The swastika in Buddhism and other religions; Asian faiths try to save the symbol corrupted by Hitler

The equilateral cross with its legs bent at right angles is a millennia-old sacred symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism that represents peace and good fortune, and was also used widely by Indigenous people worldwide in a similar vein.

The word “swastika” has Sanskrit roots and means “the mark of well being.” It has been used in prayers of the Rig Veda, the oldest of Hindu scriptures. In Buddhism, the symbol is known as “manji” and signifies the Buddha’s footsteps. It is used to mark the location of Buddhist temples. In China it’s called Wàn, and denotes the universe or the manifestation and creativity of God. The swastika is carved into the Jains’ emblem representing the four types of birth an embodied soul might attain until it is eventually liberated from the cycle of birth and death. In the Zoroastrian faith, it represents the four elements – water, fire, air and earth.

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This is a fairly long article about saving the swastika from associations with Nazi symbolism and legal proscriptions against displaying it. In many Buddhist uses of this symbol today and in the past, it is turned the other way like this:

Years ago I frequented a Buddhist temple in California and was friends with the people who worked in the small book store that also sold Buddhist stuff. A few times customers complained or become upset over seeing a Buddha statue with the symbol as in the image here. Usually, they would calm down after receiving an explanation. I never witnessed those exchanges myself but my friends told me about them. I personally hope the Nazi associations can be wiped away. The swastika is an ancient symbol with deep meaning in many traditions. What if Stalin had used a cross or some other religious symbol. Would we ban them or be upset by them today? ABN

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