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The Powerful Symbol of the Swastika and its 12,000 Year History

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The swastika is a symbol that was used in the 20 th century by of one of the most hated men ever to have lived, a symbol that now represents the slaughter of millions of people and one of the most destructive wars on Earth. But Adolf Hitler was not the first to use this symbol. In fact, it was used as a positive and powerful symbol thousands of years before him, across many cultures and continents.

Spiritual Beginning for the Swastika

For the Hindus and Buddhists in India and other Asian countries, the swastika was an important symbol for many thousands of years and, to this day, the symbol can still be seen in abundance - on temples, buses, taxis, and on the cover of books. It was also used in Ancient Greece and Rome, and can be found in the remains of the ancient city of Troy, which existed 4,000 years ago. The ancient Druids and the Celts also used the symbol, reflected in many artifacts that have been discovered. It was used by Nordic tribes, and even early Christians used the Swastika as one of their symbols, including the Teutonic Knights , a German medieval military order, which became a purely religious Catholic Order. But why is this symbol so important and why did Adolf Hitler decide to use it?

A swastika is a symbol found in many cultures, with different meanings, drawn in different styles. (CC BY-SA 4.0)

A swastika is a symbol found in many cultures, with different meanings, drawn in different styles. ( CC BY-SA 4.0 )

Positive Days of the Swastika

The word ‘swastika’ is a Sanskrit word (‘svasktika’) meaning ‘It is’, ‘Well Being’, ‘Good Existence, and ‘Good Luck’. However, it is also known by different names in different countries - like ‘Wan’ in China, ‘Manji’ in Japan, ‘Fylfot’ in England, ‘Hakenkreuz’ in Germany and ‘Tetraskelion’ or ‘Tetragammadion’ in Greece.

Mosaic swastika in excavated Byzantine church in Shavei Tzion (Israel). (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Mosaic swastika in excavated Byzantine church in Shavei Tzion (Israel). ( CC BY-SA 3.0 )

In 1979, a Sanskrit scholar P. R. Sarkar said that the deeper meaning of the word is ‘Permanent Victory’. He also said that like any symbol it can have positive and negative meaning depending on how it is drawn. So in Hinduism, the right-hand swastika illustrated below is a symbol of the God Vishnu and the Sun, while the left-hand swastika is a symbol of Kali and Magic.

The double meaning of symbols is common in ancient traditions , like for example the symbol of the pentagram (five pointed star), which is viewed as negative when pointing downwards, and positive when pointing upwards.

12,000 Years of Symbolism

The earliest swastika ever found was uncovered in Mezine, Ukraine, carved on an ivory figurine which dates back an incredible 12,000 years. One of the earliest cultures that are known to have used the Swastika was a Neolithic culture in Southern Europe, in the area that is now Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, known as the Vinca Culture, which dates back around 8,000 years.

Swastika pattern on a mammoth bone bracelet from Mizyn. (Image: Encyclopedia of Ukraine)

Swastika pattern on a mammoth bone bracelet from Mizyn. (Image: Encyclopedia of Ukraine )

In Buddhism, the swastika is a symbol of good fortune, prosperity, abundance and eternity. It is directly related to Buddha and can be found carved on statues on the soles of his feet and on his heart.  It is said that it contains Buddha’s mind.

Wooden Buddha statue with gamadian (swastika). (CC BY 2.0)

Wooden Buddha statue with gamadian (swastika). ( CC BY 2.0 )

On the walls of the Christian catacombs in Rome, the symbol of the Swastika appears next to the words “ZOTIKO ZOTIKO” which means “Life of Life”. It can also be found on the window openings of the mysterious Lalibela Rock churches of Ethiopia, and in various other churches around the world.

Skastika symbol in the window of Lalibela Rock hewn churches. (CC BY 3.0)

Skastika symbol in the window of Lalibela Rock hewn churches. ( CC BY 3.0 )

Various examples of the swastika in Christian settings. (The Swastikaphobia Project)

Various examples of the swastika in Christian settings. ( The Swastikaphobia Project )

Left, The Samarra bowl at the Pergamonmuseum, Berlin. The swastika in the center of the design is a reconstruction. (CC BY-SA 4.0); Right, Finding the cemetery of Ancient Thera, 8th to 7th century BC. Archaeological Museum of Fira. (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Left, The Samarra bowl at the Pergamonmuseum, Berlin. The swastika in the center of the design is a reconstruction. ( CC BY-SA 4.0 ); Right, Finding the cemetery of Ancient Thera, 8th to 7th century BC. Archaeological Museum of Fira. ( CC BY-SA 3.0 )

In Nordic Myths , Odin is represented passing through space as a whirling disk or swastika looking down through all worlds. In North America, the swastika was used by the Navajos. In Ancient Greece, Pythagoras used the Swastika under the name ‘Tetraktys’ and it was a symbol linking heaven and earth, with the right arm pointing to heaven and its left arm pointing to Earth.

It has been used by the Phoenicians as a symbol of the Sun and it was a sacred symbol used by the priestesses.

The swastika, the Phoenician sun symbol, on the Phoenician Craig-Narget stone in Scotland, and on the robe of a Phoenician high priestess. (Source)

The swastika, the Phoenician sun symbol, on the Phoenician Craig-Narget stone in Scotland, and on the robe of a Phoenician high priestess. ( Source)

How and why did so many diverse countries and cultures, across many eras, use the same symbol and apparently with the same meaning?   

It is ironic, and unfortunate, that a symbol of life and eternity that was considered sacred for thousands of years has become a symbol of hatred.

Top image: Swastika symbol decoration of clay lamps (diya) in Varanasi, India on the festival of Dev Diwali.   Source: ShishirKumar / Adobe Stock

By John Black

Comments

From the Volta to the Congo to the Nile, from scarification to gold weights to hieroglyphics, the swastika has been used throughout Afriqa for a long time…

The Akan occupy a large part of West Africa including parts of Ghana and the Ivory Coast and include many sub-ethnic groups such as the Baule and the Asante (Ashanti). The Akan were producing them to weigh gold dust which was their currency, thus the name ‘gold weights’. When used on the gold weight, the swastika was a symbol of currency, expressing power, money, wealth and integrity. The idea and the implementation of gold-based currency came from the Akan people of modern-day Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.

The swastika is also one of the Akan people’s famous Adinkra symbols.

According to one source, the swastika is referred to by the Akan as a monkey’s foot. Another source says it is called Kode Emower Ewa (‘talons of the eagle’), represents devotion and service and is shaved on the back of the heads of the Queen Mother’s servants. Still another source names it Nkotimsefuopua, claiming similarly that certain attendants on the Queen Mother who dressed their hair in this fashion.

You can read more here: https://selfuni.wordpress.com/2014/12/11/afrikan-swastika/

It's bad that no one can speak of the swastika for what it Originally was.
It's also quite sad and pathetic that the swastika symbol was perverted, because of the Nazis, as viewed very negatively, though, by many ignorant and hateful people.

Don't even think about think about talking to any Jewish person about the subject, not even the younger generation, who's brainwashed by the older generations of what happened during WWII.

It's quite sad and pathetic that the swastika symbol was perverted.

Everyone who likes the swastika symbol should stop referring to Hitler's symbol as a swastika. Swastika is a sanskrit term. German socialists did not use the term "swastika" they used the term "hakenkreuz" (hooked cross). There is no evidence that the German symbol is related to nor derived from the sanskrit symbol. People are confused if someone says that hakenkreuz is the "German" word for swastika because there is nothing to it, other than that the symbols are visually similar. It is no more useful (and is as correct) to say that "swastika" is the sanskrit word for "hakenkreuz." The term swastika was in fact used to confuse people and to defame the sanskrit term and symbol and to hide the fact that Hitler did not call it a swastika, and to hide the fact that Hitler called it a type of cross. To say that Germans called their symbol a hakenkreuz long before the socialist Hitler arose does not change any of these above facts and does not change the fact that he altered it (and used it) to represent crossed S-letters for his socialism, turning it 45 degrees from the horizontal, and pointing it always in the S-direction, and following the similar style and alphabetical symbolism of the SS, the SA, the NSV etc as well as the ubiquitous VW symbols (the two letters V & W meshed for "volkswagen") -that is one of the many amazing discoveries of the symbologist Dr. Rex Curry. It is time to stop hiding the truth about Hitler's symbol. It is time to stop misleading people about his symbol and his socialist dogma. Let's stop defaming and persecuting the sanskrit term and the sanskrit symbol and stop linking it to Hitler's hakenkreuz. http://rexcurry.net

the article has the "negative" and "positive" forms of the symbol backwards! clockwise spinning is positive and anti-clockwise is negative. getting this wrong = very poor article.

As incredible as it may seem, swastika does not originate in Asia, but in Europe, more exactly in Thracia and Dacia. From here it was brought to Asia. Sorry to burst ur bubble but the swastikas found here in Romania, my country, are far older than those/that from Ukraine. History is written by victors, remember?

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