Have you ever imagined that a symbol can rage the anger of a specific community or individuals from a particular territory? Can a symbol be associated with the pride of one and the disgust of the other?
It’s a mystery in itself that how a simple symbol can be connoted differently by various individuals and divide the entire humanity into pieces. ‘Swatika’ is one such symbol that holds various beliefs for varied individuals.
True meaning of Swastika:
Literally, Swastika means ‘of good fortune’ – ‘Su‘ means ‘well’ and ‘asti‘ means ‘being’. It marks the beginning of peace, fortune and happiness in one’s life.
- Spreading its arms in four directions, the solar symbol defines the power of Sun or Lord Vishnu.
- The four armed wheel defines the altering nature of the Universe with a fixed and stable centre as God.
- It explains the four eras i.e. Satya-yuga, Treta-yuga, Dwapara-yuga and Kali-yuga.
- It represents the four varnas i.e. Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras.
- It defines the four basic aims of human pursuit – dharma (righteousness), artha (prosperity), kama (passion) and moksha (salvation).
- It describes the four Vedas – Rig-Veda, Yajur-Veda, Sama-Veda, and Atharva-Veda and the four faces and four hands of Lord Brahma.
- It is also the emblem of Ganesha, the god of good luck.
- It represents the celestial change of the Sun to the tropic of Capricorn according to Hindu astronomy.
- It carries the spirit of enlightenment that defines the flow from humankind to a higher level of consciousness.
Negative connotation related with Swastika:
The above points highlight the positive side of the coin but we can never ignore the negative connotations and beliefs attached to this symbol. Till date the sentiments of the Jews are hurt and they associate the ‘Swastik’ with evil energies. As swastika was associated with ‘Aryan identity’, Adolf Hitler adopted the swastika as the emblem of ‘racial purity’ displayed on a red background. Even before that, during the post-World War I period, a number of far-right nationalist movements adopted the swastika.
In Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler wrote: “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.” The devastating holocaust in Germany and the negative association with the Nazi party invokes the strong emotions of the Jews and has acquired a negative connotation in the West.
Significance for other cultures:
Not only for Hindus, but the symbol of swastika is also evident on the chest, palms, soles of Buddha and it symbolised the footsteps of Lord Buddha. For Jainism, it represents the four possible places of rebirth i.e. the animal or plant world, hell, earth, or the spirit world. In China and Japan, the swastika has been used to represent abundance, prosperity and long life. The Greek goddess Athena was sometimes portrayed as wearing robes covered with swastikas. For the early Christians, the symbol represented Christ, calling it a disguised cross.
Though the culture and experiences may vary the definition of Swastika, yet it is hoped that the true significance of this auspicious symbol is realized by the world, ignoring the historical past.
Contributed By: Meenakshi Ahuja