Siva: The Trident and the Snakes


The Trident

The trident is the weapon of Siva with which he destroys evils and restores order. The trident stands for the triple qualities of nature, namely, sattva, rajas and tamas. Siva is the master of maya and thereby master of these three qualities with which he controls the universe.

The trident symbolically represents the fact that Siva is the controller of the universe and the controller of all illusion. The trident also represents the three aspects of time, the past, the present and the future.

Siva is master of Time, Kala Bhairava who determines the progress of the universe according to his will. The trident represents the three paths to self-realization, namely the path of knowledge, the path of action and the path of devotion.

With these three paths, Siva transforms his devotees and destroys the evil in them. The trident stands for the three primary evils which need to be destroyed in order to make progress towards the divine. They are the evil of anger, the evil of lust and the evil of pride

The damaru denotes his connection with the primal sound AUM, the creation of alphabets, languages, grammar and music. His long matted hair denotes his spiritual life and his great powers.The crescent moon adorns his hair like a silver diadem.

Symbolism of Snakes

He wears a garland of snakes around his neck. Sometimes we see more snakes; one across his body like a sacred thread and two acting as bracelets around his muscular hands. The snakes symbolically represent his control over desire and sensuality. Sometimes in his ferocious aspects, he is shown wearing a garland of skulls.

There is a deep symbolism hidden behind this. The snake stands for all the evil and demonical nature in the world. By wearing the snake around his neck, Lord Siva gives us the assurance that no evil can touch us or destroy us once we surrender to him, seek his protection and worship him with deep devotion.

The snake also stands for the power of kundalini, which is described as a coiled serpent lying dormant in the muladhara chakra of all human beings and descends upwards when one starts ones spiritual journey and becomes increasingly divine oriented.

The snake around the neck of Siva conveys the meaning that in him the kundalini not only has arisen fully but is also actively involved in the divine activity by keeping an eye on all the devotees who approach Siva with their individual problems.

The snake also stands for all passions and desires. By wearing the snakes around his neck, Lord Siva conveys the message to all his devotees that He has overcome all desires and is in full control of Prakriti, or maya and its various machinations.