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Swami has always declared the same profound Truth: “You may call Him by any name, be it Jesus, Buddha, Allah, Rama, Krishna; God is one. Ek prabhuke anek naam (one God has many names), if you understand this Truth, you will realize that all are Divine.” Each religion has its own symbols and their connotations. Let’s explore a few and test ourselves.

1. There are several different Christian crosses that are symbols for different Christian groups or persons. A cross with the body of Jesus on it is called a ____________ .

2. Om (also spelled Aum) is a Hindu sacred sound that is considered the greatest of all mantras. The syllable Om is composed of the three sounds a-u-m (in Sanskrit, the vowels a and u combine to become o) and the symbol's threefold nature is central to its meaning. It represents several important triads: the three worlds - earth, atmosphere, and heaven; the three major Hindu Gods - Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva; and the three sacred Vedic scriptures - Rig, Yajur, and Sama.

Thus, ‘ Om’ mystically embodies the essence of the entire Universe. This meaning is further deepened by the Indian philosophical belief that God first created sound, and the Universe arose from it. As the most sacred sound, ‘ Om’ is the root of the Universe and everything that exists, and it continues to hold everything together.

How many times does Swami recommend the chanting of the ‘ Om’ mantra?

3. The symbol ‘Ek Onkar’ is an emblem of the Sikh religion and is found on Gurdwaras (Sikh temples). The symbol is derived from the Sanskrit OM, as written in the Gurumukhi script.

What does ‘Ek Onkar’ mean?

4. The emblem of the Jain religion, symbolizes its main tenet, the doctrine of Ahimsa, nonviolence. The wheel in the center of the palm is the wheel of Samsara; the word in the center of the wheel reads "stop." Together, they represent the halting of the cycle of reincarnation through the practice of Jain asceticism, the avoidance of harm to any living creature.

In making us realize how important the message of Ahimsa is, Swami teaches love, especially in today’s world. Swami often says: “The earlier Avatars used weapons to vanquish evil but this Avatar will use only love.”

According to Swami, Ahimsa (non-injury) is another facet of _______.

5. Bismillah in Arabic means, literally, ‘In the Name of Allah.’ This phrase is one of great importance in Islam. It is the opening phrase of the Koran and heads every chapter therein: ‘Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim’ – meaning ‘in the name of Allah, most Gracious, and most Compassionate.’

In daily living, when is it spoken mostly?

6. For Bahá'í’s, in particular, this is the symbol that is a reminder of God's purpose for man.

The three levels of the design represent:

The world of God, the Creator,
The world of His Manifestations,
The world of man.

What does the vertical line represent?

7. In Buddhist symbolism, the Dharma wheel (Sanskrit: dharma chakra), also known as the ‘Wheel of Dharma’ is a symbol representing dharma ( law) in the Buddha's teaching of the path to enlightenment. The overall shape of the Dharma chakra symbol is that of a circle (chakra), representing the perfection of the dharma teaching. The hub stands for discipline, which is the essential core of meditation practice. The rim, which holds the spokes, refers to mindfulness or samadhi which holds everything together.

What do the spokes in the chariot wheel represent?

8. The Faravahar, or Farohar, which is one of the best-known symbols of Zoroastrianism, is to remind one of the purpose of life on this earth, which is to live in such a way that the soul progresses spiritually and attains union with Ahura-Mazda (the Wise Lord); this state is called Frasho-kereti in Avesta.

The Fravahar's face resembles the face of human being, and therefore, indicates its connection to mankind. In the center of the figure is a circle. What does this circle signify?

9. ‘Chai – pronounced xai - occasionally is a symbol and word that figures prominently in Jewish culture, and consists of two letters of the Hebrew alphabet, which mean ‘living’, and hence, it reflects Judaism's focus on the importance of life.

What according to the system of gematria – the numerology of the Hebrew language - do the letters of chai add up to?

10. A Torii is commonly found at the entry to a Shinto shrine. ‘Torii’ mark the entrance to sacred spaces in Japan. Passing underneath a torii on the way to visit a shrine is, along with washing one's hands and mouth with water, an act of sanctification and purification before approaching the kami (gods) to pray.

What is a Torri?

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-Heart2Heart Team

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Vol 6 Issue 06 - JUNE 2008
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