The swastika (also known as the Hakenkreuz, gammadion cross, cross cramponnée, fylfot, or tetraskelion) (as a character: 卐 ) 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 the 2nd century BCE. It continues to be commonly used as a religious symbol in Indian religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.
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 (Devanāgarī: स्वस्तिक), meaning "lucky or auspicious object".
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".
The swastika was adopted by several organizations 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.