The three-sided style of the phurba comes from an ancient tool used to pin down sacrifices. The phurba has 3 segments to represent its power to transform negative energies. These energies are known as the "three poisons" and are attachment, ignorance, and aversion. The 3 sides of the phurba also represent the 3 spirit worlds and the phurba itself unites those worlds. The handle of the phurba represents "wisdom" while the blade represents "methods".
The phurba symbolizes stability and was often used during ceremonies by tantric practitioners. The phurba can also hold demons in place. Only those who are empowered to use the phurba may use it to tether negative energies during ceremonies or as a stabilizer. The blade is never sharp as it is only used as a ritual dagger, not an actual weapon.