Triple Jewel







The Three Jewels, also called the

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Part of the List of Dharma Terms from the Buddhist Ayurveda Course (SKT220 ) on Sanskrit Terms of Ayurveda and Dharma

Buddhism or Buddha Dharma

[[Buddhism]]/[[Buddha Dharma]]

The Buddha Dharma is subtle, wonderful,

and difficult to measure.

No words or speech are able to reach it.

It is not combined, nor is it uncombined.

In substance and nature it is still and quiet

and without any marks.

(FAS Chapter 9 93)_

The Buddha Dharma is here in the world:

enlightenment is not apart from the world.

To look for Bodhi apart from the world

Is like looking for a hare with horns.

(PS 121)_

Buddhists do not call the teachings of the Buddha, which they follow, Buddhism; they call them Buddha Dharma, the Dharma of the Buddhas.

Buddhism is a religion that teaches people to end birth and death, whereas other religions teach people to undergo birth and death. The difference between them is that of being able to ultimately end birth and death as opposed to ultimately not being able to and so undergoing birth and death.” (FAS-PII]] 128)

“What is the basic, fundamental character of Buddhism. It is simply instruction for people in how to recognize Truth, how to eliminate selfishness and establish what is public, how to have a public-spirited, unselfish attitude, not setting up barriers of nations and lands, races or clans, and how not to make distinctions of self and others.

All under heaven is one family,

And the Ten Thousand Buddhas are a single person.”

(FAS-PII]] 129)_

Buddhism is the teaching within the minds of all living beings. And so Buddhism can be called the Buddha's teaching or it can be called no teaching at all. Buddhism simply records what practices the Buddha engaged in to become enlightened. The Buddha didn't have the idea that he wanted to establish a religion. He is fundamentally one with all living beings. If he had wanted to establish a ”Buddhism“, wouldn't that have been setting himself apart from living beings? The Buddha said that the mind, the Buddha, and living beings are one, and undifferentiated. If he had professed to be teaching a ”Buddhism“, then there would be what is non-Buddhism, and so it would be separate from other religions. However, Buddhism includes everything. Every religion is in Buddhism-Protestantism, Catholicism, Judaism, Islam, and all the others. Why? The Buddha said,

'All living beings have the Buddha Nature; all can become Buddhas.'

“No matter what religion you are, aren't you a living being? Even if you protest that you are a heavenly spirit, heavenly Lord, or a heavenly demon, that still counts as being a living being. And so I say whether you are Buddhist or not, I count you as being within Buddhism.” (VBS)

1) Chinese: fo jiao, fo fa, 2) Sanskrit: Buddha Dharma, 3) Pali BuddhaDhamma, 4) Alternate translations: the law/methods of the fully awakened ones.

See Also: Buddha, Dharma/Dharma.

BTTS References: FAS Ch9 93; “The Kennedys Request a Lecture”, VBS, May 1970, 30-38; FAS-PII]] 129; PS 121.

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Fair Use: Primary Fair Use Compilation Source: Ron Epstein, Ph.D, compiler, Buddhism A to Z, Burlingame, California, Buddhist Text Translation Society, 2003, p. ISBN 0881393533 Paperback: 284 pages. and many other sources (see Bibliography).

Primary Original Source: The Tripitaka of Sutra, Shastra and Vinaya Dharma teachings (as found in the scripture storehouse of the Indian Sanskrit- Siddham, Chinese, Tibetan and Japanese traditions of the Nalanda Tradition of ancient Nalanda University) of Shakyamuni Buddha, and his Arya Sagely Bodhisattva Bhikshu Monk and Upasaka disciples.

These Good and Wise Advisors (Kaliyanamitra) Dharma Master teachers include Arya Venerables Om Tare Tuttare Ture Om Ah Hum and Namo to Jivaka, Charaka, Lao Zi - Mahakashapa, Ashwagosha, Shantideva - Hui Neng - Shen Kai Sheng Ren Shr, Bodhidharma, the 16 Nalanda Acharyas 1. Nagarjuna-Manjushri, 2. Arydeva, 3. Buddhapalita, 4. Bhavaviveka, 5. Chandrakirti and Chandragomin, 6. Shantideva, 7. Shantarakshita, 8. Kamalashila, 9. Asanga-Maitreya, 10. Vasubhandu, 11. Dignaga, 12. Dharmakirti, 13. Vimuktisena, 14. Haribhadra, 15. Gunaprabha, 16. Shakyaprabha; Dharmarakshita, Atisha, Tsong Khapa, Thogme Zangpo, Nyingma Padmasambhava, Yeshe Tsogyel, Machig Lapdron, Tilopa, Naropa, Milarepa, Sakya Pandita, Fazang, Yunmen, Nichiren, Honen, Shinran, Kukai, Dogen, Hakuin, Jamgon Kongtrul, Nyingma Penor Rinpoche, Bakula Rinpoche, Dagri Rinpoche, Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche, Geshe Lama Kongchog, Longchen Rapjampa - Gosok Rinpoche, Phabongkha Rinpoche, Patrul Rinpoche, Mingyur Rinpoche, Geshe Ngwang Dakpa, Geshe Sopa Rinpoche, Garchen Rinpoche, Karmapa, Sakya Trizin, Tenzin Gyatso the Dalai Lama, Hsu Yun, Hsuan Hua, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Choden Rinpoche, Ajahn Chah, Seung Sahn, Thich Nhat Hanh, Ajahn Sumedho, S. N. Goenka, Mama Ayur Punya Jyana Pushtim Kuriye Svaha, bowing at your feet I make requests. Please bestow on me the two attainments of Maha Punya and Maha Prajna Paramita. And thanks to other modern day masters. We consider them to be in accord with Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua’s ”Seven Guidelines for Recognizing Genuine Teachers

Nalanda Online University's teachings are based especially on the following Buddhist Scriptures: Lama Tsong Khapa's Lam Rim, the Dharma Flower Lotus Sutra, the Avatamsaka Sutra, the Shurangama Sutra, the Ksitigarbha Sutra, the Bhaisajya Guru Sutra, the Dharani Sutra, the Vajra Sutra, the Prajna Paramita Hridayam Heart Sutra, the Vimalakirti Sutra, the Sanghata Sutra, the Sutra of Golden Light, the Srimala Devi Sutra, the Sutra in 42 Sections, the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, the Hui Neng Sutra, Vasubandhu's Shastra on the Door to Understanding the Hundred Dharmas, Maitreya's Ornament for Clear Realizations (Abhisamayalamkara), Chandrakirti's Supplement to Nagarjuna’s Treatise on the Middle Way (Madhyamakavatara), Vasubandhu's Treasury of Manifest Knowledge (Abhidharmakosha) and the Tantras and Mantras of the Vajrayana the 42 Hands and Eyes, Guhyasamaja, the Kalachakra, the Vajrayogini, the Heruka, the Chakrasamvara, the Chod, the Hayagriva, the Hevajra, the Yamantaka, the Kalarupa, the Manjushri Nama Samgiti, the Vajrakilaya, the Vajrapani, the Vajra Claws Dakini, the Mahakala, the Tara, the White Umbrella Goddess (She Dan Do Bo Da La), Kirti Losang Trinle's Grounds and Paths of Secret Mantra, and Aku Sherab Gyatso's The Two Stages of the Guhyasamaja Tantra and their commentaries (shastras) by the above Arya Tripitakacharya Dharma Masters.

Secondary Fair Use Compilation Source: The Seeker’s Glossary of Buddhism, 2nd ed., San Francisco, California: Sutra Translation Committee of the United States and Canada, 1998:

Secondary Fair Use Compilation Source: Muller, Charles, editor, Digital Dictionary of Buddhism [DDB], Toyo Gakuen University, Japan, 2007: Username is “guest”, with no password. - Based in large part on the Dictionary of Chinese Buddhist Terms with Sanskrit and English Equivalents (by Soothill and Hodous) Delhi, India: Motilal Banarsidass, 1997.

Secondary Fair Use Compilation Source: Ehrhard, Diener, Fischer, et al, The Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen, Boston, Massachusetts: Shambhala Publications, 1991. 296 pages. ISBN 978-0-87773-520-5,, Secondary Fair Use Compilation Source: Vaidya Vasant Lad, Textbook of Ayurveda, Ayurvedic Press, 2002; Vasant Lad, BAMS, MAsc, Ayurvedic Institute Gurukula Notes, Ayurvedic Institute, 1994-2006;

NOTE: Numerous corrections and enhancements have been made under Shastra tradition and ”Fair Use“ by an Anonymous Buddhist Monk Redactor (Compiler) of this Online Buddhist Encyclopedia Compilation)

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Three Treasures, the Three Refuges, or the Triple Gem (


)) (Pali: tiratana), are the three things that Buddhists take refuge in, and look toward for guidance, in the process known as taking refuge.

The Three Jewels are:

: Sanskrit, Pali: The Enlightened or Awakened One; Chn: 佛陀, Fótuó, Jpn: 仏, Butsu, Tib: sangs-rgyas, Mong: burqan :: depending on one's interpretation, can mean the historical Buddha (Shakyamuni) or the Buddha nature—the ideal or highest spiritual potential that exists within all beings;

: Sanskrit: The Teaching; Pali: Dhamma, Chn: 法, , Jpn: , Tib: chos, Mong: nom :: the teachings of the Buddha.

: Sanskrit, Pali: The Community; Chn: 僧, Sēng, Jpn: , Tib: dge-'dun, Mong: quvaraɣ :: The community of those who have attained enlightenment, who may help a practicing Buddhist to do the same. Also used more broadly to refer to the community of practicing Buddhists.<ref>


Refuge formula

, 1st century BCE.]]

Taking refuge in the Three Jewels is central to Buddhist lay and monastic ordination ceremonies, as originated by Gautama Buddha, according to the scriptures. The practice of taking refuge on behalf of young or even unborn children is mentioned<ref>Middle-Length Discourses of the Buddha, tr Nanamoli, rev Bodhi, Wisdom Pubns, 1995, pages 708f</ref> in the Majjhima Nikaya, recognized by most scholars as an early text (cf Infant baptism).

Taking refuge in the Three Jewels is generally considered to make one officially a Buddhist. Thus, in many Theravada Buddhist communities, the following Pali chant, the Vandana Ti-sarana is often recited by both monks and lay people:

<table style=“background:#E3E3E3”> <div align=left>

<td style=“background:#E3E3E3; color:black”> <blockquote>

:I go for refuge in the Buddha.

:I go for refuge in the Dharma.

:I go for refuge in the Sangha</blockquote>

</div> </table>

The Burmese Pali version, which differs from traditional Pali pronunciation (to suit the Burmese language phonology), is as follows (in the Burmese script and IPA):

<table style=“background:#E3E3E3”> <div align=left>

<td style=“background:#E3E3E3; color:black”> <blockquote>

  • 1


:I go for refuge in the Buddha.

  • 1


:I go for refuge in the Dharma.

  • 1


:I go for refuge in the Sangha</blockquote>

</div> </table> 1


) and


) are prefixed to the chant when lay members seek the refuge for the second and third times respectively.

</div> </table>

The Cambodian version, or បទសរភញ្ញ (EN: Bot Sa-Rak-Phorgn), was written by Samdech Sangha Raja Jhotañano Chuon Nath with greater descriptions of the Three Jewels with Cambodian touch at the ending.<ref>Note: English translation of this chanting song is not 100% accurate</ref>

<table style=“background:#E3E3E3”> <div align=left>

<td style=“background:#E3E3E3; color:black”> <blockquote>

  • ១.​សូមថ្វាយបង្គំព្រះសម្ពុទ្ធ ប្រសើរបំផុតក្នុងលោកា​ ជាគ្រូនៃមនុស្ស និងទេវតា ទ្រង់ត្រាស់ទេសនាប្រដៅសត្វ។

:I go for refuge in the Buddha, the Greatest in the world, the Guru of human beings and Devada, whom was enlightened and teaching to men.

  • ចង្អុលឲ្យដើរផ្លូវកណ្តាល មាគ៌ាត្រកាលអាចកំចាត់​ ទុក្ខភ័យចង្រៃអោយខ្ចាយបាត់ អាចកាត់សង្សារទុក្ខបាន។​

:Guiding the right central path, the way that can eliminate all the sufferings.

  • ២.សាសនាព្រះអង្គនៅសព្វថ្ងៃ សត្វមាននិស្ស័យពីបុរាណ​ ប្រឹងរៀនប្រឹងស្តាប់ចេះចាំបាន កាន់តាមលំអានបានក្តីសុខ។

:His teaching nowadays, men with destiny from the past trying to learn and listen, and practice for happiness.

  • ឥតមានសុខណាស្មើក្តីស្ងប់ បញ្ចប់ត្រឹមសុខឃ្លាតចាកទុក្ខ​ តាំងពីលោកនេះតទៅមុខ ក្តីសុខនឹងមានព្រោះធម៌ស្ងប់។​

:No such happiness that is genuine as the one that is free from sufferings, from this world now on, the happiness prevails because of the Dharma.

  • ៣.ខ្ញុំសូមបង្គំឆ្ពោះព្រះធម៌ ព្រះសង្ឃបវរទាំងសព្វគ្រប់ រួមជាត្រៃរ័ត្នគួរគោរព ជាម្លប់ត្រជាក់នៃលោកា

:I go for refuge in the Dharma and the Sangha, all combined as the Triple Jewels, the cold shade of the world.

  • ព្រះរូបព្រះធាតុនៃព្រះពុទ្ធ វិសុទ្ធតាងអង្គព្រះសាស្តា​ សូមគុណត្រៃរត័្នជួយខេមរា ឲ្យបានសុខាតរៀងទៅ ៕

May Triple Jewels guides Cambodia (and its people) to happiness forever. </blockquote>

</div> </table>

The Mahayana Chinese/Korean/Japanese version differs only slightly from the Theravada:

<table style=“background:#E3E3E3”> <div align=left> <td style=“background:#E3E3E3; color:black”> <blockquote>

  • 自皈依佛,當願眾生,體解大道,發無上心。

:I take refuge in the Buddha, wishing for all sentient beings to understand the great Way profoundly and make the greatest resolve.

  • 自皈依法,當願眾生,深入經藏,智慧如海。

:I take refuge in the Dharma, wishing for all sentient beings to delve deeply into the Sutra Pitaka, causing their wisdom to be as broad as the sea.

  • 自皈依僧,當願眾生,統理大眾,一切無礙。

:I take refuge in the Sangha, wishing all sentient beings to lead the congregation in harmony, entirely without obstruction. </blockquote> </div> </table>

The prayer for taking refuge in Tibetan Buddhism.

<table style=“background:#E3E3E3”> <div align=left> <td style=“background:#E3E3E3; color:black”> <blockquote>

  • སངས་རྒྱས་ཆོས་དང་ཚོགས་ཀྱི་མཆོག་རྣམས་ལ།

Sang-gye cho-dang tsog-kyi cho-nam-la<BR> I take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha<BR> 諸佛正法眾中尊

  • བྱང་ཆུབ་བར་དུ་བདག་ནི་སྐྱབས་སུ་མཆི།

Jang-chub bar-du dag-ni kyab-su-chi<BR> Until I attain enlightenment. <BR> 直至菩提我歸依

  • བདག་གིས་སྦྱིན་སོགས་བགྱིས་པའི་བསོད་ནམས་ཀྱིས།

Dag-gi jin-sog gyi-pe so-nam-kyi<BR> By the merit I have accumulated from practising generosity and the other perfections <BR> 我以所行施等善

  • འགྲོ་ལ་ཕན་ཕྱིར་སངས་རྒྱས་འགྲྲུབ་པར་ཤོག །།

Dro-la pan-chir sang-gye drub-par-shog<BR> May I attain enlightenment, for the benefit of all migrators. <BR> 為利眾生願成佛</blockquote> </div> </table>


The Triple Gem is in the center of one of the major practices of mental “reflection” in Buddhism; the reflection on the true qualities of the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. These qualities are called the Mirror of the Dharma in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta and help the practitioner attain the true “mind like a mirror”.

In the commentary on the Apannaka Jataka Buddha declares:


Triratna symbols.]] The qualities of the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha are frequently repeated in the ancient texts and are called “Mirror of the Dhamma” or “Dhamma Adassa”.

  • The Buddha

: “The Blessed One is an Arahant, perfectly enlightened, accomplished in true knowledge and conduct, fortunate, knower of the world, unsurpassed leader of persons to be tamed, teacher of devas and humans, the Enlightened One, the Blessed One.”<ref name=anusati>

</ref> In some traditions the Buddha as refuge is taken to refer to the historical Buddha and also 'the full development of mind', in other words, the full development of one's highest potential, i.e. recognition of mind and the completion or full development of one's inherent qualities and activities.

  • The Dharma

: “The Dhamma is well expounded by the Blessed One, directly visible, immediate (eternal or not subject to time), inviting one to come and see, applicable, to be personally experienced by the wise.”<ref name=“anusati” /> Refuge in the Dharma, in the Vajrayana, tradition includes reference not only to the words of the Buddha, but to the living experience of realization and teachings of fully realized practitioners. In Tibetan Buddhism, it includes both the Kangyur (the teaching of the Buddha) and the Tengyur (the commentaries by realized practitioners) and in an intangible way also includes the living transmission of those masters, which can also be very inspiring.

  • The Sangha

: “The Sangha of the Blessed One's disciples is practising the good way, practising the straight way, practising the true way, practising the proper way; that is, the four pairs of persons, the eight types of individuals - This Sangha of the Blessed One's disciples is worthy of gifts, worthy of hospitality, worthy of offerings, worthy of reverential salutation, the unsurpassed field of merit for the world.”<ref name=“anusati” /> In the Vajrayana, a more liberal definition of Sangha can include all practitioners who are actively using the Buddha's teachings to benefit themselves and/or others.

It can be more strictly defined as the 'Realized Sangha' or 'Arya-Sangha', in other words, practitioners and historical students of the Buddha who have fully realized the nature of their mind, also known as realized Boddhisatvas; and 'Ordinary Sangha', which can loosely mean practitioners and students of the Buddha who are using the same methods and working towards the same goal.

Tibetan Buddhism


In Tibetan Buddhism there are three refuge formulations, the Outer, Inner and Secret forms of the Three Jewels. The 'Outer' form is the 'Triple Gem', (Sanskrit:triratna), the 'Inner' is the Three Roots and the 'Secret' form is the 'Three Bodies' or trikaya of a Buddha. These alternative refuge formulations are employed by those undertaking Deity Yoga and other tantric practices within the Tibetan Buddhist Vajrayana tradition as a means of recognizing Buddha Nature.

<table style=“border-bottom:2px solid blue; font-size:85%” cellspacing=“0” cellpadding=“8”>

<tr> <td colspan=1>&nbsp; <td style=“background:yellow; color:blue; border-top:2px solid blue;” align=center colspan=3> <font=5>Tibetan Buddhist Refuge Formulations</font> </tr>

<!— OUTER —> <tr> <td style=“border-top:1px solid blue; background:orange; color:black” align=left> Outer or 'Three Jewels' <td style=“border-top:1px solid blue” align=center> Buddha <td style=“border-top:1px solid blue” align=center> Dharma <td style=“border-top:1px solid blue” align=center> Sangha </tr>

<!— INNER —> <tr> <td style=“border-top:1px solid blue; background:orange; color:black” align=left> Inner or 'Three Roots' <td style=“border-top:1px solid blue” align=center> Lama (Guru) <td style=“border-top:1px solid blue” align=center> Yidam (Ista-devata) <td style=“border-top:1px solid blue” align=center> Khandroma (Dakini)<ref>In Sarma traditions, this root is the Chokyong (Skt: dharmapāla, Wylie: chos-kyong)</ref> </tr>

<!— SECRET —> <tr> <td style=“border-top:1px solid blue; background:orange; color:black” align=left> Secret or 'Trikaya' <td style=“border-top:1px solid blue” align=center> Dharmakaya <td style=“border-top:1px solid blue” align=center> Sambhogakaya <td style=“border-top:1px solid blue” align=center> Nirmanakaya </tr>

<!— THREE VAJRAS —> <tr> <td style=“border-top:2px solid blue; background:orange; color:black” align=left> Three Vajras <td style=“border-top:1px solid blue” align=center> Mind <td style=“border-top:1px solid blue” align=center> Speech <td style=“border-top:1px solid blue” align=center> Body </tr>

<!— SEED SYLLABLES —> <tr> <td style=“border-top:1px solid blue; background:orange; color:black” align=left> seed syllable <td style=“border-top:1px solid blue” align=center> blue hum <td style=“border-top:1px solid blue” align=center> red ah <td style=“border-top:1px solid blue” align=center> white om </tr>



(bottom symbol, the top symbol being a dharmachakra). 1st century CE, Gandhara.]]

The three gems are called this because of their treasured value to Buddhists, as well as their indestructible and unchanging nature.

The Three Gems when used in the process of taking refuge, become the Three Refuges. In this form, the metaphors occur very frequently in the ancient Buddhist Texts, and here the Sangha is used more broadly to refer to either the Sangha of Bhikkhus, or the Sangha of Bhikkhunis.


Diamond Mind

Buddha's mind in his earth body or nirmanakaya is frequently associated with the greatest gem of all, the diamond, the hardest natural substance. In the Anguttara Nikaya(3:25), Buddha talks about the diamond mind which can cut through all delusion.


The expression Three Gems are found in the earliest Buddhist literature of the Pali Canon, besides other works there is one sutta in the Sutta-nipata, called the Ratana-sutta<ref name=ratana>

</ref> which contains a series of verses on the Jewels in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.

In the Ratana-sutta, all the qualities of the Sangha mentioned are attributes of the Buddha's enlightened disciples:

  • One who is irascible and very irritable, displaying anger, hatred and sulkiness; such a one is said to be a person with a mind like an open sore.
  • One who understands the Four Noble Truths correctly is said to have a mind like a flash of lightning.
  • One who has destroyed the mind-intoxicating defilements and realized the liberation of mind and the liberation by knowledge is said to have a mind like a diamond

Jainism and Taoism

Jainism and Taoism also use “three jewels” metaphorically. When Buddhism was introduced into China, ratnatraya was translated as sanbao (

), a word that first occurs in the Tao Te Ching.

In his analysis of the Tao Te Ching, Victor H. Mair notes<ref name=mair>

</ref> that the jewel metaphor was already widely used in Indian religious metaphor before the Tao Te Ching was written. In Jainism too,

For the Jains, the Three Jewels are a metaphor for describing conduct and knowledge:

  • samyag-darśana (correct perception or insight)
  • samyag-jñāna (correct knowledge)
  • samyag-cāritra (correct conduct).


within a triratana, over a Dharmacakra wheel, on the Torana gate at Sanchi. 1st century BCE.]] The Three Jewels are also symbolized by the triratna, composed of (from bottom to top): :* A lotus flower within a circle. :* A diamond rod, or vajra. :* An ananda-chakra. :* A trident, or trisula, with three branches, representing the threefold jewels of Buddhism: Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha.

On representations of the footprint of the Buddha, the Triratna is usually also surmounted by the Dharma wheel.

The Triratna can be found on frieze sculptures at Sanchi as the symbol crowning a flag standard (2nd century BCE), as a symbol of the Buddha installed on the Buddha's throne (2nd century BCE), as the crowning decorative symbol on the later gates at the stupa in Sanchi (2nd century CE), or, very often on the Buddha footprint (starting from the 1st century CE).

The triratna can be further reinforced by being surmounted with three dharma wheels (one for each of the three jewels of Buddhism: the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha).

The triratna symbol is also called nandipada, or “bull's hoof”, by Hindus.


There are a number of examples of the triratna symbol appearing on historical coins of Buddhist kingdoms in the Indian sub-continent. For example, the Triratna appears on the 1st century BCE coins of the Kingdom of Kuninda in the northern Punjab. It also surmounts the depictions of stupas, on some the coins of the Indo-Parthian king Abdagases of the 1st century, CE and on the coins of some of the Kushan kings such as Vima Kadphises, also of the 1st century CE.

<center><gallery> Image:AzesIITriratna.jpg|Triratna symbol on the reverse (left field) of a coin of the Indo-Scythian king Azes II (r.c. 35-12 BCE). Image:KunindaCoin.JPG|2nd century BCE coin of the Kunindas, incorporating on the reverse the Buddhist triratna symbol on top of a stupa. </gallery></center>

See also



triple_jewel.txt · Last modified: 2016/04/02 01:51 by Dorjay Zopa