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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

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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US Hate Groups Increases by 7% in 2 years, Hit Record

US Hate Groups Hit Record Number Last Year Amid Increased Violence.

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US, Hate Groups, Violence
FILE - A neo-Nazi attends a rally in Newnan, Georgia, April 21, 2018. VOA

The white supremacist group Identity Evropa more than doubled the number of its chapters.

The violent neo-Nazi organization Atomwaffen Division grew from one chapter to 27.

The white nationalist group and podcasting site The Right Stuff boasted 34 chapters.

American hate groups had a bumper year in 2018 as a surge in black and white nationalist groups lifted their number to a new record high, the Southern Poverty Law Center said in a report issued Wednesday.

The Alabama-based legal advocacy organization recorded 1,020 active hate groups last year, up 7 percent from 2017. The previous record tallied by SPLC was 1,018 in 2011 amid a white extremist backlash against the presidency of Barack Obama, the nation’s first African-American president.

US, hate groups, violence
Number of hate groups in US have increased from 497 to 1020 within two decades. Pixabay

The increase was driven by growth in both black and white nationalist groups, the SPLC said. The number of white nationalist groups jumped from 100 to 148, while the number of black nationalist groups — typically anti-Semitic, anti-LGBTQ and anti-white — rose from 233 to 264.

The SPLC defines a hate group as “an organization that, based on its official statements or principles, the statements of its leaders, or its activities, has beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.”

The number of hate groups has grown every year for the past four years, the SPLC said, a 30 percent increase roughly coinciding with President Donald Trump’s election campaign and presidency. The increase followed three years of decline toward the end of the Obama administration.

Hate crimes

Hate crimes have followed a similar trajectory in recent years. After falling for three consecutive years, attacks on blacks, Jews, Muslims and other minorities increased by 30 percent in the three-year period ending in 2017, according to the latest FBI data.

US, hate group, violence
FILE – A man is detained while white supremacist Jason Kessler arrives at the Vienna metro station in Vienna, Va., Aug. 12, 2018. White nationalists are gathering in Washington on the first anniversary of their rally in Charlottesville. VOA

The uptrend continued into last year, with hate crimes in America’s 30 largest cities surging by an additional 10 percent, according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.

The majority of hate crimes are nonviolent, but some incidents were deadly. White supremacists in the U.S. and Canada killed at least 40 people last year, up from 17 people the year before, according to the SPLC’s tally.

While most bias-motivated offenses are not committed by members of hate groups, the perpetrators of hate crimes draw inspiration from ideas put out by hate groups, said Heidi Beirich, director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project and author of the report.

‘Go-ahead’ from Trump

Beirich blamed Trump’s anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim statements and policies for heightening deep-seated white nationalist fears of an impending white-minority country.

US, hate group, violence
FILE – In this Feb. 19, 2017 file photo, people carry posters during a rally against President Donald Trump’s executive order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority nations, in New York’s Times Square. VOA

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that more than half of the nation’s children are expected to be nonwhite in 2020, while the U.S. population is slated to become majority-minority in 2044.

“Rather than trying to tamp down hate, as presidents of both parties have done, President Trump elevates it with both his rhetoric and his policies,” Beirich said. “In doing so, he’s given people across America the go-ahead to act on their worst instincts.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Black nationalist groups, which advocate separate institutions or even a separate nation, made up about a quarter of hate groups tracked in 2018.

But the SPLC said the black extremist groups “lagged far behind the more than 700 groups that adhere to some form of white supremacist ideology,” the report said.

Among white extremist groups, the SPLC counted 112 neo-Nazi groups, 148 white nationalist organizations, 63 racist skinhead groups, 36 neo-Confederate outfits and 17 Christian Identity organizations.

KKK falling

But not all white hate groups thrived last year. The number of Ku Klux Klan (KKK) chapters fell for the third straight year, dropping to 51 in 2018 from 130 in 2016.

US, hate groups, violence
FILE – Members of the Ku Klux Klan participate in cross burnings in rural Paulding County near Cedar Town, Georgia, April 23, 2016. VOA

With its outdated traditions and penchant for white robes, the KKK, the nation’s oldest racist organization, has failed to appeal to young white tech-savvy racists, the SPLC said.

“It may be that the KKK, having somehow endured since 1866, is finally on its last legs,” the report said.

The SPLC started tracking KKK chapters in 1987 and later expanded its list to include other hate groups. In recent years, as it has put new groups on its list, including anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-LGBTQ organizations, conservative groups have accused the SPLC of unfairly labeling them.

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Last month, the Center for Immigration Studies sued the SPLC in federal court in Washington for “falsely designating” it as a hate group in 2016, saying the SPLC has produced no evidence that the group maligns immigrants as a class.

Beirich said the SPLC is standing by its hate group listings. (VOA)