The word ‘Swasti’ means auspicious, benevolent, a good deed or good wishes. The Swastika is considered auspicious and is painted on the doors of houses in India to ward off evil spirits, its origin goes back to the ‘Vedic times (4500- 2500 B. C.), maybe even earlier. Seals with the Swastika symbol have been found at excavation sites in Harappa which date back to about 2000 years. The Swastika is in the form of a Greek cross with the ends of the arms bent at right angles. The right-handed Swastika moves in the clockwise direction and the left-handed in the counter-clockwise direction. The latter is considered an evil omen and generally never used.
The Swastika is said to represent the Sun or Lord Vishnu in the Puranas it has been described as the ‘Sudarshana Chakra’ or the wheel of Vishnu and also symbolizes the constant changes in the universe. The Swastika has also been associated with the Sun (the arms representing the sun’s rays) and also with Ganesha, the pathfinder whose image is often found at the crossroads.
In the ‘Siddhanta Saar’ the hub of the Swastika has been described as the navel of Vishnu and the four lines as the four faces and four arms of Brahma. The Swastika is considered as a tantric symbol and is drawn in various stylized forms. It is a tradition to pray to it during religious festivals and auspicious occasions. During Diwali, the festival of lights, and the financial year-end for the Hindu businessmen, new account books are opened and decorated with the Swastika symbol and the words ‘Shubh-Labh’ (meaning ‘Auspicious Profit’) next to it. Prayers are also held so that the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi, will be benevolent.