Swastika, the Ancient Symbol that was Hijacked by Evil

By: Bhakta das, ISKCON News Contributing Writer

Recently, the Hon Premier of Victoria Australia announced that the State Government was going to recommend a prohibition of the Swastika symbol in Victoria, based on recommendations from the Victorian Parliament’s Legal and Social Issues Committee Report on the effectiveness of the state’s anti-vilification laws, as anti-Semitic and racial tension and abuse is raising its ugly head by some far-right neo-Nazi groups.

ISKCON Australia, being part of the Hindu Council of Australia, stands united with the Victorian Government and the Jewish community to promote the important work of fighting anti-Semitism and other racist and exclusionary ideologies and wholeheartedly supports a prohibition on the Nazi hate symbol Hakenkreuz.

However, we strongly oppose the prohibition or criminalization of our ancient, auspicious, and holy symbol, the Swastika.

The prohibition and use of the word ‘Swastika’ prejudice our benevolent practices. The Swastika pre-dates, by millennia, the hateful use of Hakenkreuz by the Nazis. As such, we have sought Hon Premier’s intervention in three ways. 

  1. A clearly stated, public clarification that the Victorian Parliament prohibition is limited to the Nazi hate symbol ‘Hakenkreuz’ and NOT the holy Swastika. 
  2. An exemption to the prohibition by the Victorian Parliament for the use of the Swastika as a cultural and religious symbol  
  3. That the Parliament of Victoria works with us to support a multi-lingual awareness campaign about the original, positive meaning of the (ancient) Swastika and to counter any prejudicial misunderstanding that can lead to discrimination and criminal offense. 

Support for our intervention has come from various sectors of our Victorian community including the Jewish community who in a statement, support our claims.

Quote: “Svastika 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”.

Similarly, from the Buddhist community.

Quote: “Buddhism deplore any attempt to ban the swastika which has a history extending over many thousands of years in the Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain traditions, as previously discussed. The Buddhist community profoundly objects to the banning of the swastika and notes that such a ban is indicative of a Eurocentric outlook that is ignorant of the traditions of Asia.”

Our Orthodox Christian friends also supported our actions.

Quote: ‘Please remember that the swastika (under a different name) was also a symbol used in Ancient Greece, as well as in ancient Christianity.”

Of significance is the fact that all these various Faith traditions belong to our strong Interfaith group called the Faith Community Council of Victoria, of which I am the Chairperson at the moment.

Jointly working and supporting each other on social issues like this is, and others that affect all our lives is what this Council is all about.

Presently, we are now waiting to see if the intervention recommendations that we are asking for will be adopted by the Victorian Government. We have had conversations with the State Opposition party who are supportive and a meeting with the Attorney General is also scheduled.

Personally, I recommend devotees that are interested in cooperating and sharing with our brothers and sisters of different Faiths, seek to develop Interfaith connections and cooperation in your region or town. There is a great benefit for our ISKCON communities as well as bringing about a more accepting and understanding society in general.