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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
BY SHWETA PORWAL
Hinduism is the oldest religion on the earth that finds its roots in different parts of India. Hinduism is full of various religious, cultural, powerful theories and philosophical practices followed by the Hindu people worldwide.
Hinduism is not only limited to its culture, religious and philosophical practices but also includes many symbols that employ the art of it.
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Hinduism is replete and rich in symbolism. The religion is brimming with symbolism. People say that no other religion employs the art of symbolism as effectively as Hinduism. It has several numbers of symbols having their own importance and meaning that are used on various occasions.
Let’s walk through the universal symbols of Hinduism and gain knowledge of it.
OM- The Source of the Universe
OM or AUM is the most universal and vital symbol in Hinduism. Om is considered the greatest and the mother of all the Mantras. The symbol consists of three curves, a semi-circle, and a dot. The symbol represents the four stages of Consciousness and represents the essence of the Universe.
The Four stages of Consciousness are:
Waking State: Also referred to as Vaishvanara or Jagrat. The ‘A’ in ‘AUM’ relates to our conscious mind.
Dream State: Also referred to as Taijasa or Swapna. The ‘U’ in ‘AUM’ relates to our unconscious state.
Deep Sleep State: Also referred to as Pranja or Susupti. The ‘M’ in ‘AUM’ relates to our latent unconscious state.
Samadhi: It is pure silence and consciousness after sounding AUM.
The Threefold Nature of AUM represents these essences of the Universe:
The three Worlds- Earth, Atmosphere, and Heaven.
The three main Gods– Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.
The three Scriptures– Rigveda, Yajurveda, and Samaveda.
OM is the god in the form of sound and a word of great power.
SWASTIKA: An Ancient Solar Sign
The word Swastika comes from the Sanskrit word ‘Svastika’. ‘Swa’ means good or auspicious, ‘asti’ means a state of being, and ‘Ka’ is used as a suffix. The literal meaning of Swastika means ‘to be good’ and ‘Being with higher self’.
This Hindu symbol has great importance in Hinduism. It is used as a representation of good fortune, peace, honesty, purity of soul, and stability. The swastika is an equilateral cross having right-angled arms pointing in all four directions.
The symbol represents the two forms of the creator god Brahma. The right face presents the evolution of the universe and the left face presents the involution of the universe. The pointing of Swastika in all four directions (North, east, west, and south) describes the four Vedas and signifies the absolute eternal nature.
The symbol is used in all Hindu yantras and designs. You can easily see the symbol throughout the subcontinent of India. It can be seen on the sides of temples, gift items, religious scripture. The Swastika is also used to mark the opening of account books, doors, and others.
Sri Chakra or Shri Yantra is known as the Queen of Yantras. It is the symbol of the great divine, a source of energy, power, and creativity. The shape of Sri Chakra is made up of 2 squares with a T-shape structure, 3 circles, 9 Triangles, 43 small triangles.
The outer square represents the earth element. The T-shape structure is the gates of four directions and the entry points of the Yantra. The three circles represent the past, present, and future.
The first circle of sixteen lotus petals states the ten organs of perception and action (Skin, mouth, tongue, eyes, ears, feet, hands, arms, nose, and reproductive organs). The other Five state universal elements (Earth, air, water, fire, and space) and the last one petal represents the mind.
The second circle of Eight petals governs a specific activity: Speech, grasping, exertion, revulsion, enjoyment, motion, attraction, and equanimity.
The first set of interlocked triangles points upwards represents the masculine principles and the downwards triangles represent the feminine.
The symbol of Sri Chakra is used as a symbol of the unity between the Masculine and the feminine divinity.
BY TANIA BHATTACHARYA
Following the process of Christianization, Europe underwent a period generally regarded as its dark age. It was a time, when the collective knowledge of its ancients, be it in the Mediterranean, or further north, among the Celtic Druids, who had ushered in Europe’s earliest classical civilization of Stonehenge; was retreating in the face of advancing religious indoctrination. Unlike its polytheistic predecessor though, which had encouraged the spirit of inquiry, the new faith placed utmost importance on dogma, and its propaganda, in the process snuffing out much of what Paganism had bestowed upon Europe; referring to its Arts, Sciences, and the Athletics.
Modern Christian Europe, is largely not confounded by the presence of a rich classical history, existing simultaneously with Christianity, an evangelizing religious path, that had looked askance at the very classicism that today, Europeans have embraced as their own. So, while British schoolchildren sing defiantly in praise of their national icon, the first century Queen Boudicca, a Pagan Celtic heroine who had valiantly fought off the Roman legions on the island; they feel no dichotomy in extending the same goodwill to King Wenceslas, a Christian Slavic monarch, who had been assassinated due to a collusion between his Pagan mother Drahomira, and younger brother Prince Boleslas, both of whom had refused to abandon the polytheism of their forefathers.
When the sun of the western classical era was on its descent, with Judeo-Christianity gradually wearing it down, some fundamental changes were made to the collective psyche of the hitherto polytheistic Europeans. Those negative changes have held strong right up to the present times. Perfectly good and decent historical personages from the pagan past have been reviled, and been turned into despicable figures, simply by affecting a string of historical falsifications. In this article, I shall address three such incidents.
EMPEROR RAMSES II
Among a long list of pharaohs, a few of them women, that ruled over Upper and Lower Egypt, till the region was conquered by the Romans, the name of Ramses the Second, is a stand-alone exemplar. He was born and raised in the Egypt of the nineteenth dynasty of kings, in the era of the thirteenth century before the first. In recent times, the classical heritage of that country has come under attack from Islamic hardliners including Mohammad Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood. It seems as if only the secular, and authoritarian dictators of Egypt, have the good intention of maintaining intact, and renovating, the ancient wealth of their ancestors.
Even though structurally apart, there are many parallels which can be drawn between the Kemetic pagan religion of Egypt; and India’s Vedic Hinduism. Simple folk are more likely to grasp this glaring truth, as opposed to scholars, who are too busy etching out the chasm between cultures, and as a result, eventually missing the forest, for the trees.
Sergey Glazenap, a prominent Soviet astrophysicist, made a note about Indians during the First World War. He observed, that when the Indian soldiers – then fighting on the side of Britain – were returning back home after the cessation of hostilities, they had to pass through Egypt. Glazenap writes, that the simpletons, once they had chanced upon the reliefs of the Egyptian deities, had immediately fallen on their knees, praying to them, saying, that those gods were the same as the ones they were accustomed to worshipping in India.
The above is a historical incident and a reminder, of the common thread which runs through all Polytheism. Separated through time and space that these religions are, they are nevertheless of equal respect to fellow worshippers within the Pagan sphere of life. It therefore would make sense, if the ordinary Hindu took an interest in the history and ancient ethos of global paganism, but unfortunately that has never been the case. It appears, that the average Hindu, is too cozy, wrapped up in the nuances of their own faith, to explore those that belong to fellow pagan communities.
Ramses the Second was the only known Egyptian ruler, who could extend the borders of ancient Egypt, maintain peace and stability; and mend relations with his neighbouring Hittites. The latter are the progenitors of Vedic Hinduism. Asia Minor’s Hittites have been West Asia’s most significant homegrown monarchy, that practised an indigenous religion.
Ramses the Second’s name was destined to remain untainted, that is, until it became intertwined with that of a famous religious philosopher, who was supposedly a contemporary. The person being referred to, is the Messiah of the Jews, Moses. For millennia, Jews and Christians have claimed, that Moses and his followers were expelled from Egypt by Ramses the Second, after the former had endured many calumnies and injustices at the hands of the latter. Following the expulsion, it is supposed, that Moses and his people, then wandered the deserts forty days and forty nights.
Modern archaeology has unearthed some revealing facts about the aforementioned folklore. To begin with, there were next to no Jews that were residing in the Egypt of Pharaoh Ramses. It is now known, that the myth of the Jewish exodus, was given its final contours around the fourth century BCE, after taking inspiration from facets of Judaic legends, that had been in place thirty three hundred years ago. The motive for the myth-making, seems to be political, an effort that was made with an eye to uniting the Jewish people into a monolithic force. Moreover, the forty days and nights of wandering in the Sinai desert, have been disproven completely. Presumably, the same desert was used by many communities as land routes, in the intervening period of time, so for Judeo-Christian religious pundits to claim, that the exodus is a historical fact, based on certain ancient bone fragments found in the desert, is not only fallacious, but displays a degree of mischievousness.
Ralph Lewis MD, author of Finding Purpose In A Godless World, himself an author, and a contributor to Psychology Today, has painstakingly disproven the circumstances involved in the story of Exodus. He is one among a growing number of rationalists, who have come forward armed with historical titbits, that rubbishes all the claims made by Judeo-Christian theologists concerning Exodus.
The sufferer in the end, however, has been none other, than the pristine image of Pharaoh Ramses the Second, that has been soiled for millennia together. What an incredible tale of character assassination! The poor ruler’s reputation deserves a thorough cleansing! Over the past few centuries, many Egyptians as well as other Arabs, have been complaining about what the Judeo-Christian West, had done to their beloved emperor of bygone times.
EMPEROR JULIAN…THE GREAT
The most important figure in the history of the Holy Roman Empire, is not Charlemagne, as mistakenly imagined, but the first ever Roman emperor, who had not only converted to Christianity, but who had made it his official state religion, and punished Paganism, by making its public worship, illegal, throughout the length and breadth of Europe, as also within Rome’s colonies in West Asia and North Africa. This king had been Constantine. History, always perceived in the west, through Jesus rimmed glasses, has bestowed upon him the epithet of ‘The Great’, in a gesture of gratitude.
The decision was made in haste it seems, for not only was Constantine a demonic personality, who went out of his way to remove the last vestiges of Roman Polytheism from its natural homeland; he found no contrariety in retaining the pagan honorific of Pontifex Maximus, or the Chief Priest of Rome, complete with a coronation ceremony that was held annually, by placing a helmet fashioned after the sun god Sol Invictus, upon the head of the emperor.
It seems to be the case, that political expediency was the chief worry of Constantine. As John Canning mentions in ‘100 Great Lives’, Constantine could not afford alienating the multitudes of Romans including his own elite, Praetorian Guards, who were still polytheistic to the hilt. Those same political persuasions had made him concoct a story about seeing a flaming cross in the sky, inscribed with the words ‘By THIS, Conqueror!’ which he had then interpreted as a command from the almighty, instructing him to embrace the new faith. No one would be inclined to believe such poppycock in our present day and age, but seventeen hundred years ago, such stuff was taken seriously. It is altogether a different matter, that Constantine ‘the great’ had embarked soon, on a campaign of liquidation; having his own wife and son, murdered; and excommunicating the Arian sect of nascent Christianity. He truly converted to Christianity only on his deathbed, allowing himself the liberty to kill, imprison, torture, and expel at will, during his ambiguous phase. His new religion had promised him a clear track to heaven, for which all he had to do, was to ask to be forgiven of his lifetime of sins, and undergo a final baptism. The whole scenario, is enough to churn the stomach of the modern legal system.
A few generations into the line of Constantine’s household, a male child was born, who was named Julian. Tutored in the purple to become a general and a king, and an emerging man of letters, Julian took the throne as emperor of Rome, in the middle of the fourth century AD. This particular ruler of Rome, was a complete antithesis of his earlier, blood ancestor, Constantine ‘the great’, and perhaps remains the most significant Caesar to have been instated, after Augustus, and Augustus’ grand-uncle Julius, in the first century.
Julian was a figure of depth and consistency of character. He married only once, and remained loyal to his wife till the time that she died during childbirth. Contemporary historians, and multiple sources at that, testify that Julian had been a virgin, and a complete celibate till his wedding, and that following his status as a widower, never took interest in women in a romantic sense, even though he was of marriageable age. This tall figure of Roman history, made a mark upon its annals, by emerging as a writer, a philosopher, a general, and a ruler, all at once. Displaying a tenderness toward the Jewish population that had sought refuge during his tenure, he was immortalized by them as ‘Julian, the Hellene’. It can be considered the misfortune of Rome and its people, that Emperor Julian was assassinated while fighting against the Persians, one of the mortal enemies of ancient Rome, akin to Carthage, once upon a time.
If one contrasts the two figures of Roman history, namely, Constantine and Julian, it is not difficult to determine just who trumps the other over every aspect of creativity, humanism, and progress. Yet, it is remarkable, that Julian has gone down in history, not simply as ‘Emperor Julian’, but as ‘Julian the Apostate’. His crime? Julian was an avowed polytheist. Despite having been reared as a Christian, he had renounced the religion in his early youth, and sought to return Rome, to its ancestral, native, system of beliefs. He might very well have achieved it, had he lived out his entire lifetime. This, and this alone, earned him the downright derogatory epithet of ‘Apostate’.
Any person with an iota of judiciousness can see for themselves, just who among the two notable characters of a post-Christian Rome, deserved to be denigrated. It wouldn’t be too far-fetched for the champions of secularism to demand, that Constantine be stripped of his honorific, and Julian be adorned with one. It wouldn’t be too much to ask for, if Constantine ‘the great’ were to be reduced to a mere ‘Emperor Constantine’; and Julian ‘the apostate’, were to be elevated to ‘Julian, the Great’.
The symbol of the swastika, denotes the cycle of reincarnation. According to the theory of the transmigration of souls, a soul particle – a very small physical particle corresponding to the ‘quark’ of Physics – must pass through the animate world by incarnating into every type of life form from the simplest (plankton, for example) to the most complex (humans), in order to understand and empathize with all living conditions experienced by each singular organism. Once the knowledge and empathy is complete, the soul particle can escape mortality and rise to the plane of immortals. Reincarnation was an idea implicit in all the ancient belief systems of the world which looked upon it as a given truth.
The latent symbolism of the Swastika holds, that a person may wander off from the centre – which symbolizes the origin of all truth – in any of the four directions. However, the good news is, that he or she, will never fall off the arms of the swastika. He or she will ultimately always find one’s way back, to the centre. The wanderings of an individual constitute the duration of his or her, innumerable lifetimes on earth. The centre of the swastika, is an allegory for salvation from the mortal world.
This beautiful symbol ought to be rescued from the negative imagery that has been forced upon it, by the Anglo-American-Zionists on the one hand and the Communists-Islamists on the other, who continue to connect it with Nazism and Fascism.
It is about time, that the swastika was revamped and given its due place in the scheme of things. It is an eternal and holy symbol, which has been recognized over all races and in all parts of the world. The symbol is thoroughly rooted in pagan allegory, pertaining to reincarnation. Most communities that use it today, are not aware of its real significance, but display it nevertheless.
Contrary to popular belief, the swastika is not limited to South Asia, and its Hinduism, and Buddhism. The symbol has been found on Greek vases excavated by German archaeologist Heinrich Schleimann, on Black African weights and measures used by the Ashante tribe, in Iran’s Gilan region dated to be three thousand years old; on Native American rugs and clothing, and on Buddhist temples in China. As recently as the Second World War, it was used by a Chinese Red Cross style humanitarian organization.
In addition to the Sacred Labyrinth, a maze with a centre, the Swastika was identified by Hellenic civilization, as symbolic of the cycle of reincarnation. Once again, it needs to be clarified, that reincarnation is not limited to South Asian religions. It is a concept that was present among all the polytheistic identities of yore, and is being revived as a concept, at the hands of revivalist, western pagans.
Modern Europe, is a gift of its classical age. A little generosity toward that era, is certainly forthcoming.
Hinduism is swarming with symbolism, and a person cannot deny being introduced to any of its symbols in one form or the other, at some point in their lives. These symbols, that represent philosophies, teachings and the various gods and goddess are contemporary representatives of a pulsating culture, with more and more people from the western countries adopting them in their lives in some form.
While on the surface, many of these symbols may seem absurd, they all carry deeper symbolic meanings that are bound to draw attention to the rich cultural lineage of Hinduism.
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- OM or AUM
Three Sanskrit letters – aa, au, and ma, when combined make the sound Om or Aum. The first syllable in every prayer, it symbolizes the universe and the ultimate reality – the Brahman or the Absolute. It is perceived as the root of the universe that continues to hold everything together.
Om represents various important triads:
- The three aspects of God: the Brahma (A), the Vishnu (U), and the Shiva (M)
- The three worlds: Earth, Atmosphere, and heaven
- The three sacred Vedic scriptures – the Rig Ved, the Yajur Ved, and the Sama Ved
Just like the cross is to Christians, the ‘Om’ is considered as the universal Hindu symbol. Even the word ‘Amen’ used by Christians to conclude a prayer seems akin to the Hindu Om. It also incorporated in English words with similar meanings, like ‘omnipotent’ or ‘omnipresent’. Thus, the sacred symbol Om or Aum represents divinity and authority.
Symbol of piety, Om is found at the head of letters, pendants and enshrined in every Hindu temple and family shrines.
The term Swastika is a fusion of two Sanskrit words Su (good) and Asati (to exist), which together stand for “may the good prevail”.
Although the symbol has a negative connotation in some parts of the world because of its striking resemblance to the Nazi emblem, the Swastika symbolizes the perpetual nature of Brahman (universe)- it’s pointing in all directions represent the omnipresence of the Absolute.
A sign of luck and fortune, it is used to represent truth, honesty, purity, and stability. It’s four points, or angles are also believed to represent the four directions or the Hindu Vedas.
3. SAFFRON COLOR
A color that represents Hinduism in its entirety, Saffron is the shade of the Supreme Being represented by Agni or fire. Fire burns away the darkness, symbolic of knowledge smoldering away ignorance and dispensing radiance.
With its origin in the Vedas, the foremost hymn in the Rig Veda glorifies fire worship- it mentions when sages moved from one ashram to the next, it was standard to carry fire along. The inconvenience of carrying a burning object is believed to have given birth to the symbol of a saffron flag. For this reason, saffron flags flutter on top of Hindu temples.
Also auspicious to the Buddhists, the Jains, and the Sikhs, Buddhists monks, and Hindu saints are often seen wearing saffron robes as a mark of purity, abstinence, and renunciation of material life.
4. THE TILAK
Tilak is one of the most common symbols in Hinduism which is visible and is seen on the forehead from where one can channel divinity. The word Tilak comes from the Sanskrit word ’til’ (sesame seed) which is of great significance in yagnas and charity.
While its origin is unclear, it is believed that at the time of the Varna system, people applied tilak to represent their Varna,
- Brahmins wore a white Chandan mark to imply purity
- Kshatriyas wore a red tilak for their valour
- Vaishyas applied a yellow (turmeric) tilak to denote prosperity
- The Shudhras applied a black tilak to represent their service to all others
The Tilak also denotes fidelity to different gods – the commitment to Vishnu is denoted by a U-shaped Tilak while horizontal lines symbolize devotion to Shiva.
The term is a culmination of two words- ‘Rudra’ (another name for Lord Shiva) and ‘Aksha’ (eyes).
Rudraksha is essentially a tree with blue seeds, found in Southeast Asia, the Himalayas, New Guinea and Australia. The unusually colored seeds are said to represent the tears of Lord Shiva, the destroyer.
Legend has it that Shiva she’s a tear upon seeing the sorry state of his people, which turned into the Rudraksha tree.
Rudraksha seeds are commonly used to make rosaries.
– prepared by Soha Kala. Twitter @SohaKala