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Sindura (Skt. sindūra; Tib. ལི་ཁྲི།, Wyl. li khri ; sindoor in Hindustani) or vermilion is a brilliant red pigment made from the powdered mineral, mercury sulfide (cinnabar), the ore of which contains mercury. It is one of the eight auspicious substances as well as a substance used in tantric rituals; red being the colour of magnetizing.

According to Buddhist Lore

The best kind of sindura is found underwater in zones not exposed to sunlight and in caves. It can be found on all continents, and in particular, Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche explains, it is said to be present in all the sacred places such as twenty-four sacred places, or the thirty-two hallowed lands where the tantric teachings are flourishing; whereas in the places where Dzogchen is flourishing one would find crystal. Sindura extracted from these sacred places is said to be especially blessed.

According to Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, the origin of the auspiciousness of vermilion is the following:

When the Buddha was in the process of attaining [enlightenment] or just about to attain it, Mara appeared and, exhibiting various sorts of unpleasant magical displays in order to obstruct the Buddha, finally challenged him, saying, “You cannot attain [enlightenment]; you cannot do this.” In response to which the Buddha said, “Yes, I can, because I have completed the two accumulations over three periods of innumerable eons.” In response, Mara said, “Well, who is your witness? Who can you bring to prove this?”—in response to which the Buddha extended his right hand down past his right knee and touched the earth. The goddess of the earth then appeared out of the earth and, offering the Buddha vermilion, said, “I serve as witness that he has completed the two accumulations throughout these three periods of innumerable eons.”[1]


  1. Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, Medicine Buddha Teachings, pages 53-56.

Further Reading

  • Chögyam Trungpa, The Heart of the Buddha, page 190.
  • Robert Beer, The Handbook of Tibetan Buddhist Symbols, pages 24-25.
  • T.&M. Blau, Buddhist Symbols, page 157.