Article Info

published: 2/10/07
updated: 8/7/13

Triratna (Three Jewels) Symbol





Buddha footprint with symbols
Large Buddha footprint featuring the triratna symbol. From 1st-cent Gandhara; now in Tokyo.

Buddha's footprints
Buddhapada featuring the triratna, from 1st-2nd century Gandhara. Photo © John Eskenazi Ltd.

The triratna symbol represents the Triple Gem or Three Jewels of Buddhism, which are the three core values of:

  1. Buddha
  2. Dharma (the teachings)
  3. Sangha (the monastic community)

These are also known as the Three Refuges, which are recited as part of Buddhist ordination ceremonies: "I take refuge in the Buddha; I take refuge in the Dharma; I take refuge in the Sangha."





The triratna symbol is a simple three-branched shape, like a rounded 'W.' It bears some resemblance to the trishula in Hinduism. The triratna appears in early Buddhist art in various contexts, but especially as one of the symbols on the Buddhapada, or footprint of the Buddha.

The triratna is often accompanied by lotus flowers symbolizing Enlightenment, and the dharmachakra (wheel), symbolizing the Buddha's teachings.




Sources

  1. Three Jewels - Wikipedia
  2. Footprints of the Buddha - Mark Schumacher