NEWS: ‘Unwinding History’: Reclaiming the Swastika

A BBC Asian Network report has raised the contentious and emotive issue of the swastika. Using the experience of DJ Nerm, who has a swastika tattooed on his inner lip, the article explores the symbol’s history. Although, for many the swastika has only one horrific association, that of Nazism, it is important to note the symbol’s long tradition, dating back millennia.

The swastika is believed to have originated in India, where it became significant for Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. For these faiths, the symbol has positive connotations of peace and goodwill. Indeed, DJ Nerm points out that until he studied history at school, he had no idea of the swastika’s links to Nazism. However, since having his tattoo, he has encountered negativity towards what is perceived as a ‘Nazi logo,’ which he attempts to counter by explaining the symbol’s relevance to his religion. Despite this pessimistic response, DJ Nerm asserts that: ‘I still think that the swastika stands for hate….But we should have hope’. The rehabilitation of such a vilified symbol will be fraught with difficulty, but with advocates like DJ Nerm, perhaps the true meaning of the swastika will begin to be recognised again.

Related articles:

Definitional Transgression, or the Revenge of the Vernacular in Hindu Tantric Studies
By Mark Elmore
(Vol. 2, September 2007)
Religion Compass

Symbolism
By Scott Robert Olsen
From The International Encyclopedia of Communication

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