The ‘swastika’ is potent symbol that has radically different meanings depending upon the mythosphere in which it is viewed. It might suprice you, but the world’s oldest symbol of swastika was found in Mezine, in Ukraine and being dated as early as about 10.000 BC! In Asia, the swastika symbol first appears in the archaeological record around 3.000 BC in the Indus Valley Civilization.
Hindus believe the word ‘swastika’ comes from ‘su-asti’, which means “let good thinks happen”. It represents God (the Brahman) in his universal manifestation, and energy (Shakti). The inner lines are believed to represent rays of light and the four directions of the world. The clockwise orientation of the outer lines suggest the rhytm of time. The dots in the space created by the inner and outer lines represent the divine spirit present in the four eras constitute the cosmic life span. It also represents the Purushartha: Dharma (universal truth), Artha (purpose of life), Kama (desire), and Moksha (liberation).
There is a strong tendency among Hindus to distinguish the Hindu swastika from Hitler’s swastika. Hitler’s swastika is said to be black and oriented counterclockwise, while the Hindu swastika is painted red and is oriented in clockwise direction. In popular Hindu opinion the black color and counterclockwise direction are considered inauspicious and associated with Tantra, Vamachara, the antinomian path and occult practices.
In his 1925 work Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler writes that: “I myself, meanwhile, after innumerable attempts, had laid down a final form; a flag with a red background, a white disk, and a black swastika in the middle. After long trials I also found a definite proportion between the size of the flag and the size of the white disk, as well as the shape and thickness of the swastika.” When Hitler created a flag for the Nazi Party, he sought to incorporate both the swastika and “those revered colors expressive of our homage to the glorious past and which once brought so much honor to the German nation.” (Red, white, and black were the colors of the flag of the old German Empire.) He also stated: “As National Socialists, we see our program in our 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.”
Because of its use by Nazi Germany, the swastika since the 1930s has been largely associated with Nazism and white supremacy in most Western countries. As a result, all of its use, or its use as a Nazi or hate symbol is prohibited in some jurisdictions.
Photo: Zuzana Zwiebel – Swastika on the door of Tamil Brahmins colony houses in Mattancherry, Kerala, India.
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