digplanet beta 1: Athena
Share digplanet:

Agriculture

Applied sciences

Arts

Belief

Business

Chronology

Culture

Education

Environment

Geography

Health

History

Humanities

Language

Law

Life

Mathematics

Nature

People

Politics

Science

Society

Technology

The Sri Chakra, frequently called the Sri Yantra, represents the goddess in her form of Shri Lalitha or Tripura Sundari

Over the millennia of its development Hinduism has adopted several iconic symbols, forming part of Hindu iconography, that are imbued with spiritual meaning based on either the scriptures or cultural traditions. The exact significance accorded to any of the icons varies with region, period and denomination of the followers. Over time some of the symbols, for instance the Swastika has come to have wider association while others like Aum are recognized as unique representations of Hinduism. Other aspects of Hindu iconography are covered by the terms murti, for icons and mudra for gestures and positions of the hands and body.

Hindu sacraments[edit]

Hindu sacraments are physical objects or markings that are considered sacred and used as a sign of devotion by the followers of Sanathana dharma (Hinduism). These are often objects associated with a puja (prayer) or religious ceremony.

Tilaka[edit]

The tilaka (or tilak) is a mark worn on the forehead or other parts of the body as a sign of spiritual devotion. Hindus may wear a tilaka regularly or especially on religious occasions. The shape of the tilaka is often an indicator of devotion to a certain deity. For example, a 'U' shape tilaka usually denotes devotion to Vishnu, while Shiva devotees often wear it in the form of three horizontal lines. It may be made of saffron, vermilion, turmeric, clay or simply ash.

To denote marriage and auspiciousness, married Hindu women commonly wear a decorative vermilion dot or bindu, or bindī on the forehead. This is analogous to a wedding ring worn in western countries. In southern India, the mark is called pottu (or bottu). The exact shape, size and location of the bindi or pottu shows regional variation; for instance, in northern India the bindi is often worn just below the hairline, while in southern India it is more common to wear it between the eyebrows. In east India, especially in West Bengal, traditionally larger bindis are worn as mark of devotion towards Goddess Durga.

Vibhuti[edit]

Vibhuti is the holy ash obtained from sacred puja rites involving fire. Also a variant called Basma used as Vibhuti is prepared from the purified ashes of cow dung. Ash as the product of fire is considered intrinsically pure[citation needed]. It is used on the forehead, normally as three horizontal lines representing Shiva. Some Hindus meld both the three horizontal vibhuti lines of Shiva and the 'U' shape thilaka of Vishnu in an amalgam marker signifying Hari-Hara (Vishnu-Shiva). In addition, sacred ash signifies that the body's origin is from dust and ash and to dust and ash it shall return. The ash is a marker of impermanence. Everything in the interim is but an illusion (maya).

Vibhuti, when applied on forehead, also signifies that the latter is willing to destroy all bad and evil thoughts in his mind(such as jealousy, envy, lust, anger, greed, etc...), as he knows it is these things that, if not destroyed, will bring all pains in his life.

Rudraksha[edit]

Rudraksha are seeds of the rudraksha tree that, in Hinduism, represent the tears of Lord Shiva (also known as, Rudra). They are often threaded into a necklace and used as a rosary to accompany prayer and meditation.

Universal symbols[edit]

Among the most revered symbols in Hinduism, three are a quintessential part of its culture, and are most representative of its general ethos:

Om (pronounced Aum)[edit]

Main article: Om

Om (or Aum, ) is the sacred sound symbol that represents Universe; the ultimate reality (Brahman). It is prefixed and sometimes suffixed to all Vedic mantras and prayers. Aum is often said to represent God in the three aspects of Brahma (A), Vishnu (U) and Shiva (M). As the Divine primordial vibration, it represents the one ultimate reality, underlying and encompassing all of nature and all of existence. The written syllable called omkara serves as a deeply significant and distinctly recognizable symbol for Hindu dharma. The pronunciation of Aum moves through all possible human linguistic vowel sounds and is different from the pronunciation of Om. Both are often symbolically equated, although they are sonically distinct.

Many Hindus use Religious symbols on their vehicles, this image shows the Om on a Bajaj Pulsar Bike.

Swastika[edit]

Swastika is a symbol connoting general auspiciousness. It may represent purity of soul, truth, and stability or, alternatively, Surya, the sun.[1] Its rotation in four directions has been used to represent many ideas, but primarily describes the four directions, the four Vedas and their harmonious whole. Its use in Hinduism dates back to ancient times.

Sri Chakra Yantra[edit]

Sri Chakra Yantra of Tripura Sundari (commonly referred to as Sri Yantra) is a mandala formed by nine interlocking triangles. Four of these triangles are oriented upright, representing Shiva or the Masculine. Five of these triangles are inverted triangles representing Shakti, or the Feminine. Together, the nine triangles form a web symbolic of the entire cosmos, a womb symbolic of creation, and together express Advaita Vedanta or non-duality. All other yantras are derivatives of this supreme yantra.

Symbols associated with individual deities[edit]

Goddess Lakshmi holding and standing on a lotus.

Several symbols (animals, flora, instruments, weapons, or even color) in Hindu iconography are associated with particular devas, and vice versa. In certain cases the deities themselves are personifications of natural forces, for instance Agni (fire), Vayu (wind), Surya (Sun) and Prithvi (Earth). In other instances, the associations arise from specific incidents or characteristics related in Hindu theology. The iconography serve to identify the particular deity in their pictorial or sculptural representations. The symbolism also often links the deities with a particular natural or human attribute, or profession.

It is important to understand the symbolism, in order to appreciate the allegorical references in not only Hindu scriptures (for instance, Puranic tales), but also in both ancient and modern secular works of authors from the Indian subcontinent.

Shiva Lingam[edit]

The Shiva Lingam represents the divine being Shiva, and is used as a symbol of the power of fertility and strength[citation needed].

The Lotus[edit]

The Lotus is associated with the creation theology as well as the gods Vishnu, Brahma, and Lakshmi.

The Veena[edit]

The musical instrument Veena is associated with the Hindu goddess Saraswati and the sage Narada. It represents arts and learning.

Conch[edit]

A Hindu pundit (priest) blowing the conch during puja.
Main article: Shankha

The conch shell is a major Hindu article of prayer, used as a trumpeting announcement of all sorts. The God of Preservation, Vishnu, is said to hold a special conch, Panchajanya, that represents life as it has come out of life-giving waters. In the story of Dhruva the divine conch plays a special part. The warriors of ancient India would blow conch shells to announce battle, such as is famously represented in the beginning of the war of Kurukshetra in the Mahabharata, a famous Hindu epic. The conch shell is also a deep part of Hindu symbolic and religious tradition. Today most Hindus use the conch as a part of their religious practices, blowing it during worship at specific points, accompanied by ceremonial bells. Shankha also symbolizes the sound that created the universe and stands for knowledge.

Chakra[edit]

The Chakra or disc-like weapon of Vishnu is often found mounted on the top of Vaishnava temples or incorporated into architectural designs. Images depicting Vishnu's four-armed Narayana form almost always include the Chakra in one of his hands. It is a general symbol for protection. Chakra is also known to symbolize the need to follow dharma and to condemn adharma.

Multiple heads and arms[edit]

In Indian dance, the idea of multiple arms is often shown by several dancers standing behind each other with their arms in different positions.

An array of Hindu, Buddhist, and some Jain deities are often depicted with multiple heads, arms, and other body parts, creating what one author refers to as a "multiplicity convention" in religious iconography.[2] Such multiple body parts represent the divine omnipresence and immanence (ability to be in many places at once and simultaneously exist in all places at once), and thereby the ability to influence many things at once.[2] The specific meanings attributed to the multiple body parts of an image are symbolic, not literal in context.[3] In such depictions, the visual effect of an array of multiple arms is to create a kinetic energy showing that ability.[4]

Vāhana[edit]

Main article: Vāhana

Vāhana or vehicle, sometimes called a mount, is an animal or mythical entity closely associated with a particular deity in Hindu theology. Sometimes the deity is iconographically depicted riding and/or mounted on the vahana; other times, the vahana is depicted at the deity's side or symbolically represented as a divine attribute.

Table of symbols[edit]

Hindu Gods, Deities, Mythological Figures and Their Associated Symbols
God or deity Associated symbols Note
Adi parashakti Chariot of seven lions, Sri Chakra Supreme Deity of Hindu mythology
Brahma Lotus, swan (hamsa), Vedas, garland of beads (akshamala) Creator god
Vishnu Shesha, shankha, chakra, gada, lotus, Garuda, color blue Preserver of creation
Shiva Shiva Linga, Nandi, third eye, trishula (trident), crescent-moon, rudraksha, cobra, drum, tiger skin, vibhuti Destroyer, symbol of asceticism and renunciation
Saraswati
Goddess Saraswati depicted playing the veena
White lotus, swan, peacock, veena, color white Goddess of learning, music and art
Lakshmi Red lotus, elephant, shower of gold, kumbha, owl, peacock feather Goddess of wealth and prosperity
Consort of Vishnu
Parvati Lion, Nandi, trident, chakra, gada, padam, couch, cross bow, khadag Goddess of courage, fertility, power, complete incarnation of Supreme deity, Adi parashakti
Consort of Shiva
Indra Thunderbolt (vajra), rainbow, clouds God of War, rains, fertility and the night-time sky
King of the heavens
Varuna Noose (pasha) God of duty and contracts
King of the waters
Yama Noose (pasha), dhanda (rod), buffalo God of justice and death
King of the dead
Surya Chariot, sun-rays, the colour of gold The Sun-God
Father of Yama
Kali Garland of severed human heads, scimitar, khanda, khapar, khadag, trident Symbol of Sanskrit alphabet, destroyer of evil
Guardian of desert wastes, Goddess beyond time
Rama Bow and arrow, the colour blue, royal panoply Symbol of righteousness and good governance
Avatar of Vishnu
Krishna The colour blue, cow, flute, Sudarshana Chakra, milk, peacock feather Protector of cattle
Avatar of Vishnu
Propounder of the Bhagavad Gita
Ganesha Aṅkuśa, rat, modak, Aum God of foresight, wisdom and good fortune
Son of Parvati and Shiva
Murugan Peacock, vel, rooster flag God of war and commander-in-chief of the gods
Guardian of hills
Son of Siva and Parvati
Hanuman gada Symbol of devotion (bhakti) and strength
Devotee of Rama

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Karel Werner, A Popular Dictionary of Hinduism 147-48 (Curzon Press 1994) ISBN 0-7007-0279-2
  2. ^ a b Srinivasan, Doris Meth, Many Heads, Arms, and Eyes: Origin, Meaning, and Form of Multiplicity in Indian Art, in Journal of the American Oriental Society, 121(2):279-280, 2001, OCLC 208705592; as a book by the same title: Leiden, New York, Brill, 1997, ISBN 978-9004107588, at pp. 3-4, et seq.., with preview available at Google books.
  3. ^ Srinivasan, p. 325.
  4. ^ The Goddess Durga Killing the Buffalo Demon (Mahishasura Mardini), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, metmuseum.org, 2012 (last update). Accessed 2012-7-5. The Met notes that with sculptural depictions of multiple-armed deities viewed by the flicker of oil lamps in a dimly lit shrine, the visual kinetic energy of their many arms are no doubt made the more powerful to the viewer by the movement of light upon the sculpture.
  • Vastu-Silpa Kosha, Encyclopedia of Hindu Temple architecture and Vastu/S.K.Ramachandara Rao, Delhi, Devine Books, (Lala Murari Lal Chharia Oriental series) ISBN 978-93-81218-51-8 (Set).

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]


Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindu_iconography — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
2900 videos foundNext > 

Spiritual Iconography

Hindu and Buddhist Iconography with music by Paul Avgerinos of roundskymusic.com, brought to you by http://karmacaffe.com, the Ultimate Spiritual Networking ...

Bhagwan Jagannath Netra Utsava Dhwajarohan

Jagannath (or Jagannatha) meaning "Lord of the Universe", is a deity worshipped primarily by Hindu people, mainly in the Indian states of Odisha, Chhattisgar...

Amar Agrawal in Bhagwan Jagannath Rathyatra

Jagannath (or Jagannatha) meaning "Lord of the Universe", is a deity worshipped primarily by Hindu people, mainly in the Indian states of Odisha, Chhattisgar...

Ravana Phadi cave temple, Aihole

Dating back to the 6th century, the Ravana Phadi cave temple is one of the oldest rock cut shrines at Aihole. This cave temple is dedicated to Shiva and has ...

Chanting god Jagannath's name

An old man covered himself with grasses and chanting Jagannath's name. Jagannath (or Jagannatha) meaning "Lord of the Universe", is a deity worshipped primar...

Shri Suktam - revering Śrī as Lakṣmī, the Hindu goddess of wealth, prosperity and fertility !

Śrī Sūkta, also called Śrī Sūktam, is a Sanskrit devotional hymn (set of Śloka-s) revering Śrī as Lakṣmī, the Hindu goddess of wealth, prosperity and fertili...

Jagannath's Rath Yatra

A Ratha-Yatra or Roth Jatra or Chariot Festival is a Hindu festival that involves transporting deities on a chariot (called a ratha or roth). Accidents invol...

Tino Rodriguez Visionary Paintings

Far away from the sterile, pseudo-sanctified realm of the art museum, Tino Rodriguez gained his first exposure to the art world in the Catholic churches of M...

ganesha hindu symbolism

Crystal Ganesha - Good Luck Symbol at http://www.sriyantras.com http://www.sriyantras.com RESPECTS TO LORD GANESHA, HINDU TEMPLE MARKS GOOD-LUCK DEITY'S BIRT...

Tino Rodriguez Water Colors & Pastels

Music Alio Die and Saffron Wood/ song 'Cleaning Resonance' from the album 'Corteggiando le messi' /////////////////////////////////////////\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\...

2900 videos foundNext > 

1 news items

Sydney Morning Herald

Sydney Morning Herald
Sat, 12 Jul 2014 07:43:20 -0700

If you were going to compare Melbourne dancer Dr Chandrabhanu to Hindu iconography, an apt choice would be Durga, the 10-headed warrior goddess. After all, he is at once a beloved teacher, contemporary choreographer, Indian arts advocate, proud ...
Loading

Oops, we seem to be having trouble contacting Twitter

Talk About Hindu iconography

You can talk about Hindu iconography with people all over the world in our discussions.

Support Wikipedia

A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia. Please add your support for Wikipedia!