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.
MISCELLANEOUS – The symbols
I tried to test my knowledge by listing the religions row-by-row. These are the ones I know:
Islam, ?, Christianity, Judaism
Buddhism, Shinto, ?, Sikhism, Wicca?
Bahai?, Ancient Egyptian, ?, Neo-paganism?
Can anyone fill in the unknowns and confirm the not-sures?