Nepalese Prayer Wheel

2 05 2013

The Sacred Lives of Objects

Nepalese Prayer Wheel
Katmandu, Nepal
Copper, wood, paper
LMA 7899

Prayer wheels such as this are commonly used by followers of Tibetan Buddhism as a technology for producing merit. Buddhist devotees, often pilgrims, turn these wheels by swinging them in their hands. Inside each wheel is a mantra, a series of sacred syllables that create merit when spoken aloud. Merit is the positive result of prayer, good deeds, and many rituals; it allows for happiness, and eventually enlightenment or spiritual liberation.
Merit is produced when mantras are read aloud. When the paper inside of a prayer wheel turns, each rotation is believed to be equal to one recitation of the mantra. Hand-held prayer wheels such as this are usually turned intentionally, often in combination with meditation and prayer. Yet the rotation of the mantra will produce merit regardless of human intention. In addition to hand-held prayer wheels, there are many stationary wheels…

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