This has been on my mind for many years, as it has been I am sure for many Hindus that have revered this ancient symbol for so very long, and watched as history took it and twisted it until it was looked upon as if it were Satan incarnate!
Lets take a look at what is truly happening!
I know that even at the sight of the swastika you may begin to feel repelled and want to close this blog forever!! Please don’t!
It is very confusing and I would like to bring some light to a symbol that is much older than the 80 years it has been misused and re-categorized to represent evil.
Let’s look at it's history….
Swastika is such an auspicious symbol in India that it is drawn (with hand) at every important occasion, wedding, prayer, festival. Every religious book or calendar has it. In any drawing of a deity, the swastika is a must. Shopkeepers have it on either sides of the shop entrance!
But sadly because of a horrible event that took place some 80 years ago back in Europe, this symbol that was revered and held dear all over the world has become the most tabooed word. To dispel this misunderstanding, here are two pictures from an old American greeting card that speaks fondly of this symbol. I had found these almost a decade back, but now the internet is providing many more images of its abundant and peaceful use in the Western world as well.
Four L's make a swastika. But that is NOT the real meaning :)
Birthday wish swastika.
The word Swastika, is made from Sanskrit words su + asti = well + being or all be well. The ka suffix makes it a symbol, i.e. swastika is one that symbolizes well being, brings well being, good fortune.
Next to OM ॐ, swastika is the most ubiquitous and revered symbol in one of the oldest living traditions of India.
Below, on the boon and fearlessness-bestowing right hand of "lord ganesha"is the swastika. On his trunk is the symbol OM. Lord Ganesh is the most revered and first-prayed-to god among the various manifestations of the divine force.
Lord Ganesh - first-prayed to bestows well-being through swastika
The symbol is so ingrained in the art and culture of India, that it is even mingled with the next most 'artified' symbol, that of Lord Ganesh himself. Lord Ganesh is made from so many variety of things and in so many ways that it amazes the mind of any artist. A simple lump of clay, or a beetle-nut can signify Ganesh. So can a coconut. Ganesh have been made of banana leaves, or artfully in simple black and white with Swastika as below.
Lord Ganesh and Swastika combined artfully.
The word 'swasti' appears even the Vedas and Upanishads. It is found in many shAnti-pATha-s, including e.g. in the Mudaka Upanishad -
Which roughly translates -
May we hear good with the ears, and see good with the eyes. May our body be strong and healthy, may we sing praises. Indra, who is well-praised, is good for/to us. Pusha, the all knowing, is good for/to us. Tarkshya the all saving is good for/to us. Brihaspati is good for/to us. Let there be three fold peace.
Here the word 'swasti' is used four times, in lines 3 and 4, as the first word of each half - स्वस्ति
Rejoice the symbol of good wishes, well being and favorite of all cultures till almost a century back. Let not our blinding ignorance due to one man take out the anger on this millennia old symbol. After all, the inquisition and witch-hunt of European Dark Ages has not led to any hatred or ban for the cross.
If you do step in India, swastika will of course be in your face all over - from the front of an auto rickshaw to the back of a truck, and even at your office on a festival occasion. Smile, when you see it, for the well wishes of the universe, from all eight (four arms, and four diagonal corners) directions is being bestowed on you.
Swastika with four diagonal corners.
Changing the world through Jnana (knowledge) is the only way to dispel ignorance of violence and intolerance.