cakra चक्र

Definition: The ‘wheel’ of a chariot or wagon, is repeatedly mentioned from the Rigveda onwards, often in a metaphorical sense. The wheel was fixed on the axle (Aksa) when the chariot was required for use; this required considerable strength, as is shown by a reference in the Rigveda. The wheel consisted normally of spokes (Ara), and a nave (Nābhi), in the opening (Kha) of which the end of the axle (Ani) was inserted. An indication of the importance attached to the strength of the wheel is the celebration of the car of the god Pūsan as having a wheel that suffers no damage.4 The usual number of wheels was two, but in seven passages of the Rigveda a chariot is called ‘ three-wheeled,’ in a few others seven- wheeled,’ while in one of the Atharvaveda it is styled ‘ eight­wheeled.’ Zimmer argues that these epithets do not refer to real chariots, pointing out that in all the passages where tri-cakra, ‘ three-wheeled,’ occurs there is a mythical reference. On the other hand, Weber thinks that there might have been chariots with three wheels, one being in the centre between the two occupants. This is not very conclusive; at any rate, the seven-wheeled and the eight-wheeled chariots can hardly be regarded as indicating the existence of real vehicles with that number of wheels In the śatapatha Brāhmana the potter’s wheel (kaulāla- cakra) is referred to.

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