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Ghanta

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Title: Ghanta  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Worship in Hinduism, Kamalamba Navavarna Kritis, Biruda, Archana (Hinduism), Brahmamuhurtha
Collection: Bells (Instrument), Buddhist Ritual Implements, Objects Used in Hindu Worship
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Ghanta

A South Indian ghanta with Lord Nandi depicted on the handle.

A ghanta is an Indian bell used in Hindu rituals. The same term is also used to describe Buddhist bells. It is often found in a pair with the Dorje.

Description

The bell is generally made out of brass. A clapper is attached to the inside and the bell makes a high pitched sound when rung. The top of the bell handle is usually adorned with a brass figure - bells intended for use in the worship of Lord Shiva will have a figure of Lord Nandi, while those used in the worship of Lord Vishnu or his avatars as Rama, Narasimha or Krishna will have a figure of Garuda or Panchajanya shanka or Sudarshana Chakra.

Use

The Bell (Ghanta) is the most commonly used of all musical instruments in tantric Buddhist ritual. The sound made by the Bells is regarded as very auspicious and is believed to drive out evil spirits from where the ritual is being performed. When the Bell is being used with the Dorje its use is varied depending on the ritual or the mantras being chanted. During meditation ringing the bell represents the sound of Buddha teaching the dharma and symbolizes the attainment of wisdom and the understanding of emptiness. During the chanting of the mantras the Bell and Dorje are used together in a variety of different ritualistic ways to represent the union of the male and female principles.

Because the ghanta is believed to chase away asuras and summon the Devas (Gods), it is used in a lot of Hindu rituals such as puja. Generally the ghanta is held in the left hand during worship and rung continually while the various items are offered with the right hand. A second person may ring the ghanta if both hands are needed for the offering. It creates a sound of celebration. A bell hangs at the gate of many Hindu temples, which is rung at the moment one enters the temple.

Meaning

The hollow of the bell represents the void from which all phenomena arise, including the sound of the bell, and the clapper represents form. Together they symbolize wisdom (emptiness) and compassion (form or appearance).

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