The swastika (also known as the gammadion cross, cross cramponnée, or wanzi) (as a character: or) is an ancient religious symbol that generally takes the form of an equilateral cross, with its four legs bent at 90 degrees. It is considered to be a sacred and auspicious symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism and dates back to before 2nd century B.C.
It has been used as a decorative element in various cultures since at least the Neolithic. It is known most widely as an important symbol long used in Indian religions, denoting "auspiciousness."
It was adopted as such in pre-World War I-Europe and later, and most notably, by the Nazi Party and Nazi Germany prior to World War II. In many Western countries, the swastika has been highly stigmatized because of its use in and association with Nazism. This has happened to the point where it is seen as meaning Nazis and Hitler.
It continues to be commonly used as a religious symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism.
Western literature's older term for the symbol, gammadion cross, derives mainly from its appearance, which is identical to four Greek gamma letters affixed to each other. The name swastika comes from the Sanskrit word svastika (Devan?gar?: ), meaning "lucky or auspicious object".