India, the image of the swastika is as ubiquitous as the image of the
serpent. It appears on Siva temples, the doors of homes, as a
decoration on mobile food-stalls, in folk art and on rugs, and exists
as a significant design or yantra at ceremonial occasions.
the Western world, however, the swastika is probably the most
disturbing image that has ever been associated with a political
regime. The Nazi Party of Germany used its powerful pattern to full
advantage during the Second World War.
their use of the image there exists a widespread misconception
concerning the representation of the symbol. It is commonly thought
that the motif of the Third Reich was an inverted swastika, a
deviation from the original ancient design. The point needs
of the swastika's configuration, i.e. right-angled or left-angled,
the symbol's significance does not suffer; it merely indicates two
opposing principles, evolution and dissolution.
swastika has both spiritual and social implications. Its use by
millions of people in India for ceremonial and decorative purposes is
primarily a sociological application. Its more esoteric meaning is
possibly obscure to many.
Cosmology and the Swastika
e.g. the serpent, the swastika crystallizes fundamental principles
relating to natural universal processes and their relationship to
terrestrial life and was designed to evoke an intuitive or emotional
response rather than an intellectual understanding.
a Sanskrit word, means literally `well being' which has many
variables depending upon the application. As the serpent is the
symbol of the creative, energizing force of the Supreme Spirit, the
swastika is representative of that life-force being set in motion to
initiate the cyclic workings of nature. Both images are thus closely
ancient Vedic seers described the original cosmic creative process as
`the churning of the milky ocean' whereby fields of subtle substance
become condensed into gross matter; a view that is now widely
accepted today in energy-field physics research.
`churning' is represented geometrically in Tantric ritual as a four
armed cross within a circle and the cross is meant to be imagined as
oscillating backwards and forwards as in a churning motion. The
forward movement clockwise is towards evolution while the
anti-clockwise movement is towards dissolution. The circle represents
the universe in its potential un-manifested state prior to creation
and is called in Hinduism `Brahmanda'. The Hindus also believe that
the universe periodically dissolves and is then re-created. The
period between dissolution and re-creation is known as `Pralaya', a
time of rest between creative periods. A period of creativity is
called `Manvantara' and both periods (i.e. creation and dissolution)
constitute a `Kalpa' or a cycle of creation. The dissolutionary
process due to the inevitable pull of gravity and a slowing down of
the expanding evolutionary process has been labelled by Western
cosmologists as `the big crunch'. The entire creative process is
again more descriptively labelled by the Hindus as `the breathing out
of Brahma' (the Creator in the Hindu Trinity) while the
dissolutionary process is seen as `the breathing in of Brahma'. This
cyclic process of cosmic, periodic, involution, evolution and
dissolution is symbolized by the forward and backward movement of the
four arms of the cross are known as `the four arms of Vishnu', the
Supreme Deity in Vedic times who later became the `preserver' in the
Hindu Trinity. Vishnu's role is to maintain order, balance, and
cohesion throughout the created universe. This is the `mystic cross'
which later found its way into all religions with certain
modifications as the Egyptian Cross, the Chinese Tau, the Cross of
the Rosicrucians and the Christian cross.
created is sustained by continual opposition between two forces, i.e.
attraction and repulsion which act and react via a process of flux
that is mirrored in the activity of all nature from the breathing of
plants, the action of the human lungs, bio-rhythms, the flow of
energy in a dynamo, to the expansion and contraction of the Earth
is the oscillating motion of the cross within the circle which
symbolizes that opposition between positive evolutionary forces and
negative dissolutionary forces that give birth to the swastika in
both its configurations, i.e. right-angled or left-angled.
whole of creation is bound by this principle and by the ultimate
balancing of these two polarities, `well-being' that is an ideal
state without conflict, may be achieved. On a personal level, this
ideal condition, as any individual knows, may at its best be only a
sometimes thing during the course of day to day living. The point of
eventual neutrality or perfect balance between the two forces, is
equilibrium -- thereby no existing conflict between negative and
positive. If it were to become an actual consistent condition, the
very purpose of life itself (which is innately felt by most
individuals as growth towards an ideal or perfection, or total
`order') would be pointless and the evolutionary process would cease
to be of significance. The cross at rest symbolizes that final
perfect balance or equilibrium -- Pralaya.
Siva temple throughout India the right-angled swastika is ever
present which indicates the transforming and evolutionary aspect
which Lord Siva represents in Hindu philosophy.
The Sociological Aspect
swastika as a Vedic image finds expression in the magical ritual
worship or `sacrifice' known as Yagna. The purpose of the sacrifice
is to ensure the fertility and well-being of the individual, his
family and domestic animals and ultimately the whole community. It
constitutes an offering to the Gods, or universal forces, to sustain
them in their task of maintaining the world, directing its manifold
generative activities and at the same time ensuring protection
against the sometimes-malevolent forces of the Grahas or nine
V.Hasanali of the former Soviet Institute of Climatology and
Medicine, has stated in a paper published in Moscow that the vital
activities of humans are affected not by individual factors but by
the sum total of certain external factors. These factors include
solar or gravitational anomalies, sharp fluctuations in atmospheric
pressure and magnetic disturbances. In respect of these geophysical
conditions there are increased chances of misfortune occurring on
certain unfavourable days when the functioning of human responses is
affected. (The Indian Magazine, Sydney, May 1987).
modern understanding that planetary movements can influence sunspot
activity and thus the solar wind which, in turn, affects the magnetic
field of the Earth to which nature is attuned, may well be seen to
endorse the ancient Hindu's views about the Grahas.
form of the Yagna or ritual may involve, for example, a
circumambulation in which a horse is walked in a circle, clockwise,
to effect a cure for its disease. This clockwise movement is called
`Pradakshina' and indicates a natural evolutionary function. It is
used in respect of sacred trees, shrines, etc., and is performed as
an act of reverence or respect. It is believed to bestow merit and
prosperity and acts as a protective circle preventing harm coming to
the circumambulator. It also delineates a sacred area. Temples are
revered in this way and it is not uncommon to observe a priest in
prayer moving clockwise around a sacred enclosure or a Stupa. If
circumambulation is performed in the opposite direction it is called
`Apradakshina' and has a malign influence resulting in misfortune or
death. In funerary rites or in cases of houses subject to intrusion
of snakes, this reverse direction is followed by the priest. The
image of the swastika accompanying the Yagna is either drawn or
formed on the ground in the appropriate evolutionary or
ancient ritual of circumambulation, continued in India today,
particularly in the rural areas and in villages, is based on the
principle that natures' forces integrate and disintegrate in
spiralling fields of energy, a fact proved in recent times by
advanced Energy Field Physics research. (`A Morphogenetic Process in
Low Energy Electromagnetic Fields'. S.S. and S.P. Barsamian. Journal
of Biological Physics. Stillwater, Oklahoma, U.S.A. 1998).
The Swastika and Buddhism
emerged from Hinduism and, the swastika, borrowed from the Hindus is
a symbol of esoteric Buddhism. As such, it was placed over the heart
of the Buddha, stamped on the breasts of departed initiates and
planted wherever Buddhists have left their mark. It is regarded as
the symbol of esoteric Buddhism and the mark of a perfectly evolved
being whose soul (or spirit) has entered Nirvana or liberation from
the world of matter.
image of the Buddha's foot or Sri-Pada, shows the swastika on each of
the toes. The symbol is seen on the underpads in a left-handed or
anti-clockwise configuration, which would become a right-angled or
clockwise image if an imprint of the foot was imagined.
e.g. five toes on each foot, five fingers on each hand, five senses
is relative to the concept of potentiality which shows that nature
tends to build on a system of five-fold construction. This principle
in Hinduism is called `Pancha Bhootas' and has to do with the five
states of creative substances and their relationship to the five
sensory faculties. The substances are as follows: 1. Light --
relative to the sense of sight. 2. Air -- relative to smell. 3. Sound
-- relative to hearing. 4. Liquid -- relative to taste. 5. Solid --
relative to touch.
all five senses function in harmony, `well-being' is the result. To a
Hindu or Buddhist Initiate, `well-being' in its highest sense would
mean `enlightenment attained'. Thus the significance of the ancient
symbol is again apparent.
The Swastika in other Civilizations
swastika was evident on the seals of the Mohenjo Daro civilization in
the Indus Valley as well as on the Rongo Rongo tablets of Easter
Island. It was found in Troy, in Mesopotamia, and is still used by
the Navajo and Hopi Indians in the U.S.A in their rituals and artwork
as well as by the Tibetans.
use in Germany in the 1930's and 1940's provided the most dramatic
illustration of the power of the symbol. The grand plan of the Nazi
regime was not only politically based but to achieve the ideal of
`superman' as per the philosophy of Nietzsche in the shortest
possible way. The Third Reich was first of all an `occult' order, its
underlying motive being the achievement of human perfection through
the destruction of the old decadent order; to create a new dimension
in human potentiality; an evolutionary process.
up the principle was the constant confrontation with the right-angled
swastika, adopted from the ancient Vedic Aryan symbolism and made
even more powerful by the angle at which it was presented and the use
of the image in black, surrounded by white against a vibrant red
a `Yantra' or a design to effect consciousness it clutched at the
deepest centres of human emotion. The use of the image, however, was
to inflame rather than instruct. That was the default.
over India and much of the East, the swastika in either of its
configurations, is commonly regarded as a sign of `good luck'. Good
luck is related to the literal translation of `Swastika' which is
`well-being', and is understood in its mundane aspect by most of the
populace. The idea of well-being originates from the principle of
balance; in relation to a human being a harmonious cohesion or union
of spirit, mind and body. This allows a state of health to exist
whereas imbalance and chaos create illness.
used as a talisman to counteract possible negative or demonic
influences, it is particularly evident during ceremonial occasions
such as weddings (the union of male and female principles) and at
origin of the swastika has become a source of speculation for
researchers over time. Mentioned in the Vedas, the Upanishads and the
Mahabharata, the symbol has its origin with the Vedic Aryans, its
meaning having been clearly defined by the Nagas or Vedic Initiates.
One Naga king was named Swastika. The serpent and the swastika are
siblings; the serpent as the energizing creative force in the
Universe, the swastika as that force in motion. Both are fundamental
aspects of Vedic cosmology. Ananta Sesha, the cosmic serpent,
symbolic of timeless eternity, displays the swastika on its
symbol reflects and distills the wisdom of its original architects;
those who understood that the forces of attraction and repulsion form
the underlying substance in the creative scenario and apply to every
facet of life from tiny atom to distant star.