Indian art, the attributes of the Indian gods ... Read more:
Among the attributes of the deities in Hindu sculpture, weapons form the most important homogenous category and represent the active aspect: the spiritual path is in part a fight, but it is an inner fight (and not a war to be fought against an external enemy as many believe!). Even if the myths relate many wars against demons or between deities, those are allegories: each demon, each battle between deities reveals a false belief, a poison as Buddhism calls them, which live deep within us and which sometimes dictate our conduct without us even being aware of it (thus Durga Mahashasuramardini defeating the buffalo demon which represents vanity, instinctive forces...).
Furthermore, it can be noted that some attributes have several functions such as the conch which can be used both as a weapon but also as a symbol.
Ghantâ, incarnation of the primordial sound (like the conch and the Damaru).
Shanka, the low sound drives away the demons but above all symbolizes infinity and expansion, attribute of Vishnu (spiral in the direction of a clock) or conversely of destruction, then attribute of Shiva.
Sruch is used to pour the oil, ghee (clarified butter) into the fire during rituals: it was also used, during sacrificial rites, to pour the oblations. Sign of the generosity of a deity, of its benevolent position, but above all of its power of transformation.
Oil or ghee lamp
Dipa: symbol of light, clarity, knowledge that dispels darkness.
Whipping ball drum
Damaru, small drum with whipping balls: represents the original sound, the one that precedes the manifestation but also the change, the different rhythms that follow one another (pulsations).
Animals are mostly depicted as mounts of deities, but a few are present as attributes in the statues.
Mriga, an attribute of Shiva, this animal is considered magical in India: when sculpted with Shiva standing firmly on two back legs, it indicates His mastery of the forces of nature.
Cobra or snake
Naga, symbol of regeneration, perpetual change and latent energy. Cobras can also, when united, form a protective dome on the head of a deity.
Nakula: symbol of wealth, attribute of Kubera, the god of wealth.
Murali, its music bewitches the faithful and transports them to the divine.
Vina provides harmony when it is played by a deity: Saraswati statues often represent it with a lute. It is the same with Nârada and sometimes Shiva.
Various attributes of Hindu Gods
Danda indicates the function of guide of the god but it can also be used as a formidable weapon (by Shiva in particular). Topped by a skull (Khatvangha), it represents impermanence but also the wrathful aspect of a deity.
Bowl or beggar's bowl
Patra symbolizes asceticism and the Buddha himself.
When seen in the form of a skull, Kapala, it signifies power over death.
Mâla made from 108 Rudrakasha pearls for the followers of Shiva and Tulasi for those of Vishnu: it embodies time.
Kali sometimes wears a rosary made of skulls: Kapalamâla symbolizing the precariousness of existence, the impermanence of all things.
Kapa (see Rosary)
Chamara, made of yak hair, it can represent the breath of the spirit that chases away obstacles. It is a symbol of royalty. More basically it is used to chase away pests, all that is undesirable, everything that prevents.
Anhuska is used to guide the elephants in the right direction and by extension the disciples. It signifies the clairvoyance of the one who guides.
Agni, both light and destruction (the only possibility of renewal).
Ratna indicates wealth, the royal aspect of the deities.
Pustaka symbolizes knowledge, especially that of the Vedas, but also creation because the Word precedes manifestation, the creation of the world of forms. It can thus be associated with the lotus.
The Book of Hindu Imagery: Gods, Manifestations and Their Meaning : Eva Rudy Janssen
Un et multiple : Sarah Combe
Mythes et dieux de l’Inde : Alain Danielou