Hinduism is a religion with various gods and goddesses who have rituals associated with them. Hindu scriptures are replete with metaphors, containing deeper philosophical truths, couched in symbolism. Many acts of worship, such as puja, are symbolic or for visualization.
Here are a few such significant and scared symbols of Hindu culture:
The most important symbol of Hindu religion is Aum, also written “Om” and called pranava. Its prolonged intonation is associated with the primeval sound through which the universe was created. It is thought to contain all things. It consists of three syllables, a-u-m, which are sounded progressively from the throat to the lips. The three sounds are considered to symbolise many items, but perhaps most importantly the three states of consciousness which is waking, dreaming, and deep sleep.
Kalachakra (‘Wheel of Time’) is the universal symbol of Buddhism, representing the teaching of the Buddha. Eight spokes of the Kalachakra wheel mark the directions in time and each one is ruled by a deity and having a unique quality. Also known as the Sand Mandala, it imparts healing and peace to all beings of the planet. There are complex patterns and symbols in the Mandala. Kala is the flow of all events like past, present and future , Chakra is with beginning and no end.
- Banyan Tree
Banyan tree is traditionally planted in front of temples, symbolizes longevity, fertility and represents the divine creator, Brahma and is one of the most worshiped trees in India. It symbolizes Trimurti as Lord Vishnu is believed to be the bark, Lord Brahma, the roots, and Lord Shiva, the branches.
The Banyan tree has the ability to survive and grow from many roots in all directions and for many centuries, it spreads vast shadow and it is said that Shiva and the Rishis sat under its shade to seek enlightenment.
It is said that its stems are the home of gods and spirits. The banyan tree, mentioned in scriptures as a Tree of Immortality and the one, which nourished mankind with its ‘milk’ before the advent of grain and other food, is never cut.
- Sri Yantra
Sri Yantra is a beautiful and complex sacred geometry used for worship, devotion and meditation for thousands of years. It has nine interlocking triangles that radiate from a central point. The four upright triangles represent the masculine side (or Shiva) and the five inverted triangles represent the feminine, (or Shakti) The Divine Mother. The nine interlocking triangles form 43 small triangles each housing a presiding deity associated with particular aspects of existence.
Swastika which also means being happy in Sanskrit, is one of the most ancient symbols and the second sacred symbol in Hinduism. Its four directions symbolize the four points of the compass. It is related to life, peace and good luck but also represents the revolving sun and fire.
It dates back some 6,000 years to rock and cave paintings and originated in India and was first mentioned in the Vedas. Present in ancient Hindu world as the variant of the cross, the Swastika represents honesty, purity, truth and stability.
Lotus flower, is a symbol of culture and etiquette and also considered to be the holiest flower in India. It symbolizes creation, perfection of beauty, is associated with Vishnu, Brahma and Lakshmi. The Lotus, even if rooted in mud, remains clean and continues to float on the water. This aspect of the lotus dictates how humans are supposed to live in this world, work incessantly but be not attached to the work and to the surroundings.
Brahma, always meditates on the lotus and many Hindu deities like Vishnu, Ganesha and Parvati hold Lotus in their hands.
Peacock is the symbol of the cycle of time in Hindu scripts. It is said that its feathers bring good luck and prosperity into the house and keep it free from flies and its cry warns of approaching danger.It is believed that this sacred bird was created from one of the feathers of Garuda.
Well, In Hinduism, every object associated with the ritual of a Puja is symbolically significant. Especially, people greet each other by placing their two hands together and slightly bowing the head, whilst saying namaste or a similar phrase. They adopt the same posture when greeting the temple deity or a holy person. Thus when greeting another person, a Hindu is offering respect to the soul within and also to God within the heart.