The Rize of the Swatzika

When first seeing this somewhat controversial image, dozens upon dozens of thoughts may flood the mind but are we really looking at? The Swastika as we may know it in Western society has in fact been pulled very far from its original context. Swastika in its native tongue, Sanskrit, is pronounced ?swastika? and which translates best to ?wellbeing, good fortune and luck.? This symbol specifically in the clockwise design is considered auspicious. So now one may ask, what is the swastika? Where did it come from and how is our understanding of this image vastly different from its meaning within its original culture? This paper will begin by addressing these questions while critiquing the symbol itself in a religious context as well as its significance in contemporary American culture. It will then provide a provisional definition of religion according to ?The Primer? in order to further analyze the swastika in the image as it relates to the myths and rituals within Hinduism and how this image is can be portrayed from a secular standpoint.

To understand this image one must first have a firm understanding of the religion of Hinduism and then can apply this symbol in proper context. The Primer defines a religion as belief system or set of beliefs that answers questions of ultimate concern often worshipping or idolizing a figure as an ultimate power and carries with its community a variety of myths, rituals and doctrines. We are offered three main definitions for religion; substantive, functional and formal.2 this symbol in particular falls best into the category of formal religion, as it is used in rituals and is seen as a part of many Hindu myths. It is often painted on the top of a doorway or at the foot of a doorway where one leaves a metaphoric offering before entering a room or home. The swastika in Hinduism may serve as many different meanings and charms but in this particular image, drawn in read indoor outside the front door, is meant to serve as an ideograph, blessing the home with good luck and the family within the home prosperity and good health. The curved branches of the emblem on the right side signify the rays of sunlight rotating from North to East, South to West. This is considered ?precious for the existence of life.?3 The left side of the swastika is called ?suavastika,? which can also be the left-handed version on the swastika, symbolizes the Goddess Kali. In Hinduism, the swastika is also associated with the deity, Ganesh, as commonly depicted sitting on a Lotus flower that resides on a bed of swastikas. In this image it is drawn on the doorstep of the home that is commonly seen between two feet (implied in the image), which is a frequented component of the rituals of Puja the holiday Diwali.4 in Puja; this is showing respect or an offering to the deities. The red sindoor representing blood, which provides life. On the left and right sides of the swastika are ?OM? symbols. The ?OM? represents the all-encompassing and ?AUM? refers to ?divine energy? or Hindu trinity, Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu. Brahma is most closely known as the creator. Shiva is known as the destroyer and Vishnu being the preserver.

Throughout history, the swastika has appeared in almost every region and country from Greece to Paraguay, from the Native Americans to a countless African tribes, all with slight variations of the original skeleton. In Jainism, the monogram is interchangeably used to represent ?Moksha? or the ?Cosmic Giant? and the circling appearance displays the ?relationship of Moksha to the cycles of history and rebirth.?6 On a global scale, the swastika has evolved accordingly to each region but perhaps the most dominating use of the symbol that mankind has ever seen would be Nazi Germanys use of the swastika as a representation of Aryan ancestry racial superiority and as the official insignia of the Third Reich. In a Western context, if one was to paint this symbol in their doorway, it would an understatement that it would cause neighborhood controversy. Although throughout history the swastika has been manipulated, turned, inverted and had slight alterations made to it in different regions of the world, the SS use of the symbol has made a lasting global impact during the war and as it progressed the emblems origins as an auspicious Hindu charm