Author Topic: What is the meaning of this: ?  (Read 10144 times)

kris

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What is the meaning of this: ?
« on: June 30, 2012, 01:23:29 PM »
I have seen this figure a lot, especially in Chinese Buddhism:

?

and I always wanted to know what it mean, but after googling it a bit, I only find the "flipped" version ?. and a lot of the information are written in Chinese..

I wonder if they are the same thing or not..

kris

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Re: What is the meaning of this: ?
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2012, 01:31:31 PM »
I meant to ask this symbol

ratanasutra

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Re: What is the meaning of this: ?
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2012, 02:02:19 PM »
Kris, here is the info from wikipedia, hope it help you.

Swastika

The swastika (Sanskrit: ????????) is an equilateral cross with four arms bent at right angles, in either a right-facing (?) form or its mirrored, left-facing (?) form. Earliest archaeological evidence of swastika-shaped ornaments dates back to the Indus Valley Civilization of Ancient India as well as Classical Antiquity. Swastikas have also been used in various other ancient civilizations around the world. It remains widely used in Indian religions, specifically in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, primarily as a tantric symbol to evoke shakti or the sacred symbol of auspiciousness. The swastika is also a Chinese character used in East Asia representing eternity and Buddhism.

The word "swastika" comes from the Sanskrit svastika - "su" meaning "good," "asti" meaning "to be," and "ka" as a suffix. The swastika literally means "to be good".

Following a brief surge of popularity in Western culture, a rotated swastika was adopted as a symbol of the Nazi Party of Germany in 1920. The Nazis used the swastika as a symbol of an alleged Aryan race. After Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in the 1930s, a right-facing and rotated swastika was incorporated into the Nazi party flag, which was made the state flag of Germany during Nazism. Hence, the swastika has become strongly associated with Nazism and related ideologies such as fascism and white supremacism in the Western world and is now largely stigmatized there. Notably, it has been outlawed in Germany if used as a symbol of Nazism. Many modern political extremists and Neo-Nazi groups such as the Russian National Unity use stylized swastikas or similar symbols.

In the East, however, the swastika continues to be very popular and widely used, and is a religious symbol of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.

Name

The word swastika came from the Sanskrit word svastika, meaning any lucky or auspicious object, and in particular a mark made on persons and things to denote auspiciousness.
It is composed of su- meaning "good, well" and asti "to be". Suasti thus means "well-being." The suffix -ka either forms a diminutive or intensifies the verbal meaning, and suastika might thus be translated literally as "that which is associated with well-being," corresponding to "lucky charm" or "thing that is auspicious."[1] The word in this sense is first used in the Harivamsa. The Ramayana does have the word, but in an unrelated sense of "one who utters words of eulogy".

The most traditional form of the swastika's symbolization in Hinduism is that the symbol represents the purusharthas: dharma (that which makes a human a human), artha (wealth), kama (desire), and moksha (liberation). All four are needed for a full life. However, two (artha and kama) are limited and can give only limited joy. They are the two closed arms of the swastika. The other two are unlimited and are the open arms of the swastika.

The Mahabharata has the word in the sense of "the crossing of the arms or hands on the breast". Both the Mahabharata and the Ramayana also use the word in the sense of "a dish of a particular form" and "a kind of cake". The word does not occur in Vedic Sanskrit. As noted by Monier-Williams in his Sanskrit-English dictionary, according to Alexander Cunningham, its shape represents a monogram formed by interlacing of the letters of the auspicious words su-astí (svasti) written in Ashokan characters.[2]

The Sanskrit term has been in use in English since 1871, replacing gammadion (from Greek ?????????). Alternative historical English spellings of the Sanskrit phonological words with different meanings to include suastika, swastica, and svastica.

Other names for the shape are:
crooked cross, hook cross or angled cross (Hebrew: ??? ???, German: Hakenkreuz).
cross cramponned, ~nnée, or ~nny, in heraldry, as each arm resembles a crampon or angle-iron (German: Winkelmaßkreuz).
fylfot, chiefly in heraldry and architecture. The term is coined in the 19th century based on a misunderstanding of a Renaissance manuscript.
gammadion, tetragammadion (Greek: ??????????????), or cross gammadion (Latin: crux gammata; French: croix gammée), as each arm resembles the Greek letter ? (gamma).
tetraskelion (Greek: ????????????), literally meaning "four legged", especially when composed of four conjoined legs (compare triskelion (Greek: ??????????)).
The Tibetan swastika (?) is known as g-yung drung

The Buddhist sign has been standardized as a Chinese character ? (pinyin: wàn) and as such entered various other East Asian languages such as Japanese where the symbol is called ?? (manji). The swastika is included as part of the Chinese script in the form of the character "?" (pinyin: wàn) and has Unicode encodings U+534D ? (left-facing) and U+5350 ? (right-facing).[3] In Unicode 5.2, four swastika symbols were added to the Tibetan block: U+0FD5 ? (right-facing), U+0FD6 ? (left-facing), U+0FD7 ? (right-facing with dots) and U+0FD8 ? (left-facing with dots).


Historical use in the East

The swastika is a historical sacred symbol both to evoke 'Shakti' in tantric rituals and evoke the gods for blessings in Indian religions. It first appears in the archaeological record here around[18] 2500 BC in the Indus Valley Civilization. Also, the swastika symbol was found on a number of shards in the Khuzestan province of Iran and in inscriptions on pottery in the Neolithic Europe of the 5th millennium B.C. It also appears in the Bronze and Iron Age cultures around the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. In all these cultures the swastika symbol does not appear to occupy any marked position or significance, but appears as just one form of a series of similar symbols of varying complexity. In the Zoroastrian religion of Persia, the swastika was a symbol of the revolving sun, infinity, or continuing creation.[19][20][21] It rose to importance in Buddhism during the Mauryan Empire and in Hinduism with the decline of Buddhism in India during the Gupta Empire. With the spread of Buddhism, the Buddhist swastika reached Tibet and China. The symbol was also introduced to Balinese Hinduism by Hindu kings. The use of the swastika by the Bön faith of Tibet, as well as later syncretic religions, such as Cao Dai of Vietnam and Falun Gong of China, can also be traced to Buddhist influence.

Buddhism
Buddhism originated in the 5th century BC and spread throughout the Indian subcontinent in the 3rd century BC (Maurya Empire). Known as a "yung drung"[22] in ancient Tibet, it was a graphical representation of eternity.[23]

East Asian traditions
The paired swastika symbols are included, at least since the Liao Dynasty, as part of the Chinese writing system (? and ?) and are variant characters for ? or ? (wàn in Mandarin, man in Korean, Cantonese and Japanese, v?n in Vietnamese) meaning "all" or "eternity" (lit. myriad). The swastika marks the beginning of many Buddhist scriptures. In East Asian countries, the left-facing character is often used as symbol for Buddhism and marks the site of a Buddhist temple on maps.
In Chinese and Japanese the swastika is also a homonym of the number 10,000, and is commonly used to represent the whole of Creation, e.g. 'the myriad things' in the Dao De Jing. During the Chinese Tang Dynasty, Empress Wu Zetian (684-704) decreed that the swastika would also be used as an alternative symbol of the Sun.

In Japan, the swastika is called manji. Since the Middle Ages, it has been used as a coat of arms by various Japanese families such as Tsugaru clan, Hachisuka clan or around 60 clans that belong to Tokugawa clan.[24] On Japanese maps, a swastika (left-facing and horizontal) is used to mark the location of a Buddhist temple. The right-facing manji is often referred to as the gyaku manji (??, lit. "reverse manji") or migi manji (??, lit. "right manji"), and can also be called kagi j?ji (literally "hook cross").
In Chinese and Japanese art, the swastika is often found as part of a repeating pattern. One common pattern, called sayagata in Japanese, comprises left- and right-facing swastikas joined by lines.[25] As the negative space between the lines has a distinctive shape, the sayagata pattern is sometimes called the "key fret" motif in English.


Swastika on the doorstep of an apartment in Maharashtra, India.
As a pottery graph of unknown provision and meaning the swastka-like sign is known in Chinese Neolithic culture (2400-2000 BCE, Liu wan ??, Qinghai province).

bambi

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Re: What is the meaning of this: ?
« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2012, 02:41:38 PM »
I remember 5 years back when I printed a swastika symbol for my retreat, I printed the Nazi version. It was so hilarious. Thank goodness, I double checked it and found the correct version (?). Many people are still confused with the sign. It is said that it 1 of the 65 marks that appeared on the footprint of the Buddha and marked the beginning of Buddhist texts. In Buddhism, swastika represents auspiciousness and good fortune.

kris

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Re: What is the meaning of this: ?
« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2012, 02:53:08 PM »
@Ratanasutra, I read that in wikipedia, but was hoping to get more info, especially its relation to Buddhism...

For example, is it just being used as a symbol of "well" or "good"? Or it has special usage in certain rituals/practice? I have heard someone mentioned that the symbol drawn on the floor and sit on the symbol for some protection while doing certain practice?

ratanasutra

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Re: What is the meaning of this: ?
« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2012, 03:32:22 PM »
Quote
For example, is it just being used as a symbol of "well" or "good"? Or it has special usage in certain rituals/practice? I have heard someone mentioned that the symbol drawn on the floor and sit on the symbol for some protection while doing certain practice?

My friend engaged in Dorje Shugden retreat a few years back. And she printed a picture of Swastika symbol on the paper, then took two stalks of Kusha grass and place it on top of the symbol by the longer kusha grass should be placed facing outwards, vertically and a shorter one should be place across.
Then she put this swastika symbol with kusha grass under the cushion where she was sit throughout the retreat. She told me that this swastika symbol with kusha grass and cushion should not be moved until complete the retreat.
And after the retreat she kept it under her bed for protection.

Hope it help.

Jessie Fong

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Re: What is the meaning of this: ?
« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2012, 04:07:14 PM »
In Buddhism, the swastika signifies auspiciousness and good fortune as well as the Buddha's footprints and the Buddha's heart. The swastika is said to contain the whole mind of the Buddha and can often be found imprinted on the chest, feet or palms of Buddha images. It is also the first of the 65 auspicious symbols on the footprint of the Buddha.

The swastika has also often been used to mark the beginning of Buddhist texts. In China and Japan, the Buddhist swastika was seen as a symbol of plurality, eternity, abundance, prosperity and long life.

The swastika is used as an auspicious mark on Buddhist temples and is especially common in Korea. It can often be seen on the decorative borders around paintings, altar cloths and banners. In Tibetan Buddhism, it is also used as a clothing decoration.

http://www.religionfacts.com/buddhism/symbols/swastika.htm


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Did you know that in Buddhist tradition the swastika originally symbolized the footsteps of the Buddha? It was also used to mark the beginnings of sacred texts, especially those texts presenting the wise sayings and moral observations of Shakyamuni himself. With the subsequent spreading of Buddhism into Asia, the swastika passed into the iconography of China and Japan where it has been used to denote purity, fertility, abundance, prosperity and long life.

http://www.porchlight.ca/~blackdog/swastika.htm

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On the chest of the Buddha in many historical paintings and
sculptures, there is a symbol that looks like a swastika.
What is it?
The swastika is the ancient religious symbol of an equilateral cross, with the arms bent at right angles in a clockwise or a counterclockwise direction. Although this symbol is widely known to the Western world as the symbol of the German Nazi party, it stems from many ancient Eastern civilizations, and embodies a completely different meaning.

Until the 20th century, the swastika was the symbol of good fortune, prosperity, and longevity in many Far Eastern countries. The word swastika comes from the Sanskrit svasti, which means good fortune, luck, and well-being. In Buddhism, the swastika represents the turning of the “Dharma wheel”, and thereby promotes goodwill, compassion, and generosity to all sentient beings.

http://www.buddhisttemple.ca/buddhism/buddhismfaq.php
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Those are explanations I managed to extract from some searches.



biggyboy

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Re: What is the meaning of this: ?
« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2012, 04:37:48 PM »
Few years ago when I enquired about the use of the swastika symbol and kursha grass placed under the practitioner’s meditation cushion I was told that when a retreat starts, the meditation cushion is not to be moved at any one time during the period of retreat and is not to be stepped upon or sat by others.  It is understood that swastika represents stability and also denotes symbol of the earth element.  Upon completion of retreat, the swastika symbol with kursha grass is to be placed under the practitioner’s bed for protection.

Positive Change

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Re: What is the meaning of this: ?
« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2012, 05:16:02 PM »
The following is an interesting article I would like to share with all regarding this very recognizable symbol of Buddhism as well as a historical past some of us choose to forget and cannot!

The Seal on Buddha's Heart

The swastika is an ancient religious symbol dating back 3000 years. Many historians believe it was initially a fire and sun symbol occurring in Asia and later among some Germanic tribes. Up until the 20th century, it evolved as a highly auspicious talisman, evoking thoughts of reverence, good fortune, and well being. In the Buddhist tradition of India, it is referred to as "The Seal on Buddha's Heart". In Japanese and Chinese Buddhism, a swastika often appears on the chest of past and modern images of Gautama Buddha; however, due to the continued consternation of Western tourists, many modern Asian artists have chosen to eliminate it as one of the 32 signs of a supreme being. The debate as to whether this ancient religious symbol can be restored to its rightful place in history tirelessly continues. How such an auspicious and truly noble symbol came to represent tyrannical oppression and racial genocide is perhaps one of the greatest paradoxes of world history.


Friends of the Swastika

There are various sites on the Internet that claim to be friends of the swastika. Although I sympathize with their research and points of view, I have often sent their webmasters email challenging them to give up the fight, and to find another auspicious symbol to rally around. The swastika, regardless of its various forms and presentations, has in modern times come to be known as a symbol of Nazi Germany and its heinous crimes against humanity despite highly convincing arguments to the contrary from Buddhist and other religious camps. This once auspicious symbol now, and perhaps forever, will represent racism and white supremacy. To think that it could ever be restored as a benevolent charm here in the West is a pipe dream; however, that it persists to surface in Asian artists' iconography, suggests Holocaust sympathizers may not be convincing everyone around the world that it should be forever laid to rest just because it was desecrated by Adolf Hitler and his deranged followers. Yes, the swastika still continues to be an extensively used auspicious sign in Buddhism, Jainism, and Hinduism. Obviously, this controversial symbol does not evoke the same negative connotations in India and Asia as it apparently does for us here in the Western world. Eastern culture is definitely not Western culture, and what exactly makes people in the Western world feel that people in the Eastern world should follow their dictates anyway? Could it be engrained feelings of cultural and racial superiority?


Trivia Pursuit

To Hindus, the swastika with the arms bent to the left is called the sathio or sauvastika, and symbolizes night, magic, purity, and the destructive goddess Kali. Perhaps this destructive goddess played upon the tormented minds of anti-Semites in Germany, although true hatemongers need very little encouragement from mythical deities. In both Hinduism and Jainism, the swastika or sathio is also used to mark the opening pages of sacred texts. In my fairly recent travels in Korea, I have found the swastika displayed above the entrances to Buddhist temples. Some of the world's most ancient swastikas have been discovered in Persia (Iran), Pakistan and Mesopotamia by previous world travellers. Ancient swastikas have even been found on and in the ruins of ancient Jewish synagogues. When studying the origins and religious uses of the swastika, irony stubbornly persists in playing a paramount role ...


Negativity

The swastika was most likely an ancient symbol of the Aryans, a race of people who supposedly settled in Iran and Northern India, and who also believed themselves to be of pure or "noble" blood. German racists fervently believed the true German people to be of such noble ancestry, and successfully adopted the symbol as their own. In 1910, the German poet and nationalist, Guido von List, suggested that the swastika be used as a symbol for all anti-racial organizations. German Jews were simply not regarded as being "pure" or "Aryan" by German racists, and when the National Socialist Party was formed in 1919, the once hallowed symbol became its badge and emblem. By 1935, the black swastika on a white circle with a crimson background became the national symbol of Germany. The main difference between the Nazi swastika and the ancient auspicious symbol of various religious cultures, is that the Nazi swastika is at a slant, while the ancient swastika is rested flat. Apparently, this subtle variation in visual presentation is not enough to win over those who would toss the once-holy symbol into the garbage bin of history. What would the historical Buddha say about this? Would he say, that the preservation of the original and intended meaning attached to the symbol is far more important than the preservation of the symbol itself? And if we are to toss the swastika into the garbage bin of history, should we not also consider tossing other desecrated religious symbols into it as well? What about the Christian cross? How many historical atrocities against innocent people have been committed in the name of the Christian church? Has not the Christian cross been used symbolically to persecute non-believers? How far should we go? I mean, did not the German Catholic church aid and abet the rise of the Nazis, and eagerly help to promote Adolf Hitler as the highly-awaited messiah of the German people? Perhaps the Christian cross should be scrapped too! Does this sound absurd to you? I suppose it all comes down to what you have been taught by your wise masters who continue to "lord" it over you. Nothing but the truth will set us free!