Swastika versus the Hakenkreuz


Saturday, July 30th, 2022,
9 AM PST  / 12 NOON EST / 09:30 PM IST

The Swastika and its equivalents have been used for thousands of years and old immense sacred significance for Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Native Americans, and many other cultures, always in a positive sense. In Sanskrit, the word swastika is a combination of ‘su’ (meaning ‘good’) and ‘asti’ (meaning ‘to exist’) — often translated as ‘all is well.’ Swastika is thus understood to be a symbol of auspiciousness and good fortune, with the word swasti occurring frequently in the Vedas as well as classical literature.

Though Hitler and the Nazi’s always called their symbol the hakenkreuz (meaning ‘hooked cross)’, faulty translations of Adolf Hilter’s “Mein Kampf” into English substituted swastika for hakenkreuz, thereby popularizing the notion of a “Nazi swastika”. Incidents of Neo-Nazi emblems being graffitied outside Jewish homes and synagogues, often accompanied by horrific acts of violence by hate groups have seen an alarming increase in recent years. Hindus and Sikhs have also been targets of Neo-Nazis and those who support Nazi ideology.

Yet, the important work of fighting bigotry and racism must not inadvertently stoke resentment against other religious minorities. This is the Hindu community’s concern about including the Swastika as a hate symbol without proper context. Hitler’s Hakenkreuz needs to be condemned, along with the racist Aryan theory (taught in schools even today) and the resulting genocide and destruction. At the same time, there are real life consequences to the words being conflated, so world needs to appreciate and respect that the Swastika has nothing to do with the Hakenkreuz and thus must not wrongfully associate the two.

In this webinar, we will provide an update on the Swastika versus Hakenkreuz issue.