A Missing Chakra
- India’s national emblem, with the four lions and the Ashoka Chakra at the bottom is erroneous, say some
- The original Ashoka Pillar at Sarnath has the Chakra on top, symbolising spirituality over strength (the lions)
- The chakra on our flag was meant to be ‘Mahadharma chakra’, with 32 spokes, not 24 as we have now
In the Mookherjee household on Calcutta’s plush Ekdalia Road, it has been a hush-hush after-dinner topic for four generations now. “My grandfather often narrated how shocked he was that Nehru allowed a distorted symbol to pass off as the national emblem of our country,” Pradipta Mukhopadhyay tells Outlook. Mukhopadhyay, the grandson of Radha Kumud Mookherjee, historian, scholar and Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament during Jawaharlal Nehru’s premiership, is in possession of documents and letters exchanged between his grandfather and India’s first prime minister which reveal that the Ashoka stambha or pillar, adopted as India’s national emblem, is not a replica of the original but of a truncated one. More significantly, not only did Nehru know about it, but when alerted by Mookherjee, who initiated a signature campaign to rectify what he termed a grave ‘historical error’, he brushed it under the carpet.
In his letter to Nehru dated August 27, 1957, Radha Kumud wrote, “We are concerned to find that our state emblem, known as Ashoka Chakra, is not an accurate replica of the Sarnath pillar, and what is more important, distorts the significance originally sought to be conveyed.” (See full text of letter). In the letter, which was signed by nine other MPs, including influential leaders of the time such...