Auspicious Symbols in Indian tradition

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Simple graphics or an iconic image, in his symbols man has sought across ages a moral-boosting energy and support. In art or in the course of day-today life, man has been using for millenniums symbols for portraying probabilities – the course that things might take as they occur or progress, and also for embodying the divine forces that steered his efforts into desired direction. The 'desired' being the goal of man's efforts he would resort to anything that takes him nearer to it. He would not hesitate tying an ordinary black thread around the arm or wearing it on his child's neck if it protected him against an ailment. Black was perhaps his means of infusing into his child's being as much negative/immunizing energy as defeated the adverseness of a disease. Tying a rag of her used wear – a sari, to a tree a woeful woman has been lodging since ages her petition to the unseen powers of nature. She has always believed that this would redeem her of her distress. The tradition saw, perhaps, her wear, being long on her body, becoming her integrated part and by tying its fragment to the tree – a part of nature, she believed her woes shall shift to the tree and from the tree to the nature. The concept re-affirms when the mother of a newborn seeks to clothe her child in someone's used garments preferably of the person whose character and ability she wished the child inherited. A few green chillis and a lemon, stringed and hung on a truck, crane, road roller or a mini tempo, secures his vehicle from every kind of mishap. In early morning when the eye has not yet divorced drowsiness some unseen messiah would emerge and hang the chilli-lemon chain along the bumper of his carrier, and soon after it is hung it acquires such magical powers as secures the vehicle against every mishap.

Whatever its operational area, the strength of a symbol or any such magical instrument – even a common man's 'totaka' – charm or spell, such as chilli-lemon chain, or rags tied to the tree, is still the same as ever. A mud-figure of Ganapati, or the motifs of the sun and the moon on the hut's mud-wall, or a Ganapati or Dasavatara relief on the lintel of the entrance of a royal mansion are believed to secure both, and their inmates, against every misfortune, calamity and everything untoward. Symbols, or such cumulated beliefs that time has often questioned and tested for their validness, have a very wide range and an unseen mechanism ensuring deliverance of the 'desired'. This world of unmanifest powers that commands man's life as effectively as – or more effectively than, his manifest world, is as wide as his manifest world. Besides mystic destiny, unseen forces of nature, planetary positions, cosmological diagrams, graphic condensations of universe this world consists of deity-images, auspicious signs, and a number of material things defining a status, such as a crown, the kingship, or a 'mangal-sutra', whatever its form, even a humble black thread, a woman's marital status.

Ordinary material objects having a symbol's status

A coconut, otherwise an ordinary dried fruit or the source of edible, or at the most, beauty oil, has always been revered as an auspicious object effecting good and well-being and the food that gods most loved, and hence some kind of divinity enshrining it. One shall always take care that he does not touch or hit it with foot.

Similarly, objects like conch, lotus, lamp, pot, book, birds like goose, peacock, aquatic creatures like fish, tortoise, animals like lion, cow, elephant among others, are believed to possess, besides their normal attributes, transcendental strength effecting good. As the attribute of Lord Brahma book is the symbol of Vedas; otherwise that of knowledge and man's desire to learn and know. In Vaishnava tradition conch represents the end of demonic powers that the demon Shankhachuda, killed by Lord Vishnu, represented; otherwise, conch is the symbol of declaring a beginning of an event, a war or a rite, that effects a change. Besides the mount of goddess Saraswati goose is the symbol of purity and adherence to values. Most other things listed among symbols have besides a legendary context also independent symbol-status.

Omens, good or bad, 'totakas' – charms or spells, black magic, tantric practices among others are also the constituents of this unmanifest world; however, while a spell or charm, the crude local 'totakas', or even a tantric instrument, accomplishes the practitioner's objective more often in an opponent's destruction, damage or loss, a symbol is always auspicious doing good to oneself without harming any. Motifs representing sun, moon and other celestial bodies, tantric diagrams – various yantras, kumbha, or purna-kumbha – pots, simple or ritually accomplished or consecrated, conceptual or graphic icons like Shrimukha or Kirttimukha,or the sacred syllable AUM

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