Symbolism of the Waterfall in Hinduism

Waterfall symbolism

by Jayaram V

Find here the archetypal meaning, cultural significance and symbolism of waterfall in Hinduism


Path in Sanskrit means anything that falls down, fails, descends, dissolves, or breaks down. The descent may be for the better or for the worse. For example, the descent of higher consciousness into the mind has a positive connotation, but the descent of the soul into Nature or the downfall of a person into sin has a negative connotation.

Therefore a waterfall (jalapath) has both positive and negative connotations. On a positive note, waterfalls symbolize the descent of gods, consciousness, light, and abundance. The sacred river Ganga falls down from the heavens like a waterfall only, and from the head of Shiva (Himalayas) it flows down to the earth again as a waterfall.

A waterfall is a natural offering of water by Prakriti (Nature) to Shiva who is present in the water streams and rivers of the earth as numerous shivalingas (stones). The sound from the falling water is comparable to the sound of breath in the body. According to legends and Puranas, because of their beauty and majesty, waterfalls serve as a bathing place for gods and celestial beings who frequent them. Hence, the water in a waterfall may have healing and purifying powers.

Waterfalls thus denote the flow of life, energy, consciousness, and breath from one plane to another or one part of the body to another. Their reverberating sound represents the subtle sound (nada) of the flow of life energy (prana) in the veins (nadi) of the body. Symbolically, it also denotes positive energy, youthful exuberance, happiness, vigor, the playful mood of a flowing river, and the vicissitudes of life.

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