Know our National symbols: Interesting facts about the National Emblem of India

An emblem by description is “a heraldic instrument or symbolic object as a unique insignia of a nation, organization, or family”. The National Emblem of a nation is a seal that is earmarked for official purposes and orders the highest admiration and loyalty. The usage of the Emblem is regulated and constrained under State Emblem of India (Prohibition of Improper Use) Act, 2005. For a nation, it is a symbol of power and signifies the foundation of its constitutional values.

Ashoka Pillar

The National Emblem of India is another version of the Lion Capital of Ashoka at Sarnath, conserved in the Sarnath Museum. The pillars of Ashoka are a sequence of columns spread mainly throughout North India, created by the Mauryan king Ashoka during his rule in the 3rd century BC.  In the original Ashoka pillar in Sarnath, there are four lions, standing back to back, fixed on an abacus with a frieze carrying sculptures in high relief of an elephant, a galloping horse, a bull and a lion parted by intervening wheels over a bell-shaped lotus.

In the National emblem, accepted by the Government of India, only three lions are noticeable, the fourth lion is hidden from view as it seated back. The wheel seems in relief in the centre of the abacus with a horse on the left and a bull on the right and the outlines of other wheels on extreme right and left. The bell-shaped lotus is not there.

UPSC has always asked questions regarding National Emblem, National symbols, National Anthem, and the Official language of India which is an important chapter in the India Yearbook. Here we are giving some interesting facts about Asoka pillar the National Emblem of India.

  1. This National Emblem was accepted on 26 January 1950 by Madhav Sawhney.
  2. The Ashoka pillar has four lions seated back to back which imply power, courage, confidence and pride.
  3. Other animals demonstrated on the pillar are horse, bull, elephant and lion.
  4. The elephant denotes Buddha’s outset (the dream of a white elephant entering her womb dreamt by Buddha’s mother at the time of Buddha’s conception).
  5. The bull symbolizes Zodiac sign of Buddha- Taurus.
  6. The horse signifies Buddha’s horse which he rode at the time of departing from the citadel.
  7. The lion indicates enlightenment.
  8. All the Ashoka Pillars were carved by craftsmen from the same area using stone from Chunar and Mathura.
  9. Each pillar is around 40 to 50 feet in height, and weighing up to 50 tons each, were pulled to where they were raised.
  10. Only six pillars with animal capitals and nineteen pillars persist with inscriptions.
  11. The engravings on the pillars described proclamations about morality grounded on Buddhist doctrines.
  12. The slogan ‘Satyameva Jayate’- “The Truth Alone Triumphs” is engraved below the National Emblem.
  13. Slogan ‘Satyameva Jayate’ is a quote from the Mundaka Upanishad, the closing part of the holy Hindu Vedas.
  14. National Emblem is the official seal of the President of India and Central and State Governments and an inevitable part of the official letterhead of the Government of India.
  15. National Emblem is a part of all Indian currency and National Passport of the Republic of India.


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