Don’t be disturbed by the Swastika in India

Om and Swastika symbolism on a truck in India. Photo by Thessilian
Om and Swastika symbolism on a truck in India. Photo by Thessilian

Mostly people relate the swastika symbol to the Nazis. But if you see this symbol in India, it doesn’t mean they are Nazis or anything like it. In fact the swastika in India is a symbol of auspiciousness and it was used even before the Nazis.

aus·pi·cious, adjective:

  • conducive to success; favorable.
  • characterized by success; prosperous.

Background

The swastika is a symbol that generally takes the form of an equilateral cross, with its four arms bent at 90 degrees. There are many similarly-shaped symbols that westerners refer to as swastikas, but the indigenous users of these symbols never called them by this name.

These symbols have also been used in various other ancient civilizations around the world including Turkic, India, Iran, Nepal, China, Japan, Korea and Europe. It remains widely used in Indian religions, specifically in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, primarily as a tantric symbol that invokes Lakshmi – the Hindu goddess of wealth, prosperity and auspiciousness.

Meaning and Ethymology

The word “swastika” comes from the Sanskrit svastika – “su” (meaning “good” or “auspicious”) combined with “asti” (meaning “it is”), along with the diminutive suffix “ka.” The swastika literally means “it is good.”

Swastika at the Market. Photo by APozzoNYC
Swastika at the Market. Photo by APozzoNYC

It is a common practice for Hindus to draw Swastika symbol on the doors and entrances to their houses during festivals, which is believed to symbolize an invitation to goddess Lakshmi.

Germany

The swastika was adopted as a symbol of the Nazi Party of Germany in 1920, who used the swastika as a symbol of the Aryan race. After Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933, a right-facing 45° rotated swastika was incorporated into the flag of the Nazi Party, which was made the state flag of Germany during the Nazi era. Hence, the swastika has become strongly associated with Nazism and related concepts such as antisemitism, hatred, violence, death, and murder in many western countries, and is now largely stigmatized there due to the changed connotations of the symbol.

Potted Swastika Flowers. Photo by Octopuzz
Potted Swastika Flowers in India. Photo by Octopuzz

Religion

The swastika is a historical sacred symbol both to evoke ‘Shakti’ in tantric rituals and evoke the gods for blessings in Indian religions.

In Hinduism, the swastika is in certain sects considered a symbolic representation of Ganesha. The swastika is made with Sindoor during some Hindu religious rites.

In the Zoroastrian religion of Persia, the swastika was a symbol of the revolving sun, infinity, or continuing creation. It rose in popularity in Buddhism during the Mauryan Empire and in Hinduism with the decline of Buddhism in India during the Gupta Empire. With the spread of Buddhism, the Buddhist swastika reached Tibet and China.

Swastika Snacks. Photo by Alan Grinberg
Swastika Snacks in India. Photo by Alan Grinberg

So now you know.

source.

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5 thoughts on “Don’t be disturbed by the Swastika in India

  1. Very cool! The biggest brewery here in Denmark – and one of the biggest in the world – is Carlsberg. One of the founders traveled a lot as a young man, and was really interested in Indian culture. So the symbol for their beer became the swastika. We recently visited the brewery, and the symbol is everywhere in the architecture (along with four massive elephant statues that he built, one to guard each of his four children). The tour guide went really out of her way to explain that the swastika is actually an old symbol etc etc. Because otherwise people’s minds go straight to the Nazis. It’s such a shame that such a lovely symbol was appropriated and tainted by the Nazis.

      1. I wasn’t going to since I forgot to take that many pictures while I was there 🙂 Maybe I will, though. I think Carlsberg is more popular internationally than it is in Denmark.

  2. Will you please give the details of your husband’s project of conversion of CNG/Petrol Auto Rickshaw to Electric Rickshaw. I am interested in this project for creating employment and mitigating pollution. I want to start this project in Ahmedabad. I will appreciate your response. Thanking you – Arvind Engineer

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