Symbols of Faith
The key symbols of Hinduism are aum, the swastika, and the lotus flower.
Om is the sound heard in deep meditation by Hindu sages and seers. It is therefore considered to be the most appropriate name for God. The Hindu mystics claim that it is from this primordial sound, called nada-brahman, that the universe was created.
The swastika is a symbol for good luck. It has four bent arms pointing in four directions. It symbolises drawing in good luck from the four corners of the world. The swastika is visible in Hindu temples and homes as a symbol of auspiciousness.
The lotus flower has a special place in Hinduism. This flower blooms in muddy waters and yet comes out pure and pristine. This is symbolic of spirituality manifesting and blossoming in a mundane world. Just as the lotus flower maintains its purity, though it springs in muddy surroundings, the spirit is not tainted when it manifests in the material world.
The Sanskrit term prati means going towards. From this root is derived the word pratik which means a symbol that leads us to God. This clarifies the important role played by religious symbols – they are relative expressions of the absolute. Symbols also give identity to the practitioners. Some symbols are generic to all Hindus while some symbols identify specific sectarian movements in Hinduism.