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Did You Know the Meaning of Yin Yang?

Mayuri Kulkarni Sep 27, 2018
The yin-yang symbol is known for its deep philosophical meanings and concepts. Read ahead to understand its significance and origin.
The yin yang is a well-known Chinese philosophical symbol that represents the theory of two opposite things existing together. The yin yang is a Taoist symbol, and it is used predominantly by the practitioners of Taoism and is also known as Taiji symbol or Tai Chi symbol.
Its symbolic representation is very unique, with a circle divided into two symmetrical parts with a "S" shape. One part is filled with white color, and the other one is filled with black. Each part contains a drop or dot of the opposite color inside it.


Though the exact origin of this symbol is not known, it is believed that it was invented during the Yin dynasty that existed in the years 1400 - 1100 BC. This symbol was also mentioned in one of the earliest literature works of Taoism, I Ching.
It is said that it was formed when the Chinese scholars were trying to find out the working of the Universe and the orientation of the Sun. They placed a pole perpendicular to the ground and observed the length of the pole shadows throughout the day.
They did this project for one whole year, and came up with a circular chart that represented lengths of the pole during various seasons. This circular chart was the first and basic form of the yin-yang symbol that is well-known today.
In this symbol, the black part is the yin, while the white portion represents yang. Both these parts are symmetrical, and they fit in each other, alike the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. The basic meaning of yin yang is opposites attract each other, and the symbol promotes the theory of unity and harmony achieved by two opposite elements.
If you observe the symbol, then you can see that the shapes of yin and yang are cyclic. With a gradual decrease in the width of the yin, the yang arises and vice versa. Thus, despite being opposite, we can say that both these elements are interdependent for their existence.
This phenomenon also states that nothing in this Universe is permanent, and things transform from one form to the other to maintain the balance. The dot or the drop of opposite color in the yin yang symbolizes interdependence and also shows the balance between the two forces.
The Chinese philosophy also states that these opposite parts came together to form the basic five elements - Earth, fire, metal, wood, and water - that created the Universe. Thus, every matter that exists in this Universe can be said to be originated by interaction of two opposite elements.
One of the books that explains this symbol states that every aspect in this Universe has two different perspectives, which are interdependent and cannot exist completely alone. That means, the yin cannot exist alone without yang and vice versa.

Elements Represented by the Symbol

The yin part is said to represent dark, passive, and feminine characteristics, while the yang is said to possess masculine characteristics. The table mentioned here provides various meanings that can be represented through this symbol:
Yin Yang
Earth Sky
Tiger Dragon
Winter Summer
Valleys Mountains
Cold Heat
Death Life
Dark Light
Matter Spirit
Female Male
Passive Active
Water Fire
Shade Sunlight
Receptive Creative
The yin yang is an excellent piece of philosophy that explains the working of the Universe within such a small symbol. It promotes the balance and harmony among different elements of the Universe and states that nothing in this Universe exists on its own.