The swastika was used in the 20th century by one of the most hated men ever to have lived on Earth.
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 person to use the symbol of Swastika.
As a matter of fact, it was used as a positive and powerful symbol in many cultures and continents, thousands of years ago.
Beginning of the Spiritual Symbol-Swastika
The swastika is a sacred symbol to the Hindus and Buddhists in India and other Asian countries.
The symbol is a cross with each leg bent at a 90-degree angle is an important symbol in both ancient and modern religions
One can easily spot it in temples, buses, taxis, or on the cover of books.
It marks the beginning of prosperity.
The alleged symbol was also widely 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, which was clearly reflected in many artifacts that have been found over the period of time.
The symbol of swastika was also used by Nordic tribes.
Even the 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 significant and what led Adolf Hitler to use it?
Positive Days of the Swastika
The word ‘swastika’ is derived from a Sanskrit word (‘svastika’) meaning ‘It is’, ‘Well Being’, ‘Good Existence, and ‘Good Luck’.
However, it is called 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.
The deeper meaning of the word is ‘Permanent Victory’. Like any symbol it can have positive and negative meaning depending on how it is drawn.P. R. Sarkar, a Sanskrit Scholar
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 Goddess Kali and Magic.
Twp different meanings of the same symbol are common in ancient traditions, For example, the symbol of the pentagram (five-pointed star), which is viewed as negative when pointing downwards, and positive when pointing upwards
The same thing goes for a Swastika.
12,000 Years of Symbolism
The oldest-known example of the swastika dates back some 15,000 years. Discovered in Ukraine in 1908, an ivory mammoth tusk carved into the shape of a bird includes an intricate pattern of connected swastikas on its body, which may have been used as a fertility symbol.
One of the earliest cultures that are known to have used the powerful symbol 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 to around 8,000 years.
It is believed in Buddhism that the swastika is a symbol of good fortune, prosperity, abundance, and eternity.
The symbol is directly related to Buddha and can be found carved on the soles of his feet and heart.
It is said that it contains Buddha’s mind.
A Swastika appears next to the words “ZOTIKO ZOTIKO” which means “Life of Life” on the walls of the Christian catacombs in Rome.
It can also be seen on the window openings of the enigmatic Lalibela Rock churches of Ethiopia, and in various other churches around the world.
In Nordic Myths, Odin is seen 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.
The symbol is widely celebrated in various traditions and cultures of India and Asian countries.
The symbol has been used by the Phoenicians as a symbol of the Sun and it was a sacred symbol used by the priestesses.
How did the swastika become a Nazi symbol?
Heinrich Schliemann’s discovery of Troy in the 1870s initiated the events that led to the transformation of the swastika, a symbol of fortune and hope for thousands of years, into a feared sign of fascism.
He declared swastikas as a significant religious symbol of their remote ancestors when he unearthed 1,800 examples, but his colleague, Emile-Louis Burnouf, thought differently.
Burnouf was aware of the fact that the symbol of Swastika appeared in India, so he studied a sacred Hindu text called the Rigveda and claimed to have found a connection between the swastika and mysterious ancient people, the Aryans.
Supposedly, these white-skinned warriors constituted the peak of human civilization, conquering lands such as India and bringing the swastika with them.
The word Aryan itself has been derived from Sanskrit, like Swastika.
Pots and vases from the sixth-century had been discovered in Germany with swastikas on them and scholars noted the similarities between Sanskrit and German as further proof that the Aryans had come from Germany.
But the whole notion of this ‘pure’ race, as well as being deeply racist, was based on a misunderstanding.
The Sanskrit word for Aryan (ārya) actually meant “honorable, respectable or noble” and referred to as a social or linguistic distinction, not a separate ethnic group.
The unification of Germany in 1871, the same year Schliemann started work at Troy, led to a swell of uninhibited nationalism in the country and the idea that Germans descended from Aryans.
To them, the discovery at Troy of their symbol, the swastika, proved they had been a dominant race.
When Adolf Hitler began his rise to power and looked for a symbol to encapsulate his movement, the Nazi Party and a strong future for Germany, the swastika became the clear choice.
Hitler understood the power of an image and knew it would give the Nazi ideals an historic foundation.
“In red we see the social idea of the movement, in white the nationalistic idea, in the swastika the mission of the struggle for the victory of the Aryan men.”Adolf Hitler
How and why did so many diverse countries and cultures, across many eras, use the same symbol and apparently with the same meaning?
However, 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.