God Symbolism

God symbolism means interpretation and understanding of religious symbols used in worship of deities (Devatas) and applying that understanding in one's own life

All names are symbols. Symbols point to or refer to other things, people, events, ideas etc. A written or spoken name in any language (including sign languages) refers to a thing which all people who know that language recognize; so symbols are culture and language specific. Interpretation of a symbol depends on the background of the person who says it and one who hears it. (Example: Swastika to a Hindu is a holy symbol but to a person with Jewish background it represents Nazism. A cow represents Shri Krishna to a devotee of Krishna, but to others it reminds them of a hamburger!).

Also, symbols depend on the context in which they are placed. (Example: A cross on a building point to a church, but a cross on ground means it is burial place, and a cross on an answer-sheet of a student means a wrong answer!) Hindus and their scriptures emphasis again and again, that the real you is the same in essence as the Supreme Being (Tat Tvam Asi), hence, all practices of rituals, pooja, worship, prayers and meditation, yoga, mantra, Vedanta, social work, etc. are developed with a view of helping human beings to go beyond the belief and actually realize that oneness with the Supreme Being( or God by whatever other name one chooses).

Hindus worship one supreme reality (God) but in many forms, or no form, with various attributes of these forms. These deities represent various aspects of God's powers and qualities etc. A better understanding of these forms, decorations on them, things held by them in their hands, things around them, their vehicles etc. will allow us to connect better with these deities, and help us advance in our goals.

Ultimately, when thoroughly understood, we realize that these are the powers and qualities hidden in our own self, of our own real self (Atman). By proper control, training and practice of Prana, mind, body and intelligence we discover our own self.

These forms in pictures or temples can be interpreted in many ways depending on one's shraddha, one's religious tradition and mental makeup. Persons following different paths (of knowledge, devotion, action, mind control etc.) will have different meanings attributed to the symbols which is perfectly acceptable as long as it helps one to progress.

Typically, there is an ordinary or traditional interpretation and also a deeper mystical/spiritual interpretation. Which is the correct interpretation? That which helps you progress spiritually and makes you a better human being is the correct interpretation for you.

People do not worship idols, icons, picture or statues. They use these to focus their minds upon higher, nobler qualities and cultivate them, or to cultivate mental powers to overcome negative qualities and habits.
 
  • GANESHA

    Vinayak (knowledgeable), Vighneshwara (remover of obstacles), Gajanana (elephant faced) or Ganapati (a leader). He has leadership qualities and, with His grace, it is believed that no undertaking can fail due to subjective or objective obstacles.

    Ganesh has an elephant's head which symbolizes sharp intelligence and big thinking. An elephant's life is full of radiance, which comes from dignity and self-esteem. Also, the elephant shares his food by scattering some around, indicating the sense of generosity.

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  • shiva

    Shiva is one of the three main aspects of the Supreme/Divine, the other two being Brahma and Vishnu. Shiva means auspiciousness. Shiva represents the principle of dissolution. Everything in the universe that has a name or a form is perishable.

    Shiva is the original cause /process working that makes dissolution possible. Due to this, He at times is incorrectly referred to as the God of destruction. Dissolution is a necessary process for creation.

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  • mahakali

    The love between the Divine Mother and her human children is a unique relationship that manifests in various ways. Mahakali, the apparently fierce looking Mother is one such deity with whom devotees have a very loving and intimate bond, in spite of her fearful appearance. In this relationship, the worshiper becomes a child and Mahakali assumes the form of the evercaring mother. When most of the people see the Goddess with leaking tongue and garland of skulls dancing on Lord shiva, they consider her form quite gruesome and frightening.

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  • Durga

    Durga literally means formidable or inaccessible. As Kali She represents the fierce and terrifying aspect of the divine which is terrifying to only those who are evil doers or anti-divine. As Parvati or Amba She is a loving mother to those who are pious and to devotees. Durga is that spiritual energy in ourselves, when invoked, swiftly and thoroughly uproots negative tendencies/sanskaras in us. This energy works with a decisive force.

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  • Lakshmi

    Lakshmi is the Shakti (power) of Vishnu, the preserving aspect of the Supreme Lord. It is through Her that the universe is kept in harmony. She is the provider of all material things to sustain the universe and hence, popularly She is worshipped as the mother Goddess of wealth and prosperity. She is also the mother Goddess of beauty, harmony and balance.

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  • Hanuman

    Hanuman is one of the most popular Hindu deities. He is an embodiment of service (seva), devotion (bhakti) and surrender (samarpan, egolessness). He is an incarnation of Shiva. He is also considered the son of Wind-God (Maruta), son of Anjani-Devi. He has a high chin (hence the name Hanuman) and a long tail like that of a monkey. In physical characteristics he looks sub-human, but his qualities are divine/super human, which all of us aspire to have.

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  • Saraswati

    Saraswati literally means one who gives essence (Sara) of the self (Swa). She is the Goddess of spiritual knowledge and wisdom, and is the consort/power of Brahma the creator, who needs all the knowledge to create a universe. It is through Her grace that one gains Vidya (knowledge, wisdom), and learns Kalaa (arts and skills). She is the Goddess that shines through our intellect (Buddhi) and the Goddess of speech (Vaani). Her white clothes represent purity since knowledge has to be pure, without any confusion and misunderstanding.

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  • Radha Krishna

    In order to demonstrate to people Krishna who is 'Parmatma'- 'Purush' himself came in a human form. 'Prakriti' took the form of Radha symbolizing all that is there in the creation. Radha and Krishna with each other simply means that Parmatma (Krishna) and Prakriti (Radha) are inseparable from each other. This is like a silver spoon. Silver and spoon although different but still are inseparable.

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  • Ram Darbar

    The entire Rama Darbar is a symbolic representation of YOU, your own complete self. You have several parts of yourself: the body, the mind, the intelligence and the soul. The first three are easily identifiable by all. The last one, the soul-the divine spark in us- can be easily inferred. It is the soul that keeps the body, mind and intellect functioning and held together.

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  • Krishan Arjun

    You may forget the historical battle of Mahabharata, but don't forget the message contained in it. In fact, the battle is still going on every day within us; this is the fight between our demonic and divine qualities. There has always been a struggle between the two. In this conflict between opposing forces, Krishna (Self, Atma, Higher Intellect) is ever on the side of Dharma (Righteousness) the reality which sustains, not the delusion which undermines.

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  • Natraj

    All names are symbols. Symbols point to or refer to other things, people, events, ideas etc. A written or spoken name in any language (including sign languages) refers to a thing which all people who know that language recognize; so symbols are culture and language specific. Interpretation of a symbol depends on the background of the person who says it and one who hears it. (Example: Swastika to a Hindu is a holy symbol but to a person with Jewish background it represents Nazism. A cow represents Shri Krishna to a devotee of Krishna, but to others it reminds them of a hamburger!).

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  • Shivalinga

    Shiva Linga or Lingam represents the creative aspect of God. In Sanskrit, Linga means a mark or a sign. Thus the Shiva Linga means Auspicious ( Shiva) Symbol (Linga) - that reminds us of the infinite qualities of the Lord. Now, creation is not possible unless there is destruction and removal of that which has become useless or will become obstacle to new creation. So, Shiva is also the Lord of destruction and dissolution of old, obsolete and objectionable. Even in this aspect He is still auspicious as in His creative aspect.

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