The Wheel of Dharma, Dharmachakra, or Wheel of Dharma, is one of the many sacred teachings of Buddhism

The wheel of dharma, in addition to Buddhism, is also represented in Indian religions, such as Hinduism and Jainism. It is one of the most important and sacred symbols of the Buddhist faith because it represents the teachings of the Buddha.

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The Meaning of the Dharma Wheel

Dharmachakra comes from Dharma, which is the path to achieving enlightenment and achieving Nirvana (the highest state a person can achieve). It also means the Wheel of Law.

While there are many variations of the Dharma Wheel, they are usually depicted with eight spokes and are gold in color. Three shapes are represented in the center of the wheel, typically a Yin Yang shape, a wheel or a circle.

The meaning of Dharmachakra generally refers to a typical Dharma wheel with eight spokes - representing the eightfold path - and is the oldest universal symbol for Buddhism . There are multiple ways to interpret the Wheel of Dharma, so there are multiple meanings behind the symbol. There are three different parts that make up the Dharma Wheel: the spokes, the hub, and the rim.

the wheel of Dharma Chakra

The edge of the Wheel of Dharma further means the ability to hold all the teachings together through meditation and concentration. The circular shape of the wheel symbolizes the perfection of Buddha's teachings.

The hub in the center of the wheel of Dharma represents moral discipline. The three swirling shapes on the hub, often depicted in blue, yellow and red, symbolize Dharma, Buddha and Sangha respectively. They are also known as the Three Treasures or Jewels.

A Dharma wheel with four spokes symbolizes the four noble truths. When the wheel has eight spokes, it represents the eightfold path and Buddhism. Ten spokes on a wheel of Dharma signifies the ten directions and twelve spokes symbolize the Twelve Links of Dependent Origin.

If a Dharma Wheel has twenty-four spokes, it is known as the Ashoka chakra and symbolizes the twenty-four ideal qualities of a disciple of Buddhism. The Ashoka chakra also represents the reversal of the Twelve Links and the liberation from Samsara - the continuous cycle of reincarnation. A Dharma wheel with thirty-one spokes represents the thirty-one realms of existence found in Buddhist cosmology.

In its entirety, the wheel of Dharma symbolizes the teachings of Buddha. When one practices dharma, one practices the teachings of the Buddha and protects oneself from suffering and eliminates ignorance, thereby improving one's quality of life. These teachings have been described as a wheel because they move and travel across the land and people can then exert control over their minds. Together, the three aspects of the Dharma Wheel symbolize concentration, ethics and wisdom – all of which are essential in the Buddha's teachings.

The story of the wheel of Dharma

meaning wheel of dharma

One of the oldest depictions of the Wheel of Dharma as a symbol was found on the pillars that were built by Emperor Ashoka between 304 and 232 BC. He ruled India and followed the teachings of Buddhism.

Several of the pillars he built still stand today and represent various edicts that encouraged his people to practice Buddhism, without ever forcing it on them. Ashoka Chakras, Dharma wheels with twenty-four spokes, can be found on these pillars.

However, the Wheel of Dharma appeared in Indian artwork before the reign of Ashoka the Great. These Dharma wheels also had twenty-four spokes and usually appeared to sit on top of four lions who sat back to back as they each faced one of the four cardinal points.

In 1947, the Ashoka Chakra became part of the Indian flag. Today, the Wheel of Dharma is depicted in art within different Buddhist cultures. This can be seen in the images of Buddha as they appear on his hands and feet - representing one of the Marks of a Great Man.

The wheel of Dharma in different cultures


The meaning of Dharmachakra in Hinduism refers more to the Wheel of Dharma as the Wheel of Law. It is a symbol of order and religious routine that pious Hindu worshipers must practice. In Sanskrit, the word Dharma comes from the word dhr, which means “to hold and maintain” and “that which is established or firm.”

The Dharma Wheel is commonly found in depictions of Vishnu, the god of preservation. Vishnu is one of the Hindu triumvirates and is the god responsible for protecting humans and restoring and maintaining order in the world. He is often depicted carrying a wheel or disc, which is considered a very powerful weapon that can conquer passions and desires.


In Tibet, the wheel of Dharma is a very important symbol because it is one of the eight auspicious symbols. It is typically seen between two deer, symbolizing Buddha's early teachings in a deer park. When Buddha gave this first sermon, the deer in the park gathered and listened. When deer are depicted next to a Dharma Wheel, it serves as a reminder that Buddha valued all beings and all life, not just humans.

In these depictions, the wheel of Dharma must be twice as tall as the deer as they sit peacefully next to it with their legs tucked under them and their heads raised to look at the wheel.

Some Tibetan deities are depicted using the wheel as a weapon to defeat evil and ignorance. These depictions are believed to have been influenced by Hindu depictions of Lord Vishnu who also carries the steering wheel as a weapon.


The Dharma Wheel is a sacred and ancient Buddhist symbol and represents the Buddhist faith universally. After attaining enlightenment, Buddha gave his first teachings and gave a sermon on the first wheel of Dharma. He delivered this sermon in a deer park in Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh, India.
Buddha spoke on the Four Noble Truths Sutra, the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras, and the Discriminating Intention Sutra. These three teachings are known as the Three Turns of the Wheel of Dharma.

“Guide” meditation=

Sutra of Setting in Motion the Wheel of Dharma - The Four Noble Truths
- YouTube channel: Buddha Sutra

Consult the article: Buddhist symbols and their meaning

Other sources:


Jùlîen Bres

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