Flag of India

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The flag of India is a horizontal rectangular tricolour of India saffron, white and India green; with the Ashoka Chakra, a 24-spoke wheel, in navy blue at its centre.


The white means the path of light. …the ideal light, the light of truth
The Asoka's wheel represents to us the wheel of the Law, the wheel Dharma.
Let us all unite under this banner and rededicate ourselves to the ideas our flag symbolizes.
  • As a classical tricolour scheme, the Indian flag, unlike the BJP flag, may be read as just another instance of the traditional Indo‑European scheme of three qualities (triguna) found in most tricolour flags: white as representing the serene (sattvika) quality, saffron or red for the energetic (râjasika) quality, and a dark colour for the material (tâmasika) quality. The dark colour can vary between different Indo‑European cultures, and may be black, brown, blue or even green; in which case, green has a natural non‑communal symbol value in a Vedic cosmological scheme... In a future post‑communal era, the said triguna symbolism may become the official explanation of the Republic flag's colour division, but its historical genesis was of course communal: during the Hindu-Muslim bhai-bhai era of Congress collaboration with the (intrinsically anti-national) Khilafat agitation, Muslim militants and their Hindu sympathizers inside the Congress insisted on including green, conventionally the emblematic colour of the desert religion, Islam. The Congress Flag Committee (1931) proposed the plain saffron flag (with blue charkha) as a historically rooted, truly national flag for independent India.
  • The tricolour flag was initially rejected as communal, with the Sikhs being dissatisfied that they were not represented on it with a colour of their own, while solid saffron with a blue Charkha (spinning wheel, later replaced with the chakra, the wheel representing the pan-Indian reign of the chakravarti or ‘wheel-turner’) was welcomed as non-communal... Another story could be told about the choice of the Congress tricolour flag as national flag in preference to the saffron flag. the Congress had first opted for the saffron flag, which had been waved by earlier freedom fighters including Shivaji, but it quickly backtracked, fearing that Muslims would object. So before they could even express any objection, they were given a new flag of which they could call one third their own, viz. the green strip, as broad as the saffron strip symbolizing Hinduism.
    • Koenraad Elst, Why I killed the Mahatma: Uncovering Godse's defence (2018), New Delhi: Rupa
  • China has one big and four small stars in its flag to signify that its major nation and a number of minor nations are united in a single state. India has the 24-spoked wheel of the chakravarti or universal ruler in its flag, meaning that within his empire, every tribute-paying vassal state had its own autonomy and traditions. In modern and more egalitarian terms: the Indian federation unites many communities into a single civilization-state.
    • Koenraad Elst, On Modi Time: Merits And Flaws of Hindu Activism In Its Day Of Incumbency (2015), Chapter 18
  • The Flag links up the past and the present. It is the legacy bequeathed to us by the architects of our liberty. Those who fought under this Flag are mainly responsible for the arrival of this great day of Independence for India. Pandit Jawaharlal has pointed out to you that it is not a day of joy unmixed with sorrow. The Congress fought for unity and liberty. The unity has been compromised; liberty too. I feel, has been compromised, unless we are able to face the tasks which now confront us with courage, strength and vision. What is essential to-day is to equip ourselves with new strength and with new character if these difficulties are to be overcome and if the country is to achieve the great ideal of unity and liberty which it fought for. Times are hard. Everywhere we are consumed by phantasies. Our minds are haunted by myths. The world is full of misunderstandings, suspicions and distrusts. In these difficult days it depends on us under what banner we fight.
    Here we are Putting in the very centre the white, the white of the Sun's rays. The white means the path of light. There is darkness even at noon as some People have urged, but it is necessary for us to dissipate these clouds of darkness and control our conduct-by the ideal light, the light of truth, of transparent simplicity which is illustrated by the colour of white.
    We cannot attain purity, we cannot gain our goal of truth, unless we walk in the path of virtue. The Asoka's wheel represents to us the wheel of the Law, the wheel Dharma. Truth can be gained only by the pursuit of the path of Dharma, by the practice of virtue. Truth,—Satya, Dharma —Virtue, these ought to be the controlling principles of all those who work under this Flag. It also tells us that the Dharma is something which is perpetually moving. If this country has suffered in the recent past, it is due to our resistance to change. There are ever so many challenges hurled at us and if we have not got the courage and the strength to move along with the times, we will be left behind. There are ever so many institutions which are worked into our social fabric like caste and untouchability. Unless these things are scrapped we cannot say that we either seek truth or practise virtue. This wheel which is a rotating thing, which is a perpetually revolving thing, indicates to us that there is death in stagnation. There is life in movement. Our Dharma is Sanatana, eternal, not in the sense that it is a fixed deposit but in the sense that it is perpetually changing. Its uninterrupted continuity is its Sanatana character. So even with regard to our social conditions it is essential for us to move forward.
    The red, the orange, the Bhagwa colour, represents the spirit of renunciation. All forms of renunciation are to be embodied in Raja Dharma. Philosophers must be kings. Our leaders must be disinterested. They must be dedicated spirits. They must be people who are imbued with the spirit of renunciation which that saffron, colour has transmitted to us from the beginning of our history. That stands for the fact that the World belongs not to the wealthy, not to the prosperous but to the meek and the humble, the dedicated and the detached.
    That spirit of detachment that spirit of renunciation is represented by the orange or the saffron colour and Mahatma Gandhi has embodied it for us in his life and the Congress has worked under his guidance and with his message. If we are not imbued with that spirit of renunciation in than difficult days, we will again go under.
    The green is there, our relation to the soil, our relation to the plant life here, on which all other life depends. We must build our Paradise, here on this green earth. If we are to succeed in this enterprise, we must be guided by truth (white), practise virtue (wheel), adopt the method of self-control and renunciation (saffron). This flag tells us "Be ever alert, be ever on the move, go forward, work for a free, flexible, compassionate, decent, democratic society in which Christians, Sikhs, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists will all find a safe shelter." Let us all unite under this banner and rededicate ourselves to the ideas our flag symbolizes.

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