Terma Phurba



Of all Tantric “weapons”, none is more famous than the Phurba (Sanskrit: Kila). Styled as a three bladed knife or dagger, the Phurba is associated with the Buddha’s activity aspect and the meditational deity Vajrakilaya. Rather than being a practical weapon, the phurba is a symbol of the Buddha’s ability to cut through obstacles, to pierce to the heart of situations and problems, and to liberate everything which stands in the way of the full expression of enlightened awareness. Phurbas are found throughout the Himalayan area, and are widely used by lamas, Tertons, shamans and magicians for a variety of purposes. Excellent examples have been found in many places, including India, Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet, Japan, Indonesia and Mongolia, and phurbas are used not only by Buddhists and Bonpos, but also several types of indigenous healers and ritual experts.

Often seen among the accoutrements of wrathful deities such as Guru Drakpo, the phurba represents the piercing, aggressive energy sometimes required in order to nail down destructive forces and penetrate the root of disturbing emotions.

In Vajrayana Buddhism, there are at least three types of physical, ritual phurbas:

Recitation or Shrine Phurba – Often a more elaborate piece, kept on the shrine as an object of devotion and as a support for one’s meditation practice.

Activity Phurba – This phurba is used for performing various activities during development stage of Vajrayana practice.

Protection Phurba – Usually a very small (3-4″), simple representation which can be carried on the body as a symbol of one’s commitment to cutting through obstacles on the path to enlightenment.

All three types of phurba, when properly consecrated, act as the nirmanakaya manifestation of Vajrakilaya, and are treated as the deity in actuality. Phurbas are traditionally made from a wide variety of materials, including metal, wood, bone, horn, meteorite, and crystal.

The phurba we offer here is a finely-wrought replica of a Terma phurba discovered in Tibet. It’s simple form and slender design mark it as a recitation and/or protection phurba, though it will function equally well as a shrine/recitation phurba. These phurbas are 7 1/8″ in length, and less than 1″ at their widest point. On a recent trip to Kham, Eastern Tibet, the Terton we stayed with carried a very similar phurba on a cord attached to his belt. Made from an alloy containing the traditional metals – gold, silver, copper, lead and iron – each phurba also contains a blessed pill made from more than 85 substances discovered as Terma throughout Tibet and Kham by a living, active Terton. About these pills, the Terton himself said “These substances will bring liberation to whomever comes in contact with them.” Each phurba comes in a in black cloth wrapper.

All profits from the sale of these phurbas will go directly to the Terton to assist his work in practicing, maintaining and spreading the Dharma in Kham and Tibet.