What is the Symbol of Hinduism, Symbols of Hinduism, Hindu Iconography

Hindu Sacraments:

  • Tilaka.
  • Vibhuti.
  • Rudraksha.
  • Om (pronounced Aum)
  • Swastika.
  • Sri Chakra Yantra.
  • Shiva Lingam.
  • The Lotus
  • Bindi
  • Dhyaja or Flag
  • Trishula
  • Vata
  • The Veena
  • Tripundra
  • Saffron Color

Hinduism is swarming with symbolism, and a person cannot deny being introduced to any of its symbols in one form or the other, at some point in their lives. These symbols, that represent philosophies, teachings and the various gods and goddess are contemporary representatives of a pulsating culture, with more and more people from the western countries adopting them in their lives in some form.

 While on the surface, many of these hindu symbols may seem absurd, they all carry deeper symbolic meanings that are bound to draw attention to the rich cultural lineage of Hinduism.

Here are the all Hindu Symbols

  1. OM or AUM

Three Sanskrit letters – aa, au, and ma, when combined make the sound Om or Aum.  The first syllable in every prayer, it symbolizes the universe and the ultimate reality – the Brahman or the Absolute. It is perceived as the root of the universe that continues to hold everything together.

  hindu symbols
Om or Aum is also referred to as Omkara, Aumkara, and Pranava. Pixabay

Om represents various important triads:

  • The three aspects of God: the Brahma (A), the Vishnu (U), and the Shiva (M)
  • The three worlds: Earth, Atmosphere, and heaven
  • The three sacred Vedic scriptures – the Rig Ved, the Yajur Ved, and the Sama Ved

Just like the cross is to Christians, the ‘Om’ is considered as the universal Hindu symbol. Even the word ‘Amen’ used by Christians to conclude a prayer seems akin to the Hindu Om. It also incorporated in English words with similar meanings, like ‘omnipotent’ or ‘omnipresent’. Thus, the sacred symbol Om or Aum represents divinity and authority.

Symbol of piety, Om is found at the head of letters, pendants and enshrined in every Hindu temple and family shrines.

2. SWASTIKA

 The term Swastika is a fusion of two Sanskrit words Su (good) and Asati (to exist), which together stand for “may the good prevail”.
 Although the symbol has a negative connotation in some parts of the world because of its striking resemblance to the Nazi emblem, the Swastika symbolizes the perpetual nature of Brahman (universe)- it’s pointing in all directions represent the omnipresence of the Absolute.

A sign of luck and fortune, it is used to represent truth, honesty, purity, and stability. It’s four points, or angles are also believed to represent the four directions or the Hindu Vedas.

3. SAFFRON COLOR

A color that represents Hinduism in its entirety, Saffron is the shade of the Supreme Being represented by Agni or fire. Fire burns away the darkness, symbolic of knowledge smoldering away ignorance and dispensing radiance.

Saffron is considered a holy color in multi cultures. Wikimedia Commons.

With its origin in the Vedas, the foremost hymn in the Rig Veda glorifies fire worship- it mentions when sages moved from one ashram to the next, it was standard to carry fire along. The inconvenience of carrying a burning object is believed to have given birth to the symbol of a saffron flag. For this reason, saffron flags flutter on top of Hindu temples.

Also auspicious to the Buddhists, the Jains, and the Sikhs, Buddhists monks, and Hindu saints are often seen wearing saffron robes as a mark of purity, abstinence, and renunciation of material life.

 

4. THE TILAK 

Tilak is one of the most common symbols in Hinduism which is visible and is seen on the forehead from where one can channel divinity.  The word Tilak comes from the Sanskrit word ’til’ (sesame seed) which is of great significance in yagnas and charity.

A flute player from India with a tilak on his forehead. Wikimedia Commons.

While its origin is unclear, it is believed that at the time of the Varna system, people applied tilak to represent their Varna,

  • Brahmins wore a white Chandan mark to imply purity
  • Kshatriyas wore a red tilak for their valour
  • Vaishyas applied a yellow (turmeric) tilak to denote prosperity
  • The Shudhras applied a black tilak to represent their service to all others

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The Tilak also denotes fidelity to different gods – the commitment to Vishnu is denoted by a U-shaped Tilak while horizontal lines symbolize devotion to Shiva.

 

5. RUDRAKSHA

The term is a culmination of two words- ‘Rudra’ (another name for Lord Shiva) and ‘Aksha’ (eyes).

Rosemary made out of Rudraksha seeds. Wikimedia

Rudraksha is essentially a tree with blue seeds, found in Southeast Asia, the Himalayas, New Guinea and Australia. The unusually colored seeds are said to represent the tears of Lord Shiva, the destroyer.

Legend has it that Shiva she’s a tear upon seeing the sorry state of his people, which turned into the Rudraksha tree.

Rudraksha seeds are commonly used to make rosaries.

6. Shiva Lingam

In Hinduism, several deities represent the natural forces fire (Agni), wind (Vayu), sun (Surya) and earth (Prithvi). There are several icons used to symbolize these deities. The Shiva Lingam, which is used to represent Shiva, is an elongated column that looks much like an erect penis. (ancient-symbols.com)

 

7. The Lotus

This plant is representative of creation and is used to symbolize Vishnu, Brahma and Lakshmi.

 

8. The Veena

This is an Indian stringed instrument that represents art and learning. It is also used for the goddess Saraswati and the sage Narada.

9. Bindi

One of the most well known items in Hinduism is the bindi, a dot (often the color red) worn on women’s foreheads. It is a form of the tilak, a symbolic mark worn by many Hindu men and women, but that has less religious meaning then other tilaks. Traditionally, the bindi is worn on the forehead of married Hindu women. It symbolizes female energy and is believed to protect women and their husbands from bad things. Bindis are traditionally a simple mark made with the paste of colored sandalwood, sindoor or turmeric. The bindi is most commonly a red dot made with vermilion.

10. Brahman

One can say that Brahman Itself (him/herself) constitutes the essential building material of all reality, being the substance from which all things proceed. Brahman, as understood by the scriptures of Hinduism, as well as by the ‘acharyas’ of the Vedanta school, is a very specific conception of the absolute. This unique conception has not been replicated by any other religion on earth to this day, and is exclusive to Hinduism.

11. Dhvaja or Flag

is the orange or red banner flown above temples, at festivals and in processions. It is a symbol of victory, signal to all that “Sanatana Dharma shall prevail.” Its color betokens the sun’s life-giving glow.

12. The Trishula

Trishula or the Trident is a prominent Hindu symbol that is associated with Lord Shiva. Though this three-pronged symbol is usually viewed as a weapon used by the Lord for the protection and restoration of Dharma, it actually carries deeper meanings. It is representative of the Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh and stands for the balance between the forces of creation, preservation and destruction. It is also considered symbolic of the three Gunas – Rajas, Tamas and Sattva. Another symbolic representation of the Trishula is that of the three facets of consciousness, namely, cognition, affection and conation.

13. Vata

the banyan tree, symbolizes Hinduism, which branches out in all directions, draws from many roots, spreads shade far and wide, yet stems from one great trunk. Siva as Silent Sage sits beneath it.

14. Tripundra

The Tripundra is a prominent Hindu symbol that is used by Shaivites or the devotees of Lord Shiva. Tripundra is typically a tilak, with three horizontal lines made from bhasma or sacred ash applied on the forehead. It may have a red dot or bindu superimposed in the center. Some Shiva followers also draw the three ash strips of Tripundra on the sides of their arms.

The Tripundra represents the three godly forces of creation, sustenance and destruction through the three lines, while the ash’s symbolizes purification and burning away of anava (ego), maya(illusions) and karma (actions/deeds). The dot is symbolic of the rise or quickening of spiritual insight.

15. Ganesha

is the Lord of Obstacles and Ruler of Dharma. Seated upon His throne, He guides our karmas through creating and removing obstacles from our path. We seek His permission and blessings in every undertaking.

 

 

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