The importance of history is the reason why it was introduced into the school curriculum. In the past, the major means of passing down information was through oral tradition. The problem with that medium is that as information moves from one person to another, it tends to get distorted. The recent negative emotions that come with the display of the swastika further lay emphasis on the need to preserve its history.
Today, the swastika symbol means more than one thing. Depending on the region of the world where you reside you might hear a different version of what the swastika means. Recently, it was on the news that a group of Indian scientists led by IIT professors had traced the origin of the swastika back nearly 11,000 years.
This recent discovery shows that Indian civilization might be older than we might have known through history.
So, what do we know about the swastika and how will that knowledge help to dispel the negativism around the use of the symbol today?
The History Of The Swastika As We Know It
The use of the swastika symbol dates back to more than 5,000 years before Adolf Hitler hijacked it for his National Socialist Party. The word itself is a derivative from Sanskrit word svastika which translates as “good fortune”, “well-being” or “good existence”. Different countries have named the swastika symbol differently, such as manji (Japan), wan (China), hekenkreuz (Germany), tetraskelion or tetra gammadion (Greece) and fylfot (England). The symbol is a cross with the tips bent at a right angle in a clockwise direction.
The symbol appears to have been used first by Neolithic Eurasia to represent the movement of the sun in the sky. It soon became a sacred symbol for Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. Even today, it can be found in temples and other public places in India.
Unlike what is widely known, Adolf Hitler was not the first to use the swastika in Germany. After WWI a good number of nationalist movements had adopted the swastika. At that time, the symbol was associated with a state that was considered as racially pure. Though different cultures at different times have used the swastika symbol, the meaning has remained the same throughout many eras.
One Act Erased The Historical Meaning Of The Swastika
From what we have observed from history, there was never a time at which swastika had a negative meaning to it up until it was adopted by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi party. ‘pThat singular act changed the meaning of the symbol forever. Hitler used the symbol in a white circle on a red background to promote his National Socialist Party. His intention was to draw attention to the party -and he did succeed. The rest of the story leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.
The swastika has become the symbol of Nazi racial ideology that wanted to eliminate Jews and other races it deemed inferior. Today, the symbol has been banned from public display in several regions of the world. Walking around with a cloth branded with the symbol will raise questions. The swastika has become a symbol of hatred.
Is There Any Hope To Reclaim The Swastika Symbol?
There were many elements to the Nazi propaganda but the swastika symbol is undoubtedly the most iconic. Sadly, as the younger generations have grown, this image of the swastika is what has been handed down. The Nazi movement, which is barely a century old, erased the history of the swastika that dates back 5,000 years.
If the true meaning of the swastika is to be restored, it is important that the history of the symbol be propagated.