I’ve been focusing on Lord Shiva a great deal these days, as I want to better understand his significance in Hinduism. In particular, I’ve been spending time learning about Lord Shiva’s trishula, the three pointed spear or trident he carries.
The trishula has many symbolic meanings. Lord Shiva’s trishula is supposed to destroy — the physical world — attachment to gross, the illusionary world which seems so real; the world of the mind — the ahamkaar or ego which is a barrier between Me and HIM — thus transforming the devotee to be in the third world that is the world of spirituality, leading to oneness with Lord Shiva, a single non-dual plane of existence, that is bliss alone.
As a weapon, the trishula represents Shiva’s ability to destroy evil. The three points represent the acts of creation, preservation and destruction. To Shaivites, Lord Shiva fulfills all three of these roles. The three points also represent the three gunas or qualities which are exhibited in the physical world, rajas (dynamic energetic), tamas (negative, inactive, stagnant) and sattva (uplifting, balanced, perceiving). If you notice, Lord Shiva is usually depicted holding the handle of the trishula, as he is beyond all three gunas.
The trishula also has the capacity to remove our many different negative qualities which inhibit us from being one with Spirit. So it is said that the trishula helps to make us rich — at a spiritual level.
In Yoga, the trishula also represents the nadis or energy currents within the subtle body. The ida (feminine, passive) and the pingala (male, active) channels that spiral upwards like a double helix, crossing for the last time at the Vishuddha or throat chakra. These are normally represented as snakes. The central channels or sushumna nadi goes straight up the spine, continuing up through the crown chakra — where the other two channels terminate. The channels in this area form a trishula-like shape.
Yogis attempt to balance the energies in these channels, so the kundalini or energy flow is routed directly through the sushumna or spine.
In Hinduism, the trident symbol represents auspiciousness. It is said that by praying and giving pure thoughts to the mind with devotion, we can be ONE with Spirit by balancing our thoughts and actions which can relieve us from past, present and future or the agony of birth, life and death. Thus helping us to lead a life of bliss, while still being under the protection of Spirit.
Interested in learning more about Lord Shiva, be sure to read the last post about the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra.