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by Linda Heaphy May 10, 2017

The kartika is a ceremonial Buddhist ritual tool shaped like a crescent knife or chopper, topped with a vajra that acts as a handle to the blade. It symbolizes the severance of all material and worldly bonds, while the vajra represents the destruction of ignorance, thus clearing the path to enlightenment.  While the kartika is used in several Buddhist ceremonies, usually in combination with the kapala (skullcap), it is particularly important in the Tibetan practice of Chöd , a ritual involving a form of self-sacrifice, whereby the practitioner visualizes their own body as the offering at a form of tantric feast.   The kartika is also famously used in the Tibetan sky burial ritual, whereby the deceased are cut into small pieces and left for the vultures to consume on top of special gats or burial platforms.  Interestingly, the kartika is also utilised in the practice of Feng Shui .


Linda Heaphy
Linda Heaphy

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