1. Religion & Spirituality
Send to a Friend via Email

The Wheel of Life:

Samsara, Birth, Rebirth, Liberation

By

The Wheel of Life is one of the most common subjects of Tibetan Buddhist art. The detailed symbolism of the Wheel can be interpreted on many levels.
Bhavachakra

The Bhavachakra is a Tibetan Buddhist representation of the "wheel of life," or cycle of existence.

MarenYumi / Flickr, Creative Commons License

The Wheel of Life (called the Bhavachakra in Sanskrit) represents the cycle of birth and rebirth and existence in samsara.

This gallery looks at different parts of the Wheel and explains what they mean. The main sections are the hub and the six "pie wedges" depicting the Six Realms. The gallery also looks at the Buddha figures in the corners and at Yama, the fearsome creature holding the Wheel in his hooves.

Many Buddhists understand the Wheel in an allegorical, not literal, way. As you examine the parts of the wheel you might find yourself relating to some of it personally or recognizing people you know as Jealous Gods or Hell Beings or Hungry Ghosts.

The outer circle of the Wheel (not shown in detail in this gallery) is the Paticca Samuppada, the Links of Dependent Origination. Traditionally, the outer wheel depicts a blind man or woman (representing ignorance); potters (formation); a monkey (consciousness); two men in a boat (mind and body); a house with six windows (the senses); an embracing couple (contact); an eye pieced by an arrow (sensation); a person drinking (thirst); a man gathering fruit (grasping); a couple making love (becoming); a woman giving birth (birth); and a man carrying a corpse (death).

  1. About.com
  2. Religion & Spirituality
  3. Buddhism

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.