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The swastika (Sanskrit: स्वस्तिक) is an equilateral cross with four arms bent at right angles, in either a right-facing (卐) form or its mirrored, left-facing (卍) 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 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".

In East Asia, when written left-facing (Chinese: ; Wade–Giles: wan), the swastika is a Chinese character, its entry on Kangxi Dictionary, published in 1716, defined it as "synonym of myriad, used mostly in Buddhist classic texts"[1], by extension, the word later evolved to represent eternity and Buddhism.

Following a brief surge of popularity in Western culture, a right-facing, diagonally 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, as a religious symbol of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, the swastika continues to be commonly used.

(Full Wikipedia Article here)

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