SYMBOLS Stories of cultural life.

Skuhala, grave with the symbols of the worlds major religions

God is one, but we see him or her differently, within personal perspectives. But God can be compared with a reservoir of water that has many faucets, symbolizing religion.. Each of us drinks from a different faucet, but the source is the same. This is the message of this grave, depicting symbols of world's major religions: Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Jainism, Hinduism, Judaism and Shinto.
A wide selection of crosses on Pobrežje cemetery shows, that significant differences exist already within Christianity. On the other hand, their symbolism is similar. Symbolism of a vertical and horizontal line reveals, that creation is marked by two forces, men and women, the sky and earth, God and the devil, active and passive force… The basic symbolism of the cross, therefore, can be interpreted as fusion of opposites, that gives love.

Symbolism of the cross is closer to dialectic of Taoist symbol, Yin- Yang. Like  the cross it consists of opposites, two great forces of the universe, Yin and Yang are in harmonious balance. Yin represents the passive principle, feminine, intuitive, soul, depth, everything dark and damp. Yang is the active principle, male, spirit, intellect, height, everything that is relentless, bright, dry and exalted. Each of the two forces carries a little bit of the opposite, and this indicates that it is not exclusively male or female nature. Yin-Yang is therefore a symbol of dynamism, the constant alternation of two principles, complementary and interdependent. It is a symbol of Taoism, initially philosophical system that has developed between the 4. and 3. Centuries BC and later, during the 2. and 3. Centuries AD, transformed into a religion. Complex development of philosophical Taoism was later spoiling on many schools and currents, but they all rely on same source of knowledge - the old philosophers, Lao Zij, Zhuang and Lie Zij Zij.

The Following symbol on the tomb represents the Muslim religion. Star and crescent symbolizes the same thing as the Cross and Yin-Yang. It also is a symbol of reunification of opposites, the holy coupling of male principle - a star and women - the Moon. The Latter plays an important role in the Muslim world. It is a measure of time, the moon dictated Muslim cyclical calendar and length of year. Star and crescent is the most recognizable symbol of Islamic religion, but originates elsewhere. Older polytheistic icon was reused during the spread of Islam by the Ottoman Empire. Therefore, some historians argue that it is rather a symbol of the Ottomans, and not of all Muslims.

Next symbol, a hand with a circle and inscription of word “ahimsa” in it, originated from India. That is the symbol of Jainism, an old religion, which beliefs in rebirth and salvation of the soul are essentially Indian. But it distanciated itself from Hinduism, and it rejects brahminical institutions such as caste and especially the sacrifice of living beings. Jainism condemns any violence. So word "ahimsa", written inside circle on palm, means "nonviolence". Legend says that one of the great preachers of Jainism, Mahavira, had his first sermon in assembly of Brahmins, who performed blood sacrifice. He managed to convert all Brahmins and led them to the path of non-violence. This is a key principle in everyday life, which directs actions of Jain. Non-violence towards all living beings teamed up with the principle of self-control is a way toward liberation from eternal circle of birth and death. Finally, the word Ahimsa is in the circle, which has a very similar meaning as the Buddhist wheel of Dharma, also depicted on the monument and already presented.

The following religious symbol AUM is also from India and part of all three major religions: Jainism, Buddhism and Hinduism, where this symbol is prevalent. It is an important part of the iconography of ancient and medieval manuscripts, temples and monasteries. In Hinduism it is one of the most important spiritual symbols. It refers to Atman (soul) and Brahman (ultimate reality, the supreme spirit, the cosmic principle, behavior). AUM is often located at the beginning and end of chapters in Vedas. It is part of the texts from the Rig Veda, which originates from 2nd millennium BC. The symbol also appears in Upanishads and other Hindu texts. AUM is chanted before and during recitation of spiritual texts, rituals, meditation and other activities, such as yoga, during the wedding ... AUM applies to cosmic sound, the affirmation of the divine. Rig Veda states that three phonetic components A U M correspond to three phases of cosmic creation. So, chanting this symbol is an act of celebration of creative forces in the universe. As a tool for meditation, AUM represents a means by which one can liberate himself..

Last symbol at the tomb represents the Torii gate, entrance in a Shinto shrine. Shinto is ancient Japanese religion, based on the worship of natural spirits called “Kami”. The religion was founded around year 660 BC and was the state religion of Japan until 1945. Torii gate symbolizes the transition between this, natural and physical world, and the other, spiritual and endless world. The Gate is often the only indicator that we are entering into sacred place, which in most cases of Shinto shrine is a natural open space. The number three is the sacred number of the natural spirits. When visitor enters sacred space, they must clap hands three times, and then three times bow to summon spirits before starting the sacrifice or ritual.

star of David
Star and Crescent
Wheel of Dharma
Torii gate
Hand with circle
latin cross

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