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Eight-spoke wheel on ancient Indian coins

22 Jan 2019  Tue

Today we will discuss about eight-spoke wheel which is often seen on ancient Indian coins. An eight-spoke wheel symbol is one of the most important and common form of wheel in Buddhism. It is also known as ‘Wheel of Dhamma’ or Dhammachakka/Dharmachakra. The wheel of Dhamma is one of the oldest symbols which represents Buddhism, all over the world, it is used to represent Buddhism. Eight-spokes of wheel refer to the eightfold path thought by Gautama Buddha to attain enlightenment. It also connects to the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. These eight spokes represent the eight right ways of life. This wheel can be divided into three different parts which represent different aspects of Buddhist practice.

This copper unit issued by king Achyuta from Ahichhatra kingdom has an image of eight spokes wheel on it.

There are many ancient Indian dynasties and kingdoms who issued coins with the same eight-spoke wheel symbol which not just represents Buddhism; it also was a symbol which is affiliated to Hinduism and Vaishnava dharma (Vaishnavism). It’s seen on various coins of Pre-Satavahana from Vidarbha, PMC’s coins of Kosala, Imperial Mauryan as well as Magadha and Mauryan empire, Vanga. There are various other coins with the same symbol issued in Vidisha region, on coins of Greco-Bactrian ruler Agathocles Dikaios, Indo-Greek Kingdom rulers Menander I and Menander II, coins of Western Kshatrapas: Kshaharata Dynasty - Abhiraka and Bhumaka, coins of Koth-Kula, coins of Alchon Huns, Nagas of Narwar/Padmavati and many more.

Image Courtesy: Amit Udeshi’s personal collection.

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