Symbols of Victory
Victory is a powerful word that conjures images of a battle, the victory going to the winner of the battle. There are many different symbols of victory- some with ancient origins, as battles have taken place in all cultures since the beginning of creation. Some of these symbols include the conch shell, the peacock, the resurrection of Christ, the letter V, Mt Kailash, the Greek goddess Nike, and the victory banner. As symbolism and storytelling are commonly linked with teaching, religious and spiritual writings often use the word victory in reference to the divine victory over human limitations and ignorance.
The word Victory in the English language comes from Victoria, the Roman goddess of victory, and counterpart to the Greek goddess Nike, who is said to have assumed the role of the god's personal charioteer in the Titan War. Nike's wings supposedly symbolize the fleeting nature of victory. The letter V can mean victory on its own. It was used extensively during the Second World War, and today is a generally accepted finger sign for victory all over the globe.
In spiritual terms, the word victory is used in relation to a divine victory, the victory of light over darkness, good over evil. Ancient battles were often fought when situations forced the powers of good to face the powers of darkness, as in The Mahabharata, the famous Indian Epic which is overflowing with symbolism and still very much applicable to our own era, and in fact our own selves. A famous symbol of victory from The Mahabharata is the conch shell, which was blown by the famous warriors in the battle of Kurukshetra. The conch shell has become an important part of Indian tradition, and is still used today as a part of daily spiritual practices.
"Of all the musical instruments, the conch is the most sacred and spiritual. Cosmic Gods and Goddesses hold the conch. Sri Krishna, Arjuna, and all heroes of the highest order used the conch. It is the symbol of victory. "
- Sri Chinmoy.
In Sanskrit, the word for victory is dhvaja, meaning standard, flag or sign. Originally, the victory banner was a military standard carried in ancient Indian warfare, and bore the specific insignia of its champion. For example in the Mahabharata, Sri Krishna's chariot was adorned with a banner showing the image of Hanuman, the great devotee of Lord Rama.
The victory banner is also used in Buddhism as an emblem of the Buddha's enlightenment, heralding the triumph of knowledge over ignorance. It is said to have been placed on the summit of Mt. Meru by Lord Buddha himself, symbolizing his victory over the entire universe. Again, Mount Meru is believed to be the central axis supporting the world.
In Tibetan Buddhism, Mount Kailash in the Himalayas is a symbol of victory. Milarepa, commonly known as Tibet's greatest yogi, said
"There is no place more powerful for practice, more blessed, or more marvelous than this; may all pilgrims and practitioners be welcome!"
The peacock appears in many Hindu religious myths and legends as a protector and symbol of victory. Since a potentially deadly emotion such as anger is depicted as a serpent, and the peacock is immune to the serpent's poison, the peacock symbolizes victory over poisonous tendencies in conscious people. In Christianity also, the Peacock is symbolic of victory, and also immortality, because of the periodical renewal of its splendid feathers. In Christianity, the victory of Christ over Death is said to be the most glorious victory in history, and so The Resurrection has been used to symbolize this theme.
Harita lives in the beautiful city of Christchurch, New Zealand. When she is not working as manager of The Lotus-Heart, a very popular vegetarian restaurant and haven of peace in central Christchurch, she likes to spend her time running, singing, spending time and meditating with her friends at the Sri Chinmoy Centre, and of course writing! Harita contributes to a site about the Yoga of Sri Chinmoy