When many people think of the swastika, it is associated with Nazism and hate. The reality is that it is used in some cultures and religions and the meaning is not the same. In fact, this is an important symbol for those who practice Jainism.
As you can tell immediately from looking at it, there are four arms on a swastika. Each of them signifies something essential to those who follow this religion. There are four states of existence, and each arm represents a different state of being. These are:
1. Heavenly beings
3. Those who dwell in hell
4. Tiryancha, which are subhuman beings, like plants and animals.
Based on an individual level of karma, all beings will be classified into one of these four states. The goal is for people who follow this religion to achieve a heightened state of enrichment and enlightenment. The three tenets of this concept are faith, conduct and understanding. The three dots that are above the swastika are symbolic of these three ideals.
There is a crescent shape and an additional dot at the very top of the Jainism swastika symbol. This is there to symbolize the perfect state of liberation.
Another interpretation of the swastika would be the representation of the four columns of Jain Sangha. These are: sadhvis, sadhus, shravikas and sravakas. This represents monks, nuns, females and males, respectively.
It is also used to represent the four characteristics of the soul of a being. These are: infinite happiness, infinite knowledge, infinite energy and infinite perception.
This may seem like a great deal for one symbol to represent, but it encompasses all of these. If you are someone who is interested in this religion or one who is new to Jainism, it is understandable that trying to digest all of this will be pretty overwhelming.
Many who convert to Jainism find the symbol a bit disturbing because of what they were taught about it in other parts of their lives. While this is normal, over time you must let this go and learn to understand the swastika based on what it represents to you in the world of Jain. There is no way to reach the heightened state of being that you hope to until you let go of your prior thoughts on this symbol and learn what it means in this case.