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Ritual Object: Kila 'Purba' Main Page

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A purba (Tibetan: phur ba. Sanskrit: kila) is a three edged peg usually made from metal or wood originating with Indian Tantric Buddhism and related to ritual mandala construction. The 'kila' has sometimes been described in the West as a dagger with three blades. Considered the best of the metal 'kilas' are those created from meteorite iron. Sandalwood is also popular. The various tantra literature describes different mediums for construction based on function and ritual practice.

The principal deity associated with the 'kila' purba is Vajrakila (Vajrakilaya). These purbas generally have three faces at the top and are crowned with a half vajra. Alternately a specific type of purba is connected with the practice of Hayagriva and crowned with a horse head at the top rather than a half vajra. It should be noted that in Hayagriva's iconographic depictions he does not hold a purba. The two Nyingma teachers Dorje Dudjom and Jatson Nyingpo are generally shown with the left hand thrusting a purba downward.

The Bon religion also uses the purba as a deity, Purba Drugse Chempa, and a ritual object. These can generally be identified as having multiple heads with the top crowned with a garuda - the king of birds along with a total absence of a full or half vajra. It is not historically clear as to the origins of the deity 'Purba' and arguments continue between the Buddhists and the Bonpo scholars. There is historical evidence for the 'kila' object used in Indian Buddhist mandala rituals.

Jeff Watt 3-2002 [updated 5-2017, 11-2019]

Bibliography:

Dagger Blessing, the Tibetan Phurpa Cult: Reflections and Materials. Thomas Marcotty. Delhi: B.R.Publishing, 1987.

Padmasambhava's Invention of the Phurpa, F.A.Bischoff and Ch.Hartmann. Etudes Tibetaines, Paris, 1971.

The Phur-pa - Tibetan Ritual Daggers, John C. Huntington. Ascona, 1975.

The Phurbu: the Use and Symbolism of the Tibetan Magic Dagger, Georgette Meredith. History of Religions, Vol. VI no. 3, Chicago, 1967

A Short Description of the Phurpa, Sarat Chandra Das. Journal of the Buddhist Society, IV, 1896, p.5.

Les Dagues Rituelles De L'Himalaya, Ritual Daggers from the Himalayas. Nicole & Patrick Grimaud. Editions Findakly, May 2017.

See Purba bibliography.