More Than Just a Sign : Decoding Hinduism With These 5 Major Symbols

You must have come across these symbols in your everyday life. But ever wondered if they held any deeper connotations?

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In India, the term dharma is preferred.
Hindusim employs the art of symbolism to amazinf effect. Pixabay.

July 28, 2017: 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 symbols may seem absurd, they all carry deeper symbolic meanings that are bound to draw attention to the rich cultural lineage of Hinduism.

  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.

Om s a sacren, spiritual sound in Hinduism.
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”.

The symbol has been adopted by various religions and cultures across the world.
Swastika is a Hindu symbol of spiritual principles and values. Wikimedia

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.

ALSO READ: Ten Inspiring Quotes by Famous Personalities on World’s Oldest Religion “Hinduism”

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 flags are often seen atop Hindu temples.
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.

Tilak is among the most viable symbols of Hinduism.
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

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).

Rudraksha seeds hold pious significance in Hindusim.
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.

– prepared by Soha Kala of NewsGram. Twitter @SohaKala


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Author Maria Wirth Shares Her Opinions on The Idea of Hinduism

Author Maria Wirth speaks on Religion, Indian Culture, etc

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Maria Wirth
A picture of Author Maria Wirth. Facebook

By Muskan Bhantagar

Author Maria Wirth belongs to Germany and has been living in India from past 38 years.  She is the author of the book ‘Thank You India: A German Woman’s Journey to the Wisdom of Yoga’. Newsgram gets in a conversation with her over a telephonic interview. Here’s an excerpt:

Muskan Bhantagar: 38 years back when you came to visit india, what was the thing about indian culture or precisely hinduism that made you fall in love with it and stay back in India?

Maria Wirth: Actually, it was not too much India that attracted me. When I was in Germany still i had many questions like i was very much intrested in what is life and what is the meaning of life and I was reading on Buddhism at a time and I was not connecting Buddhism to India strangely, and i knew very little about India. So a friend convinced me to stop over in India and only when i bought a book by Swami Vivekananda, i discovered what great treasure is in India. I had no idea, anything about what Hinduism is about. it’s just what you hear usually in the west, is about caste systems,etc. So I didn’t associate India with anything positive actually and then by chance, I discovered there’s such a great treasure here and it is such a pity that we don’t know about it.

Maria
Maria recalls how initially she could not relate India with anything positive. Pixabay

Muskan Bhantagar: As we read in your articles that Islam and christianity have been promoting and propogating their religion for years now, but the hindus don’t do so. What do you think can be the reason behind this? 

Maria Wirth: Well I think, I was just writing an article I mean when you think how much Hindus have suffered over the last thousand years. So many were beheaded and tortured under the Muslims and then again under the British also. British were also very very brutual, especially after 1857 and etc. And hindus had no way to stand up for their religion. And I think this has gone very deep into the system of Hindus.

And then ofcourse after Independence, this secular education and even Hinduism is now put down even more than earlier. Earlier, education was not so under the Muslims, they had to lie low but they could still have gurukuls and their schools but not now.

So I think one reason is that you have been intimidated so much and also expect so much and like Arun Shourie, in his book he writes that 6th standard students learn in school, etc in Bengal that Islam and Christianity are the only religions which treat the human beings with dignity and equality. I mean such sentences. When you’re a child, it goes into you and then you just look down on it. And I think slowly slowly, even parents of these children say they have been brought up already like this.

Maria
Maria says that Hindus were previously tortured under the Islamic Community. Pixabay

Muskan Bhantagar: A large number of Indians are unaware about their own culture and heritage. What do you think can be a solution to this problem?

Maria Wirth: I mean it should get also in the schools. I was so shocked when I came to know that nothing is taught in Indian schools. Neither Mahabharata, Ramayana, Upanishad. Upanishad is philosophy, there is nothing to do with religion. It was very insidious that the British kind of bend or this stuff from being taught, because it doesn’t help them because it would make people strong. They wanted to destroy Indian sanskriti, Indian culture because it has lot of strength. Now like the young generation in India, they were brain-washed into believing that Hinduism is not worth anything. It’s so wrong, so wrong.

Author Maria Wirth spoke to us over various topics. We’re thankful to her for taking out time to talk to us and share her wise opinions. We hope to get more of her soon and help viewers know her better.

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10 Interesting Facts About Rudraksha For Spiritual Seekers

Here are 10 Interesting facts about Rudraksha that every spiritual seeker must know

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Rudraksha
Rudra is the manifested form of Lord Shiva himself and Aksha translates to eyes. Both the words come from sanskrit origin. VEDICFEED

Rudraksha, the seed produced by a large evergreen broad-leaved tree of the genus Elaeocarpus. It is abundantly found in the temperate and sub-alpine zone is a pioneer of symbolism in the Shivaism, a major tradition of the Hindu dharma where the believers regard Lord Shiva as the principal deity. Worn around their neck or wrist primarily in the form of Mala by the devotees, it is constituted of two words; Rudra and Aksha, both being of Sanskrit origin.

Rudra is the manifested form of Lord Shiva himself and Aksha translates to eyes; meaning, having originated from Lord Shiva’s eyes. Thus, A genuine Rudraksha seed has high significance, scientific properties, yet it is very mysterious and is regarded as highly sacred and precious by the devotees.

Here are 10 Interesting Facts about Rudraksha

1. Shiva’s Tears

As the Legend has it, Lord Shiva had been meditating for thousands of years with his eyes closed. When he opened his eyes, some tears drops fell from his eyes on the ground. Later, these tears grew trees of Rudrakshas. The ardent followers of Shivaism thus regard Rudraksha sacred and to have originated from Lord Shiva’s own tears himself. It is thus believed to have miraculous powers and when possessed it is said bring them closer to Lord Shiva and develop a spiritual connection with him.

2. To Check Negative and Positive Prana

As, Sadhus and Sanyasis were continuously on the move, they could not drink water from just any pool because many times in nature, the water may be poisoned or contaminated in the forest. As the legend goes on, If a person well into spiritual practice; a Sadhu or a Sanyasi held a rudraksha above the water and if the water is good and drinkable, it will go clockwise. Similarly, If it is poisoned, it will go anticlockwise. It is said, if held above any positive pranic substance, it will move in a clockwise direction. If you hold it over any negative pranic substance, it will move in anti-clockwise direction.

3. The Deity and Mantras of Different Faces

Of all, only 1-14 faced Rudraksha are to be worn by humans. The deity and the Beej Mantra, which is to be chanted while wearing the Rudraksha and also the celestial body associated with, varies from one type of Mukhi appearance to another. For Single faced or Ek Mukhi Rudraksha the Ruling deity is Lord Shiva, Beej Mantra attributed is Om Hreem Namah and the Celestial body is the Sun. For all 21 different kinds, all of the three vary accordingly.

4. Ek Mukhi Rudraksha

Single-faced or Ek Mukhi Rudraksha is considered closest to Lord Shiva. When possessed, it is said to bring all kinds of materialistic pleasure and wealth. Though, the most commonly worn by all is Pancha Mukhi or five-faced Rudraksha.

rudraksha
Commonly the number of beads is 108 plus one extra bead called the Bindu. Pixabay

5. The Mala

Traditionally the beads are strung together on a cotton or a silk thread as a Mala. Most commonly the number of beads is 108 plus one. The extra bead is the Bindu. There must always be a Bindu to the Mala, otherwise the energy becomes cyclical and people who are sensitive may become dizzy. An adult should not wear a Mala with less than 84 beads, plus the Bindu. Any number over that is considered fine.

6. Chanting and Japa Yoga

Rudraksha beads are aesthetically perceived to be most effective if in the practice of Japa Yoga, where, the Beej Mantra is repeated verbally or mentally 108 times a day while keeping count on a strand of Rudraksha beads and at the same time submitting oneself  to Lord Shiva’s infinite, all-pervasive presence.

7. An Umbrella of Energy

The followers of Shivaism believe that the Rudraksha beads create a cocoon of your own energy. For someone who is constantly on the move, Rudraksha is a very good support because it creates a cocoon of your own energy. The situation around you may not be conducive to your kind of energy, it will not let you settle down. In the ancient times for Sadhus and Sanyasis (sages and preachers), places and situations could trouble them because they were constantly moving. One of the rules for them was never to put their head down in the same place twice.

rudraksha
You can identify a Rudraksha primarily on the basis of the face or Mukhi appearance. Pixabay

8. Faces of Rudraksha

Different types of Rudraksha beads have different numbers of segments (or faces) grooved over their surface giving the beads a unique texture. The segment or the face is called ‘Mukhi’ and the identification of a Rudraksha is primarily on a face or Mukhi appearance. The beads range from being one faced to 21 faced and each of them have different aesthetic values attributed to them.

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9. A Shield

The Rudraksha beads, as the followers of Shaivism believe shield against the negative energies. It is possible for some people to use negative energies to cause harm to someone else. The Atharva Veda, is all about how to use energies to your advantage and to someone else’s detriment. The Rudraksha beads helps to create a cocoon of your own energy shielding the space against negative energies.

10. Significance for Health

The Rudraksha Beads has many scientific properties that holds a lot of significance in the Ayurvedic medicine . It is said to lower your blood pressure, calms your nerves and brings a certain calmness and alertness in your nervous system. It will help them calm down and be more focused. (VEDICFEED)

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The White House Echoes With Recitation of Hindu Vedic “Shanti Paath”

Religion also plays an open role in election campaigns

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White House
Introducing the peace prayer at the multi-religious service on Thursday, Pujari Harish Brahmbhatt said, "In these troubled times of COVID-19, social distancing, and the lockdown, it's not unusual for people to feel anxious or not at peace". IANS

The Vedic Shanti Paath derived from the Yajurveda has been recited at the White House during the National Day of Prayer by a pujari from a Swaminarayan temple.

Introducing the peace prayer at the multi-religious service on Thursday, Pujari Harish Brahmbhatt said, “In these troubled times of COVID-19, social distancing, and the lockdown, it’s not unusual for people to feel anxious or not at peace.”

Making a spiritual prescription for these troubled times, he said, “The Shanti Paath, or the peace prayer, is a prayer that does not seek worldly riches, success, fame, nor is it a prayer for any desire for heaven. It is a beautiful Hindu prayer for peace a” Shanti.

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Brahmbatt is from the Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Sanstha Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Robbinsville, New Jersey.

Background, Black, Yellow, Om, India, Symbol
The Vedic Shanti Paath derived from the Yajurveda has been recited at the White House during the National Day of Prayer by a pujari from a Swaminarayan temple. Pixabay

Representatives of various Christian sects, Judaism and Islam participate in the service with US President Donald Trump.

Religion plays a central role in public affairs in the US and has evolved from dominance by protestant denominations to being more inclusive with the participation of other Christian sects and other religions.

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Both chambers of Congress and several state legislatures start their sessions with a prayer. Religion also plays an open role in election campaigns. (IANS)