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Statue of lord shiva.jpg
Statue of Shiva holding a trishula in Sanga, Nepal
Type Trident
Place of origin South Asia

The Trishula (Sanskrit: त्रिशूल triśūla, Hindi: त्रिशूल triśūl, Kannada: ತ್ರಿಶೂಲ triśūla, Malay: trisula, Marathi: त्रिशूळ triśūlla, Malayalam: തൃശൂലം tr̥iśūlaṁ, Telugu: త్రిశూలం trisoolam, Tamil: Listeni// திரிசூலம் tiricūlam, Thai: ตรีศูล trīṣ̄ūl or tri) is the Indian word for trident. It is commonly used as a Hindu-Buddhist religious symbol. The word literally means "three-headed spear" in Sanskrit and Pāli.

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, trisula usually refers specifically to a long-handled trident while the diminutive version is more commonly known as a chabang or tekpi.


Trishula details

The trishula symbolism is polyvalent and rich.[citation needed] It is wielded by the god Shiva and is said to have been used to sever the original head of Ganesha. Durga also holds a trishula, as one of her many weapons. 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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed] The trishula's central point represents Shushmana, and that is why it is longer than the other two, representing ida and pingala.[citation needed]

Other uses[edit]

  • 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).[1]
  • A similar word, Trishel, is the Romani word for 'cross'.


See also[edit]