The Sun Wheel,
the eye that watches over the whole world
and illuminates.


As the Sun revolves,
the Father generates all.
He has twelve limbs
corresponding to the lunar months.
He is the pull of water and their tides,
the substance above the heavens,
above the sky.
Other calculators of apparent time
say that the whole universe
is fixed like spokes on the nave of a wheel.

Who as the embodiment of illusory Time
is possessed of seven wheels
in the form of seven horses,
endowed with six spokes of six seasons.
Whether possessor of five feet,
twelve limbs, seven wheels of six spokes.
It is the Aeon, the embodiment
of the mystery of TIme.
Ruler of Creatures,
led by the Sun and the Moon,
which causes a world of illusion.

Fragment from ‘The Principal Upanishads: The Essential Philosophical Foundation of Hinduism’ by Alan Jacobs


After the cult of the Great Mother, as a fertility symbol, during the Stone Age, there is the birth of the Sun God during the Bronze Age. The wheel with 4, 6 or 8 spokes was used to symbolise this deity.

I limit myself, with a brief historical account throughout history, to the 6-spokes wheel because of its geometric affinity with the Germ of Life.

Indus Valley

10000 – 4500 BC. (Neolithic to Bronze Age)
Picture of 6 spokes and 8 spokes wheel.
Petroglyphs in the Edakkal Caves, Kerala, South India.
(Photo © unknown)

4000 – 3500 BC.
Copper amulet produced with the lost wax technique, Mehrgarh, Pakistan.
(Photo © unknown)

2650 – 1500 BC. (Harappa culture)
(some archaeologists date it even older).
‘In situ’ epitaph?, Dholavira, India.
(Photo © unknown)

Painted replica of the 10 Harappan characters in the local museum.
Also note the painted variants of the Germ of Life (these have not been found in situ).
(Photo © unknown)

The Harappa culture or Indus civilisation was a Bronze Age civilisation in southern Asia (c. 3200 – 1900 BC). Sites have been found in Pakistan, north-west India, Central Asia and the Arabian Peninsula. Many objects (seals/emblems, miniature tablets, etc.) belonging to this ancient civilisation have been found. 

According to some historians, these objects are administrative-commercial instruments (tax tokens, trade licences, metrological data, etc.) that were used to control the complex economic trade. Given the brevity of the inscriptions, they may not have been real writing, but an identification system for commercial transactions and signatures. There are examples of clay seals attached to bundles of goods traded between traders; some of these clay seals have been found in the Mesopotamia region, far beyond the Indus Valley, a testimony to the extent of trade in ancient times.

The Indus script was also used in the context of ‘narrative images’: these images contained scenes related to myths or stories, combining the script with images of gods, people, animals and (imaginary) creatures depicted in active poses. This looks like a religious, liturgical and literary use. So some seals may also have been used as amulets or talismans.

In the ancient civilisations, there was initially no ‘cult of writing’. The need to write anything down was considered a sign of a certain degeneration, since people normally remembered everything. They were therefore generally oral traditions and knowledge was carefully passed on from one generation to the next.
The earliest examples of Indus writing date from this period. This places the beginning of writing in South Asia at about the same time as that of ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian writing.
The Vedas, the sacred texts of the Indo-Aryans, came into being at the earliest around 1600 BC. The connection between the Indus civilisation and the first culture of Sanskrit, which produced the Vedic texts of Hinduism, among others, is not clear.

There is also archaeological material from the Harappa culture that leads historians to believe that this civilisation used an octal number system and had knowledge of the ratio of the length of the circle circumference to its diameter, i.e. the approximate value of the number π. Another unique Harappan invention was an instrument to measure sections of the horizon in azimuth.

2700 – 2000 BC. (Harappa culture)
Pashupatinath stamps, Mohenjo-daro, Pakistan.
(Photo © National Museum, New Delhi India)

19th c. BC. (Harappa culture)
Steatite seal depicting an Indian rhinoceros, Mohenjo-daro, Pakistan.
Archaeological Museum, Karachi, Pakistan
(Photo © akg-images / De Agostini Picture Lib. / A. Dagli Orti)

(Harappa culture)
Indus terra cotta seal from Mohenjo-daro, Pakistan
6-spoke image with animal heads including a unicorn.
(Photo © Unknown)

Counterfeit image for the 2016 movie Mohenjo-daro (not authentic).

(Harappa culture)
Terra cotta tablet
(Left) This sculpture depicts a female deity standing with outstretched arms, holding two apparently deadly animals at bay and standing above an elephant. 
This theme is common to both the Indus, Ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian riverine cultures.
It is generally believed to be a Harappan motif borrowed from Sumerian-Akkadian sources. The Babylonian similar imagery is associated with the legend of Gilgamesh.
Here also a 6-spokes wheel is depicted above the head of the deity.
(Right) The other side of the tablet shows a hunter piercing a water buffalo with a spear (Hindu ritual?) in the presence of a seated priest or deity in yoga pose.

(Photo © Harappa Museum, Pakistan)

There are several theories about the meaning of the ‘6-spoke wheel’.

• The meaning of the wheel is associated with the solar disc.
In the Ṛgveda, Sūrya is described as a chariot with one wheel. It is this solar symbol conceived as a chariot wheel that later became the weapon of Vishnu, the deified form of Sūrya, whose fiery (six)-spokes (Sudarshana)-chakra wheel represents the phenomenal universe.
Further, in the Ṛgveda Mitra (another form of Sūrya) is described as the eye of the world. Thus, the sun passing through space is understood as the eye that watches over and illuminates the whole world. Similarly, the wheel symbol can be associated with light and knowledge. Therefore, in a sense, both the wheel (cakka) and the eye (cakṣu; Pāli: cakkhu) are synonymous.
In this connection it is interesting to note that the realisation of truth is very often described as ‘cakkhuṃ udapādi’ or ‘the eye of wisdom dawned’. Here the eye is wisdom (paṭivedha-ñāṇa).

The wheel represents movement, continuity and change, forever turning like the circle of heaven. Buddhism identifies this wheel as the dharmachakra or ‘wheel of dharma’ of the Buddha’s teaching. The Tibetan term for dharmachakra literally means the ‘wheel of transformation’ or spiritual change. The movement of the wheel represents the spiritual transformation revealed by the teachings of the Buddha.

‘Wheel of the Law.’ The Sanskrit word ‘dharma’ meaning ‘to hold, maintain, preserve’, ‘what is established or firm’ and ‘law’.
‘Sūrya’ as the heavenly fire (divya-agni). ‘Vishnu’ means, among other things, ‘all-pervading’, ‘one who is all and in all’, ‘one who enters everywhere’. The wheel of Vishnu has six spokes (and is the symbolic equivalent of a six-leaf lotus). It represents the (universal) mind, the limitless force that creates and destroys all spheres and forms of the universe, and whose nature is to revolve continuously. Sudarśana chakra or the ‘wheel/disc of hopeful vision’.

• The ‘spoked wheel’ is also associated with the circle that symbolised the cyclic time of the year and the sun. The six spokes in the cycle of the year represent the six seasons: in the centre is the vessel in which the spokes are placed (this centre represents the unchanging, unmoving centre, the highest causal continuum). The circle around the wheel is ‘Māyā’, the divine power of illusion. The universal mind corresponds in microcosm to the active understanding of individual existence associated with the fiery principle. The miraculous power of the mind can destroy all forms of ignorance, hence the wheel is the weapon that cuts off the heads of all demons, of all sins (unconscious).

• Ṣaḍbhāgin means ‘the recipient of one-sixth part’, as compensation for the King or Ruler in return for protection.
The semantic association of wheel with sovereign power lies in its etymology in Sanskrit and means, among other things, ‘supreme ruler’.
Here the sun symbol stands for sovereignty, protection and creation.

• The oldest examples of spoked wheels and chariots have been found in the Sintasht culture (2100 – 1800 BC.) (Eastern Europe and Central Asia).
The 6-spoke wheel symbol has existed much longer. Is it possible to use the shape of a wheel before it existed? And was the symbol itself that eventually led to the creation of the spoke wheel, like a platonic idea given shape by a demiurge?

Wheel of Dharma

1-2th c. AD.
Buddha footprint in slate,
From Gandhara, Afghanistan/Pakistan
Here the lotus symbolizes the sun disk, the lotus symbolizing the purity of the mind of the Buddha.
Gallery Jacques Barrère, Paris, France
(Photo © unknown)

2nd c. AD.
Image in slate
From Chorasan, Gandhara, India
Worship of the Three Jewels
The Buddha, the fully enlightened one, the Dharma, the Buddhist teachings, and the Sangha, the monastic order.

Ethnological Museum of Berlin, Germany
(Photo © unknown)

2nd c. AD.
Image in sandstone
From Bharhut, India
Worship of the Dharmachakra
Indian National Museum, Kolkata, India
(Photo © unknown)

3-4th c. AD.
Image “The Great Miracle of Buddha”, Païtava Monastery
From Kapisha, Afghanistan
Guimet Museum, Paris, France
(Photo © unknown)

12-13th c. AD.
8 meter high Buddhist relief in the Dazu Rocks in China
Anicca holds the Buddhist wheel of life – the wheel shows six incarnations of all living beings, indicating the Buddhist cycle of karma and reincarnation.
(Photo © Gerd Eichmann)

18th c. AD.
A traditional Tibetan thangka with the bhavacakra.
From Eastern Tibet
Picture of the Buddhist universe, or the wheel of existence, with the six realms of existence.
Art Museum, Birmingham, UK
(Photo © unknown)

19th c. AD.
Miniature painting, Tanjore School
From India
The worship of Surya, the sun god on his chariot.

Date unknown
Thangka with image of the wheel of life
National Gallery Museum in Prague

“The Sun is the Spirit (Atman) of all that is in motion or at rest
and the Sun connects all things to Himself by means of a thread of spiritual light.”

Rig Veda 1.115.1


3000 BC.
Drawing of a Palette of King Narmer, Egypt.
A six-petal rosette is depicted to the left of the King.
(Photo © Egyptian Museum, Cairo)

2600 – 2400 BC.
Circular chlorite box with mythological scenes similar to the Gilgamesh story, Iran.
Main character is assisted by a 6-petal rosette.
(Photo © British Museum, London)

2100 BC.
Cylinder seal, enthroned Ur-Nammu, king of Ur, Sumer.
Here a 6-spokes symbol is depicted in a square.
(Photo © British Museum, London)

1400 – 1200 BC.
Assyrian cylinder seal impression. Depicting a man with bird wings and a scorpion tail firing an arrow at a griffin. A scorpionman is one of the creatures Gilgamesh encounters on his journey. In the sky, 6-spokes symbols are depicted.
(Photo © Walters Art museum, USA)

827 BC.
Depiction of Jehu king of Israel paying tribute to king Shalmaneser III of Assyria, on the black obelisk of Shalmaneser III of Nimrud.
Here is a 6-spokes sun next to the Nibiru Winged Sun Disc symbol.
(Photo © British Museum, London)

Kingdom of Urartu, Armenia

7th c. BC.
Stone relief, from the kingdom of Urartu, Armenia.
The winged god Khaldi standing on a lion. Above him is a repeating 6-spokes wheel.
Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, Ankara, Turkey
(Photo © unknown)

8-spokes wheel

Some images of the 8-spokes wheel as a symbol of the sun god across time and cultures.

The Sumerian god, ‘Šamaš the All-Seeing’, was depicted as the sun in Mesopotamia as an 8-spoked wheel. He brings light and warmth to the land, and allows plants and crops to grow. At sunrise, Šamaš rises from his underground sleep and takes a daily path through the sky. While the sun filled the whole sky with light, Šamaš oversaw everything that happened during the day. He thus became the god of truth, judgment and justice. Šamaš also played a role in treaties, oaths and business transactions because he could see through deceit and duplicity. As a defender of justice, the sun god also had a warrior aspect.

860 BC.
Limestone tablet depicting King Nabu-aplu-iddina in the presence of Šamaš, the sun god.
(Photo © The British Museum)

NABU – The Babylonian god of writing and wisdom. His name refers to his prophetic powers and the gift of writing. He was the patron god of scribes and ‘the tablets of destiny’ that determined the ruler of the universe (Anu, Enlil or Assur). Nabu was one of the most important gods of Mesopotamia. He was worshipped for thousands of years and is often compared to, amongst others, Thoth of the Egyptians.

800 BC.
Limestone sculpture of the God Nabu, Nimrud, Iraq

3th c. BC.
(Votive?)-coin, from Belgian Gaul
Gallic coin with a stylized image of a horse and Taranis sunwheel.
Museum Art & History, Brussels, Belgium
(Photo © Stefaan Algoet)

2nd c. BC.
(Votive?)-coin, from Western Hungary.
Stallion with 3 penises, under Taranis sunwheel.
(Photo © unknown)

50 BC. – 50 AD.
Votive wheels called ‘rouelles’, from the Taranis cult, from Belgian Gaul.
A votive offering, called a sacrificial gift or anathema, is an object (often precious) that was left behind, in tombs or holy places, to placate gods. 
(Photo © Musée d’Archéologie Nationale)

50 BC. – 350 AD.
(Votive?)-coin, from Afghanistan
(Photo © unknown)

1230 AD.
Codex Buranus (Carmina Burana), Miniature of the Wheel of Fortune.
(Photo © Bavarian State Library, Munich)

13th c. AD.
Stone wheel carved into the walls of the Sun Temple of Kornark, India
(Photo © Planabee)

– ‘The ancient words for lapis lazuli and fish-eye beads: a semantic study of the Indus inscriptions through archaeological and linguistic lenses’, by Bahata Ansumali Mukhopadhyay
– ‘Indus script’, by Cristian Violatti
– ‘The wheel from Mehrgarh to the Vedas and the Indian national emblem’, by Giacomo Benedetti
– Iravatham Mahadevan
– ‘Het boeddhistische wielsymbool’, by T.B. Karunaratne
– ‘The Handbook of Tibetan Buddhist Symbols’, by Robert Beer
– from by Iravatham Mahadevan
– ‘The Myths and Gods of India’, by Alain Daniélou
– ‘De Minoïsche-Myceense religie en haar overleving in de Griekse religie’, by Martin Persson Nilsson
– ‘From Lineage to State’, by Romila Thapar
-’Early System of Naks. atras, Calendar and Antiquity of Vedic & Harappan Traditions’, by A. K. Bag
– Wikipedia

© Please respect the authors’ mention and copyright.