Wednesday, July 15, 2015


The theme of redemption recurs on many occasions in my writings, especially in a collection of travel tales called "Travels In Familiar Lands" and a novel about the nature of history called "A Journey In Time". The redemption of the human individual from the inherited traumas of the past - that seems to me the starting-point for all of us on the journey towards adulthood, even before we try to deal with the traumas of personal experience. But there are many other aspects of the world which merit redemption, and one of these is that powerful ancient symbol the swastika, which stands as a "flaming sword" at the entrance to the Garden of Eden in the Book of Genesis, can be seen in almost every Indian temple, as well as in the entrances of Indian houses, and at Indian weddings, festivals and celebrations. There are Greek helmets from the 4
th century BCE with swastika inscriptions, and the archaeologists of Troy discovered them as abundantly as cactuses. The word itself comes from the Sanskrit स्वस्तिक - pronounced "svastika" - and is a compound of "su", meaning "well", and "asti", which is "being", so that the compound yields "good fortune" or "well-being" or even possibly "mazal tov". In Persia it became the fire-wheel and always faced left - the Nazis turned it around, for no other reason that historians can discern except that that they were stupid. Buddhism, Jainism and Odinism also use the symbol, though with the dot in each quadrant which Hinduism prefers.

Today, of course, the swastika is simply the last piece of Nazi graffiti, scrawled on the walls of History in indellible paint. Which leaves it as one more small victory that we need to achieve, or Hitler and his cronies are not totally defeated. This is my paltry effort, or my heroic effort, if you would be so generous. I imagined the joy of the swastika when it was freed at last from the concentration camp in which Nazism had imprisoned it, and drew that in colour. I imagined the dancing around the walls, like the dancing at Indian, or for that matter Jewish weddings, and drew that in shape, but still keeping the original idea of the wheel. I imagined the dancers with hands and feet - you really can, if you look thoughtfully - but decided it would be better to leave those undrawn.

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