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Circle The meaning and significance of circle in Hindu culture.

Submitted in partial fulfilment of the require– ments for the unit one — design literacy Viraj Deo ma graphic branding and identity 21 March 2011


( šûn'ya )

( cakrã )


wvu ( valãyã )

( vartulã )


( aum )

( bindu )

( ananta )


( kundalã)

( mandalã )

( karnã )


( surya )

cricle A circle, an ancient and universal symbol having no beginning or end, represents infinity, eternity, wholeness and femininity. To earthcentered religions throughout history as well as to many contemporary pagans, it represents the feminine spirit or force, the cosmos or a spiritualized Mother Earth and a sacred space. The circle is perhaps the purest, most profound and the most common symbol in existence. With the probably infinite billions of stars, planets, moons and galaxies full of the same, the circle is well represented in the physical universe in the form of spheres.

( gõla )

The first real discovery of zero and the ‘Decimal System’ came from an Indian mathematician named Aryabhatta before 100 bc. The first record of the Indian use of zero which is dated and agreed by all to be genuine was written in 876. A circle is the mathematical symbol for zero. Time is zero —time is a circle. Circle has a great significance in Hindu culture, perhaps it is the single most important part of the Indian iconography. Its been stated in the holy Vedãs that circle represents existence of mankind on planet Earth and is a way of living. In Hinduism there are more than 333 million gods and goddesses. Each religion has its own customs and traditions and interpretations of circle as a divine form. This is why I thought that it is worth investigating and understanding the vast preeminence of the circle as a symbol in Hindu culture.

ashoka chakra

at Konark Sun Temple Orissa circle in hindu culture

Circle in Hindu culture perfection eternity universe infinity harmony unity

Perfection aum or om

Îe~ Om means “perfection” in Sanskrit. As the cross is to Christians, the Om is to Hindus. It is made up of three Sanskrit letters, aa, au and ma which, when combined, make the sound Aum or Om. It is believed that the whole universe, in its fundamental form, is made up of vibrating, pulsating energy. Om is considered as the humming sound of this cosmic energy. Om is said to be the original

primordial creative sound from which the entire universe have manifested. It is also known as the ‘Anahat Nada’‚ the “Unstruck Sound”. This means the sound that is not made by two things striking together. As the symbol of piety, Om is often found at the head of letters, pendants, enshrined in every Hindu temple and family shrines.



circle in hindu culture

Second in importance only to the Om, the Swastikã, a

right angles and facing in a clockwise direction. It

symbol which look like the Nazi emblem, holds a great religious significance for the Hindus. Swastikã is not a syllable or a letter, but a pictorial character in the shape of a cross with branches bent at

remains widely used in Indian Religions, specifically in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. It is also ancient occult symbol of the sun and the four directions.


lotus or padmã

ine~ Padmã, the sacred lotus, is an aquatic plant that plays a central role in Indian religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. The lotus in both Egypt and India symbolizes


;a= TheYantrã is a sacred geom-

It is composed of 9 interlocked

etry that orginated in India and is a beautiful and complex sacred geometry used for worship, devotion and meditation. It has been in use for thousands of years and it's origin seems unknown.

triangles. It is very difficult to draw without errors at the intersections. Yantrãs are usually designed so that the eye is carried into the center, and very often they are symmetrical. An ancient painting of Shri Yantrã

circle in hindu culture

the union of the four elements; earth, air, fire and water. The lotus is therefore the perfection of the four-fold order of the natural world.

Eternity sun or sury達

lw;Z~ The earliest humans looked

gence with cyclical regularity.

up the sky and found the orb of fire giving them light and warmth. Sun for them was a mystical power, a god. They saw its movement from morning in the east and to the west in the evening. Next day again it came up in the sky. They regarded it as an omnipresent power that repeated its emer-

There was no beginning or end to the sun for them. It was the sun that allowed their imagination to look in the circular form endlessness, infinity. Thus quite early circle became a symbol of completeness, eternity and also rejuvenation.

crescent moon chandr達 panz Often depicted on Lord Shiv達s head is a crescent moon, representing the cyclical nature of the universe. The waxing and waning of the moon symbolizes the cycle through which

circle in hindu culture

creation evolves. Furthemore, since Lord Shiv達 is said to be the Eternal Reality, He is beyond time and the cycle of creation.

eternity / universe

serpent or sheshã

ÓsÔ The serpent of eternity, having one thousand heads, also means ‘The remainder’. The accepted iconography or sculptures of Lord Vishnu; ‘Preserver of the universe’, is depicted as He reclining on the coiled-up thousand-

hooded rests on sheshã nagã which represent the cycle of time — the past, present and future. The snake around Lord Shivã’s neck symbolises his transcendence over the cycles of creation, eternity and time.

Universe jaganathã

txUukFk Lord of the Universe also titled as the ‘Master of the Universe’. He is an ancient Hindu deity and is incarnation of Lord Krishnã. He has a a fiercesome looking rounded face that is a black block of wood with a blood-red mouth.

circle in hindu culture

Jaganathã is worshipped by Hindus all over the world. The Jaganathã Temple in Puri, Orissa is regarded as one of the four most sacred Hindu pilgrimage places in India.


zen circle The Zen circle, a popular motif in Zen art, represents the entire universe in a single, erect stroke. Although simple, ima-

ges like this are difficult to paint successfully and thus must be done with a clear mind focused on the task.


ea.My Mandalas are seen as sacred places which, by their very presence in the world, remind a viewer of the immanence of sanctity in the universe and its potential in himself. In practice, Mandala has become a generic term for any plan, char, or geometric pattern which represents the cosmos metaphysically or symbolically, a microcosm of the universe from the human perspective. The difference between a Mandala and a Yantr達 is that the former is used in the case of any Devat達 (Hindu for deity) whereas, a yantra is appropriate to a specific Devat達 only.

circle in hindu culture

jain mandalas (clockwise from top left) Brihad Siddha Chakra, Surimantra Pata, Rishimandala Yantra, Panchtirthi Pata of Rishabhanatha

Infinity infinity symbol or ananta

vaUr The Isha Upanishad of the Yajurveda (c. 4th to 3rd century BC) states that “if you remove a part from infinity or add a part to infinity, still what remains is infinity”.

“Brahma is infinite, serene, invisible, imperishable, immutable, formless, one and eternal” said Arthur Christy (1899 – 1946) the American author and critic.

Brahma is the creator of the universe and of all beings, as depicted in the Hindu cosmology. The Vedas, the oldest and the holiest of Hindu scriptures, are attributed to Brahma, and thus Brahma is regarded as the father of dharma.

In ancient India and Tibet, the infinity symbol is also represented as a symbol of perfection, dualism and unity between male and female. In the occult tarot it’s linked to magic and represents equilibrium or the balance of various forces.


uVjkt Hindus believe that the whole Universe is a dance of infinite energy. Lord Shivã is often manifested as the cosmic dancer. The most common images show him with four arms and flying locks, dancing on a dwarf (Apasmara, a symbol of human ignorance) and encircled by a ring of flames.

The Natarãja (The King of Dance) sculpture shows Shivã as the source of all the infinite movements within the cosmos, represented by the loop of flames. The dance’s purpose is to release humans from illusion; the place where the god performs the dance is believed to lie both at the center of the universe and within the human heart.

 Infinity is that. Infinity is this. From Infinity, Infinity has come into existence. From Infinity, when Infinity is taken away, Infinity remains.



uVjkt circle in hindu culture

Harmony rangoli

lw;Z~ Rangoli is a traditional deco-

courtyards during Hindu

rative folk art of India and has a great significance in all Hindu religions. These floor decorations are considered as auspicious symbols. Rangolis are decorative design patterns on floors of living rooms and

festivals and are meant as sacred welcoming area for the DevatĂŁs. The purpose of Rangoli is not mere decoration but also it is thought to bring good luck, peace, prosperity and harmony into the family.

Rangolis were usually done at domestic altars or along with the “Tulsi� (Basil) considered a vegetal manifestation of Vishnu sacred to his consort, Lakshmi. Within a grid of five onto five dots, the feet of Lakshmi are first drawn, overlapped with the feet of Vishnu. A protective border is then drawn around it. This symbol becomes one that invokes harmony. circle in hindu culture


kolâm pattern

dksYye In Tamil Nadu, South India, people recognize this symbol in a Kolâm form (a kind of Rangoli). It represents philosophic ideas or reflect each regions particular customs and rites. Kôlam is passed on orally by mothers to their daughters and grandmothers to their granddaughters.

It signifies unity and purity. This symbol is one of the eight auspicious symbols of Buddhism. It is said that Buddha was himself an expert in this art. In other parts of the world recognised as the endless knot (the Celtic knot), has also been refered as the Mystic dragon.

warli art

okjyh The Warlis are an Indian indigenous peoples having have their own beliefs, life, customs and traditions, which is the part of the Composite Hindu Culture. Their extremely rudimentary wall paintings use a very basic graphic vocabulary: a circle, a triangle and a square. The Tarpa dance is the most significant images seen in Warli art and indeed a unique manifestation of ‘unity’. The Tarpa is a trumpet like instrument and many Warli paintings will have a tarpa player

Death is not the end for them; rather it is a new beginning. Which is why circles best represent the art of Warli, which has neither an end nor a beginning.

surrounded by drummers and dancing men and women. Life is an eternal circle to them. At all occasions – birth, marriage, and death they draw circles, symbol of Mother Goddess.

circle in hindu culture


Submitted in partial fulfilment of the require– ments for the unit one — design literacy Viraj Deo ma graphic branding and identity 21 March 2011

Unit One - Braille Devanagari - Meaning  
Unit One - Braille Devanagari - Meaning  

Viraj Deo MA Graphic Branding & Identity 2011 London College of Communication (LCC) University of the Arts London © Copyright 2011 Viraj Deo...