Skip to main content


Bhavacakra (Skt., the ‘wheel of existence’). Buddhist, and especially Tibetan, painting which portrays the relentless process of recurrent birth, death, and rebirth, saṃsāra, as a wheel. Pictures on the wheel convey the conditions of saṃsāra together with the moral and mental factors which cause the individual to remain within saṃsāra. The wheel is shown clasped by the hands and feet and being devoured by a demon monster, Māra, symbolizing the all-pervasive nature of death and impermanence.

According to the Divyāvadāna, the Buddha himself instituted the drawing of the bhavacakra as a pedagogic device for the instruction of the non-literate in Buddhist truths. The earliest known example of the bhavacakra is a fresco (c.6th cent. CE) of Ajaṇṭā.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Bhavacakra." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . 19 Mar. 2018 <>.

"Bhavacakra." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . (March 19, 2018).

"Bhavacakra." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Retrieved March 19, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.