The Holy Trinity, Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva, are the most celebrated and the main deities in Hinduism. They are respectively the creator, preserver and the destroyer of the universe. While there are many temples to Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva, there is only one temple attributed to Lord Brahma. However, these deities are shown carrying various sacred items in their hands in every depiction. Here, we are going to explore, what these sacred items symbolize.
Lord Brahma is the creator of the universe. He is described as the - Ajanma or Nirakaar, meaning the one who is never born. He is also known as Swayambhu, which means he is the self-born. Goddess Saraswati is the consort of Lord Brahma. He is the father of the Prajapatis. There is only one temple attributed to Brahma, which is in Pushkar. He is seen with four heads, and four hands. The four heads signify thefour Vedas in Hinduism. He is depicted carrying various sacred objects in his hands. These objects are symbolic of one or the other characteristics of the God himself. Here are the details.
Four faces:The four faces of Brahma are said to represent the four main directions. Since he is known as the creator, he is believed to be able to see the universe from all the four sides at the same time.
Hands:His hands carry no weapon, because he is the creator and weapons are used for destruction. In his four hands, he carries, the Vedas, a rosary mala, a shruk used to offer sacrificial fire and a kamandal of water.
The Vedas: The Vedas signify that these would be the means of guidance for the universe.
The Rosary Beads: The rosary mala signifies time.
The Shruk: The Shruk signifies the importance of fire for life on the Earth.
The Kamandal: The Kamandal of water, refers to the need of water as the fundamental requirement of life.
The Lotus: He is seated on a Lotus which reflects the Supreme reality.
Lord Vishnu is the preserver and he protects the life on the Earth. He is the one who is responsible for making life possible. He protects the inhabitants of the universe from the 'adharma', which appears in physical, mental or spiritual forms, to either test or harm the humanity. In his every depiction, he is seen carrying the following sacred objects.
The Sudarshan Chakra: This is a circular disc, seen revolving continuously at the tip of his finger. It signifies the continuity of life on Earth. It represents nature, which goes on despite hurdles and hazards. This disc is divided into six spokes which symbolize the six seasons. It therefore, symbolizes time as well. However, it is also believed that this disc symbolizes the Sun, which is the ultimate source of energy for all life forms on the Earth.
The Conch Shell: The shankh or the conch shell signifies the five elements that life is dependent upon, these are the water, fire, air, earth and sky.
The Gada: It symbolizes the destruction of all undesired inhuman traits that might want to harm the humanity. It is a symbol of mental and physical strength.
The Lotus: The lotus symbolizes purity and truth, leading to awakened consciousness.
Lord Shiva is known as the destroyer of all that takes birth. All that comes into existence, needs to be destroyed, so that, the cycle of birth and death continues. The symbolism associated with the depiction of Shiva is as mentioned below.
The Crescent Moon: It symbolizes the time cycle. Also, according to a hymn in the Vedas, the Moon and Rudra are jointly implored.
The Trident: The trident of Shiva represents the three Gunas - the satva, the rajas and the tamas. It signifies the need for a balance between all the three gunas, which are possessed by the humans, though in variable proportions.
The Drum: The drum of Shiva is attributed to his Nataraja posture, in which he is seen as the lord of dance.
The Snake: Shiva is depicted with a snake. Snake symbolizes dangers. Shiva has tamed all the dangers and he has the power to overcome all of them. He can befriend the dangers just as he befriends the snake.