All National Symbols of India with Meaning
The Republic of India is one of the most culturally diverse countries in this world. Located in the southern hemisphere and sharing boundaries with multiple countries, India has a heritage that is often envied my many countries in this world. Despite the evident vivid linguistic, cultural and religious differences spread across the length and breadth of the country, the country remains united. This unity and diversity is reflected in the National Symbols than have been carefully selected. These symbols infuse the sense of pride, patriotism and love in every Indian irrespective of the demography he or she comes from.
These national symbols are not just mere symbols. They are elements of National Identity. Not just every Indian, the entire world recognizes India with these symbols. Let us take a look at all these symbols and understand their meaning and purpose.
The National Flag
The National Flag of India remains the most prominent and popular national symbol. It is not just a colorful piece of cloth representing India. It represents multiple things at a time. The flag consists of three colors – saffron on top, white in middle and green at bottom. These three colors are in equal proportions. In the center (on the white strip) sits a navy blue wheel with 24 spokes. The wheel’s diameter is approximately the same as the width of the white strip. Each color element and the wheel has different meanings.
- Saffron – this color represents India’s courage and strength.
- White – this color represents India’s commitment to truth and peace.
- Green – this color represents the auspiciousness, growth and fertility of Indian subcontinent.
- Wheel – It is nothing but the Ashoka Chakra. The wheel on Indian flag holds deep meaning. The Ashoka Chakra actually represents the eternal Dharma Chakra or the Samay Chakra. Translated in English, it means Wheel of Law or Wheel of Time. When considered as Samay Chakra, the 24 spokes represent 24 hours of a day. Also, because a wheel is symbolic to motion, the wheel on Indian flag represent constant motion. It is considered that when life becomes stagnant, it represents death. Thus, a wheel representing motion actually signifies the eternal and non-stagnant flow of life.
Since the wheel is actually the Ashoka Chakra, the 24 spokes have different meanings with each spoke representing a different virtue of a good human being. The 24 spokes represent:
- Faith or Hope or Belief
- Fear of God
- Moral Values
- Spiritual Knowledge
- Spiritual Wisdom
Thus, the National Flag of India encompasses almost every aspect of life, thereby making it one of the most meaningful national flags in whole world.
The National Emblem
The Lion Capital of Ashoka became the source for Indian National Emblem. The emblem depicts four Asiatic lions standing with their backs against each other. These four lions represent pride, confidence, power and courage. The lions stand on a circular base. On the sides of the circular base are four high relief sculptures of a bull (of west), a galloping horse (of south), a lion (of north) and an elephant (of east). The horse and the bull are visible from the front. The sculptures are in turn separated by wheels (Dharma Chakra).
In the original Lion Capital of Ashoka, the four lions, the four sculptures of the circular base and the wheels stand on a full bloom lotus signifying creative inspiration and fountainhead of life. However, in the National Emblem, the lotus has been omitted.
The National Anthem (Jan Gana Mana)
Jana Gana Mana, authored by Rabindranath Tagore – a Nobel Laureate and a revered poet from India, was adopted as India’s National Anthem on 24th of January, 1950 by India’s Constituent Assembly. The language for original composition was Bengali but the Hindi translation of the song was adopted for National Anthem.
The National Anthem has gone through quite a lot of controversy. Some stated that Tagore wrote this song in praise of King George V and his mother (The Queen). However, Tagore himself refuted such claims in a letter he write to Pulin Bihari Sen. Tagore wrote:
A high official from His Majesty’s service requested him to write a song that would felicitate the Emperor. Tagore disclosed that though the official was his friend, such a request did not only manage to amaze him but also set in action, a series of conflicting thoughts in his mind. Thus, he ended up pronouncing the victory of Bhagya Vidhata or God of Destiny who guided India through good times and bad and kept India’s chariot steady for millennia. Tagore said that no George from England could be that God of Destiny or Perennial Guide and that the British official who made the request had enough common sense in him to understand the real meaning of the song even though he was fully devoted to and admired the crown.
The original quote is different (though it conveys the same meaning) and appears in Ravindrajibani (biography of Tagore), Volume II on page 339.
Jana Gana Mana originally consisted of 5 stanzas but only the 1st stanza has been picked up as the National Anthem.
The National Song
Vande Mataram composed by Bankimchandra Chatterji is the National Song of India. It was originally composed in Sanskrit and was one of the primary inspiration for freedom fighters during India’s struggle for freedom from the British Rule. The song praises the Indian Motherland. In the core however, the song is actually a hymn to Goddess Durga. In the song, Bankimchandra eventually Durga to be united with Bengal and considers the 10-handed deity as Swadesh.
Since the song takes account of only one religion, there has been quite some controversy around it. Many Muslims, Sikhs and Christians do not sing the song. However, many people hold the view that because of the historic significance of the song, it should be accepted and religion should never be dragged in.
The song originally consisted of 6 verses but only the first 2 verses have been accepted as the National Song. The first 2 verses do not include any religious views and hence, is pretty acceptable. Vande Mataram was accepted as National Song in 1950 on January 24.
The National Pledge
However, it is more commonly recited in schools. It was composed in 1962 and was read out for the first time in 1963 in school located in Visakhapatnam. Ever since then, it was translated into many other regional languages and finally accepted as National Pledge in 1965 on January 26.
The National Animal
The Royal Bengal Tiger which is native to and restricted only in Indian subcontinent, is the largest known carnivore. India accepted Royal Bengal Tiger as National Animal in year 1973. A much admired wildlife wealth, the Bengal Tiger is known for extreme agility, strength and power and these features or qualities that it represents as India’s National Animal.
The National Flower
Lotus is the National Flower of India. While there are many other flowers that can easily beat the lotus in terms of beauty, this flower was chosen for some special reasons. It is known for growing in weird and dirty conditions but still remains clean and beautiful. The flower is known for growing in dirty waters with its stalk rooted to soil bed underneath the water surface. The stalk rises above the dirty water and holds the blooming flower above the water surface, keeping it clean and pure. In Hinduism, lotus is the flower of Goddess Laxmi. Laxmi according to Hindus is symbolic of wealth, fertility and prosperity. So, because of its unique biome and religious significance, the National Flower of India stands for wealth and good fate, prosperity and achievement and fertility and purity.
The National Bird
The Indian Peacock was picked up by the Republic of India as National Bird in year 1963. The bird is approximately of the size of swan and is popular because of its extremely bright and vivid colors. The slender and long neck of the bird is yet another feature that makes it easily identifiable. Compared to females, males display a more colorful palate. The males boast a spectacularly colorful tail that they can fan out to reveal the glistening bronze-green colors with colorful eye spots. They also boast glistening greenish blue slender necks. Females on the other hand are brownish in color and are slightly smaller in size compared to males. The females lack the spectacular tail called train found in males. Both the genders possess a crest shaped like a fan on their heads.
The reason why the Indian peacock has been select as the National bird is that is not only common throughout India but is also a symbol of grace and unity of colors. Multiple colors living together in a single bird is more like multiple religions and cultures coexisting in India.
The National Tree
The ever-expanding branches of the banyan tree is what made it win the crown of India’s National Tree. The ever-growing branches of the tree represent eternal life – a quality that is deeply rooted in Indian culture. Despite its fair share of dark times, the country has continued to thrive since times immemorial. The deep roots of the tree represents the unity among different cultures and religions that live in perfect harmony in Indian subcontinent. The banyan tree in India has long been known by the name Kalpavirksha. This name literally means ‘wish fulfilling tree’. The name has been derived from the myriads of medical properties of the tree, some of which are often life-saving. The tree is also known for offering shelter to a wide variety of birds and animals. This again represents India’s tolerance to multiple religions and cultures.
The National Fruit
It is none other than Mango. Known by the moniker ‘King of all fruits’, mango needs no introduction. Indigenous to Indian subcontinent. This fruit is often referred to as “Food of the Goods” by Indians. India alone hosts more than a 100 varieties of this fruit and it has been popular among Indians since times immemorial. There is absolutely no wonder, this was the only fruit to be rightfully crowned as Indian National Fruit. It is being said that in Darbhanga of eastern India, an orchard of 100,000 mango trees were maintained by the famous Moghul Emperor Akbar.
The National Aquatic Animal
The Gangetic Dolphin takes this crown. This aquatic animal can survive only and only in pure fresh water and thereby, it represents purity. Also, purity is always binds with holiness in India and hence, the Gangetic Dolphin also represents the holy Ganga River.
The National River
Can you guess? Well, we asked the wrong question. Everyone in India knows that Ganga is the National River of India. Not only is it the longest Indian river, it has also been associated with religion for eons. In Hindu mythology, Ganga is a Goddess known for purity. Ganga has been extensively mentioned in the world famous Hindu scriptures – the Vedas. Even today, millions and millions of Indians worship this river and bathe in its waters to wash away their sins. The river is also known throughout the world for its unique water quality that never goes stale when kept in a stagnant bowl or a container. It’s no wonder why Ganga is considered as the National River of India.
The National Calendar
On 22nd March, 1957, the Indian Constitution formally recognized the Saka Calendar as its National Calendar. This calendar was introduced early in 1957 by India’s Calendar Committee. Nepal Sambat – the famous Nepalese Lunar Calendar was developed from the Saka Calendar. The reason why Saka Calendar is considered the National Calendar of India is that it contains astronomical data and offers formula and timings used for preparing religious calendars by Hindus.
The National Currency
The Indian Rupee is the National Currency of India. It is represented by the symbol ₹. The symbol is a combination of “र” (ra) – a Devanagari consonant and R – a Latin letter. This symbol has been very carefully selected. The two horizontal parallel lines on top with a small white space in between is a design that helps to recall the Indian flag. Also, the two parallel lines symbolize equality sign and thereby depicts the desire of India to get rid of economic disparity all over the world.