Symbolism in Hinduism

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AUM

Pranava or AUM is the universally accepted symbol of Hinduism. Literally, the word Pranava means "That by which God is effectively praised". It also means "That which is never new". Actually AUM comprises of three independent letters A, U and M, each of which has its own meaning and significance. The letter 'A' represents the beginning (Adimatwa), 'U' represents Progress (Utkarsha) and 'M' represents limit or dissolution (Miti). Hence, the word AUM represents that power responsible for creation, development and disolution of the Universe, namely GOD himself.
 

ShivaLinga

Literally, Shiva means auspiciousness, and Linga means a sign of symbol. Hence, the ShivaLinga is the symbol of the Great God of the Universe who is all-auspicious-ness. Shiva also means One in whom the whole creation sleeps after dissolution. Linga also means the same thing - a place where created objects get dissolved during disintegration of the created Universe. Since according to Hinduism, it is the same God who creates, sustains amd withdraw the Universe, the ShivaLinga represents symbolically God himself.

ShivaLingas may be 'Chala' (movable) or 'Achala' (immovable). The Chala Lingas may be kept in the shrine of one's own home for worship or prepared temporarily with materials like clay or dough or rice for worship and dispensed with after the worship. The Chala lingas can also be worn on the body as Ishtalinga as the Virasaivas do.

The 'Achala Lingas' are those installed in temples. They are usually made of stones and have three parts. The lowest part which is square is called Brahmabhaga and represents Brahma the creator. The middle part which is octagonal is called Vishnubhaga and represents Vishnu the sustainer. These two parts are embedded inside the pedestal. The Rudrabhaga which is cylindrical and projects outside the pedestal is the one to which worship is offered. Hence, it is also called the Pujabhaga.

The Pujabhaga also contains certain horizontal lines technically called Brahmasutra, whithout which the Linga becomes unfit for worship.
 

The Bull or Nandi

Nandi, the happy one - The Bull on which Lord Shiva rides is another common hindu symbol. It represents virility and strength, the animal in the man. In Shiva temples, there is always a reclining bull placed in front of the chief shrine or just outside it, with the head turned away from the deity but the gaze fixed on it. It is interpreted as the Jivatman, the individual soul, with its animal nature pulling it away from God, but his grace pulling it back to Him.

The Lotus

The Lotus bud is born in water and unfolds itself into a beautiful flower. Hence, it is taken as the symbol of the Universe coming out of the Sun. It rises from the navel of Lord Vishnu and is the seat of Brahma the creator. Hence, the sacredness associated with it. Also, psychic centers in the body associated with the rising of the Kundalini power are pictured as lotuses.
 

The Swastika

The Swastika is a symbol of auspiciousness (Swasti = Auspiciousness). It has been used as a symbol of the Sun or of Lord Vishnu. It also represents the world-wheel, the eternally changing world, round a fixed and unchanging centre, God. Swastika marks, depicted on doors or walls of buildings or on animals are beleived to protect them from the wrath of evil spirits or furies of the nature

Nataraj


Hinduism in the World

Hinduism existed long before the sun rose on the kingdoms of Egypt or set on the Roman Empire; even before it sparkled upon the Chinese civilization. When much of Europe was still sunk in sleep, Hindu astronomers were mapping the skies, doctors were performing surgery and seers were composing pictures.

The growth and spread of Hinduism lies in the fact that it is broad-minded, encourages al scientific and social developments.

Hindu Population in the World

Presently, Hindus comprise 13.7% (765,351,710) of the world's population residing in 150 countries. The major countries are

India
719,000,000
Nepal
17,240,000
Bangladesh
13,960,000
Indonesia
3,440,000
Sri Lanka
2,730,000
Pakistan
1,930,000
Malaysia
1,340,000
Mauritius
580,000
USA
500,000
U.K.
410,000
Bhutan
380,000
South Africa
370,000
Trinidad
300,000
Fiji
291,000
Guyana
280,000
Singapore
160,000
Kenya
140,500
Canada
60,000

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