A swastika is a geometric symbol made of two intersecting, straight-backed Zs at 45° angles to each other. It is sometimes referred to as a cross with broken arms. Though it's been recorded throughout history as a spiritual good omen, it is most notably known in the West as the Nazi Party symbol.
Some people might be surprised to learn that swastika is not a German word, but Sanskrit. Sanskrit is an ancient Indian language, and the word translates to "a little something that brings good luck" or "well-being." It is considered an auspicious symbol that might be worn on the clothes or body, similar to the Irish four-leaf clover. Co-opted by the German Nazi Party of World War II as a national emblem of Aryan pride, it became a hated symbol in the West, where its benign ancient roots remain overshadowed.
Adolph Hitler’s adoption of the symbol was not totally without reason. The Nazi Party subscribed to the then-popular Aryan Invasion Theory, which held that Nordic peoples of Europe or Central Asia invaded and conquered India one to three millennia before the birth of Christ. The Nazis believed these Indo-Germanic peoples to be the original "pure white" or "master Aryan race," and India to be the birthplace of civilization. Philologist William Jones of the late 18th century even suggested that Sanskrit, Greek, and Latin might have come from an original Indo-Germanic language, now lost to the world. These Aryan associations appealed to Adolph Hitler, and the swastika unfortunately became irrevocably intertwined with genocide and racial hatred.
Modern day hate groups in the West continue to use it as a symbol for neo-Nazism, racial purity, gender purity, and proactive hate mongering. Some of these hate groups are closely associated with fringe militia groups, loosely organized civilian armies that hate government, which they see as destroying the white race through supporting racial equality.
In India and other nations, the swastika remains a positive religious symbol, true to its roots. It is often depicted on celebration cakes, in motifs and tile designs, and in basket weaving, paintings, and jewelry.