Hindu Symbolism

Sadly, many Hindus are relatively unaware of their own culture and the meaning/ significance/ symbolism associated with them. This leads to further deterioration of what’s left of Indian/ Hindu culture and values in the face of sustained attack (for centuries now!).
Off late these assaults have taken a more subtle form and have particularly capitalised on social media. The problem with subtle marketing is that without being noticed, it can erode the faith of a fairly large number of ignorant masses (read most modern Hindus). Though one may believe one-self to be “scientific” or “educated”, one can still fall in this category if the awareness of one’s roots is low.

One of the main criticisms is neatly wrapped around “idol-worship”. Here’s an example:
The following message was circulated on a social media forum by a friend. The gentleman shares very positive messages about his own faith (rarely do Hindus). The message:
Father and son, went to a temple, suddenly son shouted after seeing the pillars of Lions at the entrance of the temple "Run Dad, or those Lions will eat us "
Dad consoled him saying "they are just statues and wont harm us"
Son replied " if those lion statues wont harm us then how could statues of God give us blessings"
The father wrote in his diary...
"I am still speechless on my childs answer and have started searching for God in Humans instead of statues. . I didn't find God but I found humanity. ....
Good morningšŸ˜Š
Note the underlying theme. The innocent child has asked a simple question concerning one’s faith and the father is left “speechless”. Anyone with a slight inkling about Hinduism could have clarified, but the message went uncontested. On the contrary it got “likes” and comments like “nice one”. Note that the message neatly closes with a humanity theme.
My child questions why he should eat vegetables and would like to only eat chocolates. If I were as ignorant about a balanced diet as this gentleman is about Hinduism, I too would be “speechless”. Should we be more human and let kids eat junk (hence the rise of juvenile diabetes?).

5 points for the relatively ignorant:
  • Just like the many Gods and Goddesses, lions and other animal forms too are inspired by some form of symbolism or another. An example is the Konark Temple where the entrance has two lions, each killing a war elephant. Here, the lion symbolises pride and the elephant is an analogy for wealth. Since both these traits are known to empower humans, the message is to be detached from them.
  • Temples constructed hundreds of years ago, are also symbolic of the then rulers, their beliefs, devotions and wealth, besides contemporary architecture art and culture. It is inaccurate for us to derive inferences from external artefacts without understanding.
  • Sub-cultures that flourish in Hinduism themselves don’t believe in idol worship.
  • Temples are also a part of our rich cultural heritage and should not be seen as limited to religion alone. They present the styles of the artists of the era and codify contemporary knowledge and culture.
  • Not limited to Hinduism, lions in particular have been used as symbols prominently displayed across periods and cultures, equally in the orient as in the occident. For example, the New York City Library has two lion statues “Patience and Fortitude”, and they were popular in ancient Greece, China and Egypt (the famous “sphinx” is half human half lion).
One hopes that children in India have better informed fathers than the one in the story above.

Contributory Article


  1. It will take a lot more than this to idiot-proof Hinduism! Hope a few people actually get this.

  2. I do agree that temples are a part of our rich cultural heritage. I'd like to add that, it is also believed that temples are a source of cosmic Energy in higher intensity, than that available in open space due to their structure and architecture. So you visit a temple to charge yourself with good energy.

    Also, I would have said the child that it's the faith that counts when it comes to God!

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