Dharmacakra, aka: Dharma-cakra; 11 Definition(s)
Dharmacakra means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit, the history of ancient India. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.
Alternative spellings of this word include Dharmachakra.
Purana and Itihasa (epic history)
Dharmacakra (धर्मचक्र).—Also Sunābha, was set in motion and the place where its spokes were thrown out was spotted as the sacred place fit for seers; it fell in the Naimiṣa region.*
- * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa I. 2. 8; Vāyu-purāṇa 1. 183; 2. 8.
The Purana (पुराण, purāṇas) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahapuranas total over 400,000 shlokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.
Dhanurveda (science of warfare)
Dharmacakra (धर्मचक्र) refers to a weapon (a mythical weapon). It is a Sanskrit word defined in the Dhanurveda-saṃhitā, which contains a list of no less than 117 weapons. The Dhanurveda-saṃhitā is said to have been composed by the sage Vasiṣṭha, who in turn transmitted it trough a tradition of sages, which can eventually be traced to Śiva and Brahmā.Source: Wisdom Library: Dhanurveda
Dhanurveda (धनुर्वेद) refers to the “knowledge of warfare” and, as an upaveda, is associated with the Ṛgveda. It contains instructions on warfare, archery and ancient Indian martial arts, dating back to the 2nd-3rd millennium BCE.
Dharmacakra (धर्मचक्र) or Dharmacakrahasta refers to “Buddha” and represents one of the four gestures with both hands, as defined according to texts dealing with śilpa (arts and crafs), known as śilpaśāstras.—Accordingly, pratimā-lakṣaṇa (body postures of the icons) is comprised of hand gestures (hasta, mudrā or kai-amaiti), stances/poses (āsanas) and inflexions of the body (bhaṅgas). There are thirty-two types of hands [viz., dharmacakra-hasta] classified into two major groups known as tolirkai (functional and expressive gestures) and elirkai (graceful posture of the hand).Source: Shodhganga: The significance of the mūla-beras (śilpa)
Shilpashastra (शिल्पशास्त्र, śilpaśāstra) represents the ancient Indian science (shastra) of creative arts (shilpa) such as sculpture, iconography and painting. Closely related to Vastushastra (architecture), they often share the same literature.
Mahayana (major branch of Buddhism)
Dharmacakra (धर्मचक्र) refers to the “Wheel of Dharma”, according to an appendix at the 2nd century Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra chapter 51.—The Wheel of the Dharma (dharmacakra) is of three turnings and twelve aspects.
The first turning (parivarta) of the noble Truths is the Path of seeing (darśanamārga) and consists of four aspects (ākāra):
- This is suffering (idaṃ duḥkham);
- This is its origin (ayaṃ samudayaḥ);
- This is its cessation (ayaṃ nirodhaḥ);
- This is the path of the cessation of suffering (iyaṃ nirodhagāminī pratipat).
The second turning is the path of meditation (bhāvanāmārga) and consists of four aspects:
- The noble truth of suffering should be known (duḥkhaṃ āryasatyaṃ parijñeyam);
- Its origin should be eliminated (duḥkhasamudayaḥ prahātavyaḥ);
- Its destruction should be realized (duḥkhanirodhaḥ sākṣātkartavyaḥ);
- The path of cessation of suffering should be practiced (duḥkhanirodhagāminī pratipad bhāvayitavyā).
The third turning is the path of the Arhat (aśaikṣamārga) and consists of four aspects:
- Suffering is known (duḥkhaṃ parijñātam);
- Its origin has been destroyed (samudayaḥ prahīṇaḥ);
- Its destruction has been realized (nirodhaḥ sākṣātkṛtaḥ);
- The path of the cessation of suffering has been practiced (duḥkhanirodhagāminī pratipad bhāvitā).
Mahayana (महायान, mahāyāna) is a major branch of Buddhism focusing on the path of a Bodhisattva (spiritual aspirants/ enlightened beings). Extant literature is vast and primarely composed in the Sanskrit language. There are many sūtras of which some of the earliest are the various Prajñāpāramitā sūtras.
General definition (in Buddhism)
One of the Eight Auspicious Symbols
The Dharmacakra is a symbol that has represented dharma, the Buddhas teaching of the path to enlightenment, since the early period of Indian Buddhism. It is also sometimes translated as wheel of doctrine or wheel of law. A similar symbol is also in use in Jainism. It is one of the Ashtamangala Symbols.Source: WikiPedia: Buddhism
The dharmacakra or Wheel of the Law has been an integral part of Buddhist iconography from its earliest representations in India until the present day. It symbolises the moment Sakyamuni put into motion the teachings of Buddhism at the deer park in Sarnath. It was this event that in effect started the entire Buddhist religious and monastic movement.
The dharmacakra is made up of two to three distinct parts. Firstly there is the cakra (wheel) itself which is shown with spokes radiating out from the centre to the rim. The spokes can vary in number from anywhere between four and twenty. The cakra is at times mounted on a stambha (pillar).Source: SOAS Research Online: The Buddhist boundary markers of northeast Thailand and central Laos
India history and geogprahy
The earliest evidence for the dharmacakra motif comes from the Maurya Period (circa 313-185 BCE). Most examples occur in stone reliefs such as at the sites of Bharhut, Sanci and Amaravati, and in certain instances most likely symbolise aniconic representations of the Buddha. In these early examples the cakra is usually mounted on a stambha. From the 3rd century CE onwards the motif becomes restricted to the bases of Buddha images and signifies the first sermon scene (Brown 1996, 160).Source: SOAS Research Online: The Buddhist boundary markers of northeast Thailand and central Laos (history)
The history of India traces the identification of countries, villages, towns and other regions of India, as well as royal dynasties, rulers, tribes, local festivities and traditions and regional languages. Ancient India enjoyed religious freedom and encourages the path of Dharma, a concept common to Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism.
Languages of India and abroad
dhammacakka : (nt.) the wheel of Norm.Source: BuddhaSasana: Concise Pali-English Dictionary
Pali is the language of the Tipiṭaka, which is the sacred canon of Theravāda Buddhism and contains much of the Buddha’s speech. Closeley related to Sanskrit, both languages are used interchangeably between religions.
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Search found 12 books and stories containing Dharmacakra or Dharma-cakra. You can also click to the full overview containing English textual excerpts. Below are direct links for the most relevant articles:
The Indian Buddhist Iconography (by Benoytosh Bhattachacharyya)
The Buddha (by Piyadassi Thera)
The gods of northern Buddhism (by Alice Getty)
Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra (by Helen M. Johnson)
Notes on Atiśaya (supernatural powers) < [Notes]
Part 13: Sambhava’s samavasaraṇa < [Chapter I - Sambhavajinacaritra]
Part 2: Arrival at Aṣṭāpada < [Chapter VI]
The Mirror of Gesture (abhinaya-darpana) (by Ananda Coomaraswamy)
Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra (by Gelongma Karma Migme Chödrön)
Appendix 5 - Definition of Brahmacarya and Brahmacakra < [Chapter XIV - Emission of rays]
Act 1.4: The Buddha emits light rays from various body parts < [Chapter XIV - Emission of rays]
Part 1 - Seeing the fields of the Buddhas of the three times < [Chapter LI - Seeing all the Buddha Fields]