Read about the symbolical value of the Emblem of Bihar

The heraldry of Bihar consists of a Blazon of the Bodhi tree flanked by two clockwise Swastikas as the Supporters and a “Bihar” in Urdu-inscribed brick as its compartment. The emblem stands for the syncretic, all-embracing tradition of Bihar. Let us have a look at the symbolical and iconographical value of each of these individual components.

 

The Mahabodhi Tree-

The Peepal or sacred fig (Ficus religiosa) tree under which Siddhartha Gautama the Buddha attained the Great Enlightenment is one of the defining and most recognisable symbols of Bihar. It is an all-pervasive motif in Bihari symbology and is ubiquitous in government departments’ logos and patches. Two of its lower twigs are circumvented by beaded prayer-rosaries as typically encountered in the Buddhist faith. These prayer-beads are made from the seeds of the tree, revered for its proximity to the Buddha at the time of his ascendancy to Buddhahood. The Bodhi tree is immensely sacred to Buddhists and numerous cuttings of the original specimen and its subsequent descendants have been taken and transplanted elsewhere in the world, by patrons and pilgrims in utmost reverence. The tree growing at the Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya, a direct descendant of the original matriarch, is the most important of the four principal Buddhist pilgrimage sites. The Fig tree is also known for its medicinal properties.

 Swastikas-

The Swastika is a symbol of auspiciousness, divinity, spirituality and transcendence in the Dharmic religions. The Sanskrit word means ‘conducive to well-being’. In Hinduism, the clockwise Swastika symbolises The Sun, prosperity and good fortune. In Jainism, it is the symbol of the seventh of the twenty-four Tirthankaras – Suparshvanatha. In Buddhism, it is an icon for the holy footprints of the Buddha. Flanking something by swastikas is considered a safeguard of sanctity and fortune and warding off nefarious spirits and ill-fate. On Hindu festivals, rituals, rites and important ceremonies as weddings, twin Swastikas frame murals and decorate altars. The symbol also happens to be sacred in Zoroastrianism and certain Tibetan folk religions. Across cultures in Eurasia, it is a Solar symbol, as well as a symbol for cyclicity of dynamism, ongoing perpetual genesis, and of infinity.

Bihar being the cradle of both Buddhism and Jainism, had the Swastika as an apt commonality across faiths. In the Shwetambar sect (tradition) of Jainism, it is one of the Ashtamangala of 8 auspicious symbols. Everything from ceremonious rites and ritual offerings before icons of holy figures to scriptures is marked by elaborate and repetitive renderings of the Swastika. Religious texts begin and terminate with a Swastika. The four arms represent the four cyclic paths of incarnation as described in Jainism viz. hell, heaven, human and flora & fauna. It is an aniconic symbol for the Buddha in many parts of Asia and shares its origins with the pious dharma wheel. Its shape depicts the eternal cyclicity of the samsara or the mortal material universe.

Inscribed Brick-

After Hindi, Urdu is the second official language in 15 districts of the state. Bihar has the second-highest number of Urdu speakers in India at about 2 Crores, next only to UP. Urdu journalism and poetry has a glorious past in Bihar. Bihar also has several valuable relic inscriptions at its archaeological sites. Bihar is also a leading Brick-producing state of India.

Written by Pitamber Kaushik

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