What does the Swastika Symbol Represent in Hindu Mythology?

What does the Swastika Symbol Represent in Hindu Mythology?

Deepthi K

The Swastika symbol is a right-facing or clockwise symbol of spirituality and divinity in Hinduism. The word is derived from two Sanskrit terms—su meaning auspicious or good and asti meaning it is. In other words, swastika means “all is well” or “it is good”.

The symbol is represented as a cross with four arms that have the same length. Each arm is bent at the end at a right angle. The swastika is one of the 108 symbols of Lord Vishnu or Surya or Sun God and epitomises good luck and prosperity. However, some Hindus consider the swastika to symbolise Lord Ganesha.

  • The cross in the Swastika symbol is considered to highlight God and his creations. 
  • The midpoint or fixed centre represents Brahman or the supreme God while the four lines signify that the eternal life keeps moving to different points. 

In this sense, Swastika is also termed as the world wheel. Some Hindu texts associate Swastika as the symbol of the muladhara chakra in the human body. This chakra is located at the end of the spine. It is considered to be the centre of consciousness. 

In some scriptures, the limbs or lines coming out of the central point of the Swastika are mentioned to be the core Hindu scriptures or four Vedas, namely, Rig Veda; Yajur Veda; Sama Veda and Atharva Veda. There are also references to the four limbs as the four yugas, four epochs, four directions, or four seasons.

The four limbs epitomise the four aspects of human mind. These four aspects are manas, buddhi, chitta or ahankara and are explained below.

  • Manas – This is the horizontal line to the left of the central point and depicts our inner mind that helps us to make decisions. The upward vertical line starting from the end of the horizontal line is said to epitomise Jnana Yoga.
  • Buddhi – This is the vertical line emerging upright from the central point and represents our intellectual capability to understand what is happening around us and form an impression about the happenings in our mind. The horizontal line at the top starting from the end of the vertical line is said to epitomise Jnana Yoga.
  • Chitta – This is the horizontal line to the right of the central point and symbolises our memory bank that stores our learnings from different experiences. The downward vertical line starting from the end of the horizontal line is said to epitomise Karma Yoga.
  • Ahankara – This is the vertical line emerging downward from the central point and highlights our ego or sense or i-self. The horizontal line at the bottom starting from the end of the vertical line is said to epitomise Raja Yoga.

Some versions of the Swastika symbol additionally have four small bent arms at the ends and a dot inside each of the four sections. The bent line at the top left is said to signify samarpan or surrender while that at the top right highlights dhairya or courage. The bent line at the bottom left signifies vivek or wisdom whereas that at the bottom right represents vishwas or belief.  

The four dots represent the four muktis that are attained by a person after adhering to the other aspects mentioned above. They can be interpreted as outlined below.

The Salokya dot in the top left section indicates going to the same world as that of the deity being worshipped. The Sameepya dot in the top right section refers to being in close proximity to the deity being worshipped. The Sarupya dot in the bottom right section represents taking on a form similar to that of the deity being worshipped. The Sayujya dot in the bottom left section being one with the deity being worshipped.

The Swastika symbol is considered to be a prosperity, auspiciousness and good fortune. It is said that this symbol has the power to keep away negative forces and misfortune from the surroundings. Hence, Hindus use this mark on the first page of their account books and thresholds of their houses. They also hang this symbol on the doors of their pooja rooms. Interestingly, there is another symbol just like the Swastika but is left facing. This is the Sauwastika and represents night or the tantric aspects of Mother Kali.