Christians have the cross. What do hindus have?

What are the icons of the world’s major religions?

The cross is universally associated with Christianity, the star of David with Judaism, and the crescent with Islam.

Are there equivalent symbols for Buddhism and Hinduism? Any others?

Believe it or not, one very prominant Buddhist symbol is the swastika.

I think Hindus may also use it as well, but I could be wrong.

The swastika was originally the Hindu symbol. Gauatama Buddha was originally a Hindu prince.

The Nazis corrupted it and butchered it beyond all recognition, to the point where we don’t dare display swastikas in the US.

(Yes, I am a little bitter about this.)

The Vishnu Mandir on Yonge Street just north of the Highway 7 overpass in Richmond Hill (next to the Shamrock Motel) uses what I believe to be the Aum symbol.

The last two are very recent. The crescent’s relatively modern association with Islam in general comes primarily from it’s use as an imperial symbol by the Ottoman empire, which dominated the so much of the Muslim world for so long. It has no real religious iconography at all.

Similarily the Star of David as an exclusive symbol of Judaism dates from the creation of Israel and its association as a symbol of that nation. Before that as “the seal of Solomon” hexagrams were frequently used by Muslim states. Some medieval Anatolian emirates used it on their flags - witness the flag of the emirate of Candar:

Even as recently as the early 20th century the Rifian rebels in northen Morocco incorporated hexagrams in their flag design.

  • Tamerlane

To add to what Tamerlane has said about the Star of David, AKA the Hexagram, it is used in Eastern Religions as well as in Islam, including both Hinduism and Buddhism:

Also, you’ll see it in older logos of European companies, some of which are still in use - no religious associations at all, they just thought it was a pleasant shape. Its strong connection with Judaism in Europe seems to have started right about the time the Nazis began to use it to label the ones to be persecuted - then solidified with the founding of Israel and the decision to use the Star of David on the flag.

For the purposes of the OP, the answers already given – the Aum and the Swastika – are probably the two most common symbols used by both Hindus and Buddhists.

However, the OP should understand that when it comes right down to it, Hinduism doesn’t have a symbol equivalent to the Christian cross – a supreme symbol recognized by all its adherents as the common symbol of the religion – and it has to do with basic differences between Hinduism and Christianity.

Christianity flows from a specific book, with specific stories of specific people that are held up as the one and supreme message of the supreme being to humans. Christians study the Bible and try to understand the commands of God and Jesus. They seek out other Christians to be Christians together and go out and try to make more Christians. Overall, Christianity is govered by a belief that in order to be a Christian, a person must believe at least one thing (and often a few more things).

Hinduism is very different. It formed organically from combining aspects of hundreds or thousands of local religions over a period of about a thousand years. No one’s belief or philosophy or practise was discarded. There is no such thing as heresy in Hinduism. It does not demand any specific belief or philosophy or practise. It does not treat its “adherents” as a body of believers against a world of non-believers. It is very dubious about the concept of accepting “converts.” (How can you “convert” to a religion that doesn’t require any specific belief or practise from its adherents?)

Hinduism has no need for a universal symbol recognized by all its adherents as the supreme symbol of its community, and so it doesn’t really have one.

The US Veterans Administration has some 3 dozen religious symbols that can be used on headstones in national cemetaries. It’s a fairly complete list of the common symbols for most religions.

See http://www.cem.va.gov/hmemb.htm