Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Origins of the Swastika

Morphography of an Ancient Symbol

The swastika is an ancient Indian symbol that derives from the Sanskrit word svástika स्वस्तिक. The word स्वस्तिक is a grammatical composite from सु + अस्ति + which means (Su-good, Asti - to be, K - object suffix) "may it be well with one."
The Swastika is found in its right-facing (
) form or its mirrored left-facing () form.
Symbologically, the Swastika is a Brahmi morphograph - where the individual letters for SU ASTI K - are morphed into a composite symbol. This morphograph is unique that is is a logograph is created by morphing its phonographic components.

Discovering the Lost Symbol

The Swastika is not really a lost symbol. Even the meaning of Swastika is well known - however the morphographic roots of this Symbol were lost as Brahmi evolved into the modern scripts in Greater India. The animation above attempts to represent the original idea behind the Swastik.

*This blogger made this discovery while analyzing the Brahmi script. However, after some research, the credit for a recent record of this discovery goes to Alexander Cunningham, a nineteenth century English Archaeologist, who suggested that the shape arose from a combination of Brahmi characters abbreviating the word su-astí.

The Brahmi script - is a phonetic script - that is possibly derived from the Indus writing system. The symbols for the Brahmi consonants and the vowel variants are given below.

(Source http://www.ancientscripts.com/brahmi.html)The following chart is the basic Brahmi script.

And an example of strokes added to indicate different vowels following the consonants /k/ and /l/.

Swastika Predates Brahmi

Western historians claim that the Brahmi script was first found in India around 500BCE. However, the Swastika has been found even in the Indus sites dated as far back as 3000 BCE. If the Swastika was derived as a combination of the letters that made up a word - how could it have existed before the script?

There are two explanations: Cunningham and this blogger are wrong. Despite the obvious visual evidence, perhaps the Swastik was simply a symbol and the similarity is purely coincidental.

Or perhaps, Brahmi or a script similar to Brahmi existed in India, much before what Western Historians claim. There are several Indus characters that are similar to Brahmi. A separate post will address that similarity.