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BUDDHIST FLAG

 

The Buddhist Flag has blue-yellow-red-white-orange vertical stripes, each 1/6 of the distance from the hoist. The sixth stripe consists of 5 horizontal stripes of the same color starting from the top. The right hand vertical orange stripe merges with the bottom horizontal orange stripe.

The Buddhist flag was invented in 1880 by an American journalist, Colonel Henry Steele Olcott. Olcott was a fascinating character. A former soldier and lawyer, he set up the Theosophical Society of New York. He arrived in Sri Lanka with the renowned spiritualist Madame Blavatsky on 17 February 1880 - a day which was subsequently celebrated as Olcott Day in independent Sri Lanka. He founded the Buddhist Theosophical Society, devised a Buddhist catechism, encouraged Buddhist versions of Christmas carols and cards, and inspired the founding of Buddhist schools and the Young Men's Buddhist Association. The Buddhist flag, first hoisted in 1885 in Sri Lanka, is a symbol of faith and peace used through-out the world to represent the Buddhist faith.

It is said that the six colors of the flag represent the colors of the aura that emanated from the body of the Buddha when he attained enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree. The horizontal stripes represent the races of the world living in harmony and the vertical stripes represent eternal world peace. The colors symbolize the perfection of Buddhahood and the Dhamma.

The Blue light that radiated from the Buddha’s hair symbolizes the spirit of Universal Compassion for all beings (faith and confidence).

The Yellow light that radiated from the Buddha’s epidermis symbolizes the Middle Way which avoids all extremes and brings balance and liberation (Holiness).

The Red light that radiated from the Buddha’s flesh symbolizes the blessings that the practice of the Buddha’s Teaching brings (Wisdom).

The White light that radiated from the Buddha's bones and teeth symbolizes the purity of the Buddha's Teaching and the liberation it brings (purity).

The Orange light that radiated from the Buddha’s palms, heels and lips symbolizes the unshakable Wisdom of the Buddha’s Teaching (Desire less ness).

The combination color symbolizes the universality of the Truth of the Lord Buddha’s Teaching.

The essence of Buddhism which is full of wisdom, strength and dignity. Combination of these colours signifies that it is the one and only Truth. The horizontal bars signify peace and harmony between all races through out the world while the vertical bars represent eternal peace within the world. In simple terms, the Buddhist Flag implies that there is no discrimination of races, nationality, areas or skin colour; that every living beings possess the Buddha Nature and all have the potential to become a Buddha. 

Therefore, the overall flag represents that regardless of race, nationality, division or color, all sentient beings possess the potential of Buddhahood.

 Many Buddhists have misconceptions about owning and hanging the Buddhist Flag. Many people may think that Buddhist Flags are only to be hung in temples and Buddhist centres and not at residential homes/shops/etc. In fact, this is a great misconception because this Buddhist flag was specially and designed for all Buddhists. Hanging the Buddhist Flag expresses our Love and Pride of being a Buddhist.

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