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Swastika (卐) : How 12,000 year-old Symbol of Good Luck became Symbol of Evil and its significance in Hinduism

It is one of the 108 symbols of the Hindu God, Vishnu as well as a symbol of the Sun and of the Hindu Sun God, Surya

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Swastika symbol on elephant statue. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
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August 30, 2016: The word Swastika, originated from a Sanskrit word Svasti-, “su” meaning “well” and “asti” meaning “being,” which means fortune, good luck and well being. This symbol is found in the It is an ancient symbol, considered to be highly propitious, found worldwide, but especially common in India, among Hinduism and later among Buddhism and Jainism.

The symbol of Swastika is spotted almost everywhere. While some see it as a symbol of peace or prosperity, other believe it as a symbol of luck or hope- depending on when and where it is used. Swastika is very common in Hindu art, architecture and decoration. This symbol has religious significance attached to it and therefore it finds a special place in the wedding decorations, doorways, wedding cards, temples, clothing, cars, and much more, especially among Hindus. But, what’s the reason behind Swastika, to be considered so significant

The reason why ‘Swastika’ is considered to be significant in several religions and for several religious purposes are mentioned below-

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Hindu child with head shaven and red Swastika painted on it as part of his Upanayana ceremony. Image source: Wikipedia
Hindu child with head shaven and red Swastika painted on it as part of his Upanayana ceremony. Image source: Wikipedia

The ‘Swastika’ is a cross of four arms- of equal lengths with the ends of each arm bent at a right angle. It is one of the 108 symbols of the Hindu God, Vishnu as well as a symbol of the Sun and of the Hindu Sun God, Surya. These four arms of ‘Swastika’ represents, the four main directions: North, South, East and West; the four Vedas: Rig, Sama, Yajur and Atharva; the four aims of human life called ‘Purushartha’ in Sanskrit: Dharma, Arth, Kama, and Moksha; and the four stages of life, called ‘Ashrams’: Brahmacharya, Grihastha, Vanaprastha, and Sannyas.

The right side of Swastika represents the rotation of The Sun, which begins from the northern hemisphere to pass from the East, then South and finally to West whereas, the left side of the Swastika, is named as Sauvastika- that represents the God of Darkness, Goddess Kali n Hinduism. Though, this form is most commonly used amongst Buddhism.

Buddhist temple, with the sign of Svastika. Image source: Wikipedia Commons.
Buddhist temple, with the sign of Sauvastika. Image source: Wikipedia Commons.

Apart from these religious significances, numerous other importance is attached to the symbol, especially by people belonging to the Hindu community. Therefore ‘Swastika’ is considered as-

  • a lucky object that is believed to bring peace and happiness
  • a mark of good luck and fortune, designed on a human body (in palm lines), a place or a thing- associated with Goddess Laxmi, and other deities
  • a meeting place of four roads regarded as the meeting place of four guardians of direction or ‘Dikpala’, which leads to better chance of meeting people from all directions- resulting in more trade and wealth to the traders from all directions
  • a particular form of sitting posture by a yogini, at the practice of Laxmi Tantra or any other forms of Tantras
  • a free spirited happy woman and much more is associated with the symbol

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Swastik symbol used by Nazis. Image source: Pixabay
Swastik symbol used by Nazis. Image source: Pixabay

How the symbol became evil-

Now, you might be wondering that, how the Swastika, being such a sacred symbol, with a lot of positivity, could be banned in some countries like Germany and Poland! According to this Jewish community, it is one of the symbols of hatred that means: Nazism, Evil, and Death. The reason behind this is that the Nazis adopted this symbol, as it was understood as an Aryan symbol indicating racial purity and superiority.

Not known to many, Adolph Hitler was an artist and when i 1920, he was assigned the charge of propaganda for the fledgling National Socialist Party, he developed an idea to create an extremely vivid symbol for the party so that his party can be distinguished from the rival groups. As a result, known to many, as a symbol of purity, people got attracted to it and Hitler

As a result, known to many, as a symbol of purity, people got attracted to it and Hitler selected the ‘swastika’ symbol as the emblem of ‘racial purity’ displayed on a red background to win over the confidence of the workers.

The Swastika is also known as the Hakenkreusz, Gammadion cross, Cross Cramponnee, Pellabydren and Tetraskelion according to places where it has been adopted. It is regarded as the first Christian symbol. In the early 20th century, Rudyard Kipling had used it as his coat-of-arms and American pilots used to put it on planes during World War I.

– by Riashe Chakraborty from NewsGram. Twitter: @itzriashe

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  • Antara

    How the emblem of purity got associated with the Nazis is intriguing!

  • Enakshi Roy Chowdhury

    The symbol of purity now symbol of evil ?

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Shankaracharya: A remarkable genius that Hinduism produced (Book Review)

The irony is that most leading scientists, particularly outside India but also within, have little knowledge of the structure of Shankara's philosophy and the transparent interface it has with scientific discoveries today.

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He was greatly influenced by three basic texts of Hindu philosophy: Upanishads, the Brahma Sutra and the Bhagavad Gita
He was greatly influenced by three basic texts of Hindu philosophy: Upanishads, the Brahma Sutra and the Bhagavad Gita.

Title: Adi Shankaracharya: Hinduism’s Greatest Thinker; Author: Pavan K. Varma; Publisher: Tranquebar Press; Pages: 364; Price: Rs 699

This must be one of the greatest tributes ever paid to Shankaracharya, the quintessential “paramarthachintakh”, who wished to search for the ultimate truths behind the mysteries of the universe. His genius lay in building a complete and original philosophical edifice upon the foundational wisdom of the Upanishads.

A gifted writer, Pavan Varma, diplomat-turned-politician and author of several books including one on Lord Krishna, takes us through Shankara’s short but eventful span of life during which, from having been born in what is present-day Kerala, he made unparalleled contributions to Hindu religion that encompassed the entire country. Hinduism has not seen a thinker of his calibre and one with such indefatigable energy, before or since.

Shankara’s real contribution was to cull out a rigorous system of philosophy that was based on the essential thrust of Upanishadic thought but without being constrained by its unstructured presentation and contradictory meanderings.

He was greatly influenced by three basic texts of Hindu philosophy: Upanishads, the Brahma Sutra and the Bhagavad Gita. He wrote extensive and definitive commentaries on each of them. Of course, the importance he gave to the Mother Goddess, in the form of Shakti or Devi, can be traced to his own attachment to his mother whom he left when he set off, at a young age, in search of a guru and higher learning.

The irony is that most leading scientists, particularly outside India but also within, have little knowledge of the structure of Shankara's philosophy and the transparent interface it has with scientific discoveries today.
Shankara wrote hymns in praise of many deities but his personal preference was the worship of the Mother Goddess.

Against all odds, Shankara created institutions for the preservation and propagation of Vedantic philosophy. He established “mathas” with the specific aim of creating institutions that would develop and project the Advaita doctrine. He spoke against both caste discriminations and social inequality, at a time when large sections of conservative Hindu opinion thought otherwise.

Shankara was both the absolutist Vedantin, uncompromising in his belief in the non-dual Brahman, and a great synthesiser, willing to assimilate within his theoretical canvas several key elements of other schools of philosophy. He revived and restored Hinduism both as a philosophy and a religion that appealed to its followers.

Also Read: Hinduism: The Nine Basic Beliefs that you need to know

Varma rightly says that it must have required great courage of conviction as well as deep spiritual and philosophical insight for Shankaracharya to build on the insights of the Upanishads a structure of thought, over a millennium ago, that saw the universe and our own lives within it with a clairvoyance that is being so amazingly endorsed by science today. The irony is that most leading scientists, particularly outside India but also within, have little knowledge of the structure of Shankara’s philosophy and the transparent interface it has with scientific discoveries today.

Shankara wrote hymns in praise of many deities but his personal preference was the worship of the Mother Goddess. The added value of the book is that it has, in English, a great deal of Shankara’s writings. Unfortunately, most Hindus today are often largely uninformed about the remarkable philosophical foundations of their religion. They are, the author points out, deliberately choosing the shell for the great treasure that lies within. This is indeed a rich book. (IANS)