Ashoka Chakra

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This article is about the symbol. For the award, see Ashoka Chakra Award.
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Illustration of the Ashoka Chakra, as depicted on the National flag of the Republic of India.

Depiction of a Chakravartin, possibly Ashoka, with a 16-spoked wheel (1st century BCE/CE)

The Ashoka Chakra is a depiction of the Buddhist Dharmachakra, represented with 24 spokes. It is so called because it appears on a number of edicts of Ashoka, most prominent among which is the Lion Capital of Sarnath.

The most visible use of the Ashoka Chakra today is at the centre of the National flag of the Republic of India(adopted on 22 July 1947), where it is rendered in a Navy-blue colour on a White background, by replacing the symbol of Charkha (Spinning wheel) of the pre-independence versions of the flag.

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, who later became India’s first Vice President, described the flag as follows:

Bhagwa or the saffron colour denotes renunciation or disinterestedness. Our leaders must be indifferent to material gains and dedicate themselves to their

work. The white in the centre is light, the path of truth to guide our conduct. The green shows our relation to (the) soil, our relation to the plant life here, on which all other life depends. The «Ashoka Chakra» in the centre of the white is the wheel of the law of dharma. Truth or satya, dharma or virtue ought to be the controlling principle 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.

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