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.