The swastika is an equilateral cross with four arms bent at 90 degrees.
The earliest archaeological evidence of swastika-shaped ornaments dates
back to the Indus Valley Civilization as well as the Mediterranean
Classical Antiquity. Swastikas have also been used in various other
ancient civilizations around the world including China, Japan, India, Nepal
and Southern Europe. It remains widely used in Indian religions,
specifically in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, primarily as a tantric
symbol to evoke shakti or the sacred symbol of auspiciousness. The word
"swastika" comes from the Sanskrit svastika - "su" meaning "good" or
"auspicious," "asti" meaning "to be," and "ka" as a suffix. The swastika
literally means "to be good". Or another translation can be made: "swa"
is "higher self", "asti" meaning "being", and "ka" as a suffix, so the
translation can be interpreted as "being with higher self".
Dharma Hall, Tagou, Shaolin Temple
Photographs Taken By Molly Rush
Taken during the course of her visit to China with the Enck Family in Summer, 2013.
The Shaolin style of wushu is regarded as amongst the first institutionalized Chinese martial arts. The oldest evidence of Shaolin
participation in combat is a stele from 728 CE that attests to two occasions: a defense of the Shaolin Monastery from bandits
around 610 CE, and their subsequent role in the defeat of Wang Shichong at the Battle of Hulao in 621 CE. From the 8th to the
15th centuries, there are no extant documents that provide evidence of Shaolin participation in combat.

Between the 16th and 17th centuries, no fewer than forty sources exist to provide evidence both that monks of Shaolin practiced
martial arts, and that martial practice became an integral element of Shaolin monastic life. For monks to justify it by creating
new Buddhist lore, the earliest appearance of the frequently cited legend concerns Bodhidharma's supposed foundation of
Shaolin Kung Fu dates to this period. The origin of this legend has been traced to the Ming period's Yijin Jing or "Muscle
Change Classic", a text written in 1624 attributed to Bodhidharma.