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The Tranquilo Traveler

The Tranquilo Traveler is a celebration of voluntourism, slow travel, and other interesting ways to see the world. Travel writer and award- winning Moon Handbooks author Joshua Berman created The Tranquilo Travel as a resource for world trippers and international volunteers, a window to the author’s travels in Nicaragua, Belize, and beyond, and an update of his books and articles.

Swastika: Symbol of Peace

Username By Joshua | September 26th, 2005 | Comments 15 Comments »

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It is everywhere, this ancient sign of Hindu and Buddhist law. “Swasti” is Sanskrit for well-being, and the angular, clockwise-spinning arms are an auspicious sign of peace, luck, and protection on doorways, signs, gates, and the front of vehicles.

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Thousands of years before Hitler took it and spun it in the other direction, the swastika was one of the 65 marks of Buddhahood found in the imprint of the Buddha’s foot. My Western sensitivities were on edge the first few times I saw it in India, but it quickly became part of my surroundings – along with so many “Om” signs, Shiva tridents, and other marks of spirituality.

And then there’s this last photo, which makes odd bedfellows out of a swastika and an assumingly decorative and unintentional Star of David, seen on a private house in nearby Binalguri.

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Category: (d) India
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15 Responses to “Swastika: Symbol of Peace”

Dany | November 14th, 2005 at 8:55 pm | comment link
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You have a wealth of information on your site, it’s pretty cool, I’m glad I had a chace to bump into you on an early morning sunrise in Pakistan. D.

austin johnson | December 14th, 2006 at 3:52 am | comment link
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some people at my school didn’t believe my friend when he said that the swastika was a symbol of peace, so i thank you for having this kind of information because tomorrow i’m gonna go rub it in thier faces. =)

p.s. what is an url? i forgot or never knew.

Zuloom | May 29th, 2007 at 1:14 pm | comment link
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Thank you for sharing the truth. Unfortunetly many people are blind to the true meaning of the swastika. Too many are cursed to only see their own evil emanating from such a beautiful and ancient symbol. Truly the swastika is more powerful than what we can recognize.

Roger | June 30th, 2007 at 7:06 am | comment link
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Thank You guys for the Validation. I have this symbol in my Tattoo and get asked all the time, Why do you have a Swastika on your arm, are you a racist? Which I then have to explain that it was an indian peace symbol way before Hitler got ahold of it. Which then people go Sure whatever you say. So now I actually have proof. Thanks again.

dogfaceboy | September 4th, 2007 at 1:34 pm | comment link
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True. And most people in my circles are aware of the swastika’s beginnings. But it’s not about being “blind to the true meaning.” It is about being less than sensitive to the pain this symbol dredges up in the minds of so many people around the world.

Words and symbols evolve, and we have to take their evolutions into account. We’re not talking about one guy usurping a peace sign. We’re talking about a symbol that is now synonymous with racism and hatred and ugliness because of the many people who wore it for evil.

I wonder if the guy who wears his swastika tattoo will call himself gay when he has a smile on his face. It’s a shame to lose a synonym for happiness, but there are other synonyms.

And there are other symbols.

t | December 27th, 2007 at 4:24 pm | comment link
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Thw swastika symbol with 3 dots underneath means what I found this on my property?

Ryan | February 4th, 2008 at 9:58 am | comment link
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Right on dogfaceboy, some kid logged onto an MMO just a few minutes ago and set his little icon next to his screenname to be a swastika. When told to change it, he linked to this blog. Just take it for what it is, a nice bit of historical information, that really isn’t relevant today. If you have a swastika tatoo, you will be called out for it, and you have absolutely no right to be surprised. All you’ve got on your arm is an awkward conversation starter (or ender), haha. And no one is going to make a movie out of your life if someone kills you for wearing one in the name of peace.

Kat | February 19th, 2008 at 12:53 pm | comment link
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I think what he is trying to say here, what ryan and dogfaceboy seem to be missing, is that in India and parts of that region it still is a symbol of peace and never meant anything else to them. Hitler usurped the symbol from them and used it for his own purposes, to promote hate and evil. But throughout that period, it was still a symbol of peace to those who religion it originated in. Try to be sensitive to that as well. It never stopped being their symbol.

Jo | October 29th, 2008 at 6:39 am | comment link
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I came across a couple of swasika on a doorway yesterday and got very scared, but now I have learned the really meaning of them. Thank you

sign spinners | February 10th, 2010 at 11:45 am | comment link
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It’s sad that Hitler had to take a beautiful symbol of peace and literally twist it to make it symbolize evil and hate.

indian | March 25th, 2010 at 10:13 am | comment link
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i have friends that are biggets and now they are trying to get me thrown in jail for public display of the swastika, they did it they spray painted it all over a church and framed me for it and now i have proof that i didn’t do it and that if it were me it wouldn’t be a hate crime against other races

jack smith | February 7th, 2011 at 2:32 pm | comment link
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I dont know any of you think that it is okay to flaunt a swastika after what hitler did. The fact is that it was once a peace symbol, but it is now a symbol of anti-semitism. It is the same thing as me wearing a shirt that says “negr*” you can figure out the last letter, and then me saying that no its ok it just means black in spanish. This has been a symbol of hatred for many years and anyone who tries to deny that is just an anti-semite. If you flaunt it, you will probably come to hate the real world when you find out what the consequences are for being so ignorant.

Joshua Berman | February 12th, 2011 at 8:49 am | comment link
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Jack — you missed the point. The meaning of the symbol is different depending on what country you are in. It is most definitely NOT “a symbol of anti-semitism” to an Indian who doesn’t even know what a Jew is.

Jean Philippe | June 13th, 2013 at 7:19 pm | comment link
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This symbol is proto-aryan, it’s present in all indo-european cultures, the germanic peoples have their swastika, the sun cross or fylfot, the slavs have the kolovrat, the greeks and celts have triskelions everywhere, buddhism itself comes from the aryans, it’s a variation of brahmanism, the religion of the vedas of north india (aryans), buddhism originated as a from of protest against the caste system of the vedic brahmanism, but everything in buddhism comes from brahmanism, sanskrit is the oldest known language of the indo-european family, the aryans are an ethno-linguistic group that is resent in all eurasia, from the vedas of india to the persians and other middle eastern aryan peoples, lke the kalash, hunza, nuristani, punabi,kurds… to the european peoples, the swastika have a meaning of good and prosperity, but it also means the sun, and evolution, the conception of spiritual evolution is very strong among the aryan cultures

Jean Philippe | June 13th, 2013 at 7:28 pm | comment link
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Jack, it doesn’t matter if some guy wore the swastika and did bad stuff, I have nothing to do with that and I’ll never stop wearing swastikas, the swastika wasn’t invented and patented by the nazi party, this symbol already existed before them, Ariosophy was around in europe way before the nazi party took the power in germany, the anhropologists know abou the swastika since the 1700, so if someone cannot understand this then they’re the ignorant, not that I care to what this type of people think. Not to mention that the aryans are the ones facing genocide today, the aryans people in the middle east are being overwhelmingly converted to islamism by force, who try to deny are killed, in the western world we can’t even live our culture without having to explain to ignorant people why we aren’t wrong for using these symbols, why we aren’t wrong for existing

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