Based on the Sanskrit terms shula (spear, lance) and tri (three), the trishula or trident has three sharp points rather than one. In extension, or perhaps even being the origin of this symbol, also a naturally occuring three-pronged branch from a tree is called trishula.
The trishula is one of the most popular symbols of the god Shiva, although his specific trident is known as pashupatastra. In the Tibetan tradition, it is also a (magical) weapon carried by some of the protective deities.
Although more common in the Hindu than in the Buddhist tradition, the trident occurs in depictions of deities from both schools, always symbolizing any of the concepts connected withthe number three. In Buddhism, these are Buddha, Dharma and Sangha - in Hinduism the three gunas, the three nadis, or the three gods of the trimurti; to name but a few examples.
|short staff with trident top||tridanda, tridandi||srid-pa'i ldem-shing|
|trident of the Bön tradition||zangs-kyi sha-zung|