THEOSOPHY, Vol. 86, No. 4, February 1998
(Pages 107-109; Size: 6K)

AN ANCIENT WORLD-SYMBOL[1]

THE SWASTICA is an ancient world-symbol that is filled with occult meaning. It is an alchemical, cosmological, anthropological, and magical sign, and contains seven keys to its inner meaning. Its symbolism explains great mysteries of the Kosmos. It is the sign of the universal creative force, evolving from pure spirit into gross matter, and contracting back into spirit in an endless cyclic process.

Early in The Secret Doctrine, H.P.B. discusses the meaning of a progressive series of symbols. First an empty circle appears, then a diameter bisects it, followed by a cross within a circle and, finally, a swastica within a circle. The circle with a diameter represents divine nature within absolute infinitude. The cross within the circle represents the beginning of human life. The swastica has the same, as well as other, meanings. It is called the male and female sign, and appears in an ancient Indian Catechism, on the hermaphrodite goddess Ardha-Nari, in place of the navel, symbolizing the pre-sexual state of the Third Race.

In the Macrocosm, the central point of the swastica represents Deity. The lines of the cross represent spirit and matter, and the four arms bent at right angles represent the perpetual motion (cycles) of the forces of visible and invisible Kosmos.

Applied to the Microcosm, the symbol represents man as the link between heaven and earth. He stands with right hand pointing to heaven and left hand pointing to Earth. The lines of the cross represent the male and female principles in nature, or the positive and negative.

The decussated cross, "X," was used by the Hindus, Brahmins and Buddhists, thousands of years before it appeared in Europe. They bent the ends and made of it the swastica, or Wan of the Buddhist Mongolian. It implies that the central point, the Deific principle, is not limited. The four arms point toward the four cardinal directions and end in infinity. Thus Deity is in all in nature, and all in nature is in Deity.

The swastica is symbolized by the figure 6. Like that figure it points to the zenith and nadir, as well as the four cardinal directions. It is the symbol of Fohat, of the continual revolution of cycles, and of the four sacred Elements in their mystical and cosmical meanings. One who understands the meaning of the swastica, according to the Commentaries quoted in The Secret Doctrine, understands the relationship of the visible to the invisible, and can trace both the evolution of the Kosmos and the appearance of man and all of the creatures.

H.P.B. also relates the swastica to the worship of Agni (fire), and the sun:

Whenever the ancient Hindu devotee desired to worship Agni ... he arranged two pieces of wood in the form of a cross, and, by a peculiar whirling and friction obtained fire for his sacrifice. As a symbol, it is called Swastica, and, as an instrument manufactured out of a sacred tree and in possession of every Brahmin, it is known as Arani.
In a footnote elsewhere in The Secret Doctrine H.P.B. explains that the arani and pramanta were the stick and perforated vessel for kindling fire among the ancient Brahmins. The name, Prometheus, came from pramantha. Prometheus stole the sacred and celestial fire which then became the terrestrial fire, that of procreation and therefore phallic. He kindles the spark of life in man and teaches him the mysteries of creation, which from Kriyasakti, falls into the selfish act of procreation.

The Scandinavians had the same sign and called it Thor's Hammer. Thor, the god of thunder, held this symbol as a sign of power over men and the elements. In Masonry it appears as the grand master's mallet, and in modern times, it is the gavel of the judge, a sign of power and strength.

H.P.B. calls the swastica a most mystic and ancient diagram, saying also that it is as sacred to occultists as the Pythagorean Tetraktys, "of which it is indeed the double symbol." The swastica is also known as the Jaina Cross and has the same meaning as the ansated Egyptian cross, or tau, and the Christian cross.

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[1] The source of this material is:

The Secret Doctrine, vol. I, 5, 31, 657; vol. II, 29, 99, 101fn, 556, 587.

HPB Theosophical Articles, vol. II, 490; vol. III, 251-2.

The Theosophical Glossary, 315.
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