Swastika: The highly misunderstood symbol

Last time, we saw the importance and the significance of the Shiva Lingam! This time, we are going to talk about another Hindu symbol which is as popular as the Shiva Lingam, if not more. Even European nations have adopted this symbol. It is the symbol which has the most controversy surrounding it. It is loved as much as it is hated. The Swastika.

The Swastika is not a random picture created out of shapes placed together. Neither is it an Aryan symbol. It is a pure Hindu religious symbol which was created during the Vedic times. There has been a big controversy regarding the origin of the Swastika. There have been claims that the Swastika originated in Buddhism or Jainism. There have been claims that it is an Aryan origin symbol. There have been some claims regarding its Western origin and that the Swastika is a variation of the Christian cross. However, Swastika predates all these cultures and religions by thousands of years and Hinduism is the only religion in the world to use the Swastika for 4000 to 5000 straight years. It found its way into Buddhism and Jainism and its importance started spreading around the world. Swastika is not just a symbol, it is an important concept in Hinduism. The name Swastika is derived from two Sanskrit words – ‘Su’, meaning ‘Good’ or ‘Well’ and ‘Asti’ meaning ‘Being’. So, the combination of Su and Asti gives Swasti and adding the causative noun ‘ka’ making it a whole word or phrase, gives us ‘Swastika’. So, Swastika literally means ‘Well Being’ and is used to evoke purity and auspiciousness at any religious festival. The story of Swastika is a unique one. It went from the most respected symbols to the most hated symbol in the blink of an eye.

The swastika used in temples thousands of years ago

Swastika was used by Hindu priests and people as a mark of fortune and well being for millennials. It is still visible on the premises of almost every temple, laid in intricate carvings, forged in metal or just drawn besides the temple as a form of ‘Rangoli’. It was the symbol that every child had learned to respect in India. And then the day dawned that changed everything. Heinrich Schliemann, a German who was looking for remnants of the fabled Troy, during his excavations in the Aryan sites, unearthed this symbol. He found it so many times during excavation that he concluded this must be the symbol of the Aryans. In the same period, Adolf Hitler came to power and all hell broke loose. To solidify his Nazi party, Hitler wanted to create a new flag which showcased the racial superiority of the Germans. He wanted a symbol that most defined the Aryans – the ancestors of the Germans who passed on their ‘racially superior and pure’ blood to the Germans. In line with Schliemann’s findings, Hitler decided to adopt the Swastika as the flag of the Nazis. He respected the original Swastika so much, that he rotated the Swastika and formed a ‘corollary’ of the original Swastika so that it would be distinct from the real one. But due to the horrors perpetrated by him, the world branded his flag and the Swastika in a negative tone and it has not changed ever since. A symbol which epitomized hope and happiness was reduced to a hated ‘Nazi logo’.

The law of duality caught up with the symbol. Everything that exists, must have an opposite dual, otherwise it ceases to exist. Everything has a dual. Creation-Destruction, Good-Bad, Light-Darkness, Heaven-Hell, Positive-Negative. Even Gods have Devils as their dual. For the good of the Swastika to exist, there always was the negativity which Hitler enhanced and brought to the forefront. The duals are always equal in magnitude so that they square each other off. Whatever is good must have bad in the same proportion. Such great was the positivity of the Swastika, that the negativity is still lasting, decades after Hitler was assassinated. In my opinion, it is time we took back our symbol and re-brandished it in it’s original glory.

The Swastika is not just a religious symbol. It has a lot of scientific base and importance. The symbol that we see today is a modification of the original symbol. Back in the day, the arms of the Swastika were not as straight, they had a curve as shown below.

Modern Swastika (left) and the ancient Swastika (right)

The ancient Swastika had been a symbol with curved lines as shown. The geometric definition of this symbol is that it is a quartic plane curve representing the Cartesian equation y4 – x4 = xy. When it is plotted it looks something like this:

swastika graph
Plot of the Swastika

This graph has a special significance. It defines India. Just close your eyes for a moment and imagine a mountain where four rivers originate and flow outwards in four directions. How would that look like when viewed from the top? This exact curve. Consider the origin of the graph as the peak of the mountain where the rivers originate and flow outwards. India had four major rivers during Vedic times: Indus, Sutlej, Brahmaputra and Karnali. All of them originated from Kailash which was then within the Indian territory. This was the unique identity of India. And the Swastika symbol defines this very identity. This small symbol encompassed the entire identity of India. A lotus is drawn many times around the Swastika. This is because Kailash lies between six mountains, adorned by them as if it lies between six petals of the lotus. This lends further proof that the symbol relates to the Kailash. According to the Bible, the location of Eden is described in the Book of Genesis, chapter 2, verses 10–14: ‘A river flowed from Eden to water the garden, and from there it divided to make four streams’. Sound familiar? I do not need to describe what Eden refers to. The Swastika can also be interpreted as pointing to the Universe. 108 is the number that refers to the universe (I am going to focus on this in a future article). It is 1 symbol, which fits exactly in a circumcircle or a 0 and has 8 limbs.

If we draw a 3*3 magic square, all the rows and columns add to 15. That is the highest total that can be achieved. But if we add all the numbers in the 2 limbs of the superimposed Swastika, both the totals add up to 25.

swastika magic square
Magic square and the Swastika

The Swastika symbol is not random or chaotic, it is exactly the opposite. It is the symbol which forms order out of chaos. Ordo ab chao. Order out of chaos. A building in the US Navy HQ is built in shape of a Swastika because it is the most ordered form.

US Navy Headquarters

Most of the words when translated in any other language, especially from Sanskrit lose the meaning as these languages are meant only for a two-dimensional space. One of the keys in the Vedas and Dhyan is the ability to explain and go to a fourth state, or the Chaturiya avastha (Fourth state). The fourth state is also known as the Turiya avastha. The fourth state is beyond waking, sleeping and dreaming. The symbol of the Swastika is that of a four-dimensional cube, and is used extensively in Vedic mathematics.

Four-dimensional Swastika cube

The arms of Swastika have been also interpreted in various ways. The four arms pay homage to the sun depicting the four directions in which it spans its light. They depict the four-armed wheel defines the altering nature of the Universe with a fixed and stable center as God. They explain the four eras i.e. Satya yuga, Treta yuga, Dwapara yuga and Kali yuga. They represent the four varnas – Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras. They define the four basic aims of human pursuit or Purusharthas – dharma (righteousness), artha (prosperity), kama (passion) and moksha (salvation). They describe the four Vedas – Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda, and Atharva Veda. They depict the four faces and four hands of Lord Brahma. They depict the four stages of life – Brahmacharya (student life), Grihastha (Household life), Vanaprastha (Retired life) and Sanyasa (Renounced life).

It is surprising to see that a symbol which is used in all Indian weddings and rituals, can mean torture and death to Jews. It is disheartening to see a symbol of purity seen as a symbol of genocide by the world. It is the human nature to latch onto negativity as soon as possible and never let it go. Let’s make a conscious effort to restore the original meaning of the Swastika. It would be nice if people after seeing the Swastika recognized it as a holy Indian symbol of purity instead of a Nazi symbol. When that happens, finally we can say that Adolf Hitler is well and truly defeated.

स्वस्ति न इन्द्रो वृद्धश्रवाः (May God Indra of Great fame bless us)

स्वस्ति नः पूषा विश्ववेदाः (May the Omnicient Poosha bless us)

स्वस्ति नस्ताक्षर्यो अरिष्टनेमिः (May the Protector Garuda bless us)

स्वस्ति नो ब्रुहस्पतिर्दधातु (May Lord Brihaspati protect us)

ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः (Om, Peace, Peace, Peace)



Swastika: The highly misunderstood symbol