Seven precious emblems of royalty
The seven emblems of royalty (Skt. saptaratna; Tib. རྒྱལ་སྲིད་སྣ་བདུན་, gyal si na dün, Wyl. rgyal srid sna bdun) are the seven possessions of a universal monarch (Skt. cakravartin). They are:
- the precious golden wheel (Skt. cakraratna; Wyl. 'khor lo rin po che),
- the precious wish-fulfilling jewel (Skt. maṇiratna; Wyl. nor bu rin po che),
- the precious queen (Skt. strīratna; Wyl. btsun mo rin po che),
- the precious minister (Skt. puruṣaratna or pariṇāyakaratna; Wyl. blon po rin po che),
- the precious elephant (Skt. hastiratna; Wyl. glang po rin po che),
- the precious horse (Skt. aśvaratna; Wyl. rta mchog rin po che), and
- the precious general (Skt. khaḍgaratna or senāpatiratna; Wyl. dmag dpon rin po che).
These symbolize the seven noble riches.
In the Thirty-seven Point Mandala Offering, the vase of great treasure is added as an eighth emblem.
The seven articles of royalty correspond internally to the seven limbs of the path of awakening, which are seven qualities that all buddhas and bodhisattvas possess as factors of their attaining awakening.
The first of the seven articles of royalty is the precious jewel, which corresponds to the virtue of faith. A bodhisattva must possess abundant and excellent faith to serve as ground for the development of all good qualities. The meaning of this is that if one has faith, then all other qualities, such as meditative stability, diligence, insight into the meaning of dharma and so on, will definitely arise, and on the basis of their arising, one will be able to eradicate all that is to be transcended or abandoned.
The second branch of awakening is knowledge or insight, prajna. Of the seven articles of royalty, this knowledge corresponds to the precious wheel, which enables the chakravartin to be victorious against any kind of invasion or warfare. In the same way, it is knowledge, or prajna, that enables one to conquer the kleshas and ignorance.
The third article of royalty is the consort of the monarch (the precious queen). The consort serves to keep the monarch on track, to pacify and tame the monarch. So therefore, the consort corresponds to samadhi. Samadhi or meditative absorption, serves as the necessary ground for knowledge or prajna. If prajna is grounded in samadhi, then it will be stable, tranquil, effective, and appropriate or correct. If it is not grounded in samadhi then prajna goes off the track, becomes incorrect and runs wild, so that it actually is more of a problem than a benefit.
The fourth branch of awakening is joy, which arises from the correct presence and application of both samadhi and prajna. Joy here refers, for example, to the joy of the attainment of the first bodhisattva level, which is called the Utterly Joyful. Of the seven articles of royalty, joy corresponds to the precious minister. In most enumerations this is a minister who gives wise council to the monarch and therefore promotes joy. Sometimes it is also called the precious householder, the subject of the monarch who also brings appropriate advice.
The fifth limb of awakening is diligence and this corresponds to the precious excellent horse. Just as an excellent horse enables the monarch to travel anywhere they wish to go with great speed, in the same way the possession of diligence enables the bodhisattva to cultivate the qualities of samadhi and prajna, and, through cultivating them, to eradicate the kleshas and to increase all positive qualities.
The sixth article of royalty is the precious elephant. The significance of this elephant is that it is extremely peaceful and tame, so it represents, from among the seven limbs of awakening, the faculty of mindfulness, which is a mind kept tranquil and always consciously aware of what is going on in the mind and what one’s actions are.
The seventh and last limb of awakening is equanimity, a state of mind in which the bodhisattva is free from the afflictions of attachment to some things and aversion to other things. Through the faculty of equanimity, the bodhisattva overcomes the warfare of the kleshas. Of the seven articles of royalty, it is represented by the precious general, because the precious general overcomes all warfare and aggression.
- Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, Medicine Buddha Teachings, pages 53-56, Snow Lion Publications, ISBN 1-55939-216-9
- the seven precious gems
- the seven riches of the universal monarch (Chögyam Trungpa)
- the seven jewels of royal power (Dagyab Rinpoche)
- Chögyam Trungpa, Shambhala (Boston & London: Shambhala, 2003 edition), pages 167-169.
- Dagyab Rinpoche, Buddhist Symbols in Tibetan Culture (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1995), 3. The Seven Jewels of Royal Power.
- Jamgön Kongtrul, Myriad Worlds (Ithaca: Snow Lion, 1995), pages 136-137.
- Robert Beer, The Handbook of Tibetan Buddhist Symbols (Boston: Shambhala, 2003), pages 37-42