Over the past week, there has been renewed discussion in media reports on the swastika, the ancient symbol that was once used across the world, but which came to be associated in the 20th century with the murderous Nazi ideology of hate and antisemitism, particularly in the Western imagination.


What is the issue?

Recently, New South Wales became the second state in Australia (after Victoria in June), to criminalise the display of the swastika, while allowing its use for educational and religious purposes for Hindus, Jains, and Buddhists.


What is ‘swastika’?

  • The swastika has a civilisational presence in India. The word swastika has a Sanskrit root, which means good fortune or well-being, and it has been an auspicious symbol for Hindus over many millennia.
  • Unlike the black hakenkreuz of the Nazis, the swastika used by Indians is usually red or yellow in colour, is not tilted to the right, and has dots at each corner, which are believed to represent the four Vedas.