The swastika is commonly known as the symbol of Nazis, associated with one of the most hated dictators in history. It represents one of the most catastrophic wars the world has ever seen and merciless murders of hundreds of thousands of people. A feeling of disgust and pain runs through our minds whenever we see it. However, Adolf Hitler was not the first one to wear and use the swastika. As a matter of fact, it was used for millenniums throughout many countries and cultures as an important and powerful symbol.
The Buddhists and Hindus in India, China, and other Asian countries used the swastika as a significant symbol for millenniums. The proof of it can still be seen on the ancient Hindu and Buddhist temples, and book covers. This symbol use also used in ancient Greece. The archaeologists found it in the remains of Troy; the ancient city that existed 4000 years back from now. The ancient Celts and Druids also used the swastika as a religious symbol which appears on many discovered artifacts. The Nordic tribes were also the users of this ancient symbol, and it was used even by the early Christians! A German medieval military order called the “Teutonic Knights”, which became a strictly religious Catholic Order used this symbol for many years.
Good or Evil?
Although, it is widely regarded as an evil symbol, because of its association with the Nazis, there are other perspectives to be considered.
‘Swastika’ is actually a Sanskrit word (an ancient Indian language used in most of the Hindu religious texts), which means ‘Good Luck’, ‘It is’, ‘Well Being’, and ‘Good Existence’. However, in different regions, it is referred to by different names. For instance, the Chinese call it ‘Wan’; the Japanese call it ‘Manji’; Germans called it ‘Teraskelion’; for the Greeks, it was ‘Teragammadion’; and in England, it was called ‘Hakenkreuz’.
In 1979, a Sanskrit scholar P.R. Sarkar said that swastika’s actual deeper meaning is ‘Permanent Victory’. He also mentioned that the swastika, as many other symbols, can have a positive or negative expression depending on the drawing style. In Hinduism, the left-hand swastika represents the Kali and black magic, while the right-hand one represents the Sun and God Vishnu. The double meanings of ancient symbols are actually pretty common in ancient cultures. Take the Christian Cross for example. If it is set upside down –it represents Satan, instead of Christ. Same goes for the five-pointed star symbol called pentagram; when it is pointed upwards, it’s a symbol that protects against evil; however, if it is pointed downwards, it becomes an evil symbol itself.
|500 BC Greek Silver Coin Featuring Swastika – (Wikimedia commons)|
A 12000-year-old Symbol
The oldest swastika was found dates back to 10000 BC, making it a 12,000-year-old symbol. It was discovered in a place called Mezine, located in Ukraine. It was carved on an ivory statuette. One of the earliest cultures to use this symbol was an 8000-year-old Neolithic culture called Vinca Culture, located among modern-day Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Serbia. A 3,200-year-old necklace featuring swastika was found in Iran some years ago.
|3200-year-old gold necklace featuring swastika found in Iran – (Wikimedia Commons)|
The Swastika represents prosperity, good fortune, consciousness, and infinity in Buddhism. It is actually directly associated with Buddha himself as it can frequently be seen carved on his heart or soles of his feet. It is said that the symbol contains the mind of the great religious philosopher.
The swastika can also be found in a number of old churches around the world, as well as on the walls of the Christian underground burial chambers in Rome, situated next to the words “Zotiko Zotiko” meaning “Life of Life”. It also appears on the window-openings of the famous and enigmatic “Lalibela Rock” churches located in Ethiopia.