By Promod Puri
Despite being stigmatized as Nazi emblem of anti-Semitic, hate and violence, Swastika, the world’s most recognized sign, represents an auspicious and sacred symbol in Hinduism.
Swastika is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘svastika’ which simply means ‘lucky’. The geometric pattern of Swastika is believed to have its origin over 10,000 years ago in the Indus Valley Civilization. It got worldwide eminence and adoption over the centuries.
Many civilizations from Asia to Europe and even in the American continent adopted Swastika as a simple design relating to martial, religious, business and cultural trends including the belief that it brings good luck, prosperity and all things auspicious.
Swastika has been abandoned now by most societies and nations. For the plain reason that it is aligned with notoriety. It is a fascist symbol of intolerance and violent intimidation. Racists organizations and militant outfits post Swastika signs to signal rampage and terror against minority communities of different cultural and religious backgrounds.
Even with that perception which goes against the secular, liberal and democratic traditions of Hinduism, Swastika still has the same reverence and acceptance in the Hindu faith as has been since antiquity.
Although Swastika does not carry much Hindu philosophical interpretations, it does bring spiritual inspiration. It is believed to represent creator Brahma. Its four arms exhibit “Purusartha” which is an important doctrine of Hinduism. Purusartha advocates four co-related facets of life. These are dharma, artha, kama and moksha.
Dharma seeks conscious conduct of life on moral values. Artha means economic liberty. Kama emphasizes pleasure and enjoyment in life. And moksha denotes seeking mukti or freedom from the worldly web to seek oneness with the Supreme-being. Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs And Traditions.
Besides its spiritual values Swastika in Hinduism is more popular as a ritualistic identity mark in the performance of religious rites symbolizing devotion and divinity. Its use in the Hindu religious or ceremonial events is at the discretion of performing priests. As such Swastika is a ritualistic symbol.
Using Swastika in whatever formation is not at all mandatory in Hindu rites. The choice is made through regional customs and traditions.
As far as Hindu symbolic representation is concerned Swastika does not conflict with Om. It is a ritualistic tool with option to use or not to use. Swastika does not produce sound. Whereas Om does, and it resonates as the primordial sound introduced in this universe and perhaps in the whole celestial world.
In the ritualistic traditions of Hinduism, Swastika can not be abandoned simply because it has gathered connotations of hatred and intolerance in the Western world. Hinduism sticks to its centuries-old tradition of reverence to Swastika as a symbol of auspiciousness and fortune.