Friday, February 8, 2013

Sanskrit Word in English: Swastika

You might be surprised to learn that the word SWASTIKA comes from Sanskrit. It is a compound: su-astika, meaning well-being, having good luck, fortunate. You can see the same root su- in Sanskrit names such as Sugriva, "Handsome-Neck," and Sumitra, "Good-Friend."

The modern use of the word "swastika" is notoriously associated with the Nazis, and the symbol which they adopted had also been used since ancient times as a symbol of good fortune in Hinduism as well as in Buddhism and Jainism. You can read about the history of the swastika at Wikipedia.

The image below is by Hans Kundnani at Flickr, showing swastikas being used as a sign of good luck in modern-day India:

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