|Place of origin||South Asia|
|Used by||Shiva, Durga, Kali, Prathyangira, Sarabha, Lavanasura|
The trishula (Sanskrit: त्रिशूल triśūla, Malay: trisula, Telugu: trishulamu, Tamil: thirisulam, Malayalam: തൃശൂലം trisoolam, Thai: trisoon or tri) is a type of South Asian trident also found in Southeast Asia. It is commonly used as a Hindu-Buddhist religious symbol. The word means "three spear" in Sanskrit and Pali.
In India and Thailand, the term often refers to a short-handled weapon which may be mounted on a danda or staff. But unlike the Okinawan sai, the trishula is often bladed. In Malay, trisula refers specifically to a long-handled trident while the diminutive version is known as a tekpi.
The trishula symbolism is polyvalent and rich. The trishula is wielded by the Hindu God Shiva and is said to have been used to sever the original head of Ganesha. Durga also holds trishula, as one of her many weapons. There are many other gods and deities, who hold the weapon trishula. The three points have various meanings and significance, and, common to Hindu religion, have many stories behind them. They are commonly said to represent various trinities—creation, maintenance and destruction, past, present and future, the three guna. When looked upon as a weapon of Shiva, the trishula is said to destroy the three worlds: the physical world, the world of the forefathers (representing culture drawn from the past) and the world of the mind (representing the processes of sensing and acting). The three worlds are supposed to be destroyed by Shiva into a single non-dual plane of existence, that is bliss alone.
In the human body, the trishula also represents the place where the three main nadis, or energy channels (ida, pingala and shushmana) meet at the brow. Shushmana, the central one, continues upward to the 7th chakra, or energy center, while the other two end at the brow, there the 6th chakra is located. The trisula's central point represents Shushmana, and that is why it is longer than the other two, representing ida and pingala.
- Trishula can sometimes also designate the Buddhist symbol of the triratna.
- A similar word, Trishul, is the Romani word for 'cross'.
The Goddess Durga also holds the trishula among other weapons and attributes in her hands and amongst her accoutrement, having received celestial weapons from both Shiva and Vishnu.
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