The Buddhist Flag

The Flag is a recent addition to Buddhism. Col. H. S. Olcott, who was born in New Jersey in 1907, first presented it in India. The flag is just a small part of his total contributions to Buddhism and his death date is still celebrated throughout India and South-East Asia. A large photo of him hangs in most of the Buddhist schools and colleges he helped to establish.

He had been oppressed by the Indian government but was nevertheless granted a unique document from high-ranking Buddhist monks that permitted him to give “Pancha Sila” or admit people into the Buddhist Sangha. He established the Adyar Oriental Library, which has preserved rare Sanskrit, Pali, Tibetan, Burmese and Sinhalese manuscripts which were fast becoming rare even in his time because of what they had been written upon. This library contains for example, 17, 584 palm-leaf manuscripts.

When Col. Olcott died, his body was covered with the Buddhist and the American flags. Not every Buddhist flag looks identical but the colors are vibrant red, yellow, blue, green, purple and such.

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