Meaning of the Swastika in Buddhism and Hinduism

The word “swastika” is derived from the Sanskrit svastika – “su” (“good” or “auspicious”) united with “asti” (“it is”), along with the diminutive suffix “ka.” The swastika literally means, “It is good” or”all is well”. The swastika is a cross with four arms of equal length, with the ends of each arm bent at a right angle. It is found worldwide in the art of the Egyptians, Romans, Greeks, Celts, Native Americans, and Persians. It is also related with Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and is used in the flag of the Nazi Party. People use swastika as a charm to bring good fortune.

Meaning of swastika in Hinduism

It is believed that the word appeared for the first time Harivamsha Puranaand is noted to be absent in the Vedic Sanskrit. The word is found to be used, both in Ramayana and Mahabharata, but with a different meaning. Hindus consider the swastika as a symbol of auspiciousness, prosperity, and good fortune and use it to mark the opening pages of account books, pooja, doors, offerings, and thresholds. It is believed to have the power to ward off misfortune and negative forces from its surroundings.

The swastika is considered as Lord Ganesha, by some sects of Hindu people, and is worshiped to bring in good luck or fortune. Some people believe that the swastika’s cross represent God and creation. They consider the four bent arms stand for the four human aims (purushartha) – righteousness (dharma), wealth (artha), love (kama), and liberation, (moksha). It is a persuasive emblem of Sanatana Dharma (the eternal truth).  Swastika also represents the world wheel, where the eternal life keeps on changing from one point to another, around the fixed center, God.

In Hinduism, the right-hand (clockwise) swastika is a one of the 108 symbols of the sun and the god Vishnu, while the left-hand (counterclockwise) swastika represents night, Goddess Kali, and magic. It is also regarded as a symbol of the muladhara chakra, the center of consciousness at the base of the spine.

Meaning of swastika in Buddhism

Just like the Hindus, the Buddhist also used the swastika to mark the beginning of Buddhist texts as they consider it as a symbol of universal harmony, prosperity, plurality, good luck, abundance, dharma, fertility, long life, and eternity. In different parts of the world, the swastika is given a different meaning by the Buddhist. For instance, In Tibet, the swastika was a graphical representation of eternity. There are 65 auspicious symbols on the footprint of the Buddha and the swastika is considered as the first one. You can also find the swastika symbol imprinted on the body, palms, chest, or feet of Buddha. It is used to mark the beginning of sacred texts or as a clothing decoration. The Buddhist in India, consider swastika as “The Seal on Buddha’s Heart.”

From ancient time, Swastika is considered as noble, which is prominent in most cultures throughout history. It is also the most liked symbol of Aryans.

The Life of a Buddhist Monk

Buddhist monk statue holding alms bowl

Click to view the Buddhist monk statue holding alms bowl

In the Far East, it is considered a high honor for one to leave their family in order to delve deeper in ones Buddhist practice.  This may seem strange to westerners to think of valuing ones children to leave home in order to become a practicing monk.  But in Asia, delving one’s life completely into Buddhist practices is very highly regarded.  These monks or nuns devote their lives to their faith and helping others in their personal quests.  They live very simple and pure lives with others of similar values.  Within the monasteries, although they are there to serve and practice, they are not completely torn from their previous lives and families.  They are allowed to venture back in the case of illness or death of a family member.  Otherwise their lives are spent in simple meditation and practice.

Within a monastery, the typical life of a monk is one of devote prayer and meditation within the temple.  They have specific tasks allotted to them around the monetary so that they may collectively take part in upkeep and daily living.  Everyone works with kindness and respect for one another.  Some may teach outside the monastery in order to spread the Dharma to devotees.  They are very much devoted to not only personal development, but the development of others.  Monks need to conduct themselves in the up most regard, living with integrity and deep-rooted principles.

Most of the time monks have very few possessions.  A few simple robes and an offering bowl.  Most shave their heads in order to shed the desire for outward beauty focusing solely on their internal beauty.  Although they have an offering bowl, they rely on the contribution of others.  They do not beg for food by take what is given to them in humble graciousness.  The robes are typically simple and made of cotton with no adornments.

In every way the life of a monk is one of simple devotion and intrigue.  This is the way that the Buddha lived his on his path to enlightenment and the way he believes will produce the most uncluttered way to enlightenment.  With spirituality being of the up most calling, Buddhist across Asia strive to live a life of such simplicity.

The Five Precepts of the Buddha

As with all the major religions, Buddhism provides some basic principles to follow in ones everyday living.  These principles need not solely apply to practicing Buddhists, but can be beneficial for every living being to keep in mind as they interact with the world.  After enlightenment, the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama,  wrote out some basic rules to be followed in daily practice which he called “The Five Precepts”.  The five precepts are as follows:

1)      No Killing- One must always have a divine respect for every living being.  Life in all its forms is something to be cherished and respected.  As the Buddha said:

“Life is dear to all beings.  They have the right to live the same way as we do.”

This even applies to those pesky mosquitoes that may spoil our outdoor activities.  Even the smallest being has a right to life.

2)      No Stealing- One must live their live with superior integrity with respect for every living beings property.  We would not want others to steal from us, so following the same principle we should not take from others what is not our own.

3)      No Sexual Misconduct- We must try to live with a pure intentioned nature, valuing our bodies and those of others with the utmost care and respect.  Our bodies are our temples and a gift from our ancestors.  Virtue is something to be cherished.

4)      No lying- We must always speak with right speech, as the noble eightfold truths hold.  This means speaking with honesty without blemishing the truth.  The Buddha believed if we all spoke only the honest truth, the world would be much more peaceful.  This even applies to correcting others when a misunderstanding may occur.

5)      No Intoxicants- The Buddha held dearly living a life of pure mind, body, and soul.  Subjecting oneself to intoxicants would obviously taint both our minds and bodies, therefore we must try not to put anything into our bodies that may hinder us.

View all our Buddha Statues

For practicing Buddhists, following the precepts to the tee can sometimes be a difficult task.  We must learn to put our best intentions forward and give them our best effort.  The precepts are not supposed to be easy, but challenge us in our paths to enlightenment.  For many this is a lifelong struggle, and learning experience.  The purpose of the precepts is not to enforce perfect behavior, but to learn from our mistakes and put forth our best effort to follow his teachings.  In doing so, we can grow ever closer to our most awakened selves.

Lessons from Zen Buddhism

“You don’t preach Zen. Neither do you learn it.”
~Zen Saying~

Large Meditating Japanese Garden Buddha Statue

Meditating Japanese Garden Buddha Statue

Zen Buddhism is a philosophy emphasizing that enlightenment and Nirvana are reached through deep meditation, intuition and spiritual contemplation, rather than ritual worship or study of scriptures. This new version of Buddhism developed into two schools of thought. One Zen belief is that attaining enlightenment is a gradual process, with the help of daily meditation and spiritual devotion. The other Zen notion is that enlightenment comes in an instant; a sudden understanding of one’s existing inner-Buddha. The intrinsic concept of Zen Buddhism is that everyone takes their own individual path to reach spiritual bliss and contentment.
Throughout history, many Zen-masters have emerged to teach students through storytelling with anecdotes based on interpretations of Buddhist perspective. These stories emphasize a spiritual awakening and push the mind into new ways of thinking and reflecting on life. Many Zen stories are inter-woven with Buddhist philosophies, such as the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path.

The Four Noble Truths:

  • Life means suffering
  • The origin of suffering is attachment
  • The end of suffering is attainable
  • There is a path to end suffering

The Eightfold Path:

  • Right View
  • Right Intention
  • Right Speech
  • Right Action
  • Right Livelihood
  • Right Effort
  • Right Mindfulness
  • Right Concentration

Lotus Sculpture would like to share a collection of short stories, mostly Zen and Taoist tales, to awaken the spirit and bring peace of mind. The beauty of the simplicity behind the messages can be interpreted in many ways – the lessons you take from them are a reflection of who you are.

“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.” –The ~Buddha~

Zen Story –Sounds of Silence
Four monks decided to meditate silently without speaking for two weeks. By nightfall on the first day, the candle began to flicker and then went out. The first monk said, “Oh, no! The candle is out.” The second monk said, “Aren’t we not suppose to talk?” The third monk said, “Why must you two break the silence?” The fourth monk laughed and said, “Ha! I’m the only one who didn’t speak.”
“To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.” –Taoist Saying

Zen Story –It Will Pass
A Student went to his meditation teacher and said, “My meditation is horrible! I feel so distracted, or my legs ache, or I’m constantly falling asleep. It’s just horrible!”
“It will pass,” the teacher said matter-of-factly.
A week later, the student came back to his teacher. “My meditation is wonderful! I feel so aware, so peaceful, so alive! It’s just so wonderful!”
“It will pass,” the teacher said matter-of-factly.
”Do not follow the ideas of others, but learn to listen to the voice within yourself.” –Zen Master Dogen

Becoming In Touch with Ones Chakras Through Meditation

According to yogic traditions of both Buddhism and Hinduism, chakras are believed to be energy centers within the body.  Each of the chakras corresponds to both an important part of our physical body as well as what is referred to as our ‘subtle body’ or spiritual body containing the universal force.  Rooted in the Sanskrit word for ‘wheel’, the chakras are believed to be in an endless rotation of Shakti or the sacred force.

7 Chakras of the Human Body

Located along a central channel, the chakras are spaced intermittently from the crown of the head to the base of the spine in correspondence with key areas of our bodies.  Although the total number of chakras varies from teacher to teacher, many westerners define 7 major chakras: the root, the belly, solar plexus, heart, throat, third eye, and ultimately crown.  Each of these must remain healthy in order for good energy flow.

It is believed that if the chakras are not in balance with one another or are blocked, the universal force running between them will be slowed leaving one feeling unwoven, tired, stressed, and in cases susceptible to disease.  A flowing balance between the chakras is vital to feeling an overall sense of health and well being.

Meditation can be used both to diagnose the health of our chakras as well as to heal and achieve balance within them.   If you are currently feeling sluggish, tense, overwhelmed, or just plain overworked, your vital energies may be unbalanced.  Try bringing meditation into your life as a healing power.  There are many exercises and meditative techniques to help you once again achieve balance. Practice meditating at least once a day to promote relaxation.  Start with small increments and work your way up in time as you become more skilled at keeping focus.