Monday, 30 March 2009

The Wisdom that binds Eh and Wam

"The wisdom that binds the Eh and Wam"

Tashi Explains..... This beautiful character Eh-Vam in Sanskrit, Eh-Wam in Tibetan ཨེ་ཝཾ་, has always enchanted me, seemingly shrouded in magic and mystery, it has become a favorite subject centre piece for a number of my own art works and intrigues me to solve its riddle. I have yet to learn its origin and would be delighted if anybody could share this with me. But here is a small token to bring about a littler more awareness of this powerful monogram, as there seems to be very little written on it, from what i can find.

I was first of all captured by its depth and wisdom, when during the 80's H E Situ Rinpoche gave a teaching explicitly about the Eh-Wam symbol. He explained the meaning and the interrelationship between the 'Eh' ཨེ་ and the 'Wam' ཝཾ་ Which first of all translates as Means/method and Wisdom/Knowledge. He then went on to explain:

ཨེ་ is a container, ཝཾ་ is the togetherness.

ཨེ་ is space, ཝཾ་ is the galaxy.

ཨེ་ is all, and ཝཾ་ is one of all.

ཨེ་ is the whole solar system, ཝཾ་ is the earth.

ཨེ་ is the whole earth, then ཝཾ་ is the sentient beings.

ཨེ་ is all the sentient beings, ཝཾ་ is the tsa, lung and tigli.

ཨེ་ is the tsa, lung and tigli, ཝཾ་ is the mind.

ཨེ་ is present state of mind, ཝཾ་ is the essence its self.

When we achieve realization until the 10th level Bodhisattva, until that very last moment of the path, that is the ཨེ་. The last moment to achieve the realization becomes no different between the wisdom its self, that is the ཝཾ་, in this way ཨེ་ and Wam can be experienced, this is why the ཨེ་ཝཾ་ is a very great meaningful symbol.
Words by H E Situ Rinpoche, Samye Ling, Scotland, 1986.

Another source of the use of Eh-Vam is that it is the first words used in nearly all Sutras/Sutta, which in Sanskrit begin "evan maya srutam" = "thus I have heard". Evam simply meaning "thus". This is explained very clearly by Jayarava in his illuminating 'visible mantra' website.

and more....

Being a calligrapher, i was interested in the construction of the symbol, below i have explained my findings.

The more lesser known Eh-Wam Style character (shown on the left) seems to be a combination of the Wartu Sanskrit style script.
This is a monogram of the two Wartu letters 'Eh' and 'Wam', shown on the right.

This particular version was given to me while i was visiting Ralang Gompa in South Sikkim, which is the seat monastery of H E Gyaltsap Rinpoche.

The more well known Eh-Wam symbol, shown on the right, is associated with Tibetan Buddhist organizations, such as Rigpa and popular with the Late Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, this is a combination of two letters 'Eh' and 'Wam' from the Lansa Sanskrit style, these two separate letters are shown by the example here above left, which also shows the equivalent in Tibetan, below which is written the translation 'means and wisdom'.

This way of adjoining Sanskrit letters in combination clusters is used for popular Buddhist mantras. The best known of these monograms is the Kalachakra seed syllable, which like the Eh-Vam monogram, is respected for its powerful blessing, which often grace the walls in the elaborate Tibetan temple decoration.
It is also said that these particular monograms, such as the Kalachakra and the Eh-vam, that placed high on the out side of buildings such as temples, is effective as a protection and even has an influence on the elements, in bringing harmony to the environment, this was explained to me by Akong Tulku Rinpoche.

An Extract from "The Perfect Love Poem" by Choyam Trungpa, 6 August 1969.

Then i knew i must surrender to the dance
and join the circle of Dakinis,
Like the confluence of two rivers,
EH the feminine and VAM the male,
Meeting in the circle of the Dance.

"May the inner and outer obstacles be pacified and continual bliss be attained"


  1. You rock the Buddhist beauty.

  2. I just adore all your work, and it has been an ispiration to read more about Tibetan calligraphy and literature. You have an amazing gift!

  3. thank you for for transmitting these images.
    the softness and calmness shines through

  4. peace love and happiness to you forever on :-)

  5. I love your makes me think positive about life.. Thank you.

  6. I've just posted a Siddhaṃ version of evaṃ on the new Visible Mantra blog - it took me this long to figure out how to do it!

  7. can you draw me a tulip?

  8. Beautiful work. Trungpa Rinpoche gave an entire seminar on Eh Vam in the 1970's. The transcript should still be available from Shambhala.

  9. Sep 15 2010, Rigpa~ Glimps of the day:

    "What the world needs more than anything is bodhisattvas, active servants of peace, “clothed,” as Longchenpa said, “in the armor of perseverance,” dedicated to their bodhisattva vision and to the spreading of wisdom into all reaches of our experience.
    We need bodhisattva lawyers, bodhisattva artists and politicians, bodhisattva doctors and economists, bodhisattva teachers and scientists, bodhisattva technicians and engineers, bodhisattvas everywhere, working consciously as channels of compassion and wisdom at every level and in every situation of society; working to transform their minds and actions and those of others, working tirelessly in the certain knowledge of the support of the buddhas and enlightened beings for the preservation of our world and for a more merciful future"

    ....thank you for your art, you bring much beauty to this world.

  10. querido tashi,su arte es tan hermoso ! muchas gracias por compartirlo ,no paro de ver su blog..un saludo con gratitud :)

  11. Only just seen this, but thank you so much. I say this everyday in the Kagyu long lineage prayer (re the 10th Karmapa) and I didn't know what it meant until I read this! I follow you on Instagram and love your work:)