A picture

The Religions of Man

The Religions of Man

I received an email the other day from Peter Reynosa, sending me a picture of his painting. The painting comprises of a swastika made up of religious symbols.

I have previously written about the Swastika as a symbol of dharmic religions. This picture is a reminder that the swastika was used by many religions through the whole world. A form of Swastika even appeared in Jewish Kabbalistic texts.

The Left-Hand Swastika

Another interesting thing about this picture is that it is of a left-facing swastika. The left-facing and right-facing swastikas are  often seen as interchangeable, and both are auspicious holy symbols, representing good fortune. However the right-hand swastika has the esoteric meaning of “evolution” (Pravritti) in the sense of spiritual evolution or the evolution of the universe. This represents looking out and seeing God (parashiva) in all things, acting in the world. It also represents the creation phase of the cycles of the universe.

The left-hand swastika has the esoteric meaning of “involution” (Nivritti) in the sense of spiritual involution, or the involution of the universe. This represents looking inward through meditation and seeing God within (paramatman) through meditation or by paring away all that is unnecessary. It also represents the distruction phase of the cycles of the universe – which is again a pruning back until nothing but God is left. In our Saiva Siddhanta school we see this as the Mahapralaya, which again is a paring back of the Universe until nothing but Shiva is left.

My Personal Perception

As a Westerner when I first saw the Swastika in Hindu temples it was almost a shock. The cultural conditioning of it being a negative symbol was so strong, that even tough I knew the meaning of the symbol the Nazi associations came through.

That hasn’t happened for a long time. Recently I was a film with Nazi’s in their Hugo Boss uniforms, swastika flags, and arm bands. I realised that my outlook has now changed completely, the first instinct on seeing the swastika was delight, like seeing the image of Ganesh. Only when concious thought kicked in  did I realise that this was a dreadful misuse of the symbol by a terrible regime. This is the way that everyone should view the swastika and its use by the Nazi regime, but it probably won’t be reclaimed totally for several generations.


I tried to test my knowledge by listing the religions row-by-row. These are the ones I know:

Islam, ?, Christianity, Judaism
Taoism, ?
Buddhism, Shinto, ?, Sikhism, Wicca?
Jainism, Hinduism,
Bahai?, Ancient Egyptian, ?, Neo-paganism?

Can anyone fill in the unknowns and confirm the not-sures?

11 responses to “A picture

  1. I think you’re right about Wicca and I think the flame in the cup might be for Zoroastrianism. Some of these symbols I’ve not ever seen before.

  2. Row 1 – Image 2 – Japanese, means water, at least that’s what it looks like

    Row 2 – Image 2 – looks like the Adar, sacred fire of Zoroastrians. At first I thought it was the flaming chalice of the Unitarian Church but the chalice is shaped different.

    Row 3 – Image 5 – Wiccan/Pagan symbol for triple moon

    Row 5 – Image 3 – Circle is the ancient symbol for unity, infinity. It also represents the element fire.

  3. [Tandava: Originally sent as an email by the artist, permission given to post as a comment]
    Thank you for putting up the swastika. And you described it perfectly as a reminder how the swastika was used by many religions around the world. And here is what the symbols mean. The crescent moon and star stand for Islam, the ideogram next to it is the Chinese ideogram for water which is the source of life and this stands for Confucianism, the cross for Christianity, the star of David for Judaism, the yin and yang symbol for Taoism, the fire for the eternal flame of Zoroastrianism, the wheel of life stands for Buddhism, the torii (the gate in front of a Shinto temple stands for Shintoism, the sun in the middle stands for primitivism found in many cultures from Native Americans to ancient Europeans, the symbols with two swords and a circle stands for Sikhism, the moon waxing, waning, and full stands for the triple goddess sometimes associated with Wicca, and the hand is the Jain hand (it has words in it and is more complex than what I did but I could not add in the details but a Jain would recognize it, and the Om of Hinduism, the nine pointed star stands for the Bahai Faith, the ankh stands for the eternal life that awaits us, and the circle comes from Japanese calligraphy and it stands for Zen Buddhism (it is called the Enso and it is usually painted roughly and has a tiny imperfect break in it so my version shows my lack of skill), and then the pentagram stands for paganism or neo-paganism.

  4. Lord Surya, sitting beautifully right in the middle ❤

  5. Hi how do I get hold of Peter I would like to ask him for permission to use this image in our newsletter “Daily Sadhana”

  6. There is a gate with the Shatkona enclosing the swastika on one of the mainroads of My Town-City. One of these days I must stop to get a Photo of it.!

  7. Hello western Hindu..
    I am not a regular religious Hindu but I am hindu who is lot concerned with condition hindus around the world it will be great help if you add my blogs listed below to your panel so that more and more guys can follow them
    and my site which is still under construction and I am just adding idea’s
    and i hope to see your mail whenever there is any news of hindus in your zone
    thanks and regards
    just a hindu.

  8. Nazis used the swastika symbol to represent crossed “S” letters for their “socialism” (Dr. Rex Curry, the acclaimed historian, made many discoveries, and this was one of his greatest discoveries).

    Nazis did not call themselves “Nazis” (they called themselves “socialists”), and they did not call their symbol a “swastika” (they called it a Hakenkreuz, or hooked cross).

    It is sad that the misnomer “swastika” was applied to the German socialist symbol (the “Hakenkreuz” or hooked cross) to rehabilitate socialism and also to distance the Christian Cross, all by slandering a foreign symbol (the swastika) instead. People who actually want to rehabilitate the “swastika” will explain the above in order to distinguish the “swastika” from the “Hakenkreuz.” Most people who read this will continue to slander the foreign symbol and word (swastika), as if they too desire to rehabilitate “socialism,” to promote/protect the Christian cross.

    In that sense, Hitler did not damage the swastika, as he did not call his symbol a swastika. Other people gave Hitler’s symbol that name in order to damage Hinduism, and cover-up for the cross and socialism.

    The misnomer “swastika” was applied (and continues to be applied) to cover up Nazism’s origin in American Christian Socialism, via Francis Bellamy (author of the “Pledge of Allegiance” -the origin of the Nazi salute and Nazi behavior) and his cousin Edward Bellamy (author of “Looking Backward” -the origin of the National Socialist movement) – see the work of the historian Dr. Rex Curry.

    German socialists used their symbol to represent crossed “S” letters for “socialism” (the name of their group and what they called themselves) and that is why it was turned 45 degrees from the horizontal and always pointed in the “S” letter direction. It was similar to other symbols of German socialism (i.e. the SS symbol is two “S” letters for “Schutzstaffel”; the VW is a “V” and a “W” for “Volkswagen”; the SA symbol is an “S” and an “A” for “Sturmabteilung”; and the NSV symbol is an “N,” an “S,” and a “V,” for “NationalsozialistischeVolkswohlfahrt”) – again, see Dr. Curry’s work.

    In the book “Swastika the earliest known symbol and its migrations” by Thomas Wilson (published in 1894 at page 771) Professor Max Muller cautioned against the use of the term “swastika” and said “I do not like the use of the word svastika outside of India. It is a word of Indian origin and has its history and definite meaning in India. * * * The occurrence of such crosses in different parts of the world may or may not point to a common origin, but if they are once called Svastika the vulgus profanum will at once jump to the conclusion that they all come from India, and it will take some time to weed out such prejudice.” Muller’s prediction was amazingly accurate, and it is amusing that he labeled so many people in the world today as “vulgus profanum.”

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