The Jain Symbol is a congregation of various symbols, each
having a deeper meaning. This symbol was adopted by all sects of Jainism while
commemorating the 2500th anniversary of the nirvana of Lord Mahavira.
The outline of the symbol is defined as the universe (Lok). The lower
part of the symbol represents the seven hells (Naraki). The middle part
of the universe contains the Earth and the planets (Manushyalok). The upper
part contains the heavenly abodes (Devlok) of all the celestial beings and
abode of the Siddhas (Siddhashila). Jains believe that this universe was
neither created by anyone, nor can it be destroyed by anyone. It may change
its form, but otherwise, it has always been and will always be here.
The raised hand means stop. The word in the
center of the wheel is "Ahimsa". Ahimsa means non-violence. Between these two,
they remind us to stop for a minute and think twice before doing anything.
This gives us a chance to scrutinize our activities to be sure that they will
not hurt anyone by our words, thoughts, or actions. We are also not supposed
to ask or encourage others to take part in any harmful activity. The wheel in
the hand shows that if we are not careful and ignore these warnings and carry
on violent activities, then just as the wheel goes round and round, we will go
round and round through the cycles of birth and death.
The four arms of the swastika remind us that during
the cycles of birth and death we may be born into any one of the four
destinies: heavenly beings, human beings, animal beings, (including birds,
bugs, and plants) and hellish beings. Our aim should be the liberation and not
the rebirth. To show how we can do this, the swastika reminds us that we
should become the pillars of the four fold Jain Sangh, then only can we
achieve liberation. The four pillars of the Jain Sangh are sädhus, sädhvis,
shrävaks, and shrävikäs. This means that first, we should strive to be a true
shrävaks or shrävikäs, and when we can overcome our social attachments, we
should renounce the worldly life and follow the path of a sädhu or sädhvi to
The three dots above the swastika represent the
three jewels of Jainism: Samyak Darshan (Right Faith), Samyak Jnan (Right
Knowledge), and Samyak Charitra (Right Conduct). We should have all three:
right knowledge, right faith, and right conduct together, then only can we
achieve the liberation. The right knowledge means having the knowledge that
soul and body are separate and that the soul, not the body attains the
salvation. The right faith means one must have faith in what is told by Jinas,
who were omniscient. The right conduct means that our actions should be void
of attachment and hatred.
At the very top part of the Jain Universe symbol is a small
curved arc. This arc represents the abode of the Siddhas. It is known
as the Siddhashila. It is the final resting place of the liberated souls. The
dot represents a siddha. In order to achieve this stage, a soul must
destroy all attached karmas. Every living being should strive for this state
of the Salvation or Liberation.