The Dharma Chakra (Sanskrit: Dharma Chakra Pali: dhammacakka, "Wheel of Dharma") is a widespread symbol used in Indian religions such as Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. In Buddhism, the Dharma Chakra is widely used to represent the Buddha's Dharma (Buddha's teaching and the universal moral order), Gautama Buddha himself and the walking of the path to enlightenment, since the time of Early Buddhism.[note 1] The symbol is also sometimes connected to the Four Noble Truths, the Noble Eightfold Path and Dependent Origination.
Historically, the dharmachakra was often used as a decoration in Hindu and Buddhist temples, statues and inscriptions, beginning with the earliest period of Indian Buddhism to the present. It remains a major symbol of the Hindu and Buddhist religions today.
The Sanskrit noun dharma is a derivation from the root dhṛ, which has a meaning of "to hold, maintain, keep",[note 2] and takes a meaning of "what is established or firm", and hence "law". It is derived from the Vedic Sanskrit n-stem dharman- with the meaning "bearer, supporter" in the historical Vedic religion conceived of as an aspect of Ṛta.
Similar wheel/chakra symbols are one of the most ancient in all Indian history. Madhavan and Parpola note that a wheel symbol appears frequently in Indus Valley civilization artifacts, particularly on several seals. Notably, it is present in a sequence of ten signs on the Dholavira Signboard.
Some historians associate the ancient chakra symbols with solar symbolism. In the Vedas, the god Surya is associated with the solar disc, which is said to be a chariot of one wheel (cakra). Mitra, a form of Surya, is described as "the eye of the world", and thus the sun is conceived of as an eye (cakṣu) which illuminates and perceives the world. Thus, a wheel symbol might also be associated with light and knowledge.
The pre-Buddhist dharmachakra (Pali: dhammacakka) is considered one of the ashtamangala (auspicious signs) in Hinduism and Buddhism and often used as a symbol of both faiths.[note 3] It is one of the oldest known Indian symbols found in Indian art, appearing with the first surviving post-Indus Valley Civilization Indian iconography in the time of the Buddhist king Ashoka.[note 1]
The Buddha is said to have set the "wheel of dharma" in motion when he delivered his first sermon, which is described in the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta. This "turning of the wheel" signifies a great and revolutionary change with universal consequences, brought about by a exceptional human being. Buddhism adopted the wheel as a symbol from the Indian mythical idea of the ideal king, called a chakravartin ("wheel-turner", or "universal monarch"),, who was said to possess several mythical objects, including the ratana cakka (the ideal wheel). The Mahā Sudassana Sutta of the Digha Nikaya describes this wheel as having a nave (nābhi), thousand spokes (sahassārāni) and a felly (nemi), all of which are perfect in every respect. Siddhartha Gautama was said to have been a "mahapurisa" (great man) who could have chosen to become a wheel turning king, but instead became the spiritual counterpart to such a king, a wheel turning sage, i.e. a Buddha.
In his explanation of the term "turning the wheel of Dharma", the Theravada exegete Buddhaghosa explains that this "wheel" which the Buddha turned is primarily to be understood as wisdom, knowledge, and insight (ñāṇa). This wisdom has two aspects, paṭivedha-ñāṇa, the wisdom of self-realisation of the Truth and desanā-ñāṇa, the wisdom of proclamation of the Truth. The dharmachakra symbol also points to the central Indian idea of "Dharma", a complex and multivalent term which refers to the eternal cosmic law, universal moral order and in Buddhism, the very teaching and path expounded by the Buddha.
In the Buddhist Art at early sites such as Bharhut and Sanchi, the dharmachakra was often used as a symbol of Gautama Buddha himself. The symbol is often paired with the triratna (triple jewel) or trishula (trident) symbolizing the triple gem, umbrellas (chatra), symbols of sovereignty and royal power, gems and garlands. It is also sometimes depicted alongside animals such as lions, or deer.
There are different designs of the Buddhist dharmachakra with 8, 12, 24 or more spokes. In different Buddhist traditions, the different number of spokes may represent different aspects of the Buddha's Dharma (teaching). In the Indo-Tibetan Buddhist tradition for example, the 8 spoked wheel represents the noble eightfold path, and the hub, rim and spokes are also said to represent the three trainings (sila, prajña and samadhi).
In Buddhism, the cyclical movement of a wheel is also used to symbolize the cyclical nature of life in the world (also referred to as the "wheel of samsara", samsara-chakra or the "wheel of becoming", bhava-cakra). This wheel of suffering can be reversed or "turned" through the practice of the Buddhist path. The Buddhist terms for "suffering" (dukkha) and happiness (sukha) may also originally be related to the proper or improper fitting of wheels on a chariot's axle. The Indo-Tibetan tradition has developed elaborate depictions called Bhavacakras which depict the many realms of rebirth in Buddhist cosmology.
“It is the beginningless round of rebirths that is called the ’Wheel of the round of rebirths’ (saṃsāracakka). Ignorance (avijjā) is its hub (or nave) because it is its root. Ageing-and-death (jarā-maraṇa) is its rim (or felly) because it terminates it. The remaining ten links [of Dependent Origination] are its spokes [i.e. saṅkhāra up to the process of becoming, bhava].”
”The Sārnāth column may be interpreted, therefore, not only as a glorification of the Buddha’s preaching symbolised by the crowning wheel, but also through the cosmological implications of the whole pillar as a symbol of the universal extension of the power of the Buddha’s Law as typified by the sun that dominates all space and all time, and simultaneously an emblem of the universal extension of Mauryan imperialism through the Dharma. The whole structure is then a translation of age-old Indian and Asiatic cosmology into artistic terms of essentially foreign origin and dedicated, like all Asoka’s monuments, to the glory of Buddhism and the royal house.”
According to Harrison, the symbolism of "the wheel of the law" and the order of Nature is also visible in the Tibetan prayer wheels. The moving wheels symbolize the movement of cosmic order (ṛta).
The idea of a great king being associated with turning the "Wheel of Dharma" is something which is shared by Buddhism and Hinduism. In the Vishnu Purana and Bhagavata Purana, two kings named Jadabharata of the Hindu solar and lunar dynasties respectively are referred to as "chakravartins" (wheel turning kings).
In the Bhagavad Gita, verses 14, 15 and 16, of Chapter 3 speaks about the revolving wheel thus:
"From food, the beings are born; from rain, food is produced; rain proceeds from sacrifice (yagnya); yagnya arises out of action; know that from Brahma, action proceeds; Brahma is born of Brahman, the eternal Paramatman. The one who does not follow the wheel thus revolving, leads a sinful, vain life, rejoicing in the senses."
The modern State Emblem of India is a depiction of the Lion Capital of Ashoka (Sanchi), which includes the dharmachakra. An integral part of the emblem is the motto inscribed in Devanagari script: Satyameva Jayate (English: Truth Alone Triumphs). This is a quote from the Mundaka Upanishad, the concluding part of the Vedas.
Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, first Vice President of India has stated that the Ashoka Chakra of India represents the "wheel of the law of dharma", as well as "Truth or satya", "Virtue" as well as "motion", as in the "dynamism of a peaceful change".
The Ashoka Chakra is a depiction of the Dharma Chakra; a wheel 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 Ashoka. The most visible use of the Ashoka Chakra today is at the centre of the Flag of India (adopted on 22 July 1947), where it is rendered in a navy blue colour on a white background, replacing the symbol of charkha (spinning wheel) of the pre-independence versions of the flag.
India's highest peacetime military decoration awarded for valour, courageous action or self-sacrifice away from the battlefield is also called Ashoka Chakra.Ashtamangala
The Ashtamangala are a sacred suite of Eight Auspicious Signs endemic to a number of religions such as Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism. The symbols or "symbolic attributes" (Tibetan: ཕྱག་མཚན་, THL: chaktsen) are yidam and teaching tools. Not only do these attributes (or energetic signatures) point to qualities of enlightened mindstream, but they are the investiture that ornaments these enlightened "qualities" (Sanskrit: guṇa; Tibetan: ཡོན་ཏན་, THL: yönten). Many cultural enumerations and variations of the Ashtamangala are extant.Bhumaka
Bhumaka (?–119 CE) was a Western Kshatrapa ruler of the early 2nd century CE.
He was the father of the great ruler Nahapana, according to one of the latter's coins. He was preceded by Abhiraka (Aubhirakes), of whom a few coins are known.His coins bear Buddhist symbols, such as the eight-spoked wheel (dharmachakra), or the lion seate on a capital, a representation of a pilar of Ashoka.
Bhumaka's coins have been found in the regions of Gujarat, Kathiawad and Malwa.Buddha footprint
The footprint of the Buddha is an imprint of Gautama Buddha's foot or both feet. There are two forms: natural, as found in stone or rock, and those made artificially. Many of the "natural" ones are acknowledged not to be genuine footprints of the Buddha, but rather replicas or representations of them, which can be considered cetiya (Buddhist relics) and also an early aniconic and symbolic representation of the Buddha.Buddhist symbolism
Buddhist symbolism is the method of Buddhist art to represent certain aspects of dharma, which began in the fourth century BCE. Anthropomorphic symbolism appeared from around the first century CE with the arts of Mathura the Greco-Buddhist art of Gandhara, and were combined with the previous symbols. Various symbolic innovations were later introduced, especially through [Tibetan Buddhism]Chakravarti (Sanskrit term)
In Indian religions, a chakravarti (Sanskrit: चक्रवर्तिन्], cakravartin) is a world conqueror and ideal universal ruler who rules ethically and benevolently over the entire world.
Such a ruler's reign is called sarvabhauma. The word is a bahuvrīhi compound word, figuratively meaning "whose wheels are moving", in the sense of "whose chariot is rolling everywhere without obstruction". It can also be analysed as an 'instrumental bahuvrīhi: "through whom the wheel is moving" in the meaning of "through whom the Dharmachakra ("Wheel of the Dharma) is turning" (most commonly used in Buddhism). The Tibetan word translates "monarch who controls by means of a wheel".
The first references to a Chakravala Chakravartin appear in monuments from the time of the Maurya Empire (322–185 BCE), dedicated to Chandragupta Maurya and his grandson Ashoka. In Buddhism, the Chakravarti came to be considered the secular counterpart of a Buddha. In general, the term applies to temporal as well as spiritual kingship and leadership, particularly in Buddhism and Jainism. In Hinduism, the term generally denotes a powerful ruler whose dominion extended to the entire earth.Emblem of Karnataka
The Emblem of Karnataka is the state emblem of Karnataka, India. The emblem is based on that of the Kingdom of Mysore and the Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom and is carried on all official correspondences made by Government of Karnataka.
The emblem has a red shield charged with a white two-headed bird, Gandaberunda bordered in blue.
The crest depicts the Lion Capital of Ashoka (also used as the emblem of the Government of India), on a blue circular abacus with a blue frieze carrying sculptures in high relief of a galloping horse on the left, a Dharmachakra in centre, a bull on the right, and the outlines of Dharmachakras on the extreme left and right as part of Sarnath's Ashoka Pillar. The shield is flanked on either side by red-maned, yellow lion-elephant Sharabha supporters (mythical creatures believed to be upholders of righteousness stronger than lions and elephants) standing on a green, leafy compartment. Below the compartment lies written in stylized Devanāgarī, the national motto of India, "सत्यमेव जयते" (Satyameva Jayate, Sanskrit for "Truth alone triumphs").Emblem of Mongolia
The State Emblem of Mongolia (Mongolian: Монгол Улсын төрийн сүлд, Mongol Ulsīn törín süld) is used by the government of Mongolia as its symbol of state. It is officially used for example on documents such as Mongolian passports, and government and embassy placards.Emblem of Sri Lanka
The national emblem of Sri Lanka is used by the State of Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankan government in connection with the administration and government of the country. The current emblem has been in use since 1972 and created under the ideas and guidance of Nissanka Wijeyeratne. At the time, he was Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Cultural Affairs and Chairman of the National Emblem and Flag Design Committee. The designer of the emblem was Venerable Mapalagama Wipulasara Maha Thera, and the artwork was by S. M. Seneviratne.
The emblem features a gold lion passant, holding a sword in its right fore paw (the same lion from the flag of Sri Lanka) in the centre on a maroon background surrounded by golden petals of a Blue Lotus the national flower of the country. This is placed on top of a traditional grain vase that sprouts sheaves of rice grains that circle the border reflecting prosperity.
The crest is the Dharmachakra, symbolizing the country's foremost place for Buddhism and just rule. Traditional Sinhalese heraldic symbols for the sun and the moon form the supporters. Sun and Moon, and Lion depicting Lord Buddha is given less prominence than cart wheel of English Buddhism, so it is in great discordance with National Scriptures.Emblem of Tamil Nadu
The Emblem of Tamil Nadu is the official state emblem of Tamil Nadu and is used as the official state symbol of the Government of Tamil Nadu.
It consists of the Lion Capital of Ashoka without the bell lotus foundation and flanked on either side by an Indian flag. Behind the capital, is the image of a Gopuram or temple tower based on the West Tower of Srivilliputhur Andal Temple.Emblem of Telangana
The Emblem of Telangana is the state emblem of Telangana in South India. The arms has a Kakatiya Kala Thoranam in the middle, and Charminar inside it and bordered in green.Emblem of Tibet
The Emblem of Tibet is a symbol of the Tibetan government in exile. It combines several elements of the flag of Tibet, with slightly different artistry, and contains many Buddhist symbols. Its primary elements are the sun and moon above the Himalayas, which represent Tibet, often known as the Land Surrounded by Snow Mountains. On the slopes of the mountains stand a pair of snow lions. Held between the two lions is the eight-spoked Dharmacakra, represent the Noble Eightfold Path of Buddhism. Inside the wheel, the three-colored swirling jewel represents the practices of the ten exalted virtues and the 16 humane modes of conduct. The inscription on the swirling banner below is as follows:bod gzhung dga' ldan pho brang phyogs las rnam rgyal ("Tibetan Government, Ganden Palace, victorious in all directions".) The Ganden Palace, located in Drepung monastery was the residence of the Dalai Lamas until the 5th Dalai Lama. After the 5th Dalai Lama had moved to the Potala in the mid 17th century the Tibetan Government created by him in 1642 became known as the "Ganden Phodrang" Government.
It is the official emblem of the Central Tibetan Administration government-in-exile headquartered in Dharamsala, India. Along with their flag, the emblem is considered a symbol of the Tibetan independence movement and is thus banned in the People's Republic of China, including the Tibet Autonomous Region, which corresponds to the former area of control of the Tibetan government at Lhasa, as well as other areas in greater Tibet. The emblem is often seen printed in black-and-white and crimson-and-white variants, which is characteristic of the colors commonly seen in Buddhist iconography and dress.Karma Triyana Dharmachakra
Karma Triyana Dharmachakra is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Woodstock, New York, United States, which serves as the North American seat of the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, head of the Karma Kagyu lineage. It was founded in 1976 by the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa with Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche as abbot. This is a position which he has continued to hold as of 2014. The
Third Bardor Tulku Rinpoche stayed in the United States to help Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche and Mr. Tenzin Chonyi establish and develop Karma Triyana Dharmachakra.Karmapa
The Karmapa (honorific title His Holiness the Gyalwa (རྒྱལ་བ་, Victorious One) Karmapa, more formally as Gyalwang (རྒྱལ་དབང་ཀརྨ་པ་, King of Victorious Ones) Karmapa, and informally as the Karmapa Lama) is the head of the Karma Kagyu, the largest sub-school of the Kagyu (བཀའ་བརྒྱུད, Wylie: bka' brgyud), itself one of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism.
The historical seat of the Karmapas is Tsurphu Monastery in the Tolung valley of Tibet. The Karmapa's principal seat in exile is the Dharma Chakra Centre at Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim, India. His regional monastic seats are Karma Triyana Dharmachakra in New York and Dhagpo Kagyu Ling in Dordogne, France.
Due to a controversy within the Karma Kagyu school over the recognition process, the identity of the current 17th Karmapa is disputed by some. See Karmapa controversy for details.Lalitavistara Sūtra
The Lalitavistara Sūtra is a Sanskrit Mahayana Buddhist sutra that tells the story of Gautama Buddha from the time of his descent from Tushita until his first sermon in the Deer Park near Varanasi. The term Lalitavistara has been translated "The Play in Full" or "Extensive Play," referring to the Mahayana view that the Buddha’s last incarnation was a "display" or "performance" given for the benefit of the beings in this world.Lion Capital of Ashoka
The Lion Capital of Ashoka is a sculpture of four Asiatic lions standing back to back, on an elaborate base that includes other animals. A graphic representation of it was adopted as the official Emblem of India in 1950. It was originally placed on the top of the Ashoka pillar at the important Buddhist site of Sarnath by the Emperor Ashoka, in about 250 BCE. The pillar, sometimes called the Aśoka Column, is still in its original location, but the Lion Capital is now in the Sarnath Museum, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India. Standing 2.15 metres (7 feet) high including the base, it is more elaborate than the other very similar surviving capitals of the pillars of Ashoka bearing the Edicts of Ashoka that were placed throughout India several of which feature single animals at the top; one other damaged group of four lions survives, at Sanchi.The capital is carved out of a single block of polished sandstone, and was always a separate piece from the column itself. It features four Asiatic Lions standing back to back. They are mounted on an abacus with a frieze carrying sculptures in high relief of an elephant, a galloping horse, a bull, and a lion, separated by intervening spoked chariot-wheels. The whole sits upon a bell-shaped lotus. The capital was originally crowned by a 'Wheel of Dharma' (Dharmachakra popularly known in India as the "Ashoka Chakra"), with 24 spokes, of which a few fragments were found on the site. A 13th-century replica of the Sarnath pillar and capital in Wat Umong near Chiang Mai, Thailand built by King Mangrai, preserves its crowning Ashoka Chakra or Dharmachakra. The wheel on the capital, below the lions, is the model for the one in the flag of India.Mudra
A mudra ( (listen); Sanskrit "seal", "mark", or "gesture"; Tibetan: ཕྱག་རྒྱ་, THL: chakgya) is a symbolic or ritual gesture in Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. While some mudras involve the entire body, most are performed with the hands and fingers. A mudrā is a spiritual gesture and an energetic seal of authenticity employed in the iconography and spiritual practice of Indian religions.
In hatha yoga, mudras are used in conjunction with pranayama (yogic breathing exercises), generally while in a seated posture, to stimulate different parts of the body involved with breathing and to affect the flow of prana, bindu (male psycho-sexual energy), boddhicitta, amrita or consciousness in the body. Unlike older tantric mudras, hatha yogic mudras are generally internal actions, involving the pelvic floor, diaphragm, throat, eyes, tongue, anus, genitals, abdomen, and other parts of the body. Examples of this diversity of mudras are Mula Bandha, Mahamudra, Viparita Karani, Khecarī mudrā, and Vajroli mudra. These expanded in number from 3 in the Amritasiddhi, to 25 in the Gheranda Samhita, with a classical set of ten arising in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika.Rumtek Monastery
Rumtek Monastery (Tibetan: རུམ་ཐེག་དགོན་པ་, Wylie: rum theg dgon pa), also called the Dharmachakra Centre, is a gompa located in the Indian state of Sikkim near the capital Gangtok. It is a focal point for the sectarian tensions within the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism that characterize the Karmapa controversy.State Emblem of India
The State Emblem of India, as the national emblem of India is called, is an adaptation of the Lion Capital of Ashoka at Sarnath, preserved in the Sarnath Museum near Varanasi, India. A representation of Lion Capital of Ashoka was initially adopted as the emblem of the Dominion of India in December 1947. The current version of the emblem was officially adopted on 26 January 1950, the day that India became a republic.
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