Sunday, January 18, 2009

Understanding The Swastika

For ages, the Swastika has been an extremely powerful symbol known all over the world and associated with the cosmic order and stability. It originates from the Sanskrit Swastika ('su ' meaning 'good', 'asti ' meaning 'to be', and 'ka ' as a suffix). Different cultures have revered the Swastika as a symbol of universal well-being.

However, after the Nazis used this symbol during the Second World War, there were a host of negative connotations associated with it. Which is why many references can be found to it in relation to Hitler's regime of oppression.

But in the Indian context, it has always been held to denote positivity and as a symbol of the sun, life, power, strength, and good luck. For a correct understanding of the Swastika in the 'real' India, a study of Indian culture in the past and present worlds is necessary.

The Swastika symbol is basically an equilateral cross with its arms bent at right angles, in either right-facing or left-facing forms and its origins go back to Mesopotamia, Babylonia, and ancient Greece.

All religions in India revere the Swastika, but especially in the Buddhist, Jain and Hindu traditions. Not only is it considered auspicious; it is a harbinger of peace and prosperity. Most religious occasions, other than that of Mohammedans call for the drawing, painting, carving, and sculpting of the Swastika symbol at the place of worship.
Drawing the Swastika rangoli at religious occasions is usually a must and a way of paying tribute to the Sun God. Since it is usually drawn with its arms pointing in a clockwise direction, it is considered a solar symbol. Hindus also use it as a bindi or tilak. In India, the Swastika is also associated with Lord Ganesha since it marks his palm.

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