Svastika, aka: Su-astika; 15 Definition(s)


Svastika means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit, Jainism, Prakrit, Marathi. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

In Hinduism

Natyashastra (theatrics and dramaturgy)

1a) Svastika (स्वस्तिक).—One of the 108 karaṇas (minor dance movement) mentioned in the Nāṭyaśāstra chapter 4. The instructions for this svastika-karaṇa is as follows, “hands and feet respectively held together in the Svastika form.”. A karaṇa represents a minor dance movements and combines sthāna (standing position), cārī (foot and leg movement) and nṛttahasta (hands in dancing position).

1b) Svastika also refers to a gesture (āṅgika) made with ‘combined hands’ (saṃyuta), according to the Nāṭyaśāstra chapter 8. Svastika is also the name for a type of gesture (āṅgika) made with ‘dance hands’ (nṛttahasta). (Instructions): Two arāla or vardhamāna hands upturned and held together at the wrists on the left side will form the svastika. It is to be used by women. (Uses): When the hands are separated from the svastika position, it will indicate directions, clouds, the sky, forests, seas, seasons, the earth and similar other extensive things.

The hands (hasta) form a part of the human body which represents one of the six major limbs (aṅga) used in dramatic performance. With these limbs are made the various gestures (āṅgika), which form a part of the histrionic representation (abhinaya).

1c) Svastika als refers to a type of gesture (āṅgika) made with dance-hands (nṛttahasta);—(Instructions): The talamukha hands crossed at the wrists; but released after this they are called viprakīrṇa. The dance-hands are to be used in forming karaṇas.

1d) Svastika also refers to a specific gesture (āṅgika) , or “movements made with the arms (bāhu)”, according to the Nāṭyaśāstra chapter 9. These movements form a part of the histrionic representation (abhinaya).

Source: Wisdom Library: Nāṭya-śāstra

1) One of the saṃyutta-hastāni (Twenty-four combined Hands).—Svastika (crossed): two Patāka hands held together at the wrists. Usage: crocodile, timid speech, dispute, praising.

2) One of the saṃyutta-hastāni (Twenty-six combined Hands).—Svastika (crossed): Tripatāka hands crossed on the left side. Patron deity Guha. Usage: Wishing-tree, mountains.

Source: The mirror of gesture (abhinaya-darpana)

1) Svastika means to “keep hand and leg svastika like nagabandham” and is one of the sixteen aṅgakiriyai (usage of the action of the body), which itself forms a division of Abhinaya or Avinaya (artistic expressions) as defined in the second book of the Pañcamarapu (‘five-fold traditional usage’) which represents an important piece of Tamil literature.—The Pañcamarapu (“five-fold traditional usage”) refers to a book on five established literary usages (five-fold traditional usages) defines terms such as Svastika. It was composed by Cerai Aṟivanār in the 9th century AD during the time of Pandyan Tirumaran of the last Caṅkam Period.

2) Svastika (स्वस्तिक) refers to one of the nine maṇḍala (postures of the feet) which represents one of the four “movements of the feet” (pāda) according to the Abhinayadarpaṇa. Svastika-maṇḍala is standing with the right foot put across the left foot and the right hand put across the left hand. This is the same in iconography also, but is labeled as svastikāsana. In iconography the legs are crossed in seated posture.

Source: Shodhganga: The significance of the mūla-beras (natya)
Natyashastra book cover
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Natyashastra (नाट्यशास्त्र, nāṭyaśāstra) refers to both the ancient Indian tradition (śāstra) of performing arts, (nāṭya, e.g., theatrics, drama, dance, music), as well as the name of a Sanskrit work dealing with these subjects. It also teaches the rules for composing dramatic plays (nataka) and poetic works (kavya).

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Vastushastra (architecture)

1) Svastika (स्वस्तिक):—One of the eight types of villages, according to Chapter 9 of the Mānasāra (called the grāmalakṣaṇam). The Mānasāra is one of the traditional authorative Hindu treatises on Vāstuśāstra. The form of this village is said to be tattadrūpeṇa, which means it represents the form of the meaning of its Sanskrit name.

2) Svastika (स्वस्तिक) refers to a type of temple (prāsāda) classified under the group named Vairāja, according to Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra chapter 49. The Vairāja group contains twenty-four out of a sixty-four total prāsādas (temples) classified under five prime vimānas (aerial car/palace), which were created by Brahmā for as many gods (including himself). The group represents temples (eg. Svastika) that are to be square shaped. The prāsādas, or ‘temples’, represent the dwelling place of God and are to be built in towns. The Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra is an 11th-century encyclopedia dealing with various topics from the Vāstuśāstra.

Svastika is mentioned in another list from the Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra chapter 56, being part of the group named Lalita, containing 25 unique temple varieties.

Svastika is also mentioned as a classification of ‘temple’ in the Īśānaśivagurudevapaddhati which features a list of 52 temple types. This list represents the classification of temples in South-India.

Svastika is also listed in the Agnipurāṇa which features a list of 45 temple types. It is listed under the group named Triviṣṭapa, featuring octagonal-shaped temples. This list represents a classification of temples in Nort-India.

3) Svastika (स्वस्तिक) refers to a variety of prāsāda (‘superstructure’, or, upper storey of any building), according to the Mayamata (5th-century guidebook on Dravidian architecture).

The Svastika variety in the Divatala (‘two-storey’) group has the following decorative components:

Number of talas (levels): 2;
Shape of grīva (neck) and śikhara (head): Square;
Number of śālas: 4;
Number of kūṭas: 4;
Number of pañajaras: 8;
Number of alpanāsis: 48;
Number of mahānāsis: 4;

The Svastika variety in the Tritala (‘three-storey’) group has the following decorative components:

Number of talas (levels): 3;
Shape of grīva (neck) and śikhara (head): Square;
Number of śālas: 8;
Number of kūṭas: 8;
Number of pañjaras: 8;
Number of alpanāsis: 96;

4) Svastika (स्वस्तिक) also refers to a category of gopura, which is the “tower” built above the gateway of a house, palace or Buddhist monastery.

Source: Wisdom Library: Vāstu-śāstra
Vastushastra book cover
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Vastushastra (वास्तुशास्त्र, vāstuśāstra) refers to the ancient Indian science (shastra) of architecture (vastu), dealing with topics such architecture, sculpture, town-building, fort building and various other constructions. Vastu also deals with the philosophy of the architectural relation with the cosmic universe.

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Ayurveda (science of life)

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Svastika (स्वस्तिक) is another name (synonym) for Śitāvarī, which is a Sanskrit name for a plant. This synonym was identified by Narahari in his 13th-century Rājanighaṇṭu (verses 5.50-51), which is an Āyurvedic medicinal thesaurus.

Source: Wisdom Library: Āyurveda and botany

Svastika (स्वस्तिक) refers to a “design of religious significance” and represents one of the layout designs for gardens and orchards mentioned in the Vṛkṣāyurveda: a Sanskrit text by written by Surapāla that deals with agriculture (kṛṣi).—Surapāla’s text mentions 170 species of plants including trees, shrubs and a few herbs, and deals with the laying out gardens and orchards and growing unusual trees. Layouts included designs such as svastika.

Source: Knowledge Traditions & Practices of India: Agriculture: A Survey
Ayurveda book cover
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Āyurveda (आयुर्वेद, ayurveda) is a branch of Indian science dealing with medicine, herbalism, taxology, anatomy, surgery, alchemy and related topics. Traditional practice of Āyurveda in ancient India dates back to at least the first millenium BC. Literature is commonly written in Sanskrit using various poetic metres.

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Purana and Itihasa (epic history)

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1) Svastika (स्वस्तिक).—A nāga (serpent) who lived in Girivraja. It is mentioned in Mahābhārata, Sabhā Parva, Chapter 9, Verse 9, that this serpent lives in the palace of Varuṇa.

2) Svastika (स्वस्तिक).—A warrior of Subrahmaṇya. (Mahābhārata Śalya Parva, Chapter 45, Verse 65).

Source: Puranic Encyclopaedia

Svastika (स्वस्तिक).—A Nāga in the fifth talam or mahātalam.*

  • * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 20. 37; Vāyu-purāṇa 50. 36.
Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index
Purana book cover
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The Purana (पुराण, purāṇas) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahapuranas total over 400,000 shlokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

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In Buddhism

Mahayana (major branch of Buddhism)

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Svastika (स्वस्तिक) is the name of the “assistant” (upasthāyaka) of Buddha Kanakamuni, according to the Mahāvadānasūtra, as mentioned in an appendix of the 2nd century Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra chapter XLI. Each Buddha had his assistant (upasthāyaka), a monk specially attached to his person, entrusted with fanning him, carrying his robe and bowl for alms-round, introducing visitors. The Sanskrit Mahāvadānasūtra has drawn up a list of the assistants who served the last seven Buddhas: Aśoka for Vipaśyin, Kṣemakāra for Śikhin, Upaśanta for Viśvabhuj, Bhadrika for Krakasunda (or Krakucchanda), Svastika for Kanakamuni, Sarvamitra for Kāśyapa, and finally Ānanda for Śākyamuni.

Source: Wisdom Library: Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra
Mahayana book cover
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Mahayana (महायान, mahāyāna) is a major branch of Buddhism focusing on the path of a Bodhisattva (spiritual aspirants/ enlightened beings). Extant literature is vast and primarely composed in the Sanskrit language. There are many sūtras of which some of the earliest are the various Prajñāpāramitā sūtras.

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In Jainism

General definition (in Jainism)

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Svastika (स्वस्तिक).—One of the eight providential symbols, or, aṣṭamaṅgala.—Svastika at the brief but momentus occasion of Jineśvara’s birth an absolute peace prevailed in the three worlds, martyaloka (terrestrial world), the svargaloka (celestial world) and pātālaloka (neither world). Svastika is the symbol of that moment of tranquility.

Source: Shodhganga: A cultural study on the jain western Indian illustrated manuscripts
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Jainism is an Indian religion of Dharma whose doctrine revolves around harmlessness (ahimsa) towards every living being. The two major branches (Digambara and Svetambara) of Jainism stimulate self-control (or, shramana, ‘self-reliance’) and spiritual development through a path of peace for the soul to progess to the ultimate goal.

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Languages of India and abroad

Marathi-English dictionary

Svastika in Marathi glossary... « previous · [S] · next »

svastika (स्वस्तिक).—n m S A mystical figure the inscription of which upon any person or thing is considered to be lucky. It is, amongst the jaina, the emblem of the seventh deified teacher of the present era. It consists of (?). 2 A temple of a particular form with a portico in front. 3 Any auspicious or lucky object.

Source: DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

svastika (स्वस्तिक).—n m A mystical figure the in- scription of which upon any person or thing is considered to be lucky.

Source: DDSA: The Aryabhusan school dictionary, Marathi-English
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Marathi is an Indo-European language having over 70 million native speakers people in (predominantly) Maharashtra India. Marathi, like many other Indo-Aryan languages, evolved from early forms of Prakrit, which itself is a subset of Sanskrit, one of the most ancient languages of the world.

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Sanskrit-English dictionary

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Svastika (स्वस्तिक).—[svasti śubhāya hitaṃ ka]

1) A kind of mystical mark () on persons or things denoting good luck.

2) A lucky object.

3) The meeting of four roads.

4) The crossing of the arms, making a sign like the cross; स्तनविनिहितहस्तस्वस्तिकाभिर्वधूभिः (stanavinihitahastasvastikābhirvadhūbhiḥ) Māl.4.1; Śi.1.43.

5) A palace of particular form.

6) A particular symbol made with ground rice and shaped like a triangle.

7) A kind of cake.

8) A voluptuary, libertine.

9) Garlic.

1) A kind of bard (who utters words of eulogy); पुरःसरैः स्वस्तिकसूतमागधैः (puraḥsaraiḥ svastikasūtamāgadhaiḥ) Rām.2.16.46 (com. svastikā jayajayeti vādino bandinaḥ).

-kaḥ, -kam 1 A mansion or temple of a particular form with a terrace in front.

2) A particular mode of sitting practised by Yogins (in which the toes are placed in the inner hollow of the knees).

3) A seat (pīṭha) prepared for a deity; Mb.12.4.7. (com. svastikān sarvatobhadrādyaṅkitāni devatāpīṭhāni).

Derivable forms: svastikaḥ (स्वस्तिकः).

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Svastika (स्वस्तिक).—see s. v.

Svastika is a Sanskrit compound consisting of the terms su and astika (अस्तिक). See also (synonyms): svasti.

Source: DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary
context information

Sanskrit, also spelled संस्कृतम् (saṃskṛtam), is an ancient language of India commonly seen as the grandmother of the Indo-European language family. Closely allied with Prakrit and Pali, Sanskrit is more exhaustive in both grammar and terms and has the most extensive collection of literature in the world, greatly surpassing its sister-languages Greek and Latin.

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