The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) recently reported that several American states have received increasing pressure to falsely define the swastika as a symbol of hate and criminalize its display. The state of Maryland introduced a bill (House Bill 418) that would define the swastika as a symbol of hate and would ban its display on school grounds, including on clothing, book bags, folders, and similar items.
In Sanskrit, the word swastika is a combination of su (meaning good) and asti (meaning to exist) Popularly, this gets translated as ‘all is well.’ The swastika is thus understood to be a symbol of auspiciousness and good fortune, and is regularly donned on Hindu homes, businesses, printed materials, cars, temples, and ashrams; particularly during Diwali.
Since the rise of the Third Reich of Nazi Germany, the swastika has been deemed as a symbol of hate and sectarianism. This was due to the Nazis calling their emblem hazenkreuz, which was incorrectly translated to the Sanskrit word “swastika” rather than “hooked cross’ in English translations of Mein Kampf.
The HAF is campaigning to ensure that the Swastika remains a symbol of auspiciousness for many Hindus. Referencing the second Hindu-Jewish Leadership Summit in 2018, they present the resolution that formally recognized the long positive history of the swastika. “The Swastika is an ancient and greatly auspicious symbol of the Hindu tradition. It is inscribed on Hindu temples, ritual altars, entrances, and even account books. A distorted version of this sacred symbol was misappropriated by the Third Reich in Germany and abused as an emblem under which heinous crimes were perpetrated against humanity, particularly the Jewish people. The participants recognize that this symbol is, and has been sacred to Hindus for millennia, long before its misappropriation.”
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