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About Hindu Symbolism

What is Sanatana Dharma?

Sanatana Dharma is is the original name of what is now popularly called Hinduism or Hindu Dharma. The terms Hindu and Hinduism are said to be a more recent development, while the more accurate term is Sanatana Dharma. It is a code of ethics, a way of living through which one may achieve moksha (enlightenment, liberation). It is the world’s most ancient culture and the socio, spiritual, and religious tradition of almost one billion of the earth’s inhabitants. Sanatana Dharma represents much more than just a religion; rather, it provides its followers with an entire worldview, way of life and with a coherent and rational view of reality.


Who is Buddha?

Buddha is a person who has achieved the spiritual state of bodhi. The word buddha literally means "the awakened one" – someone who has no ignorance and can see the universe as it really is. People who have achieved this state can be called a buddha. There are many buddhas, and no one has the right to say, "I am the one and only buddha."

The religion of Buddhism takes its teaching from spiritual guidance. It holds that everything in the universe is linked and related, but it is to ourselves that we must ultimately answer. If we harm another person, we are harming ourselves, because everything is linked. This is also where the idea of karma comes into play; what we give out, we shall receive, and vice versa.


What does the Om (Aum) Symbolize?

The Om (or Aum) sign is the main symbol of Hinduism. For the Hindus & Buddhists, Om is the primordial sound, the first breath of creation, the vibration that ensures existence. Om sign signifies God, Creation, & the One-ness of all creation.

Om mystically embodies the essence of the entire universe.  Om or Aum is of paramount importance in Hinduism. This symbol is a sacred syllable representing Brahman, the impersonal Absolute of Hinduism — omnipotent, omnipresent, and the source of all manifest existence. Brahman, in itself, is incomprehensible; so a symbol becomes mandatory to help us realize the Unknowable. Om, therefore, represents both the unmanifest (nirguna) and manifest (saguna) aspects of God. That is why it is called pranava, to mean that it pervades life and runs through our prana or breath.


Who is Kali?

Kali is a Hindu goddess. She is associated with darkness, death, and destruction, but she can also represent renewal and cleansing as well as motherhood. She is certainly one of the most fearsome Hindi goddesses, and is the central figure in some rather gruesome tales and artwork. Among Hindus, she also inspires a certain sense of respect and devotion among her followers, and her role in the Hindu pantheon is extremely complex.

In Hindi, Kali means “the black one,” and this meaning can be taken in a number of ways. The goddess certainly has a dark and forbidding nature which could be thought of as black. She is also capable of swallowing the world up in blackness, and distinctions such as names and shapes vanish in that blackness. While this blackness elicits a fear of death in people who are unprepared, it also symbolizes peace for her followers.


Who is Ganesh?

Ganesh is arguably the most beloved Hindu deity of all. Eldest son of Lord Shiva the Destroyer, and his wife, Parvati, Ganesh is the god of wisdom, scribes, learning, and the remover of obstacles. Before any undertaking is begun, a prayer to Ganesh is said to ensure success.

Ganesh appears as a gentle, pot-bellied figure with the head of an elephant, four arms, and a broken tusk. He is most often depicted as sitting with one leg folded beneath him. In three of his hands he holds various objects that are symbolic tools for enlightenment: a pasam or rope, goad or axe, and a bowl of rice of or a sweet dessert ball.


Who is Shiva?

Shiva is one of the primary gods in the Hindu religion, which is widely practiced in India. Like many Hindu deities, he has a complex and dualistic nature. Many practitioners of Hinduism focus their worship on Shiva and his many aspects, in a tradition called Shaivism. Since Shiva is such an important member of the Hindu pantheon, some people outside of this religion are vaguely familiar with him.

Shiva is a very destructive god, capable of wreaking havoc and burning away impurities. But Shiva is also a god of creation, and considered a god of truth, goodness, and beauty. Many people consider him to be a very auspicious god, as well as a god of paradoxical ideas. Many statues of Shiva, for example, depict him with both female and male attributes, enforcing the concept of Shiva as a very dualistic and sometimes confusing figure in Hindu mythology. In addition to being a creator and a destroyer, Shiva is also associated with dance, the arts, and wisdom, and he is a respected figure in the yogic tradition.


Who is Krishna?

Krishna, also known as the Dark Lord, is the most well-known Avatar of Vishnu, and is the subject of a religious subtext called the Bhagavad Gita, which is part of a larger religious text known as the Mahabharata. Vishnu, can manifest as various avatars, or earthly incarnations, including the blue-bodied Krishna. Adherents of the Krishna incarnation include the Hare Krishna sect, possibly the most widely known Hindu faith in the United States and the Western world.

Vishnu, or Visnu, is one of the three primary gods in Hindu religion. Within the Hindu notion of the cyclical cosmos, Vishnu plays the role of the preserver, and is defined as the “pervader” in the Rig Veda, an ancient Hindu oral text. As the name implies, Vishnu pervades all and preserves the cosmos by crossing down to earth on multiple occasions in order to solve some dilemma of cosmic proportion. There are multiple schema detailing the number and nature of Vishnu’s “crossings down”, known as Avatara, or avatars in English. The most common of these schema, and that which will be enumerated here, is of the ten Avatars of Vishnu.