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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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12 Interesting Facts About Somnath Temple Probably You Didn’t Know

The Somnath Temple is popular due to various legends connected to it. The place is an important pilgrimage and tourist spot.

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Somnath Temple is located in Veraval on the western coast of Gujarat, India. Wikimedia Commons
Somnath Temple is located in Veraval on the western coast of Gujarat, India. Wikimedia Commons
  • Somnath Temple is believed to be the place where Lord Krishna ended his Lila and thereafter left for heavenly abode
  • The first Siva temple at Somanath is believed to have been built at some unknown time in the past
  • Gujarat was raided by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1024, plundering the Somnath temple and breaking its sacred jyotirlinga

Somnath Temple is a specimen of fine architecture of one of the 12 Jyotirlingas Shrines of Shiva. This place is believed to be the place where Lord Krishna ended his Lila and thereafter left for heavenly abode, therefore it is dubbed as Eternal Shrine. This legendary temple has been vandalized numerous times in the history but with the help of some Hindu Kings, the temple was reshaped each time.

Somnath Temple is located in Veraval on the western coast of Gujarat, India. The temple is popular due to various legends connected to it. The place is an important pilgrimage and tourist spot. Lord Shiva has a strong connection here and also known as shrine eternal.

Somnath Temple History

According to popular tradition, the first Siva temple at Somanath is believed to have been built at some unknown time in the past. The second temple has been built at the same site by the “Yadava kings” of Vallabhi around 649 CE. In 725 CE, Al-Junayd, the Arab governor of Sindh destroyed the second temple as part of his invasions of Gujarat and Rajasthan. In 815 CE, the Gurjara-Pratihara king Nagabhata II constructed the third temple, a huge structure of red sandstone.

Also Read: Top 10 Famous Hindu Temples of Tamil Nadu

The Chaulukya (Solanki) king Mularaja possibly built the first temple at the site sometime before 997 CE, even though some historians believe that he may have renovated a smaller earlier temple.

Somnath Temple Attacks

Gujarat was raided by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1024, plundering the Somnath temple and breaking its sacred jyotirlinga. Ghazni took away the wealth of almost 20 million dinars. As per historical records, the damage to the temple by was quite negligible because there are records of pilgrimages to the temple in 1038, which has no much mention of any damage to the temple.

In14th century, Gujarati Muslim pilgrims were noted by Amir Khusrow to stop at that temple to pay their respects before departing for the Hajj pilgrimage. Wikimedia Commons
In14th century, Gujarati Muslim pilgrims were noted by Amir Khusrow to stop at that temple to pay their respects before departing for the Hajj pilgrimage. Wikimedia Commons

But claims are there that Mahmud had killed 50,000 devotees who tried to defend the temple. The temple at the time of Ghazni’s attack appears to have been a wooden structure, which is said to have decayed in time.

According to an inscription of 1169, Kumarapala rebuilt it in “excellent stone and studded it with jewels,”

Also Read: Angkor Wat: History behind Cambodian Hindu temple

Then in 1299, the Somnath Temple was invaded by Alauddin Khalji’s army, led by Ulugh Khan. They defeated the Vaghela king Karna and sacked the Somnath temple. Legends state that the Jalore ruler Kanhadadeva later recovered the Somnath idol and freed the Hindu prisoners, after an attack on the Delhi army near Jalore. However, some other sources state that the idol was taken to Delhi, where it was thrown to be trampled under the feet of Muslims.

The Somnath Temple was rebuilt by Mahipala I, the Chudasama king of Saurashtra in 1308 and the lingam was installed by his son Khengara sometime between 1331 and 1351.

In14th century, Gujarati Muslim pilgrims were noted by Amir Khusrow to stop at that temple to pay their respects before departing for the Hajj pilgrimage.

In 1395, the temple was again destroyed for the third time by Zafar Khan, the last governor of Gujarat under the Delhi Sultanate and later founder of Gujarat Sultanate.

In 1546, the Portuguese who were based in Goa attacked ports and towns in Gujarat including Somnath Temple and destroyed several of its structures.

Somnath temple to Dwarka

Dwarka is an ancient city in the Indian state of Gujarat. It is very near to Somnath temple and due to its relevance to Hindu pilgrimage; people do tend to visit this place also.

Also Read: The Temple of Death: The Abode of Yamraj

The magnificent Temple of Dwarka has an elaborately tiered main shrine, a carved entrance and a black-marble idol of Lord Krishna.

Somnath Temple said to have been safely hiding the famous Syamantak Mani within the hollowness of Shivalinga. Wikimedia Commons
Somnath Temple said to have been safely hiding the famous Syamantak Mani within the hollowness of Shivalinga. Wikimedia Commons

The road distance between Dwarka and Somnath is 231 km and the aerial distance from Dwarka to Somnath is 210 km. One can also cover the distance through train which is almost 398km distant.

Here are some facts that are attached to this sacred and architecturally marvellous temple.

  1. The present-day Somnath Temple was built in five years, from 1947 to 1951 and was inaugurated by then President of India Dr Rajendra Prasad.
  2. Somnath Temple said to have been safely hiding the famous Syamantak Mani within the hollowness of Shivalinga, the Philosopher’s stone, which is associated with Lord Krishna. The stone is said to be magical, which was capable of producing gold. It is also believed that stone had alchemic and radioactive properties and thus it remains floating above the ground.
  3. The temple finds its reference in the sacred texts of Hindus like Shreemad Bhagavat, Skandpuran, Shivpuran and Rig-Veda. This signifies the importance of this temple as one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in India.
  4. According to records, the site of Somnath has been a pilgrimage site from ancient times as it was said to be the junction of three rivers, Kapila, Hiran and the mythical Saraswati. The meeting point was called as Triveni Sangam and is believed to be the place where Soma, the Moon-god bathed and regained his lustre.
  5. According to Swami Gajanand Saraswati (a Hindu scholar), the first temple was built 7, 99, 25,105 years ago as derived from the traditions of Prabhas Khand of Skanda Puran.
  6. The temple is said to be located at such a place that there is no straight-line land between Somnath seashore till Antarctica continent. In a Sanskrit inscription, found on the Arrow-Pillar called Baan-Stambh is stated that the temple stands at a point on the Indian piece of land, which happens to be the first point on land in the north to the south-pole on that particular longitude.

    The saga of Somnath temple is related to moon god and curse of his father in law Daksha Prajapati. Wikimedia Commons
    The saga of Somnath temple is related to moon god and curse of his father in law Daksha Prajapati. Wikimedia Commons
  7. According to the text of Skanda Purana, the name of Somnath Temple will change every time the world is reconstructed. It is believed when Lord Brahma will create a new world after ending the one we are living, Somnath will acquire a new name of Pran Nath Temple.
  8. On the walls of Somnath Temple, the sculptures of Lord Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu can be seen.
  9. According to another reference in the Skanda Purana, there are about 6 Brahmas. This is the era of 7thBrahma who is called Shatanand.
  10. The flag mast on the peak of Somnath Temple is 37 feet long and it changes 3 times a day.
  11. The saga of Somnath temple is related to moon god and curse of his father in law Daksha Prajapati.
  12. Non-Hindus doesn’t require any special permission to visit Somnath Temple. The decision was taken in view of security issues.Now, pack your bags and begin your journey to one of the most the sacred places of India.