SwastikA symbol represent Good or Evil ?
The ancient Indian secret...now REVEALED
Extremely powerful symbol. The Nazis used it to murder millions of people, but for centuries it had positive meanings. What is the history of the swastika? Does it now represent good or evil?
The swastika is a very old symbol with use widespread throughout the world. It holds a high value in the Indian culture. The swastika ranks second to the most revered Indian symbol, OM. Like OM, the origins of Swastika are lost in the misty realms of the past and they can only be guessed by putting together the surviving clues. The swastika was first adopted by the Aryans as a symbol for the good of humanity. It has spread to many cultures and countries after that. The swastika finds its significance in almost all the spheres of Indian culture.
The swastika did not begin as a mere sign but as a symbol that orients us towards the ultimate reality by unraveling the mysteries of existence. So a detailed study of such an important symbol will help in deepening our knowledge in Indian culture and reaping the benefits that it has to offer us.
The ancient Indian philosophy explains the evolution of the world by saying that the center of the swastika represents the uterus, the origin point of the Universe, the vertical line, Shiva and the horizontal line, the female organ. Their cross forms the origin and evolution of the whole world. Thus, symbolically, the swastika's cross is said to represent God and creation.
The earliest swastika known has been found from Mezine, Ukraine. It is carved on late paleolithic figurine of mammoth ivory, being dated as early as about 10,000 BC. It has been suggested this swastika is a stylized picture of a stork in flight.
In India, Bronze Age swastika symbols were found at Lothal and Harappa, on Indus Valley seals. In England, neolithic or Bronze Age stone carvings of the symbol have been found on Ilkley Moor.
Swastikas have also been found on pottery in archaeological digs in Africa, in the area of Kush and on pottery at the Jebel Barkal temples, in Iron Age designs of the northern Caucasus (Koban culture), and in Neolithic China in the Majiabang, Dawenkou and Xiaoheyan cultures. Other Iron Age attestations of the swastika can be associated with Indo-European cultures such as the Indo-Iranians,Celts, Greeks and Germanic peoples and Slavs.
The swastika is also seen in Egypt during the Coptic period. Textile number T.231-1923 held at the V&A Museum in London includes small swastikas in its design. This piece was found at Qau-el-Kebir, near Asyut, and is dated between AD300-600.
The Tierwirbel (the German for "animal whorl" or "whirl of animals") is a characteristic motive in Bronze Age Central Asia, the Eurasian Steppe, and later also in Iron Age Scythian and European (Baltic and Germanic) culture, showing rotational symmetric arrangement of an animal motive, often four birds' heads. Even wider diffusion of this "Asiatic" theme has been proposed, to the Pacific and even North America (especiallyMoundville).
The Oldest Known Symbol
The swastika is an ancient symbol that has been used for over 3,000 years. (That even predates the ancient Egyptian symbol, the Ankh!) Artifacts such as pottery and coins from ancient Troy show that the swastika was a commonly used symbol as far back as 1000 BCE.
During the following thousand years, the image of the swastika was used by many cultures around the world, including in China, Japan, India, and southern Europe. By the Middle Ages , the swastika was a well known, if not commonly used, symbol but was called by many different names:
China - wan
England - fylfot
Germany - Hakenkreuz
Greece - tetraskelion and gammadion
India - swastika
The swastika is a primitive symbol or ornament in the form of a cross. The arms of the cross are of equal length with a section of each arm projecting at right angles from the end of each arm, all in the same direction and usually clockwise. The four bent arms stand for the four fold aim of human life called Purushartha: dharma, artha, kama and moksha. It also represents the world wheel, eternally changing around a fixed center, God.
Swastika is a Sanskrit word, su means ‘good’, asti means ‘to be’ and ka is a suffix. It is thus etymologically translated as ‘well being’ or ‘good fortune’. For Hindus, the swastika is a symbol of auspiciousness, prosperity and good fortune. It also represents the sun and the cycle of life. For the Hindus, the swastika's right-angled arms reflect the fact that the path toward our objectives is often not straight, but takes unexpected turns. They denote also the indirect way in which Divinity is reached--through intuition and not by intellect.
The right-hand swastika is one of the 108 symbols of the god Vishnu as well as a symbol of the sun and of the sun god Surya. The symbol imitates in the rotation of its arms the course taken daily by the sun, which appears in the Northern Hemisphere to pass from east, then south, to west. The swastika is emblematic of masculine principle.
The left-hand swastika (called a sauvastika) usually represents the terrifying goddess Kali, night and magic. However, this form of the swastika is not evil. The sauvastika is emblematic of feminine principle. In astronomy, it designates the sun during fall and winter. It is the form most commonly used in Buddhism.
Swastika with 3 dots and a crescent
The swastika used in mediation is a special one, with additional marks. There are three dots above the swastika and a little crescent on the top of all this, with a dot in the middle. The four arms represent the four realms of possible births: human, heavenly, infernal, plant, and animal. The crescent and dot symbolize the land of the perfected soul, which is described in the scientific mapping of the general features of the universe as being in the shape of an inverted umbrella. The three dots represent the hope for final emancipation; they represent the ratna tray, the three jewels that one adopts and practices to escape from the cycle of life and death. A good luck yogic asana named ‘svastikasana’ is sometimes assumed in meditation in the form of an ‘inclosed’ as distinct from an outstretched cross. Here two crosses are formed by squatting with crossed legs and with arms closed over the chest.
Even though, the swastika was first used in Neolithic India, the symbol has an ancient history in Europe, appearing on artifacts from pre-Christian European cultures. In the period preceding the middle ages in Europe, the swastika was used extensively by the Indo-Aryans, Persians, Hittites, Celts and Greeks, among others. In particular, the swastika is a sacred symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Mithraism (Ancient Persian religion), religions with a total of more than a billion adherents worldwide, making the swastika omnipresent in both historical and contemporary society. The symbol was introduced to Southeast Asia by Hindu kings and remains an integral part of Balinese Hinduism to this day, and it is a common sight in Indonesia. It is also used by several Native American cultures.
The swastika is found as early as the pre-Vedic civilization of the Indus valley. At Mohenjo-Daro it is found on seals and pottery. From the Vedic era in India to the present time, the swastika has been a sacred sign engraved on the walls of temples and painted on houses. In the Ramayana it marks the ships departing for Lanka. It is found on coins and monuments. Today Hindus still trace it on their account books and their doorsteps. Hindus use the swastika to mark the opening pages of account books, thresholds, doors and offerings. No ceremony or sacrifice is considered complete without it, for it is believed to have the power to ward off misfortune and negative forces.
The swastika is regarded as a symbol of the muladhara chakra, the center of consciousness at the base of the spine, and in some yoga schools with the manipura chakra at the navel, the center of the microcosmic sun (Surya). In the Buddhist tradition the swastika symbolizes the feet, or the footprints, of the Buddha. It is often placed at the beginning and end of inscriptions, and modern Tibetan Buddhists use it as a clothing decoration. With the spread of Buddhism, the swastika passed into the iconography of China and Japan, where it has been used to denote plurality, abundance, prosperity, and long life. The swastika became important in Buddhism in the Mauryan Empire and in Hinduism with the decline of Buddhism in India in the Gupta period.
In India the swastika continues to be the most widely used auspicious symbol of Jainas. Among the Jainas it is the emblem of their seventh Tirthankara and is also said to remind the worshiper by its four arms of the four possible places of rebirth--in the animal or plant world, in hell, on Earth, or in the spirit world.
In the Western world, the symbol experienced a resurgence following the archaeological work in the late 19th century of Heinrich Schliemann, who discovered the symbol in the site of ancient Troy and associated it with the ancient migrations of Proto-Indo-Europeans. He connected it with similar shapes found on ancient pots in Germany, and theorized that the swastika was a significant religious symbol of our remote ancestors, linking Germanic, Greek and Indo-Iranian cultures. By the early 20th century, it was widely used worldwide and was regarded as a symbol of good luck and success.
Schliemann’s work soon became intertwined with the volkisch movements, for which the swastika was a symbol of Aryan identity, a concept that came to be equated by theorists such as Alfred Rosenberg with a German race originating in northern Europe. After its acceptance by the Nazi Party of Adolf Hitler, the swastika has been associated with Nazism, fascism, racism, the Axis powers in World War II, and the mass murder of Jews under the German Nazi regime from 1941 until 1945. The symbol of the Neo-Nazi groups is still the swastika and the activist groups regularly use it to denote their opinion of supposed Nazi-like behavior of people they oppose.Until the Nazis used this symbol, the swastika was used by many cultures throughout the past 3,000 years to represent life, sun, power, strength, and good luck.Even in the early twentieth century, the swastika was still a symbol with positive connotations. For instance, the swastika was a common decoration that often adorned cigarette cases, postcards, coins , and buildings. During World War I, the swastika could even be found on the shoulder patches of the American 45th Division and on the Finnish air force until after World War II.
In the 1800s, countries around Germany were growing much larger, forming empires; yet Germany was not a unified country until 1871. To counter the feeling of vulnerability and the stigma of youth, German nationalists in the mid-nineteenth century began to use the swastika, because it had ancient Aryan/Indian origins, to represent a long Germanic/Aryan history.
By the end of the nineteenth century, the swastika could be found on nationalist German volkisch periodicals and was the official emblem of the German Gymnasts' League.
In the beginning of the twentieth century, the swastika was a common symbol of German nationalism and could be found in a multitude of places such as the emblem for the Wandervogel, a German youth movement; on Joerg Lanz von Liebenfels' antisemitic periodical Ostara; on various Freikorps units; and as an emblem of the Thule Society.
In Hinduism, the two forms of the swastika represent the two forms of the creator god Brahma: facing right it represents the evolution of the universe (Pravritti), facing left it represents the involution of the universe (Nivritti). It is also seen as pointing in all four directions (north, east, south and west) and thus signifies stability. Its use as a sun symbol can first be seen in its representation of the god Surya. The swastika is considered extremely holy and auspicious by all Hindus, and is regularly used to decorate items related to Hindu culture. It is used in all Hindu yantras and religious designs. Throughout the subcontinent of India, it can be seen on the sides of temples, religious scriptures, gift items, and letterheads. The Hindu god Ganesh is often shown sitting on a lotus flower on a bed of swastikas.
The swastika is found all over Hindu temples, signs, altars, pictures and iconography where it is sacred. It is used in Hindu weddings, festivals, ceremonies, houses and doorways, clothing and jewelry, motor transport and even decorations on food items such as cakes and pastries. Among the Hindus of Bengal, it is common to see the name swastika applied to a slightly different symbol, which has the same significance as the common swastika, and both symbols are used as auspicious signs. This symbol looks something like a stick figure of a human being.
The Aum symbol is also sacred in Hinduism. While Aum is representative of a single primordial tone of creation, the Swastika is a pure geometrical mark and has no syllabic tone associated with it. The Swastika is one of the 108 symbols of Lord Vishnu and represents the sun's rays, without which there would be no life.
The swastika symbol as it is used in Buddhist art and scripture is known in Japanese as a manji, and represents Dharma, universal harmony, and the balance of opposites. When facing left, it is the omote (front) manji, representing love and mercy. Facing right, it represents strength and intelligence, and is called the ura (rear) manji. Balanced manji are often found at the beginning and end of Buddhist scriptures.
Buddhism originated in the Indian subcontinent in the 5th century BC and inherited the manji. These two symbols are included, as part of the Chinese language. A manji marks the beginning of many Buddhist scriptures. The manji (in either orientation) appears on the chest of some statues of Gautama Buddha and is often incised on the soles of the feet of the Buddha’s statues. Because of the association of the right-facing swastika with Nazism, Buddhist manji after the mid-20th century are almost universally left-facing: 卍. This form of the manji is often found on Chinese food packaging to signify that the product is vegetarian and can be consumed by strict Buddhists. It is often sewn into the collars of Chinese children's clothing to protect them from evil spirits.
Jainism gives even more prominence to the swastika than does Hinduism. It is a symbol of the seventh Jina, the Tirthankara Suparsva. In the Svetambar Jain tradition, it is also one of the symbols of the ashta-mangalas. Astamangala are the eight auspicious symbols frequently represented on Jaina ritual objects : darpana (mirror), bhadrasana (throne), vardhamanaka (powder vase), kalasa (full water vessel), matsyayugma (pair of fish), srivatsa symbol, nandyavarta (an elaborated swastika), and swastika.
The swastika is considered to be one of the 24 auspicious marks and the emblem of the seventh arhat (enlightened one) of the present age. All Jain temples and holy books must contain the swastika and ceremonies typically begin and end with creating a swastika mark several times with rice around the altar. The Jains use rice to make a swastika in front of idols in a temple. Jains then put an offering on this swastika, usually a ripe or dried fruit, a sweet (mithai), or a coin or currency note.
Does the Direction of the Swastika Matter?
In ancient times, the direction of the swastika was interchangeable as can be seen on an ancient Chinese silk drawing.
Some cultures in the past had differentiated between the clockwise swastika and the counter-clockwise sauvastika . In these cultures the swastika symbolized health and life while the sauvastika took on a mystical meaning of bad-luck or misfortune
But since the Nazis use of the swastika, some people are trying to differentiate the two meanings of the swastika by varying its direction - trying to make the clockwise, Nazi version of the swastika mean hate and death while the counter-clockwise version would hold the ancient meaning of the symbol, life and good-luck
Hitler and the Nazis
In 1920, Adolf Hitler decided that the Nazi Party needed its own insignia and flag. For Hitler, the new flag had to be "a symbol of our own struggle" as well as "highly effective as a poster." (Mein Kampf, pg. 495)
On August 7, 1920, at the Salzburg Congress, the red flag with a white circle and black swastika became the official emblem of the Nazi Party.
In Mein Kampf, Hitler described the Nazis' new flag: "In red we see the social idea of the movement, in white the nationalistic idea, in the swastika the mission of the struggle for the victory of the Aryan man, and, by the same token, the victory of the idea of creative work, which as such always has been and always will be anti-Semitic." (pg. 496-497)
Because of the Nazis' flag, the swastika soon became a symbol of hate, antisemitism, violence, death, and murder.
What Does the Swastika Mean Now?
There is a great debate as to what the swastika means now. For 3,000 years, the swastika meant life and good luck. But because of the Nazis, it has also taken on a meaning of death and hate.
A Change in Meaning
These conflicting meanings are causing problems in today's society. For Buddhists andHindus , the swastika is a very religious symbol that is commonly used. Chirag Badlani shares a story about one time when he went to make some photocopies of some Hindu Gods for his temple. While standing in line to pay for the photocopies, some people behind him in line noticed that one of the pictures had a swastika. They called him a Nazi.
Unfortunately, the Nazis were so effective at their use of the swastika emblem, that many do not even know any other meaning for the swastika. Can there be two completely opposite meanings for one symbol?
The swastika has lived up to its variations as being both auspicious, as seen in the history of eastern and western civilizations and inauspicious, in the form of the black swastika which represented the holocaust of the Jews under the Nazis. Due to its dark use by the Nazis, the swastika has lost its positive image in the west which looks upon it as a symbol of destruction. Nevertheless with proper knowledge this ignorance is clearing up and the swastika is again being regarded as a symbol of good fortune.
The swastika is a universal symbol adopted by many religions after realizing the power and auspiciousness associated with it. The cross which Jesus Christ carried on his shoulders and on which he was crucified is a holy and auspicious symbol to the Christians. In Christianity, the swastika is sometimes used as a hooked version of the Christian Cross, the symbol of Christ's victory over death. Thus the swastika and the cross become symbols that denote the way (indirectly) in which Divinity is reached.