20 interesting Facts About Ashokan Pillar Sarnath, (Lion Capital)

Ashoka Pillar of Sarnath gives a wonderful opportunity to understand ancient Indian history, every person who wants to understand Indian history must see this divine artwork at least once in their lifetime.


The Ashoka Pillar is divided into three major parts.
1.The Pillar.
2.The Lion Capital.
3.The 32 spoked wheel.

This diagram gives us a rough idea of ​​what the pillar might have looked like when XUANZANG visited India during the reign of Harshavardhana.


The place where Buddha gave his first sermon to his disciples in 600 BC.

Emperor Ashoka built this pillar at that place around 250 BC.

Chinese traveler XUANZANG came to Sarnath in the seventh century AD. XUANZANG‘s memoirs show that even after 900 years of the pillar’s establishment, he was astonished by its magnificence and construction.

The fragments of the Ashoka Pillar preserved in a glass show case at Sarnath.


1. When was the Ashoka Pillar built?

The Ashoka Pillar at Sarnath was built around 250 BC.

2. What was the purpose of establishing the Ashoka Pillar at Sarnath?

Emperor Ashoka was concerned about the divisive elements in Buddhism and about the monks and nuns at the monasteries who wanted to divide Buddhism.

He got the pillar established here to warn such people. Emperor Ashoka’s warning can still be seen clearly on the divided part of the pillar.

3. In which language is the warning of Emperor Ashoka written in?

The warning of Emperor Ashoka on the Ashoka Pillar of Sarnath is written in Prakrit language and the script is Brahmi.

4. When and how was the Ashoka Pillar, Lion Capital and the 32 spoked wheel discovered?

During the excavation of Sarnath in 1904-1905, fragments of Ashoka Pillar, Lion Capital and 32 spoke wheel were found near Mulgandha Kuti Vihar temple in the west direction from Dhamek Stupa.

Lion Capital found in the archaeological excavation of Sarnath in 1905. The broken part of the pillar can be clearly seen where Emperor Ashoka’s warning is inscribed.

5. Who discovered the Ashoka Pillar at Sarnath?

Archaeological excavations of Sarnath in 1904–1905 were led by Mr. Ortel, so the discovery of the pillar, the Lion Capital and the 32-pointed wheel is attributed to Mr. F. O. Ortel.

6. What is the Ashoka Pillar made of?

The Ashoka Pillar is made of sandstone from Chunar (located at a distance of about 40 km from Varanasi).

7. Is the description of Ashoka Pillar found in history?

The famous Chinese traveler XUANZANG came to India during the reign of Harshavardhana.

During his visit to India, between 627 AD to 643 AD, XUANZANG came to Sarnath (also known as MRIGDAV, ISHIPATTAN) and was astonished by the grandeur of the Ashoka Pillar. XUANZANG was most impressed by the brilliance of Lion Capital, it is surprising that Lion Capital is still as bright and gorgeous today as it was back then.


Lion Capital at Sarnath Museum.


The most beautiful part of the Ashoka Pillar is the Lion Capital.
The Lion Capital (the top part of the Ashoka Pillar) is about 7 feet high.

8. Where is the Lion Capital currently kept?

Presently the Lion Capital (the top part of the Ashoka Pillar) is preserved in the archaeological museum at Sarnath, Varanasi.

9. What does the 4 Asiatic lions of the Lion Capital roaring in all four directions symbolize?

The four Asiatic lions proclaim Buddha’s teachings in all four directions with their backs to their backs symbolize the spread of Buddha’s teachings.

10. Why are the four lions shown in an aggressive posture in Lion Capital?

Warnings are always given in harsh words, so that everybody obeys them, the pillar on which this Lion Capital is situated has a clear warning of Emperor Ashoka engraved on it, so the four lions are also shown in an aggressive posture just to make the warnings a little more effective and also to express the power of Emperor Ashoka, if the instructions are not obeyed.

11.When was the Lion Capital accepted as the National Emblem of India?

The Lion Capital was adopted as the national emblem of India on 26 January 1950.

12. Why did the committee chose Lion Capital as the national symbol of India?

After the independence of India, we have adopted the spirit of peace, non-violence, coexistence, prominently in the internal policies of the country, the Lion Capital reflected these policies and commitment of the country.

India’s foreign policy is also based on the efforts of world peace, and the spirit of cooperation with all nations, so it will not be an exaggeration to say that Lion Capital India is a tableau of thousands of years of moral development of the country, so after independence, Lion Capital was accepted as the national emblem of India as it deserved to be, with its mightiness and magnificence.

13. How is the Lion Capital a symbol of India’s glorious history and culture.

Lion Capital is a unique specimen of sculpture and it has been a witness to the most important events in the history of India, it is a priceless work showing the natural development of Indian history.

14. Which animals are depicted on the abacus at the base of the Lion Capital?

A lion with twitching tail, a bull, a galloping horse and an elephant are depicted on the abacus at the base of the Lion Capital.

15. How many wheels are there on the abacus?

There are four wheels with 24 spokes on the abacus. Each wheel is located between the figures of two animals.

16. What do the animals on the Lion Capital represent?

The lion represents sakyasimha , lion of the shakya clan , The elephant signifies shakyamuni entering the womb, the womb of his mother mayadevi in her dream, the horse, is a symbol of temportal royality, The Bull is a symbol of Buddha’s birth sign Taurus.

17. What do the four wheels with 24 spokes engraved between the animals on the abacus symbolize?

The wheel with 24 spokes represents the twenty-four teachings of Buddhism. This is the same wheel which can be seen at the center of our national flag.


18. Where is the thirty-two spoked wheel kept at present?

Unfortunately only the ruins of 32 spoke wheel were found in the archaeological excavation of Sarnath in 1905, these remains are presently preserved in the museum of Sarnath.

19. What does the wheel with 32 spokes represent?

The wheel with 32 spokes represents the 32 characteristics of great men,(MAHAPURUSH LAKSHAN ) whose description is found in the Buddha literature.

20.How does the Ashoka Pillar reflect the tendencies of the artists of that period?

The Ashoka Pillar is also an example of the transition from wood to stone art by the sculptors of that period.

For detailed information on Ashoka Pillar please visit: https://nithinks.com/2021/11/22/ashokan-pillar-its-history-and-importance/