The Buddhist Swastika and Hitler's Cross: Rescuing a Symbol of Peace from the Forces of Hate

The Buddhist Swastika and Hitler's Cross: Rescuing a Symbol of Peace from the Forces of Hate

by T. K. Nakagaki


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The swastika has been used for over three thousand years by billions of people in many cultures and religions—including Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism—as an auspicious symbol of the sun and good fortune. However, beginning with its hijacking and misappropriation by Nazi Germany, it has also been used, and continues to be used, as a symbol of hate in the Western World. Hitler's device is in fact a "hooked cross." Rev. Nakagaki's book explains how and why these symbols got confused, and offers a path to peace, understanding, and reconciliation.

Please note: Photographs in the digital edition of the books are in color. Photographs in the print edition are in black and white.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781611720457
Publisher: Stone Bridge Press
Publication date: 09/25/2018
Pages: 200
Sales rank: 847,574
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Rev. Dr. T. K. Nakagaki is a Buddhist priest, ordained in the 750-year- old Jodoshinshu tradition of Japanese Buddhism. He was ordained at the Nishi Hongwanji Temple in Kyoto, Japan, in 1980. He graduated from Ryukoku University in Kyoto, majoring in Buddhist History in 1983, and later conducted advanced study in Jodoshinshu Buddhist doctrine at Gyoshin Buddhist Seminary in Osaka, Japan, from 1983–1985. He received an M.A. in Linguistics from California State University at Fresno in 1994, and earned a Doctorate of Ministry in Multifaith studies from the New York Theological Seminary in 2012.

Rev. Dr. Nakagaki is a Founder and President of Heiwa Peace and Reconciliation Foundation of New York, and current executive officer and former President of the Buddhist Council of New York, Hiroshima Peace Ambassador, Peace Correspondent of Nagasaki City, Community Clergy Liaison for the NYC Police Department, and former Vice President of the Interfaith Center of New York. He served as a resident priest for Jodoshinshu Buddhist communities in Seattle from 1985–1989, in Parlier, CA from 1989–1994, and at the New York Buddhist Church from 1994–2010.

Since 1994, Rev. Nakagaki has organized an annual interfaith peace event to commemorate the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings, and from 2002–2011 he organized the annual 9-11 WTC Memorial Floating Lanterns Ceremony. He is the author of three books in Japanese, A New York Buddhist Priest Walks in India (Gendai Shokan, 2003); Diary of a Manhattan Monk (Gendai Shokan, 2010); and Manji and Hakenkreuz (Gendaishokan, 2013) He is also a noted Japanese calligrapher.

Table of Contents


Preface 1

Western vs. Eastern Perceptions of the Swastika

A Few Notes on Terms and Images 3

My First Encounter in the US ... 4

Why Discuss the Swastika Now? 6

The Human Capacity for Atrocity 8

Encountering Holocaust Survivors 10

Importance of Dialogue 12

Our Own Monsters Within 13

Chapter 1 14

The Swastika Symbol in My Tradition

The Swastika in Japan 14

Meaning of the Swastika in Japanese language 26

Meaning of the Swastika in the Buddha’s Discourse 29

The Standard Buddhist Swastika is Left-Turning 35

Chapter 2 39 A Universal Symbol

Swastika Use in Various Religions 40

The Swastika Symbol in North America 56

Chapter 3 69 Hitler’s Flag

Design of the Hook-Cross 69

Hitler and the Eastern Swastika; 74

Swastika usage in 19th and 20th Century Europe 74

Chapter 4 77 Hitler’s First Meaning of Hakenkreuz: Aryan

Meaning of “Aryan” 77

Ārya in Buddhism 78

The Western Concept of What is an Aryan 82

The Meaning of “Aryan” for Hitler 87

Chapter 5 96 Hitler’s Second Meaning of The Hakenkreuz : Anti-Semitism

Meaning of Anti-Semitism 96

Anti-Semitism and Hitler’s Early Life 99

Martin Luther (1483 -1546) 100

Richard Wagner (1813 -1883) 107

Luther, Wagner and Hitler 117

Political Symbol vs. Religious and Spiritual Symbol 117

Chapter 6 119 Hitler’s Symbol Is a “Hakenkreuz,” Not a Swastika

Difference between “Swastika” and “Hakenkreuz” 119

Definition of “Hakenkreuz” 125

Swastika and Hakenkreuz in Dictionaries 127

Translation Problems of “Hakenkreuz” 131

Chapter 7 140 Conclusion – Present & Future Meaning of the Swastika Symbol

Current Swastika Issues 140

Where Are We Going? 143

Epilogue 147

Action Plan for the Public


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