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The symbol of Swastika is known to signify peace, prosperity, and good fortune in the religious cultures of Eurasia. In fact, this symbol is considered very significant in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. But, at the same time, it has become one of the most misunderstood religious symbols and has been globally banned in many countries.
The reason why the symbol of Swastika is banned in many countries is because of its association with Adolf Hitler's extreme political ideology, Nazism, as Swastika as its official symbol.
Austria, France, Latvia, Spain, Germany, and Russia are amongst the many countries that have banned the display and use of the Swastika.
Moreover, last week Victoria in Australia is preparing to become the first-ever state to ban the public display of the Swastika. This is a step towards an expansion of anti-vilification laws in the state.
Representation of the Swastika on the flag of Adolf Hitler's Nazi Movement.Photo by Flickr.
Now, we must know and understand what went wrong with this symbol, which is sacred and signifies all-good things.
For a very, very long time, in India, the Swastika is the first emblem that is worshipped or even drawn before any sacred and auspicious ceremonies as this symbol in Sanskrit represents 'well-being'. But, the Swastika lost all its credibility when it was wrongfully used by Adolf Hitler.
In fact, it is believed that if this symbol is worshipped properly, then it gives positive results. But if it is abused, then it gives negative results. So, when Adolf Hitler rotated the Swastika at 45 degrees, it slowly and steadily brought misery not only to Adolf Hitler and his theory of Nazism but also to all the people who were associated with him.
Therefore, in order to give the kind of respect and credibility which the Swastika deserves, World Interfaith Harmony Week which was held in New York in February this year, interfaith groups appealed to the United Nations to recognize and acknowledge the Swastika as an important and peaceful symbol. In fact, they also differentiated it from the Hakenkreuz or "Hooked Cross" of Adolf Hitler.
Keywords: Swastika, Symbol, Nazism, Hinduism, Adolf Hitler, United Nations, Buddhism, Jainism
Among the Tamil epics written during the Sangam age, only a few survived to this day. Manimegalai is one such. It is written as a sequel to the Sillapadikaram, taking the story forward of Kovalan and Madhavi's daughter, Manimegalai. The Sillapadikaram is about the injustice of the Madurai kingdom in the execution of Kovalan, which turned Kannagi, his wife into a goddess seeking vengeance for her husband's death. Kovalan, before his death, has an affair with a court dancer, Madhavi, and his daughter, Manimegalai, is said to begin a different tradition among the Tamils.
The epic, written by Sattanar, introduces Buddhism to Dravidian culture, something that has been alien to them for years. Manimegalai is the protagonist, who flees constantly from the pursuit of Chola prince Udhayakumara, and tries to lead an ascetic life. Throughout the plot, Buddhist tenets are used to avoid the culmination of a love-story. Manimegalai is believed to be the anti-love story sequel to the Sillapadikaram.
A complete work of Tamil epic written by hand on leaves Image source: wikimedia commons
The Sillapadikaram was written by a Jain monk, Illango Adigal, and Sattanar, uses the sequel to question Jainism. It is almost a political battle between two new religions competing for a place in a predominantly Hindu society. Parts of Manimegalai even go to the extent of opening ridiculing Jain practices and beliefs.
Critics of Tamil literature have stated that while the Tamil epics have great poetic significance, they are inferior to other world epics when it comes to clearly portraying religious affiliations. In fact, they refer to the newer religions with an infant's perspective. Some scholars have found that Sillapadikaram has more ethical substance than its sequel, but in and of itself, despite being written by a Jain monk, reads like Hindu poetry (Subhramanya Aiyar, 1906).
Keywords: Manimegalai, Sillapadikaram, Tamil Epic, Sattanar, Ilango Adigal, Chola kingdom, Sangam Age, Buddhism
Art is not considered a necessity in schools nowadays. It is as important as academics because it will teach students not just creativity but about culture and community as well. For instance, Mandala as an art form may help in learning Hindu and Buddhist beliefs. Mandala can be understood in two ways, the external one which is symbolism and internal which is used as a guide for practices like meditation.
Mandala, the term simply means a circle in Sanskrit. The first time it was ever produced was in the first century before the Christ era as a Buddhist art form. In Buddhism, the mandala represents the ideal universe and the path to enlightenment.
In Buddhism, the mandala represents the ideal universe and the path to enlightenment. Photo by Amisha Nakhwa on Unsplash
Siddhartha Gautama, as it is known, is the father of Buddhism. He is said to be born in the Lumbini Province, Nepal. The date of his birth is not confirmed but the historians say it to be around 560 B.C. The known facts are that after being aware of the human sufferings and to attain enlightenment he left his kingdom. He sought to attain enlightenment through meditation and thoughtful action. He traveled across parts of India to spread his philosophy and eventually gained followers. The first sangha, a Buddhist community of monks, was formed thereafter.
Mandalas are now used for modern context, religious practices and meditation. Photo by Jan Kopřiva on Unsplash
These Buddhist monks started traveling across Asia carrying the mandalas through the Silk Route, an ancient trade route which connected the East and West. They helped in spreading Buddhism and these art forms. Though initially it all started with Buddhism it came to Hinduism and other religious practices too. The painters of such spiritual crafts were usually sacred laymen. They worked sitting on the floor.
Mandalas are now used for modern context, religious practices and meditation. The traditional mandala of Tibet represents the enlightened state of Buddha through sand art. The creation of which can take up to weeks but after it is completed it is destroyed in a few hours to depict the Buddhist ideology that nothing is permanent.
They are also used as photo frames at the places of meditation as a sacred belief. Dream catchers also have Mandalas to protect the person sleeping. Most dream catchers can be identified as having the shape and patterns of Mandalas.The creating and keeping of Mandalas can transform and help one in attaining inner peace and wisdom.
Keywords: India, Tibet, Buddhism, Hindu, mandala art, meditation, silk route
Firebrand Buddhist Monk Ashin Wirathu was released from prison by the Tatmadaw (Myanmar military) on Monday, two years after he was booked and imprisoned for making seditious remarks against the former leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Ashin Wirathu was born on the 10th of July 1968 in Kyaukse province which is one of the numerous offshoots of the vast Mandalay Division of Myanmar (then called Burma). He is a Burmese Buddhist monk and the founder cum leader of the extremist 969 Movement in Myanmar. He was infamously dubbed as the "The Face of Buddhist Terror" by Time Magazine in 2013. Some even went a step further and unceremoniously christened him " Buddhist Bin Laden ".
Ashin Wirathu is known for his fiery stance against radical Islam. He on numerous occasions has given derogatory press statements against Muslims. Once speaking to Time Magazine, he upfrontly said that they [Muslims] are breeding fast. Also, they steal our women only to rape them. They would like to occupy Myanmar, but I won't let them. One must strive to keep Myanmar a Buddhist country.
Myanmar is a predominatly a Buddhist country and Muslims respresnt a tiny fraction of the overall population. Photo by Joseph Gatto on Unsplash.
In yet another interview in 2013, he vehemently declared Muslims as African Carp. Justifying his claims he stated that they breed quickly and are very violent in nature and also they eat their own kind. He even went further to highlight the burden on the masses by saying that even though Muslims were a minority in Myanmar, ordinary Myanmmarse are reeling under the burden they bring us.
He gained limelight when on one occasion, he opined, "You can be full of kindness and love but you cannot sleep next to a mad dog." He mentioned the word "Mad Dog" slyly alluding to the Muslim community.
Ashin is the founder and the leader of the infamous " 969 Movement ", a Buddhist revivalist movement that advocates a complete socio-economic boycott of Muslims throughout Myanmar. It also seeks to ban marriages between Buddhist women and Muslim men and annul the existing ones.
The inspiration for the unique name comes from Buddhist scriptures, with the first number "9" denoting the nine special attributes of the Buddha, the middle number "6" represents the six special characteristics of his Dharma while the last number "9" represents the nine attributes of the Buddhist monastic order or the Buddhist Sangha.
The black flags of Radical Islam. Photo by mostafa meraji on Unsplash.
When quizzed on his fierce stance against one particular community, he said "I am defending my loved one like you would defend your loved one. I am only warning people about Muslims. Consider it like if you had a dog, that would bark at strangers coming to your house – it is to warn you. I am like that dog. I bark."
With Afghanistan taken over by the Radical Islamic outfit Taliban, jihadism is on the rise in Asia. With the new Delta variant of the novel coronavirus ravaging through Asia, the continent has turned into a hotbed for new deadlier mutations to arise. The belligerent act of the Taliban seizing power in Afghanistan has invoked Radical Islamists all over the globe to launch a global offensive. By freeing Ashin Wirathu Myanmar has deployed its best available weapon against the onslaught of Radical Islam.
Keywords: Islam, Radical Islam, Ashin Wirathu, Myanmar, Terrorism.