By Swami Harshananda
Aṣṭamaṅgalas literally means ‘eight objects of auspiciousness’.
Traditions have always considered certain objects and living beings as ‘maṅgala’ or auspicious. Coming across them by chance, seeing them, receiving them as gifts, giving them as gifts or honoring them—all these (depending upon the type of object) have been deemed to produce auspiciousness.
‘Aṣṭamañgala’ is a term often used in the religious works to indicate eight such objects of auspiciousness, though there is no unanimity among the lists given. These objects may be necessary on important occasions as the coronation of a king, or they may be depicted as motifs in architecture. In a few rare cases as in a vrata (religious vow) they represent the objects to be gifted.
There is a varied list of aṣṭamañgalas as per the different scriptures. They are mentioned below :
The common aṣṭamañgalas are :
- Cāmara (cauri made of the bushy hairs of a yak’s tail)
As per another list, they are :
- A brāhmaṇa
- Ghee (butter-oil)
- The sun
Other objects included in such lists (keeping of course, the total number always eight) are :
- The svastika sign
- White umbrella
- A pair of fish
- Head of a horse
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore