The National Emblem of India – History & Origin, Facts

The National Emblem of India is an essential symbol of the country’s sovereignty, heritage, and pride. It is widely used in official government documents and represents the historical and philosophical ideals of the nation. For aspirants preparing for the UPSC Civil Services Examination, understanding the National Emblem’s importance, symbolism, and history can be pivotal, especially in the Indian Polity and Art & Culture sections.

National Emblem of India

National Emblem of India

History and Origin

The National Emblem of India is derived from the Lion Capital of Ashoka, a sculpture that dates back to the 3rd Century BC.

The original Lion Capital was discovered in Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh, and is currently preserved at the Sarnath Museum. This sculpture was adopted as the National Emblem of India on 26th January 1950, post-independence.

Design and Symbolism

The emblem features four lions standing back-to-back, mounted on an abacus with a frieze carrying sculptures in high relief of an elephant, a galloping horse, a bull, and a lion, separated by intervening wheels (chakras) over a bell-shaped lotus. The lions symbolize power, courage, pride, and confidence.

In the state emblem adopted by the Government of India, only three lions are visible, the fourth being hidden from view. The wheel that appears in relief in the centre of the abacus is a representation of the Dharma Chakra, or the Wheel of Law.


Below the abacus, there is an inscription in Devanagari script that reads “Satyameva Jayate”, a quote from Mundaka Upanishad, meaning “Truth Alone Triumphs”.

This motto articulates the guiding principle of the Government of India and upholds the country’s commitment to truthfulness and integrity.


The usage of the National Emblem is regulated by the State Emblem of India (Prohibition of Improper Use) Act, 2005. It is used in various government letters, documents, and publications.

It is also embossed on currency and national awards such as the Bharat Ratna and the Padma Awards. Misuse of the emblem can lead to punishment, underscoring the emblem’s sanctity and respect.


Understanding the historical context, symbolic representation, and legal aspects of the National Emblem of India is crucial for UPSC aspirants.

Not only does it form part of the syllabus for Indian Polity and Art & Culture, but it also reflects India’s ancient wisdom and philosophy and fosters a sense of national identity and pride among its citizens.

When did India adopt the National Emblem?

Ans. 1950

How many animals are in the national emblem?

Ans. Four lions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 20 MB. You can upload: image, document, archive, other. Drop files here

Online Counselling
Table of Contents