Essays About Shaivism

History, Philosophy, Beliefs and Practices of Shaivism,

The Trident, Shiva's Weapon

Trishul, the Trident

Trishul or trident is the weapon of Siva with which he destroys the evils of the world and evil forces of the world and restores order and regularity. It is an inseparable part of him and invariably appears in all his iconic and symbolic representations. It has a lot of symbolism too.

For example, the trident represents Shiva's unlimited power as the creator, preserver and destroyer as well as his lordship over the triple worlds of the earth, the mid-region and the heaven. It represents his power to destroy the triple impurities namely egoism (anava), attachments (pasa) and delusion (Maya), which are responsible for our suffering and bondage upon earth. By destroying them, he liberates the embodied souls (jivas) forever from the mortal world

The trident also symbolizes the triple qualities of Nature (Prakriti) namely, sattva, rajas and tamas. It is only through his grace and intervention one can overcome their influence and stabilize the mind in the contemplation of Shiva to experience peace and happiness here and an eternal life hereafter.

As the creator and upholder, Shiva grants the three types of happiness or bliss namely the bliss of the body (sexual pleasure), bliss of the mind (contentment and joy) and bliss of the soul (atmanandam). As the destroyer he removes the three types of afflictions namely the afflictions of the body, of the soul and the afflictions caused by previous karma which holds the soul in bondage.

Shiva is also the lord of Death, Mahakal or Kalabhairav, which is another name for Time (Kala). As the lord of Death or Time, he controls the past, the present and future. He is also beyond them. They are verily represented by the Trident.

According to the beliefs of Shaivism, nothing  happens without the will of Shiva. He determines the progress of the worlds through the time cycle as well as the progression of the individual souls on the path of liberation. The trident represents the triples paths to self-realization, namely the path of knowledge, the path of action and the path of devotion.

By granting them knowledge, detachment and discernment, he transforms his devotees by removing their impurities. The trident stands for the three  primary evils which need to destroyed in order to make  progress towards the divine. They are the evil of anger, the evil of lust and the evil of pride.