The Swastika, the symbol of Nazi Germany, actually means a lucky charm or a symbol of well-being for most of us, when literally translated from its Sanskrit root, comprising su meaning ‘good’ and asti meaning ‘to be’. In other words, well-being. One of the oldest symbols made by humans, it dates back some 6,000 years to rock and cave paintings. Scholars generally agree it originated in India.

It has also meant a symbol of good luck, prosperity and all things auspicious for other ancient cultures, including the Vikings and Greeks, besides Hindus, Buddhists and Jains. According to astrologer Sunita Chabra, the right-handed Swastika brings prosperity, offers a shield against the four elements and signifies the four dharmas. The left-handed anti-clockwise suavastika is destructive.

Hinduism: A religious symbol for Hindus, the Swastika was first mentioned in the Vedas. It symbolises many things — luck, Surya (the sun) and Brahma, the creator. It is seen as a power symbol and is also the emblem of Ganesha, the god of good luck. In both Hinduism and Jainism, the Swastika is used to mark the opening pages of account books, doors and thresholds.

Buddhism: It represents resignation. Usually found in the images of Buddha on his chest, palms, soles of feet, it originally symbolised the footsteps of the Buddha.

Jainism: The Swastika delineates Jainism’s seventh saint and the four arms placed clockwise also stand for the four
possible places of rebirth: the animal or plant world, hell, earth, or the spirit world.

The Nazi connection: According to Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, the Swastika in the Nazi flag symbolised “the mission of the
struggle for the victory of the Aryan man, and, by the same token, the victory of the idea of creative work, which always has been and always will be anti-Semitic.” Thus, it soon became a symbol of hate, violence and death. In later years, the right-handed clockwise Nazi Swastika was tilted to a 45 degree angle.

The Swastika was also the first Christian symbol and early Christians adopted it to represent Christ, calling it a disguised cross. In the early 20th century Rudyard Kipling used it as his coat-of-arms and American pilots put it on planes during World War I.