of this, he sometimes takes these strips of cloth and places them inside the hat before putting it on.

All translations and content by Raven Cypress Wood ©All Rights Reserved. No content, in part or in whole, is allowed to be used without direct permission from the author.

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Sacred Offering of Flowers

Ritual flower offering of ornamented tsampaka being prepared. Photo credit: Jessica Gallego

Within the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition, flowers are one of the five daily offerings and an important offering during most rituals. Often tsampaka seeds are used to create an auspicious flower offering that never withers or fades in beauty. These seed pods grow on commonly found trees in the Himalayas and measure an average of 25 to 28 inches in length.

Left: tsampaka seed pod Center: tsampaka seed pod with seeds iinside Right: tsampaka seeds. Photo credit: Raven Cypress Wood

As a ritual flower offering, the winged seeds are glued one above another to a small piece of wood or bamboo. The center of the seeds are then painted or otherwise decorated with the five colors of the five elements.

Tsampaka flower offerings for a Nampar Gyalwa Fire Ritual. Photo credit: Raven Cypress Wood.

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Cycles of the Elements and Time: The Namchu Wangden

The symbol for The Ten-fold Powerful One, the Namchu Wangden.

The Namchu Wangden, or The Ten-fold Powerful One, is a symbol of great protection within the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition. It contains the seed syllables for seven hundred and twenty deities.

According to an explanation written by the 23rd Menri Trizin Nyima Tenzin Rinpoche:

“From the tantra, The Cycle of the Elements and Time, found within the 100,000 glorious scriptures of the indestructible, great vehicle, is this ten columns and nine letters of the Namchu Wangden, which contains the seed syllables of Enlightened Mind. AH is the seed syllable for Yungdrung Yéwang Gyalpo, the earth deities, their body color is golden. YANG is the seed syllable for Kündrol Yingjuk, the wind deities, and they are green in color. RAM  is the seed syllable for Künrik Barwa, the fire deities, and they are red in color. MANG is the seed syllable for Künjom Gyalpo, the water deities, and they are blue in color. KHAM is the seed syllable for Kündü Chenpo, the iron deities, and they are white in color. DRUM is the seed syllable for the immeasurable tent of protection, and the four nyémjé ma, and they are golden in color. HUNG is the seed syllable for the queens of the four times at the inner door. At the middle door, are the four guardians. At the outer door, are four fierce ones who are dark-blue in color. OM on the right,*  is the seed syllable for the grandfather of primordial, phenomenal existence, Sangpo Bumtri and the Four Families, and they are white in color. DU on the left,* is the seed syllable for the four mothers of cause and the eight shen, and they are golden-red in color. In brief, this symbol includes the seed syllables for the seven hundred and twenty deities of the Five Families. It is said that the Namchu Wangden destroys all fear!”

*Right and left are according to the point of view of the object not the subject.

The Namchu Wangden of Yungdrung Bon being consecrated in Amdo, Tibet. Photo credit: Unknown.

Displaying this image protects from destruction by the five elements, as well as protects the life-force, health, personal power and lungta.  It gives protection from the eight classes of beings, as well as from astrologically negative events. Traditionally, this image is placed at the entrance to the home as a means of protection. In modern times, the Namchu Wangden protection amulet is commonly placed in cars as well.

Protective amulet, or sung khor, of the Namchu Wangden. Photo credit: Raven Cypress Wood

Tibetan Translation Raven Cypress Wood©2018

Victory Over Ignorance

Gyaltsen or Sign of Victory

As one of the Eight Auspicious Symbols, the gyaltsen or sign of victory, symbolizes victory over all obstacles especially the demon of ignorance.

Mantra of Purification

DU TRI SU stone edit


~One of the three principal mantras of the Yungdrung Bön tradition.

The Eight Auspicious Symbols

The Eight Auspicious Symbols displayed on a shrine before an image of Lord Tonpa Shenrap at Triten Norbutse Monastery. Photo credit: Raven Cypress Wood

In the Yungdrung Bön tradition, the Eight Auspicious Symbols are displayed in order to bring good luck and increase positive circumstances.  In the Tibetan language, they are called Tashi Dze Gye.  Each symbol has a specific meaning and energy.

endless knot 2 largerThe Glorious Endless Knot, Tibetan: Pal Be’u, symbolizes the interdependence of all things.  It also represents activities and knowledge.

Conch shellThe White Conch Shell, Tibetan: Düng Kar, symbolizes the far-reaching sound of the Buddha’s teachings as well as melodious sound in general.

wheelThe Wheel, Tibetan: Khorlo, sometimes referred to as The Wheel of Dharma, symbolizes the Buddha’s teachings.  Each aspect of the wheel such as the rim, the hub and the spokes all have meaning according to the context within which the wheel appears.

Golden fishThe Golden Fish, Tibetan: Ser Nya, symbolize freedom and liberation, as well as skill with handicrafts and power in the hands for healers.

LotusThe Lotus, Tibetan: Pema, symbolizes purification.

Victory BannerThe Victory Banner, Tibetan: Gyaltsen, symbolizes victory over all obstacles, as well as gaining happiness.

VaseThe Vase, Tibetan: Bumpa, symbolizes wealth and virtues.

paraso 2lThe Parasol, Tibetan: Duk, symbolizes being protected from suffering as well as prosperity and good luck for the head.

Consecration of the Great Wheel & Namchu Wangden of Yungdrung Bon in Amdo, Tibet

Gangru Dargye gompa in Tibet

The Great Prayer Wheel of Yungdrung Bon in Amdo, Tibet

In November 2014 in the Zinchu village of Amdo, Tibet, a large copper and gold prayer wheel was installed along with a unique image of the Namchu Wangden of Yungdrung Bön.  Both were consecrated during a ceremony that was attended by many Yungdrung Bön lamas who had traveled to the area for the occasion.

རྣམ་བཅུ་དབང་ལྡན་ཆེན་མོར་རབ་གནས་གནང་བཞིན་པ། 2

Yungdrung Bon lamas performing the consecration ritual for the Namchu Wangden

Lamas attending the ceremony included the great abbot Sherap Yungdrung Wangyal Rinpoche, the tulku of Nangzhik Sherap Özer Gyaltsen Rinpoche, the tulku Rikdzin Nyima, the abbot Khenpo Tsering Norbu, the esteemed teacher Rakshi Künsal Nyingpo, Lama Drebu Bönzin, Geshe Tenzin Drukdak and others.

Namchu Wanden rabne

Yungdrung Bon lamas perform the consecration ritual for the Namchu Wangden image erected in Amdo, Tibet

The Namchu Wangden of Yungdrung Bön is a symbol of great protection and contains the seed syllables of the 720 deities.  Displaying this image protects from destruction by the five elements as well as protecting the life-force, health, personal power and lungta.  It gives protection from the Eight Classes of Beings as well as astrologically negative events.

The original article related to this consecration ceremony appeared on the Tibetan language website  You can find the complete article and more photos by following the link.




The Sacred Syllable OM

Bon OM







The Yungdrung Bon syllable ‘OM’ has five parts.  The meaning and symbolic color of each of these five parts depends upon the specific practice being done.  These five parts can variously represent the Five Wisdoms, the Five Enlightened Bodies and the manifested deities of the five directions.  Here, the color of each of these five parts is according to the practice of the great mantra, OM MA TRI MU YE SA LE DU.

Sacred Stones

MA TRI stones in Dolpo

Stones carved with the mantra OM MA TRI MU YE SA LE DU bless the landscape in Dolpo, Nepal.

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