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Buddhist flag variants seen in Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, India

Last modified: 2013-11-24 by rob raeside
Keywords: buddhism | tibet | nepal | bhutan | india |
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Buddhist flags in Nepal

Flag seen on monasteries of Tibetan schools:

[Buddhist flag on monasteries of Tibetan schools in Nepal] image by Roman Kogovsek

This flag can be see hanging out across Nepal in the monasteries of Tibetan schools. This flag would seem from the filename to be a type of Buddhist flag used in Nepal *and* India. Here the saffron is replaced with a plum color.
Eugene Ipavec, 27 June 2005

Flags of unknown significance:

[Buddhist flag on monasteries of Tibetan schools in Nepal] image by Roman Kogovsek

[Buddhist flag on monasteries of Tibetan schools in Nepal] image by Ivan Sarajcic, 7 November 2005

This is the dream flag created by the late XVIth Karmapa, a major Tibetan master of the Karma-Kagyupa school. He explains how he created it and his meaning here: http://www.dharma-haven.org/dream-flag.htm

He explained thus:

At the level of relative truth, the blue is the sky (heaven), symbolizing spiritual insight and vision, and the yellow is the earth, the actual world of our everyday experience. The symmetry of the wave pattern shows how we come to understand their interdependence when we practice the dharma.  As a reminder of absolute truth, the blue symbolizes the wisdom, or emptiness aspect of awakened being, while the yellow stands for the compassion aspect. The wavy intermingling of the two colors represents their inseparability. The interdependence shown in the flag can also be seen as the wisdom of Mahamudra, the ultimate realization of ones true nature.
Eugene Ipavec, 30 June 2005

The tricolor white-blue-red with the yellow disk may be the flag of the Sakya school of the Tibetan Buddhism. We can see the tricolor with (or not) the yellow circle on these websites :
http://www.sakyadokhocholing.org/
http://paldensakya.org.in/sakya.html
http://www.sakyatemple.org/
I didn't find any explanation of the flag.
Corentin Chamboredon, 20 May 2007

 


Tibetan Buddhist Flag (in India)

[Tibetan Buddhist flag] image by Tomislav Todorovic, 14 November 2010

Tibetan Buddhist flag in Dharamsala, India
A flag hoisted over a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Dharamsala, India, was photographed on 2008-02-19 and posted at Flickr (link broken): www.flickr.com/photos/mattlinden/4100349775/.

The colors were blue, white, green, yellow and red; in the "combination color" field, this order was changed, with yellow  and red swapping places. As in the case of Japanese Buddhist flags, the colors certainly represent five Dhyani Buddhas, whose worshipping is the most pronounced in Tibetan Buddhism.
Tomislav Todorovic, 14 November 2010

 


Mahakala's flag

[Mahakala's flag] image by Ivan Sache

Mahakala (a.k.a. the Great Black Lord) is an important boddhisattva in Tibetan Buddhism. A boddhisattva reached the state of Buddha, but willingly decided to birth again in the real life (Samsara) to help the other forms of life on their way to liberation from pain. Boddhisatvas are specific of the so-called Mahayana ('to help the others', Great Vehicle) Buddhism, as opposed to the original Theravada ('not to harm anyone', Small Vehicle).
Among the three forms of the Awaken Spirit, Mahakala/Avalokiteshvara represents the Boddhisatva of Compassion. To make the things even more difficult, each boddhisatva may appear under two expressions, one peaceful and one incensed. Mahakala is incensed. He rides a tiger or a snow lion and trample underfoot a human or animal representation of the ego. He stands for the force which destroys the illusion obstructing the access to awakening.
Mahakala is represented by a small statue in one of the temples of the monastery of Shey (Ladakh). Interestingly, the statue is 'charged' with several flags directly pinned into the deity's head. The flags are dark green pennants with a red border and a white eye in the middle - I guess to symbolize the awakening.
I saw several representations of Mahakala in Ladakhi and Zanskari monasteries - he is probably the deity easiest to identify and usually painted inside the temples over the entrance door, as a protecting deity. Anyway, he was decorated with flags only in Shey temple.
Ivan Sache, 31 August 2001

 


Drukpa tradition, Bhutan

[Drukpa tradition] image by Corentin Chamboredon, 2 April 2007

This flag is used by Tibetan refugees living in Darjeeling. It is called the Drukpa flag. So far it is used only as a print image. Upper half: dark blue with yellow prayer wheel in upper right corner with three Tibetan characters in its center. Lower half: red with a Buddhist symbol of eternity in the lower left corner. Middle: a dragon, very similar to the Bhutanese dragon (also with apples in its claws).
Roman Kogovsek, 11 July 2005

This is the flag of the Drukpa tradition of the Kagyupa school, which is the main one in Bhutan and in several areas of Kham. The website of the lineage explains this:
    "The flag was designed by H.H. the Twelfth Gyalwang Drukpa. The color BLUE symbolizes Chakrasamvara, the principal male deity of the Drukpa lineage and a representation of Great Compassion. The color RED symbolizes Vajra Yogini, the principal female deity of the Drukpa lineage and a representation of Great Wisdom. The DHARMA WHEEL with Druk written in Tibetan represents the teaching of the Universal Truth being spread by the Drukpa or the Dragon lineage. The AUSPICIOUS KNOT represents the heart-essence of Bodhicitta. And the WHITE DRAGON represents the yogic lineage of the Drukpa."
Source: http://www.drukpa.com/drukpa_lineage/drukpa_lineage_main.htm
Corentin Chamboredon, 2 April 2007


Nyingmapa Order of Tibetan Buddhism

[Nyingmapa Order of Tibetan Buddhism] image located by Corentin Chamboredon, 8 April 2007

Source: http://www.zambala.com/images/Nyingmapa%20flag.JPG

Here is a flag presented as the flag of the Nyingmapa order of the Tibetan Buddhism. I found it in the Google's cache for a commercial website selling different Buddhist items. They told me it was really used as a religious order flag. It has a turquoise blue field. There is a very complicated central device. It is a piece of traditional Tibetan art, with different colours. On top there is a burning sword on an altar. Just in front of it we can see what I suppose to be a Tibetan book (in Tibet, books have a different shape than occidental ones, they are larger than longer and open backward and not leftward as ours). The altar is supported by lotus flowers and surrounded by green and blue leaves. There are also two birds on each side (green on the right, red on the left).  The lotus flowers root in the water. The final element is a red scroll with Tibetan script on the left and right, and the word NYINGMAPA in the center in Latin letters.
Corentin Chamboredon, 8 April 2007