The dril-bu (bell) and dorje (scepter) are indispensable liturgical instruments used during Tibetan Buddhist ritual recitation. They are usually regarded as one object, are matched and used together. The bell is held in the left hand and the scepter in the right as both hands gracefully move in prescribed gestures that serve as a commentary to the recitation. As a pair, they reflect the two aspects of Buddhist practice: method and wisdom, intuition and compassion. The face appearing on the bell’s handle is associated with Transcendent Insight. The elegant prongs emerging from the mouths of makaras (sea monsters and guardian spirits) and forming the ends of these ritual objects have their roots in Indic and Greek mythology. The prongs recall the thunderbolt scepter of Indra, a Hindu warrior god who governs rain, clouds, and lightning. The Tibetan scepter refers to the immovable, steadfast (“diamond-hard”) consciousness of Buddha. The bell’s body is further embellished with a wreath of monster faces separated by auspicious symbols, and bands of small dorjes appear at the bell’s rim and shoulder.
The bell and dorjee are commonly used ritual implements for tantric practices — in the most basic breakdown representing wisdom and method (compassion). The use of them together represents enlightenment because combined they symbolize the marriage and balance of duality.
This Bell is made of brass alloy.
Bell and Dorje: Understanding Ritual Objects
In the Vajrayana context, practitioners utilize the bell and dorje as important symbolic ritual items. In this video, Tulku Migmar explains just some of the significance of this pair of implements. We hold the dorje, or vajra, always in the right hand, while we ring the bell with the left hand. At the outer level, these two implements represent the indivisibility of means (vajra) and the wisdom recognizing emptiness (bell). At the same time, we can understand that the dorje represents compassion, while the bell signifies Prajñāpāramitā, the perfection of wisdom.
UNDERSTANDING THE SYMBOLS
The following diagrams indicate the location of each symbol described in the video. You may want to compare your implements, and as Tulku Migmar notes, some instruments may not have every detail. As the drawing indicates, sometimes the numbers (for example of vajras o the bell) do not accurately reflect the numerical symbolism, but are merely representative
SELECTING A BELL AND DORJE SET
Our partners at Akara Collection offer a selection of bells and dorjes that have been carefully selected for their quality craftsmanship and sound.