Thursday, January 18, 2007

Swastika | spiritual symbology and banning issue

European Union is planning to ban the symbol of Swastika, infamously used by the Nazi. But hindus are opposing the move because despite its being adopted as symbol of Nazism, it is one of the most ancient and sacred symbol in Dharmic religion such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Read details news on the ban and protest from Hindus here via googlenews.

The swastika is an equilateral cross with its arms bent at right angles, facing to the right. The Hindu version is often decorated with a dot in each quadrant. Archaeological evidence of swastika shaped ornaments goes back to the Neolithic.

In the 20th century, the Swastika was used in the flag of Nazi Germany and has become a controversial symbol as a consequence. In the Western world, it is thus most widely known and used as a symbol of Nazism and this political association has partly eclipsed its historical status.

Reclaim the Swastika is a website that is opposing the ban of Swastika as a symbol. the site is dedicated to "reclaiming the swastika" - to sharing information that reveals its long and varied history and the spiritually deep meaning that underlies it.

Symbology The swastika is an ancient symbol present in numerous and diverse cultures around the world, including the cultures of India, Asia, the Middle East, Europe and North America. In India, the swastika has thousands of years of history and still retains today its place of pre-eminence among the sub-continent's spiritual symbols.

The swastika has been seen as a symbol for good luck by people in both ancient and modern times. A closer look at the etymology of this Sanskrit word, however, reveals a deeper meaning. When the Sanskrit scholar and spiritual teacher, P.R. Sarkar visited Germany in 1979 he gave the following interpretation of the word:
* su - means "good"
* asti - means "to be, to exist"
* ik - means "what is in existence, and will continue to exist"
* a - denotes feminine gender

So "Swastika" means a 'good existence' that is not to be destroyed and that remains in a good condition. In the context of the cultural origins of the swastika, this means the victory of dharma - the fundamental spiritual nature of humanity. Apart from Hinduism, Buddhism or Jainism; Swastika has also been used in Abrahamic religions as well. Wikipedia article give the details about Religious and Mythological use.

Banning issue and opposition Hindus opposing EU swastika ban (via bbcnews) Hindus in Europe have joined forces against a German proposal to ban the display of the swastika across the European Union.

Ramesh Kallidai of the Hindu Forum of Britain said the swastika had been a symbol of peace for thousands of years before the Nazis adopted it. He said a ban on the symbol would discriminate against Hindus. Germany, holder of the EU presidency, wants to make Holocaust denial and the display of Nazi symbols a crime.

"The swastika has been around for 5,000 years as a symbol of peace," he said. "This is exactly the opposite of how it was used by Hitler."

He said that while the Nazi implications of the symbol should be condemned, people should respect the Hindu use of the swastika. "Just because Hitler misused the symbol, abused it and used it to propagate a reign of terror and racism and discrimination, it does not mean that its peaceful use should be banned." The group said banning the swastika was equivalent to banning the cross simply because the Ku Klux Klan had used burning crosses.

The swastika is already banned in Germany.

Personal Opinion i personally feel banning the symbol is not a proper gesture when its already an ancient symbol of a particular religious group. Just because someone or some party used it as their symbol doesn't make that negative impression universal. If Neo-Nazi movement or Nazi influence is the prime concern, there are many more ways to tackle that (legally and politically), than just attacking a religiously sacred symbol. i find it an over-reaction specially in this 21st century.

References:
Details about Swastika via Wikipedia
Legend of Swastika
Call for Europewide Swastika ban via bbcnews
Reclaim the Swastika
News of Swastika Ban
Religious Symbolism [audio] - Beyond Belief BBC Radio 4, 26/09/05 Pin It Now!

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