For many people the swastika has been rendered sinister since it was adopted by Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime. They believed, mistakenly, that it was a symbol of a pure Aryan race. In fact, the swastika is a s very old solar symbol, going back to Neolithic times, revered in many cultures, and found in many different forms, including being a sacred symbol in the sand paintings of the Navaho Indians.
It is one of the few symbols that have almost universal meaning, significance, and distribution and its spread extends throughout India and Northern Europe to Central America, and as far as East Asia. The name comes from the Sanskrit word Swasti, meaning "well being" or "so be it" and there is a theory that it may have first been "invented" by basket weavers, since the swastika shape is produced during the weaving process.
In examining the component elements of the swastika, the first thing to notice is that the shape of the four arms resembles a wheel. Like a wheel, the swastika can rotate in either direction. Officially, if the arms are pointing in a clockwise (deosil) direction, then it symbolizes the Sun, the male principle, the overt; if it is pointing counterclockwise (widdershins) then it resembles theMoon, the feminine principle, the covert.
In this case, the swastika is sometimes called the "sauvastika." However,, there is generally no differentiation in the direction of the swastika that can be discerned from its usage as a religious symbol, and it is certainly not the case, despite popular belief, that the left orientated swastika is somehow "evil" or that this was the only swastika employed by the Nazi's.
For the Hopi Indians, the clockwise swastika stands for the Earth, and the revered one, the Sun. The wheel is a major symbol of the Dharmic religions, and so is the swastika. When used in Hindu Temples, homes and other places, the swastika is often decorated with a bindhu or a dot in the center of the space between each arm. The swastika is one of the 108 sacred symbols of Lord Vishnu.
The next thing to notice is that the swastika has four arms, which are jointed, giving further reinforcement to the significance of this number. The number 4 stands for solid, material objects, the constructed universe, order and discipline and for the four corners of the world. It also indicates the four winds, the four cardinal directions, the seasons and the elements, with quintessence, also known as the fifth element.
This central hub, the still center, points to the swastika as a symbol of Axis Mundi. In Freemasonry, the hub of the swastika resembles the Pole Star.