Symbolism of Whirlpool or Vortex in Hinduism

Shiva Blessing Devotees

by Jayaram V

The archetypal meaning, cultural significance and symbolism of whirlpool or votex in Hinduism


A whirlpool is is a strong current of water or wind. It is a powerful symbol to denote unusual developments in life. It draws in those who are caught in it. Sometimes, it may even act as a door way to death and another world. In Hindu scriptures and literature you will find references to whirlpool to denote movement, activity, desires, passions, lust, change, suffering, commotion, and afflictions.

The afflictions and modifications of the human mind are like whirlpools (vrittis) in the consciousness that keep it in a state of flux. They arise from desires which in turn are caused by the activity of the senses. They are responsible for instability, suffering, bondage of souls, and restlessness of the mind.

Whirlpools in turbulent waters are unsafe for humans. Hence, they are viewed by people as symbols of suffering, turmoil, chaos, danger, obstacle, and misfortune.

In common usage, the whirlpool symbolizes danger and turbulence caused by mental and physical afflictions, and difficulties in life. Those who are caught in are bound to suffer. For the pure soul, life itself is a turbulent whirlpool. When it is caught in it, it becomes subject to the modifications of Nature.

Thus, a whirlpool is a common metaphor in Hinduism. In spirituality, it denotes mortal life, and the cycle of births and deaths. Those who are caught in it are increasingly drawn into worldly life and drowned in sorrow and suffering. They cannot escape from it, unless they become strong and stable by practicing renunciation and detachment.

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