The Seal on Buddha's Heart
The swastika is an ancient religious symbol dating back 3000 years. Many historians believe it was initially a fire and sun symbol occurring in Asia and later among some Germanic tribes. Up until the 20th century, it evolved as a highly auspicious talisman, evoking thoughts of reverence, good fortune, and well being. In the Buddhist tradition of India, it is referred to as "The Seal on Buddha's Heart". In Japanese and Chinese Buddhism, a swastika often appears on the chest of past and modern images of Gautama Buddha; however, due to the continued consternation of Western tourists, many modern Asian artists have chosen to eliminate it as one of the 32 signs of a supreme being. The debate as to whether this ancient religious symbol can be restored to its rightful place in history tirelessly continues. How such an auspicious and truly noble symbol came to represent tyrannical oppression and racial genocide is perhaps one of the greatest paradoxes of world history.
Friends of the Swastika
There are various sites on the Internet that claim to be friends of the swastika. Although I sympathize with their research and points of view, I have often sent their webmasters email challenging them to give up the fight, and to find another auspicious symbol to rally around. The swastika, regardless of its various forms and presentations, has in modern times come to be known as a symbol of Nazi Germany and its heinous crimes against humanity despite highly convincing arguments to the contrary from Buddhist and other religious camps. This once auspicious symbol now, and perhaps forever, will represent racism and white supremacy. To think that it could ever be restored as a benevolent charm here in the West is a pipe dream; however, that it persists to surface in Asian artists' iconography, suggests Holocaust sympathizers may not be convincing everyone around the world that it should be forever laid to rest just because it was desecrated by Adolf Hitler and his deranged followers. Yes, the swastika still continues to be an extensively used auspicious sign in Buddhism, Jainism, and Hinduism. Obviously, this controversial symbol does not evoke the same negative connotations in India and Asia as it apparently does for us here in the Western world. Eastern culture is definitely not Western culture, and what exactly makes people in the Western world feel that people in the Eastern world should follow their dictates anyway? Could it be engrained feelings of cultural and racial superiority?
Did you know that in Buddhist tradition the swastika originally symbolized the footsteps of the Buddha? It was also used to mark the beginnings of sacred texts, especially those texts presenting the wise sayings and moral observations of Shakyamuni himself. With the subsequent spreading of Buddhism into Asia, the swastika passed into the iconography of China and Japan where it has been used to denote purity, fertility, abundance, prosperity and long life. To Hindus, the swastika with the arms bent to the left is called the sathio or sauvastika, and symbolizes night, magic, purity, and the destructive goddess Kali. Perhaps this destructive goddess played upon the tormented minds of anti-Semites in Germany, although true hatemongers need very little encouragement from mythical deities. In both Hinduism and Jainism, the swastika or sathio is also used to mark the opening pages of sacred texts. In my fairly recent travels in Korea, I have found the swastika displayed above the entrances to Buddhist temples. Some of the world's most ancient swastikas have been discovered in Persia (Iran), Pakistan and Mesopotamia by previous world travellers. Ancient swastikas have even been found on and in the ruins of ancient Jewish synagogues. When studying the origins and religious uses of the swastika, irony stubbornly persists in playing a paramount role ...
The swastika was most likely an ancient symbol of the Aryans, a race of people who supposedly settled in Iran and Northern India, and who also believed themselves to be of pure or "noble" blood. German racists fervently believed the true German people to be of such noble ancestry, and successfully adopted the symbol as their own. In 1910, the German poet and nationalist, Guido von List, suggested that the swastika be used as a symbol for all anti-racial organizations. German Jews were simply not regarded as being "pure" or "Aryan" by German racists, and when the National Socialist Party was formed in 1919, the once hallowed symbol became its badge and emblem. By 1935, the black swastika on a white circle with a crimson background became the national symbol of Germany. The main difference between the Nazi swastika and the ancient auspicious symbol of various religious cultures, is that the Nazi swastika is at a slant, while the ancient swastika is rested flat. Apparently, this subtle variation in visual presentation is not enough to win over those who would toss the once-holy symbol into the garbage bin of history. What would the historical Buddha say about this? Would he say, that the preservation of the original and intended meaning attached to the symbol is far more important than the preservation of the symbol itself? And if we are to toss the swastika into the garbage bin of history, should we not also consider tossing other desecrated religious symbols into it as well? What about the Christian cross? How many historical atrocities against innocent people have been committed in the name of the Christian church? Has not the Christian cross been used symbolically to persecute non-believers? How far should we go? I mean, did not the German Catholic church aid and abet the rise of the Nazis, and eagerly help to promote Adolf Hitler as the highly-awaited messiah of the German people? Perhaps the Christian cross should be scrapped too! Does this sound absurd to you? I suppose it all comes down to what you have been taught by your wise masters who continue to "lord" it over you. Nothing but the truth will set us free. Sanctify yourself ...
Various notes appended and edited @buddhavision
ALL MEN ARE BROTHERS