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What is the meaning of the spoked wheel in the flag of India?

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Fig.1 Indian Flag

Fig.1 Indian Flag

Fig.2 Lion capital of Asoka Pillar. The wheel seen at the base of the capital was thew model for the wheel on Indian Flag

Fig.2 Lion capital of Asoka Pillar. The wheel seen at the base of the capital was thew model for the wheel on Indian Flag

Fig.3 An example of 21 spoked Wheel of Law, simply repesenting a chariot wheel.

Fig.3 An example of 21 spoked Wheel of Law, simply repesenting a chariot wheel.

When India's National flag was adopted in the Constituent Assembly, the then Vice President Dr. S. Radhakrishnan explained the meaning of the spoked wheel that featured in the centre of the flag as follows:

"The Ashoka Wheel in the center of the white is the wheel of the law of dharma. Truth or satya, dharma or virtue ought to be the controlling principles of those who work under this flag. Again, the wheel denotes motion. There is death in stagnation. There is life in movement. India should no more resist change; it must move and go forward. The wheel represents the dynamism of a peaceful change."

This seems a modified version of the ancient concept of wheel, to suit the needs of a newly liberated nation that decided to uphold secularism. However, the wheel as used by Emperor Asoka was related to Buddhism, but throughout the history of Buddhism, the shape of the wheel and its meaning had been changing. One can come across wheels, which are referred as Dharma Chakra (wheel of law of universe), with varying number of spokes. Wheels with four, eight, ten, twelve and twenty-four spokes were used. The early Dharma Wheels are seen with many spokes. It seems at that time number of spoke had no specific meaning and the wheel just represent a chariot wheel which symbolized Buddhist concept of endless cycle of birth and rebirth.

Later versions of Dharma Wheel consist of four or eight spokes and given specific meanings to the spokes. As an example, in the case of eight-spoked wheel, the spokes represent the eightfold path leading to enlightenment. The paths are:

  1. Right faith,
  2. Right intention,
  3. Right speech,
  4. Right action,
  5. Right livelihood,
  6. Right endeavor,
  7. Right mindfulness, and
  8. Right meditation.
Fig.4 Flag of Indian National Congress.

Fig.4 Flag of Indian National Congress.

Gandhi with his spinning wheel, one of the symbols of freedom struggle in India.

Gandhi with his spinning wheel, one of the symbols of freedom struggle in India.

Why Indian Flag Needed a Wheel

The flag of Indian National Congress that provided the leadership for the independent struggle was similar to the present Indian flag, but it had a spinning wheel at the centre. Spinning wheel was one of the symbols of freedom struggle and was very closer to the heart of Mahatma Gandhi who was regarded as the father of independent India. Originally, it was decided to adopt the same flag as the national flag.

During the discussion in the Constituent Assembly, non-Congress members objected to the proposal to adopt the existing tri-colour flag with the emblem of the spinning wheel, as it was a flag of a particular political party. As a compromise, the tri colour was retained and the spinning wheel was replaced by the 24-spoked wheel. It was reported that Gandhi was not very happy about the decision. 8-spoked wheel also was suggested initially to replace the spinning wheel, but it was not accepted. Probably it was thought the 24-spoked wheel could find more common grounds, with other religious concepts, than 8-spoked wheel.

Wheel and Non-Buddhist Concepts

It is said that the worship of the chakra as representing the supreme ideals underlying the cosmic manifestation on the one hand and of the individual life on the other has been a part of Indian tradition from the most ancient times.

In the Hindu texts too speak about cosmic wheel and the concept of the cycle of birth and rebirth also is not alien to the Hindu philosophy.

Know More about Indian Flag.

  • Cultural Politics of the National Flag
    There are certain moments in the cultural and political life of a nation when the national flag comes into prominence. In the cultural and political semiotics of nationhood, the National Flag is bound to occupy an increasingly important place.
  • National Flag in All India Congress Committee (AICC) Web Site
    The evolution of the Indian National Flag reflects the political developments in the country during the 20th century. The various political trends, communal tensions, waves of enthusiasm can all be seen in the people’s attitude to the flag.
  • Dharmacakra - From Wikipedia
    The Dharmacakra symbol has the form of a wheel with eight or more spokes (sometimes 24 spokes representing the solar cycle). It is one of the oldest Hindu and Buddhist symbols, found in Indian art from the Vedic time and the time of the Buddhist king
  • India: Historical Flags
    In Anand Bhawan, the home of the Nehru's, in Allahabad, U.P., there is an annex to the main building. On the wall of this annex there is a fairly small information board, telling visitors about the evolution of the Indian national flag

Comments

Shakti nandan on October 29, 2019:

Àshoka's ........... is part of our national flag

.

Jaden on January 27, 2017:

I am home-schooled and I am doing a report and this really helped me

sangeetha N on August 19, 2015:

It's very usefully to know all this historys about India

keya sarkar on July 23, 2015:

at first 8 spokes were proposed but it signified particularly the eight fold path of Budhhism...but India is a multi religious country so 24 spokes were used to signify the solar cycle ......24 spokes signifies the 24 hrs of a day ....means constant in progressive motion of prosperity.

christine Anne Justin on March 02, 2015:

Awesome and inspiring!

viji on January 22, 2015:

Beautiful explanation very useful

Shivam on August 17, 2014:

Awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

phurba l sherpa. on August 13, 2014:

Every expert has different explanation about the spokes of wheel in Indian flag....i wonder what is the True concept of 24 spoks behind it.

Ashu reddy on August 11, 2014:

Asama history in my lovely India.......

kobe on April 03, 2014:

what the

shabir on January 07, 2014:

I love my india

dushyant on December 25, 2013:

I love my India

navot on April 04, 2013:

goood

Wisdom on March 12, 2013:

Once I read an article, it said that two out ten of most outstanding or significant personalities ever produced by the world lived in India. They are , the Buddha and Emporor Ashok. They were Buddhist. It's a great and most peaceful religion in the world. Why India doesn't have much Buddhist????

vijaya lakshmi on December 05, 2012:

I BORN IN 15-03-1977

BORN AT KURNOOL ANDHRA PRADESH INDIA

VIKRAM SINGH KHANGAROT,JAIPUR on August 13, 2012:

GIVE PROPER ANS. 4 24 SPOKES IS MEAN IN DIAN FLAG

RANA JASWANT SINGH on August 13, 2012:

I love my country and salute the National Flag. Is it not that each spoke of the wheel represented each province of the country at the time of the Independence ? Please advise. Thanks.

venu on August 06, 2012:

Mera Bharat Mahan

Gurwinder on June 17, 2012:

Our national flag means a thing which shows our culture ,our respect among other countries .The 24spokes were adopted by Chakra who was the physician in the court of king Kanishka .The chakra has wrote the book chakra summita.I think in this book chakra has wrote the significance of 24spokes.As the former president Dr.S Radhakrishna has said in the constiuent assembly that 24spokes indicates the dharma chakra.The dharma means religious duty which was followed by The Great Emporer Ashoka.I cannot exactly say that Dharma which was followed by Ashoka because that word was from the sanskrit dhamma.I think the true meaning of 24spokes can be the principles of our law.

Amaratunga Sri Lanka on May 07, 2012:

Your web can be improved a great lot.

Please do so.

Dhillon on April 18, 2012:

There is all good about indian flag . Saffron represent to hindu people ,green represent to muslim people but there are nothing which represent sikh people .everyone knows that bhagat singh (sikh) had big hand for thr freedom of india .so, there should be any sign which represents to sikh .this is my point of view but i love india and indian flag

james jacob on April 17, 2012:

Thanks a lot

sathish on March 08, 2012:

what is the meaning about the 24 spokes of indian flag

vicky on February 22, 2012:

Aisi jankari ke liye sukriya

harshvir singh 3mw on February 07, 2012:

i think that it has a wheel because the icland have the same flag so they put a wheel in the midle .

Bee bee on February 01, 2012:

I love india thanks for the facts

scottrights from San Diego on February 01, 2012:

Very interesting article. I've seen the wheel, but I never really thought about it until your article. Thanks.

mohit on January 15, 2012:

realy its a nice job, bec we search a right means of flage

olla on December 26, 2011:

what is the meaning of each 24 soke in ashoka chakrs

chikne on October 28, 2011:

Tiu india

Rudra on March 29, 2011:

Very good explanation of the wheel. Thank you.

kiran on March 08, 2011:

yes, this article is great & gave me lot of inputs so im thankful to those who have created this article.great INDIA.im so proud to be an INDIAN

pinky on December 25, 2010:

INDIA

THE GREAT

"JAI HINDH"

Jyothi on August 05, 2010:

The wheel has 24 spokes, representing the 24 hours in a day (at the end of each spoke is a dark blue half-moon). This has been adopted from Ashoka Chakra. Initially Chakraa (spinning wheel) was suggested but changed later because the flag visibility from the other end would be affected if Spinning Wheel is used. Therefore Ashoka chakra was chosen later.

ravi on August 05, 2010:

why 24 spokes? plz answer

? on August 05, 2010:

yo dis is da best website in da freeking world

narender next on July 14, 2010:

thank thanks for this usefull information

Kate P from The North Woods, USA on July 10, 2010:

Awesome article! Very well said! :)

Kate P from The North Woods, USA on July 10, 2010:

Awesome article! Very well said! :)

Ravi on June 19, 2010:

why 24 spokes? plz answer

Kriti on June 08, 2010:

East or West India is the best....India Rocks.....

Rehan on February 24, 2010:

Pakistani flag has more beautiful explainaition than idia's flag

jhanvi solanki on February 23, 2010:

ilike me

viks on January 26, 2010:

its a flag of proud n we reveal that its not about spokes or colour its about country

Davina on January 04, 2010:

this was very helpful thank you

Sanjay Sapre from India on December 11, 2009:

thanks for sharing this useful information.

livingmatters on October 21, 2009:

yes, i nhv also this question.why 24 spokes?not 23 or 22.try to give answer of that plz.some hub says safron signifies courage and truth other says earthly contact.some says green is for growth other says, it is for greeneary(every thing depend upon this).which one is right.explain plz.

Anand on September 10, 2009:

God Bless India and His People in India.

Jai Swaminarayan

Ganesh-Bio on March 28, 2009:

Very interesting messages......Jaihind

G SURAJ on December 09, 2008:

explanation about ashoka wheel is fine, but why 24 spokes ? why not 23 or 22 or 35 etc ? please reply to my id gsuraj@eaton.com

peter jacko on October 20, 2008:

this is the web site about indias flag

Someone on September 04, 2008:

That is all true, the indian flag is great!

Ashok Rajagopalan from Chennai on November 01, 2007:

Paraglider, you're right. There can't be a modern explanation when something is taken off an ancient symbol.

Great hub!

Mahaveer Sanglikar from Pune, India on October 06, 2007:

What a superb article. It gives many details.

Awender on September 22, 2007:

A well written article, the basics of the meaning can be found on the Flags of the world site, but the rest of the article was good reading and helped with some of the history of how the flag came about.

http://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/in.html

The site Flags of the World tends to provide a fairly good explanation to the meanings of all flags that they can find meanings for, and are always ready to listen if you can produce a good source of an alternate meaning.

Dave McClure from Kyle, Scotland on September 16, 2007:

Excellent stuff and very enlightening. I'd always found the 24 spokes = 24 hours explanation too pat, too modern. This puts it in perspective while leaving some questions open. Thanks for the answer.

jstankevicz from Cave Creek on September 16, 2007:

Interesting Hub. The top color in the National flag appears to be different hue than that in National Congress flag. Is this just the images, or are the flags different colors as well?