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Dhamma-cakka or dharma-cakra (Pālī, Skt.). ‘The Wheel of the Doctrine’. The motif of the many-spoked wheel is the distinctive symbol of Buddhism. It originally signified the Buddha's act of proclaiming his doctrine (dharma) to the world (see FIRST SERMON). The dhamma-cakka has come to signify Buddhist teaching and doctrine generally.

In earliest iconography (c.2nd cent. BCE), the dhamma-cakka features as an aniconic symbol for the Buddha. When eight spokes are depicted, this signifies the Eightfold Path (aṣṭangika-mārga) or the cardinal points of the compass.