Buddhist flag

Buddhist flag

The Buddhist flag is a flag designed to symbolise Buddhism. It is used by Buddhists throughout the world.


The flag was originally designed in 1885 by the Colombo Committee, in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The committee consisted of Ven. Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala Thera (chairman), Ven. Migettuwatte Gunananda Thera, Don Carolis Hewavitharana (father of Anagarika Dharmapala), Andiris Perera Dharmagunawardhana (maternal grandfather of Anagarika Dharmapala), William de Abrew, Charles A. de Silva, Peter de Abrew, H. William Fernando, N. S. Fernando and Carolis Pujitha Gunawardena (secretary).

This flag was published in the "Sarasavi Sandaresa" newspaper of 17 April 1885 and was first hoisted in public on Vesak day, 28 May 1885, at the Dipaduttamarama, Kotahena, by Ven. Migettuwatte Gunananda Thera. This was the first Vesak public holiday under British rule.

Colonel Henry Steele Olcott, an American journalist, founder and first president of the Theosophical Society, felt that its long streaming shape made it inconvenient for general use. He therefore suggested modifying it so that it was the size and shape of national flags. Modifications were made accordingly, which were adopted. The modified flag was published in the "Sarasavi Sandaresa"of 8 April 1886 and first hoisted on Vesak day 1886.

In 1889 the modified flag was introduced to Japan by Anagarika Dharmapala and Olcott - who presented it to the Emperor - and subsequently to Burma.

At the inaugural conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists on 25 May 1950, its founder President Professor G P Malasekera proposed that this flag be adopted as the flag of Buddhists throughout the world; this motion was unanimously passed.


The five colours of the flag represent the six colours of the aura that emanated from the body of the Buddha when he attained Enlightenment:

The sixth vertical band, on the fly, is made up of a combination of rectangular bands of the five other colours, and represents a compound of the other five colours in the aura's spectrum. This compound colour is referred to as "Pabbhassara" ('essence of light').

In Tibet, the colours of the stripes represent the different colours of Buddhist robes united in one banner. Tibetan monastic robes are maroon, so the orange stripes in the original design are often replaced with maroon.

ectarian variants

The nonsectarian Buddhist flag is flown over the temples of many different schools. However, some choose to change the colors of the flag to emphasize their own teachings.

* Shin Buddhism in Japan replaces the orange stripes with pink stripes.
* Tibetan Buddhists in Nepal replace the orange stripes with plum stripes.
* Theravada Buddhists in Burma replace the orange stripes with dark green stripes.
* Soka Gakkai uses a tricolor of blue, yellow, and red. [http://flagspot.net/flags/buddhism.html]


*cite book | first=Anon | last= | year=2005 | title=The Dharma Cakra and the Buddhist Flag | edition=1st ed. | publisher= Buddhist Cultural Centre | id=ISBN 955-1222-13-X
* [http://www.prayerflags.com/display.asp?catid=4&pid=39 Universal Buddhist Flag]
* [http://www.dailynews.lk/2004/06/09/letters.html#let3 Dr. Kingsley Heendeniya, 'Five colour Buddhist flag', Daily News (Sri Lanka), 9 June 2004]

External links

* [http://www.fotw.net/flags/buddhism.html Buddhist flag at] Flags of the World
* [http://buddhism.kalachakranet.org/general_symbols_buddhism.html General Buddhist symbols]

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