A 2,000-year-old symbol of unity and life transformed forever

Josh Mortenson, MYP Journalist

At the University of Massachusetts, a Swastika, the Nazi Party Symbol, was found carved in a bathroom stall on February 12, 2016. Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy felt that the symbol was heinous and evil. His assumptions about the Swastika are that of all people today, but the Swastika has been used for 12,000 years in virtually every part of the world with a very different meaning.


The symbol itself has been used throughout ancient history as a symbol of life. It has been found in Roman and Greek temples as well as all over Asia and Europe. The earliest found use of this symbol was in Ukraine.  In Sanskrit, the root of latin and many other ancient languages, it translates as ‘Good existence’ and ‘Life of Life’. The  four arms on it represent unity for the  four corners of the  (Called svastika in Sanskrit)   world. But this symbol was forever transformed from a universal symbol, to one of the most hated symbols in human history.


The Swastika was adopted by the Nazi Party in 1920 because it was commonly known throughout the western world and Asia, giving it a greater impact. But, the biggest reason for the adoption of Swastika was because it became associated their belief of racial purism, the backbone for the Nazi’s cruel ideology. The horrors committed by the Nazi party were channeled through the image of the Swastika, making it a symbol of evil.


By looking back at the roots of this ancient symbol, we can truly better understand it. If the Nazi party had not associated themselves with this universal symbol, then it would still be recognized as a sign for life and unity for the world. Whether this symbol is necessarily good or bad is not important, but people must better understand it from a wider and more worldly perspective.


“True wisdom comes from each of us, when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us” -Socrates