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Odisha Review June - 2014

Chakra, The Symbol of Eternity

and Sudarshan Chakra
Dr. Srinivas Acharya

C hakra, as an expression of infinity and ultimate

truth, is intimately connected with the spiritual
and cultural life of India from time immemorial.
The wheel of the sun is described in the
Vedas as golden which Indra steals and throws
against the demons of darkness at the decline of
This is the symbol that has found an important day or night. (RV. 1.130.9.). Besides the Sun,
place in the mythologies of many nations. In our Soma, Pusana, Marutas and Asvins are said to
ancient religious literature, particularly possess wheels in the Rig Veda.
Vedic, Tantric, Buddhist and to some
The nervous centres in
extent, Yogic the wheel constitutes
our body which are the
a mystic symbol of esoteric
potential sources of vitality for
and secret doctrines. As the
development of energy and
sun, time and life ever
spiritual power are termed as
continue to move on without stop, they
wheels by the mystics and these
were allegorically termed ‘wheels’ by the
wheels or centres are concealed in the
ancient people. different parts of our body. For them,
The Rig Veda treats the wheel the body is only a vehicle driven by
primarily as a symbol of the sun and of the Atman mounted on these wheels
time and in a few references, as a sign and constitutes only a medium or a
of sovereign authority. The origin of means to achieve or attain their ultimate
the later symbolic representations and goal.
allegorical expressions of the wheel The Svetasvatara Upanishad describes in
can be traced back to Rig Vedic detail what it calls a revolving
concepts. The word ‘Chakra’ means turning or Brahmachakra or Samsarachakra which is being
revolving and is derived from the roots car, cak caused to revolve by the greatness of God. The
or kram, all meaning ‘to move’. Thus it means Upanishad further says that the Hamsa (Jivatman)
that whichever moves forward or rolls on flutters about in the Brahmachakra which vitalises
unchecked or a thing that pervades. Chakra is all things and also appears in all things. This merry-
allegorically applied to time which never stops and go-round Jivatman, we are told, attains immortality
the sun with its never-ceasing movement. by escaping from this ever revolving

June - 2014 Odisha Review

Brahmachakra and attains Moksha when he sign of eternity, completeness (purnata), continuity
realizes that Jivatman and Isvara are one and not and incessant progress, and above all, in Buddhism
different and when the supreme soul favours him particularly, it is a divine symbol of eternal
with his blessings. Doctrine, the Dharma of the “Middle Path” which
leads to insight, supreme wisdom and Nirvana.
The Yoga Upanishads generally speak of
the six mystic Chakras such as Muladhara, Sudarshan Chakra, the King of Wheels
Swadhistana, Manipura, Anahata, Visuddha and
Ajna besides the Sahasrara which is thousand- Origin of Sudarshan Chakra- The Vishnu
spoked. Purana contains the following story about the
origin of Chakra.
The Mahabharat advises one to be aware
of the Kalachakra and try to understand it Suryadev (The Sun God} married
properly and then throw it away, that is, escape Samjna, daughter of Visvakarma. But, due to the
from its rotation, the unending chain of repeated insufferable heat of her husband the marital life of
existence, also mentions another wheel from which Samjna became miserable, and so she requested
it does not ask one to run away but turn it and her father to lesser the heat of Surya. And
then through it reach the ultimate goal from where accordingly Visvakarma ground Surya on a
one never returns. grinding machine and thus diminished only 1/8 of
that effulgence, which glowing red-hot dropped
In Buddhist literature we find the concept on the earth, and with that Visvakarma made the
of the wheel of Dharma which is found in Sudarshana Chakra, the Trishula, the
Buddha's sermons in Varanasi. ‘The spokes of Puspakavimana and the weapon called Sakti. Out
the wheel are the rules of pure conduct; justice is of those four things the Trishula came to be
the uniformity of their length; wisdom is the time; possessed by Siva, the Puspakavimana by
modesty and thoughtfulness are the hub in which Kubera and Shakti by Brahma. The Sudarshan
the immovable axle of truth is fixed.’ Buddhism,
Chakra which was glowing like anything was
later, gave wider currency to symbolism of the
deposited in the sea. (Visnu Puran, Part-3
wheel by incorporating all the above ideas and
Chapter-2). There is a story in the Mahabharata
making it a household word for Buddhists. There
as to how the Chakra thrown into the sea came
is the Bhavchakra with twelve nidanas, such as
into possession of Mahavisnu. While Srikrishna
jaramarana, jati, bhava, upadana, trisna,
and Arjuna were in a picnic on the shores of the
vedana, sparsa, sadayatana, namarupa,
vijnana, samskara and avidya described in the Yamuna, Agnideva went to them and requested
Buddhist canons. These twelve nidanas are them to give Khandava forest to him for food. As
believed to be the main causes for the Taksaka, friend of Indra, was living in the forest
transmigration of the soul or the repetition of birth the latter was causing heavy rains to fall there.
and death. One who wants to escape from this Krishna and Arjuna realized the fact that Agni
wheel should destroy there nidanas and, would be able to consume the forest only after
ultimately the bhavachakra as well. subjugating Indra. But, how to manage it ? Then
Agni said that he would supply the weapon to
Chakra as a circle has neither beginning fight Indra with, and accordingly he meditated on
nor end, and in value it is infinite. It is, in plain, a Varuna, who presented to him (Agni) a chariot

Odisha Review June - 2014

and flag with monkey as symbol, a quiver which Gamhabedi on the full moon day of Shravana to
would never become empty of arrows (Akshaya perform birth rites of Sri Balabhadra in the
Tunira), a bow called Gandiva and the Sudarshan Markandeswar temple premises.
Chakra. Agnidev gave the Chakra to Srikrishna
and the other things to Arjuna. (M.B. Adiparva, Sudarshana, the king of wheels stands at the top
Chapter 297.) of Sreemandira is known as Neelachakra. The
magnificent temple of Sri Jagannath presents an
Regarding the creation of Sudarshan imposing sight and can be seen from miles away
Chakra it is stated in the Brahmapurana that in through its Neelachakra and Patitapabana is 11ft.
order to get rid of the cruel and wicked demons 8" and which is an amalgamation of eight different
all gods prayed Vishnu. He asked all gods to metals. Neelachakra has circles, one is at the
combine all their energies. God Shankar shaped centre and the other is the outer. There are eight
this combined energy into a wheel. He handed bars which connect the inner and the outer circle
over this wheel to Mahavishnu to kill demons. both. Srimad Bhagabadgeeta reveals the mystery
of the eight bars. The eight bars represent eight
Sudarshan Chakra as a weapon or
factors of the nature. God Srikrishna says that
Ayudha signs in the right hand of Vishnu, therefore
earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, reason and also
he is known as ‘Chakri’ and ‘Chakradharin’.
the ego- these constitute his nature eightfold
Sudarshan Chakra is regarded as a deity in our
scriptures. The four deities on the Ratnasinghasan
of Srimandir, - Sri Jagannath, Sri Balabhadra, Neelachakra is the supporter of the
Devi Subhadra and Sri Sudarshana are known Patitapaban Banner. Those who are unable to
as Chaturddhamurthi in general. Here the shape come and not allowed to enter into the temple
of Sri Sudarshan is like a pole. Both the wheel they witness it from outside to get the benefit of
and pole shapes of Sri Sudarshana have different seeing Sri Jagannath. Neelachakra attracts
mythological back-grounds. The-Chakraudha of pilgrims, saints, sages over the ages.
Sri Jagannath is made of Gold.

Sri Sudarshana is worshipped as the deity

of energy and power. He gets the Ajnamala from Dr. Srinivas Acharya, Mishra Lane, Markandeswar Sahi,
Sri Jagannath and as the representative arrives at Puri-1.