The 3 Most Popular Sanskrit Tattoo Designs

For a while, good taste in tattoos seemed to have disappeared. Tribal tattoo designs can be very beautiful, when done right. But then I started seeing more and more poorly executed examples appear. These seemed to emphasize size over quality and looked more like someone threw paint on the skin. Instead of getting a big, cheap tattoo from an unskilled tattoo artist, why not pay a little more to get a beautifully done, small tattoo from a good artist? You can find many elegant and small Sanskrit tattoo designs, Celtic cross tattoos and even dreamcatcher tattoos.

Talking about small and beautiful Sanskrit tattoo designs, here are three of the most popular:

Om/Omkar Symbol

The Om symbol is one of the most popular symbols in Sanskrit tattoos. It is one of the primal sounds of Creation, and can be heard in the mantras of many meditational systems. In the Hindu religion, Om both corresponds to the three states of human consciousness (waking, dream and deep sleep) as well as the three main Hindu gods (Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva). Om is often drawn together with the lotus flower in tattoo art.

When used on its own in a tattoo, Om is drawn as the Omkar symbol. This symbol is based on the form of the Hindu elephant-headed God, Lord Ganesha. There are 4 parts in the Omkar symbol

    • the upper curve represents the head
    • the large lower curve of the belly

    • the side curve is the trunk

    • the semi-circle and dot of the sweetmeat ball held in the hand

Unlike the Om symbol which represents three ideas moving in a cycle of destruction and creation, the Omkar symbol usually represents a duality of opposing ideas:

    • Goal and Purpose of Life

    • the Material world and the Sacred world

    • Form and Formlessness

Padme, the Lotus Flower

The lotus flower is called Padme in Sanskrit. It is a holy flower in Hinduism, and because of its behavior is said to represent the cycle of destruction followed by creation. At night, the lotus flower closes and sinks underwater. The next morning, it returns to the surface and blooms again.

The lotus flower also plays a part in religious mythology - Brahma, the Hindu God who created the world, was born from a lotus blossom which sprang from the navel of Vishnu, the Hindu God who maintains the world.

In Sanskrit tattoo designs, the lotus is not drawn like a real flower. Instead, it is drawn in a stylized manner, resembling the bright colorful Mandalas used in Hindu religious celebrations.

You often see both the Om and Padme symbols together in Sanskrit tattoos, in various combinations.

Trishula, Lord Shiva's Trident Symbol

Lord Shiva's three-pronged trident is another popular tattoo image. This trident is called the Trishula. It seems that Shiva cut off Ganesha's original head using this trident.

Although the Trishula is a weapon, it is also the symbol of Shiva. As such, it is more than just a tool of destruction. One of its meanings actually represents the cycle of creation, maintenance and destruction of the world. Another meaning is the past, present and future.

If you practice Kundalini Yoga, the Trishula represents how the three primary energy channels in your body come together at your brow. However, I wouldn't recommend tattooing the Trishula on your brow, not unless your Kundalina guru says it is okay to do so.

Are you overloaded by the meanings of all these popular Sanskrit tattoo designs? Don't be. Just have fun with your tattoos, and if you actually remember the meanings, fine. You'll have something to talk about. If not, so what? They are still beautiful pieces of body art.

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