In the cultural and religious melting pots of Asian cultures, temples have always represented a tranquil oasis in the midst of an ever-changing world. These houses of worship have always been considered a place of serenity, peace and most importantly of all, love for thy fellow man.
Thus, you can imagine my surprise when I first came across an unmistakable symbol that has long been associated with the fascist Nazi regime – the swastika.
It turns out, that temples across this stunning continent are covered with this notorious symbol. Not only that, they feature prominently in many religious designs to this very day!
How could this be? Is there a meaning to all of this? Well, let’s find out!
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Table of Contents
The History of the Swastika
As shocking and downright confusing as it may seem to the uninitiated, the history of the swastika far predates that of the Nazi party, by 7,000 years in fact.
The swastika is an ancient symbol that has been featured in various cultures around the world for centuries, particularly among Asian societies. Its origins can be traced back to the Indus Valley Civilization in India, where it symbolised good luck and well-being. The word “swastika” itself even means “well-being” or “auspiciousness.”
As such, the symbol has always been a sacred symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. It even succeeded in permeating other distant cultures too. It was even adopted by the ancient Greeks and other European cultures as a decorative motif. Evidence of this fact can be found in some early Christian art and even Native American relics. These cultures also retained the swastika’s original symbolism.
To this day, the symbol is still used to represent good luck, prosperity, and positive energy – a far cry from what many associate it with. It’s for that reason that swastikas continue to be prominently placed across many temples, art pieces and even local homes.
The Nazi Party and the Swastika
It would be fair to safe to say that the swastika’s association with the Nazi Party during the 20th century has led to some negative connotations in many parts of the world.
In the 1920s, the Nazi Party adopted a slightly modified version of the swastika and established it as the prominent emblem of their ideology. They chose this symbol primarily because of the theoretical belief that it was a significant religious symbol of remote German ancestors, namely the Aryan culture which spanned across Europe and Asia.
The Nazis twisted this dubious theory to seamlessly align with their racist beliefs. They hoped the swastika would evoke a sense of ancient Aryan heritage, laying the groundwork for their vision for a racially “pure” and dominant German state.
In this context, the swastika took on a radically different meaning. It became a horrific representation of Aryan supremacy and Nazi ideology, an image that will sadly last for eternity. More so, the symbol became widely associated with the horrific acts committed by the members of the Nazi party during the Second World War.
After the fall of the Nazi regime, many countries banned the public display of the swastika to prevent its use as a symbol of hate and discrimination. Its display is even considered a criminal offence in many countries across the world.
Rehabilitation of the Swastika
Seeing this notorious symbol of hatred scattered across many of Asia’s spiritual homes makes for quite a jarring image. We’re left to wonder whether or not people recognise its darker symbolism.
Naturally, these symbols are unrelated in every ideological and historical way to how it was utilised by the Nazis. However, it’s very difficult not to picture a particular man with a certain moustache when seeing it.
In recent years, there has been an effort to distinguish between the two. Many individuals and organizations are continuously working to educate people about the historical and cultural significance of the symbol in its original context. The hope is to counteract the stigma associated with it.
Could the Swastika Be Revived?
Regardless of what the swastika may have stood for, it shall forever be associated with the absolute worst of humanity. One bigoted individual and his soulless band of war criminals were able to bastardise something that was once so pure and optimistic. It’s a sad reality that cannot be glossed over.
That is not to say that the symbol can no longer be used. Despite its horrific association with the Nazis, it’s important to note that the swastika always had another meaning.
Spiritually speaking, this symbol still has a place in this world. Given the right context, it retains its original meaning and continues to stand as a symbol of hope. With continued education and awareness about its place in our collective heritage, we can respect this harmless symbol as what it was always supposed to be.
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