The Spinning Wheel – The Ashoka Chakra in Our National Flag

One must know why "The Spinning Wheel – The Ashoka Chakra" is inscribed in our National Flag!

While presenting the resolution in Constituent Assembly on 22nd July 1947 with regard to the National Flag, Sri Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru said -

"I remember and many in this House will remember how we looked up to this flag not only with pride and enthusiasm but with a tingling in our veins, also how, when we were sometimes down and out, then again the sight of this flag gave us courage to go on."

Dealing with the Charkha or the wheel, Pandit Jawaharlal further said;

"Our minds went back to many wheels but notably one famous wheel, which had appeared in many places and which all of us have seen, the one at the top of the capitol of the Ashoka column and in many other places. That wheel is a symbol of India's ancient culture, it is a symbol of the many things that India had stood for through ages. So we thought that this Chakra emblem should be there, and that wheel appears..... It carried on its cultural tradition, not unchanging, not rigid, but always keeping its essence, always adapting itself to new developments, to new influences. That has been the tradition of India, always to put out fresh blooms and flowers, always receptive to the good things that it receives, sometimes receptive to bad things also, but always true to her ancient culture."

Therefore this Flag that I have the honour to present to you is not, I hope and trust, a Flag of Empire, a Flag of Imperialism, a Flag of domination over anybody, but a Flag of freedom not only for ourselves, but a symbol of freedom to all people who may see it."

Supporting the resolution, Dr. S. Radhakrishna who later had been the President in India said …

The Ashoka's wheel represents to us the wheel of the Law, the wheel of the Dharma. Truth can be gained only by the pursuit of the path of Dharma, by the practice of virtue, Truth, Satya, Dharma, Virtue, these ought to be the controlling principles of all those who work under this Flag. It also tells us that the Dharma is something which is perpetually moving ..... This wheel is a rotating thing, which is a perpetually revolving thing, indicates to us that there is a death in stagnation. There is life in movement. Our Dharma is Sanatana, eternal, not in the sense that it is a fixed deposit but in the sense that it is perpetually changing. Its uninterrupted continuity is its Sanatana character. So even with regard to our social conditions it is essential for us to move forward.

Dr. Mohammad Saadulia, while addressing the Constituent Assembly says about Dharmachakra.-

"Dharmachakra of Ashoka reminds us of the condition of the people at the time of that Buddhist Emperor of India. He ruled not for his personal aggrandizement but for the contentment, peace and prosperity of the people under his charge. This emblem now embodied in our National Flag ought to remind every administrator and every citizen of the federation of India that we should forget the past and look to the future and try to carry on the tradition of that Buddhist Emperor Ashoka..... This Chakra was a religious emblem and we cannot dissociate our social life from our religious environments."

The Nightingale of India and the first Governor of U. P., and the Member of Constituent Assembly Smt. Sarojini Naidu, while addressing the House on the occasion when the resolution regarding the Tricolor National Flag was introduced and placed before the Constituent Assembly by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, said.-

"I think that the time has come in the onward march of the world-civilization when there should be no longer any sex consciousness or sex separation in the service of the country. I therefore speak on behalf of that ancient reborn Mother with her undivided heart and indivisible spirit, whose love is equal for all her children, no matter what corner they come from in what temples or mosques they worship, what language they speak or what culture they profess."

"Many many times in the course of my long life, in my travels abroad -- for I am vagabond by nature and by destiny, I have suffered the most terrible moments of anguish in free countries, because India possessed no flag. A few of those moments I would like to recall.

On the day when peace was signed at Versailles after the last war, I happened to be in Paris. There was great rejoicing everywhere and flags of all nations decorated the Opera House. There came on the platform a famous actress with a beautiful voice, for whom the proceedings were interrupted while she wrapped round herself the flag of France. The entire audience rose as one man and sang with her the National Anthem of France -- the Marseillaise. An Indian near me with tears in his eyes turned to me and said "When shall we have our own Flag?" "The time will soon come" I answered. "When we shall have our own Flag and our own Anthem",

I was asked to speak at a peace celebration in New York soon after the peace had been signed. Forty-four Nations had their Flags fluttering in the great hall in which the Assembly met. I looked at the Flags of all the Nations and when I spoke I cried that though I did not see in that great Assembly of Free Nations the Flag of Free India, it would become the most historic Flag of the world in the not distant future."

The Utterances and observations of the one of the great ladies India has produced -- "what an Indian with tears in eyes has said to her or asked of her, are clearly indicative of the pathos and anguish of a patriot when he or she found National Flag to be absent or was not to be there in the Conference Hall. Smt. Naidu continuing her address said -

"But here today we retrieve that sorrow and that shame: we attain our own Flag, the Flag of Free India. Today we justify, we vindicate and we salute this Flag under which so many hundreds and thousands of us have fought and suffered. Men and women, old and young, princes and peasants, Hindus and Muslims, Sikhs, Jains, Christians, Zorostrians, all of them have fought under this Flag. When my friend Khaliquzzaman was speaking, I saw before me the great patriots, my friends and comrades of the Muslim community who, had suffered under this Flag. I thought of Mohamed Ali, of Shaukat Ali, of Ansari and of Ajmal Khan. I could mention the smallest community in India, the Parsi community, the community of that grand old man Dadabhai Naoroji, whose grant-daughters too fought side by side with the others, suffered imprisonment and made sacrifices for the freedom of India. I was asked by a man who was blind with prejudice: "How can you speak of this flag as the flag of India? India is divided.” I told him that this is merely a temporary geographical separation. There is no spirit of separation in the heart of India. Today I ask one and all to honour this Flag.

That wheel, what does it represent? It represents the Dharma Chakra of Ashoka the Magnificent who sent his message of peace and brotherhood all over the world. Did he not anticipate the modern ideal of fellowship and brotherhood and cooperation? Does not that wheel stand as a symbol for every national interest and national activity? Does it not represent the Charkha of my illustrious and beloved leader, Mahatma Gandhi and the wheel of time that marches and marches without hesitation and without halt? Does it not represent the rays of the Sun? Does it not represent eternity? Does it not represent the human mind? Who shall live under that flag without thinking of the common India? Who shall limit its functions? Who shall limit its inheritance? To whom does it belong? It belongs to India. It belongs to all India. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru told us that India has never been exclusive. I wish he had added: India welcomes all knowledge from friend and foe alike'..... Mrs. Naidu further told the importance of the Flag and said.

"Remember under this Flag there is no prince and there is no peasant, there is no rich and there is no poor. There is no privilege; there is only duty and responsibility and sacrifice."

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