The Kalachakra seed syllable (rnam bcu dbang ldan) or Tenfold Powerful One is the best known symbols of the Kalachakra system, and probably of the entire Tibetan Tantric tradition. The symbol consists of an ornamental Ring of Fire, then the main symbol which combines seven individual syllables, on top are a Crescent (Moon Disk), a Sun Disc and a curved shape, making ten.
10-fold powerful one, courtesy www.kalachakra-graz.at http://www.shedrupling.at/KC/bilder/inhalt/in_kala/interactive/mantra3.swf
On the left and right of the actual Tenfold Powerful symbol are the Lantsa characters for E and VAM, representing the union of respectively emptiness (E) and bliss (VAM).
The individual syllables are represented in a in a stylized version of Sanskrit Lantsa (or Ranjana) characters. (Lantsa is an Indian Buddhist script, probably of late Pala origin, derived from Sanskrit, although certain scholars date it as late as the seventeenth century. It was used in Nepal until recent history. It is specifically used for mantra syllables and the titles of sacred texts.)
The symbol usually stands on a lotus (which also symbolizes the heart chakra) and three or four discs, like the Kalachakra deity: a white moon disc, a red sun disc, a black/blue Rahu disc and a yellow Kalagni disc. (The Rahu and Kalagni discs are often combined into one black Rahu disc.)
The symbolism given here is taken mainly from teachings by Venerable Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche (Graz 1999 and Bodhgya 1990). However, it must be realised that there can be some differences between the various Kalachakra traditions. For example, in the explanation below, the disc above the syllable is white and symbolises the moon, but depending on the specific symbolism and tradition, it can also be depicted red and the crescent below can also be white etc., so variations of the seed syllable are possible; see also this page at kalacakra.org.
The all-pervading space element which is represented by the syllable A is not represented, but it is automatically present when writing any consonant in Sanskrit (and Tibetan). In the Kalachakra tantra, there is a profound symbolic relationship with the vowels and consonants (Ali and Kali) of the Sanskrit alphabet. In Tibetan Kalachakra texts, the syllables HAM KSHA MA LA VA RA YA are often written on top of each other, not as normally from left to right.
Below, the syllable is broken into it's constituent parts to show the form of each, and also list some of the most basic symbolism associated with each, related to the Kalachakra mandala. The symbolism goes much further though, for example in Inner, Outer and Secret Kalachakra (see Kalacakra seed syllable), the ten Shaktis, the ten main channels at the heart, the ten perfections etc. The individual forms shown are not the normal forms they would take as a syllable, but the shapes in stylised form to combine them in the overall figure.
The seed syllable further can symbolize for example:
- Aspects of the Outer Kalachakara, like the elements and the ten planets - Aspects of the Inner Kalachakra, like channels and chakras - Aspects of the Alternative Kalachakra, like the initiations, the 10 powers, 10 forces and 10 perfections (paramitas)
A - not drawn (implicit in Sanskrit consonant syllables) The A refers to the green Space circle around the mandala
LANTSA or RANJANA CHARACTER
The nada or tilaka refers to the mind mandala
The white disc refers to the body mandala. The crescent refers to the speech mandala.
The symbol for HAM refers to the Enlightened Wisdom of the mandala Deities
The symbol for KSHA refers to the Body, Speech and Mind of the Deities
The symbol for MA refers to the Mandala Palace, with its four different colors in the four main directions.
The symbol for LA refers to the yellow Earth circle around the mandala palace
The symbol for WA refers to the white Water circle around the mandala palace
The symbol for RA refers to the red Fire circle
The symbol for YA refers to the black Wind circle around the mandala palace.
The symbol for E refers to Kalachakra (Method)
The symbol for VAM refers to Vishvamata (Wisdom)
The Protective Fire Ring represents the outermost Wisdom circle around the mandala
Also, this symbol can be found in numerous different forms, sizes and materials, like below, or have a look at Jan Haag's modern version.
You can now download our special Kalachakra Screensaver which contains the Tenfold Powerful One for free! It is suitable for Windows only, just unzip the file and double click to install: http://kalachakranet.org/store/kalachakra_screensaver_setup.zip
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