The Naropa University seal was designed by Naropa's founder, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, on whose teachings the school's philosophies are based; thus, its meaning speaks to the Naropa experience with simultaneous relevance to the school's history and its present-day form.
The Sanskrit words written in Tibetan on the ribbon at the bottom of the seal—"prajna garbha"—literally mean "womb of wisdom," but translate more loosely as "place where wisdom is nurtured." The word "prajna," meaning wisdom, differs from the traditional academic view of knowledge. Often defined by Trungpa Rinpoche as "knowingness," prajna encompasses greater insight, independent of accumulation of facts or information.
The wheel of dharma, or wheel of the teachings, appears at the center of the seal and signifies the power, communication and reach of Buddhist-based teachings. At the center of the wheel of dharma is the "coil of joy," which symbolizes the transformation of the three "poisons" (passion, aggression and ignorance) into the three "wisdoms" (appreciation, clear seeing and openness).
The wheel of dharma has another, secular significance: a great monarch could roll his or her chariot wheels over great distances, spreading teachings and understanding into the world at large. The connotation here is of spreading benefit, rather than proselytizing.
Literally, "prajna" is the flame that burns conceptual mind. The flames surrounding the seal create a mandala and boundary around the learning space. That space requires unconditional commitment to learning without a personal agenda.