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Statue of Shiva holding a trishula in Sanga,Nepal
|Place of origin||South Asia|
|Used by||Shiva, Durga, Kali, Prathyangira, Sarabh, Lavanasur, Ganesh, Shani, Mangal|
The Trishula (Sanskrit: त्रिशूल triśūla, Hindi: त्रिशूल triśūl, Marathi: त्रिशूळ triśūlla, Malay: trisula, Kannada:ತ್ರಿಶೂಲ, "triśūla" Telugu:త్రిశూలం , trisoolam, Malayalam: തൃശൂലം tr̥iśūlaṁ, Tamil:i// திரிசூலம் tiricūlam, Thai: ตรีศูล trīṣ̄ūl or tri) means trident in the Indian language. It is commonly used as a Indic (Hindu-Buddhist) religious symbol. The word means "three-headed spear" i.e. "trident" in Sanskrit and Pali.
In India and Thailand, the term also 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 and Indonesian, trishula usually refers specifically to a long-handled trident while the diminutive version is known as a chabang or 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 Ganesh. Durga also holds a 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 gunas. 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 nadi, 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 trishula'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.
- The Goddess Durga holds a trishula among other weapons and attributes in her hands and amongst her accoutrement, having received celestial weapons from both Shiva and Vishnu.
- In Nepal, the trishula is the election symbol of the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist).
- A similar word, Trishel, is the Romani word for 'cross'.
The Hachibushū Sendan Kendatsuba (or Candana Gandharva) is pictured killing several villains with his trishul in the collection of five paintings Extermination of Evil.
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