La bandera budista, símbolo de fe y armonía

Este artículo describe los orígenes y el simbolismo de la bandera que identifica a la religión budista.

Buddhist flag - symbol of faith, harmony

Adopted at WFB first session in 1950:

Adopting the six-colour Buddhist flag, the symbol of faith and harmony as the official flag of the international Buddhist Community was the most significant move at the first session of the World Fellowship of Buddhists (WFB) held in 1950, 60 years ago in Colombo and Kandy.

The Buddhist flag which was born on April 17, 1885 in Sri Lanka as a result of efforts by prominent Buddhist leaders led by Col. Henry Steele Olcott. But the flag remained unknown to the international Buddhist Community besides a few Buddhist countries but with no proper recognition.

Buddhist community

In 1949, Buddhist leaders, Venerable monks and laymen came out with the idea of organising an international body of the World Buddhist Community and it was appreciated, supported and promoted by Indian Buddhist leaders such as the father of the Constitution of India Dr Babasahe’s Ambedkar, then General Secretary of the Maha Bodhi Society of India Brahmachari Devapriya Valisinghe and Dr Gunapala Malalasekera of Sri Lanka.

As a result of their efforts, the World Fellowship of Buddhists was established in 1950 and it was inaugurated on May 25 at the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy.

At the final session on June 5, a Constitution for the WFB was adopted along with a banner for the Buddhists.

Symbol of Buddhist world

The proposal to accept the six colour Buddhist flag as the banner of the Buddhist world was moved by Dr G P Malalasekera and it was adopted unanimously.

Dr Ambedkar while commenting on the more and supporting it raised the issue of introducing a holy book for Buddhists like the Bible for Christians, the Koran for Muslims and the Bhagwat Geetha for Hindus.

A noted Buddhist scholar Dr R L Soni who participated at the inaugural session of the WFB representing the Institute of Buddhist Culture, Myanmar wrote the following on the adoption of the Buddhist flag as the symbol of the Buddhist world.

“At the conclusion of the World Fellowship of Buddhists held in Sri Lanka in May-June, 1950, many vital decisions were made and several important resolutions were passed.

One of the resolutions aimed at unification of the Buddhist world through the adoption of a flag as a general symbol. The flag accepted as the World Buddhist flag was the one with six vertical stripes representing the six - colours of the Buddha’s aura namely blue, yellow, red, white, orange and a composite stripe comprised of all the five colours. The blue stripe is near the, flagstaff and the composite one constitutes the free margin.

Modern times

The flag is not only reminiscent of the spiritual aura of the Blessed One but is also a vital symbol of the Buddhist renaissance in modern times. Born with the dawn of

the re-awakening of the Dhamma in Sri Lanka towards the last quarter of the last century, the flag has since then been in regular use not only in the island but also be the Maha Bodhi Society since its very inception.

It was therefore in the fitness of things that flag with such a spiritual background and with such historical associations should have inspired the 29 nations of the globe, foregathered in the historic conference at Colombo, for acceptance as the symbol of the unity of the Buddhist world.

So much sentimental veneration was in evidence in favour of this flag that proposals for an altogether new flag, simpler in construction, rich in symbolism and comprised of an elongated orange triangle with the Asoka Dhamma Cakka in its heart, were immediately withdrawn.

Eternal truths

The six-striped flag is now the proud possession of the entire Buddhist world. The past and the present are made on in it. Its rays are as if the dynamic Dhamma, emanating from the personality of the Great Master Himself and thus uniting us with the perennial springs of Eternal Truths. Yet with all that touch of antiquity, the flag is a modern conception, its birth being synchronous with the rebirth of the Dhamma in the modern world.

Under this flag there can never be any aggression. It is the flag of social justice, or piety, of friendliness to gods, men and animals, of service to the needy, sick and sorrowing, of selfless devotion to duty, of untiring efforts towards genuine happiness and peace and, above all, of the highest glory, the Bliss of Nibbana.

Let us hope, that wherever the glorious flag flutters in the high air, in Burma, Ceylon or Thailand, India, China or Japan, in Europe, Africa or America, or in the large and small islands in the Pacific, Atlantic and the Indian Oceans, it shall scatter an aroma of peace, happiness and wisdom.

Peace message

When all the cities and towns, hamlets and cottages all over the world are blessed with such an aroma conflicts shall cease and peace reign.

That is the ideal to which this flag deckons us. With it in our hands and the universal peace message of the Buddha in our hearts, we must move over hills and dales, through forests and sheets of water, travel from land to land, from nation to nation, country to country and even from life to life till the sublime message of universal goodwill is firmly established all over the globe and peace brought to the world.

Verily, this flag is the Dhammaduta, the messenger of Righteousness and universal goodwill. It inspires us-towards a new era of hope and happiness, of general well-being and universal peace. May it live long and may the Dhamma endure to keep it aloft.” (Dr Soni was the then Director-in-Chief, Institute of Buddhist Culture, Mandalay.)

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