The universally accepted symbol of Hinduism is
Om or Aum. This highly revered symbol is not just a mere visible symbol that represents Hindu religion. Om is the primordial sound and comprises of three independent sounds A, U, M. The sound ‘A’ represents the beginning (Adimatwa), ‘U’ represents progress (Utkarsha) and ‘M’ represents limit or dissolution (Miti). In nutshell, OM represents the Supreme Power responsible for creation, development and dissolution.
The next important symbol is the Swastika or Swastik and it is a symbol of auspiciousness. It represents the eternally changing world or the cycle of creation, substance and dissolution. The center of it is fixed or never changes – it is Brahman, the supreme soul.
The next popular Hindu symbol is the Shivalinga. ‘Linga’ means sign or symbol. It represents God Shiva and Shiva means auspiciousness. And thus the Linga symbolizes the Supreme Soul that is all auspiciousness. It is also one of the first symbols that human beings used to represent the Supreme Power that is beyond imagination.
The next important symbol is the Sri Chakra. It is the most widely used symbol of the Shakti cult. It represents the Lalitha aspect of the Divine Mother. It consists of a dot or ‘bindu’ at the center and is surrounded by nine triangles of which five have its apexes downwards and the other four upward.
Purna Kumbha or Kalash is another popular Hindu symbol. It is a pot containing water and the neck is decorated with mango leaves and the opening of the pot is closed with a coconut. It is a sign of plenty and in worship it symbolizes the Brahman.
Another popular Hindu symbol is the Lotus flower. It is the symbol of the universe. Lotus rises from the navel of Lord Vishnu and Brahma, the creator, is seated on it.
Salagrama, a black colored rounded stone with a hole, is another symbol. It represents Vishnu and reminds us of the Chakra or Discus, the weapon of
Nandi, the bull, is another symbol. It is the vehicle of Lord Shiva and it sits facing the Sanctum Sanctorum of the Shiva Temples.
Another symbol is the Tilak which is worn by Hindus on forehead. It is usually worn after bathing. Shiva devotees usually mark three lines with sacred ash on the forehead. Vishnu devotees use chandan or sandalwood paste to create Urdhva Pundra the symbol of Lord Vishu. Red colored Tilak is worn by Shakti worshippers.
The Sun or Surya is also an important Hindu symbol. It symbolizes the creator and the famous Gayatri Mantra is addressed to it.
Trident or Trishul or Shoolam is another symbol of Lord Shiva and it is found in temples of Shiva and Devi। Certain Hindu Sanyasi sects always carry a small trident.
These are just some of the most important Hindu symbols. There are numerous other symbols that are not mentioned here which are mainly used in a particular region or by a particular community or by a particular sect.