When one comes across statues of the Hindu God Brahma, the God of Creation, he is dripping in symbolism. Brahma is unique in that he has four faces and four hands. He often carries a book and prayer beads. In all Hindu sculpture the things the gods carry; weapons, books, bowls, the amount of faces and arms the god has, how they wear their clothes, the crown or jewelry they wear each have symbolic meaning going back centuries to the origins of Hinduism. Lord Brahma the creator is no different. Here we will outline some basic symbols of Brahma.
Brahma’s Four Hands: Brahmas four hands symbolize each of the four Vedas: Rk, Sama, Yajuh, and Atharva. The Vedas are a body of ancient Sanskrit texts originating in India.
Brahma’s Four Faces: Brahma has four faces that point in the four main directions north, south, east, and west. In a more figurative sense they represent the more virtuous qualities of the mind, intellect, ego, and self-confidence.
Book: Brahma often holds with one of his hands a book which symbolizes knowledge in the world.
Swan: Brahma is often seen riding a swan, his sacred vehicle for which he travels upon. The swan is a supposed to symbolize grace. The kind of grace fitting of the great Creator.
Crown: Brahma wears a crown which symbolizes his supreme authority over the world as the God of Creation.
Lotus Flower: Brahma is often depicted with a lotus flower. The lotus flower represents nature and the all-encompassing energy of creation. The lotus is more commonly associated with the Hindu Goddess of wealth Lakshmi.
Gold: Brahma’s golden face and adornments represent his most active role in the creation of the universe:
Prayer Beads: Prayer beads symbolize all the substances that go into the creating the universe.
Lord Ganesh, the Remover of Obstacles, is rich in symbolism used as spiritual guides. Each symbol associated with the elephant-headed Hindu god is viewed as a reminder to manifest the powers held within us. Ganesh, a much-beloved and worshiped deity, is the son of Lord Shiva and Parvati. He is also known as the God of wisdom, prosperity, and auspiciousness.
A Ganesh statue can be hand-carved in many postures and forms, typically with four or eight arms, holding various symbolic objects. Lord Ganesh is often displayed dancing or playing a musical instrument, such as a flute. He is sometimes accompanied by or riding a rat (or the mouse) – a symbol of all-pervasiveness. The rat can be interpreted as under Ganesh’s control, which is symbolic of a spiritual pursuit to attain self-realization and grace.
Even the position of Lord Ganesh’s trunk has significance and special meaning. Like all of Ganesh’s symbols and traits, each hold an interesting difference in the benefits devotees would get. If the idol trunk turns left, it signifies blessings of wealth, success and pleasure. To his right, the trunk represents moksha-related benefits – understanding that all pleasures on earth are momentary and to take the path of achieving bliss. His cracked tusk held in the right hand was broken off with purpose to use as a writing tool for the Mahabharata Epic. This is seen as a symbol of sacrifice, strength and demonstrates that we must finish what we start.
Some of the most popular sacred symbols in Lord Ganesh statues are an elephant goad, bowls full of Indian sweets or honey, an axe, and an upside-down noose. Goads are symbolic of how one should steer the soul away from the ignorance and illusions of this earth, just as man would steer an elephant away from a treacherous path. Modakapatra, also known as a bowl of sweets, exemplifies Ganesh’s love of sweets and the symbol He loves most – moksha, or liberation, one the sweetest of all things sweet. The ax is a tool used to destroy ignorance in the world. The noose illustrates the notion to draw loved-ones close but also reminds us to encircle and save strayed ones in extraordinary ways.
Although some symbols hold more esoteric meaning than others, all of the sacred symbols of Ganesh can be interpreted in many ways. Above all, Lord Ganesh and his symbols bestow life lessons to help steady the mind and evolve with spiritual, positive progression.
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