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), Charles A. de Silva, Peter De Abrew, William De Abrew (father of Peter), H. William Fernando, N. S. Fernando and Carolis Pujitha Gunawardena (secretary).
Colonel Henry Steel 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.
Blue (Nīla): The Spirit of Universal Compassion
Yellow (Pīta): The Middle Way
Red (Lohita): The Blessings of Practice – achievement, wisdom, virtue, fortune and dignity
White (Odāta): The Purity of Dhamma – leading to liberation, timeless
Orange (Manjesta): The Wisdom of the Buddha's teachings
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 the Truth of the Buddha's teaching Pabbhassara ('essence of light').
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.
In 1963, the Catholic President of South Vietnam Ngo Dinh Diem invoked a law prohibiting flags other than that of the nation, to ban the Buddhist flag from being flown on Vesak, when Vatican flags had habitually flown at government events. This led to protests, which were ended by lethal firing of weapons, starting the Buddhist crisis.
The following lists events that happened in 2014 in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar.Andiris Perera Dharmagunawardhana
Muhandiram Lansage Andiris Perera Dharmagunawardhana (19 November 1809 – 24 January 1890) was a Sri Lankan businessman, a philanthropist and a pioneer of the Buddhist revival movement. He was the grandfather of Anagarika Dharmapala.He owned extensive land on the hill of Maligakanda, in present-day Maradana, Colombo, as well as two shops in Pettah, Colombo.
In 1860, he gave his daughter, Mallika, in marriage to Don Carolis Hewavitharana. As dowry, he gave his son-in-law one of his two shops. This become the renowned furniture shop, H Don Carolis & Sons.
He donated land and money to found, at Maligakanda in 1872, a Buddhist Seminary, the Vidyodaya Oriental College, better known as the Vidyodaya Pirivena, which later became the basis for Vidyodaya University.In 1880 the Buddhist Theosophical Society was founded, with Dharmagunawardena as its president, an office he held until his demise ten years later.
Until 1884, Buddhists were forced by the colonial authorities to convert to Christianity. This was changed after Colonel Henry Steel Olcott made representations to Secretary of State for the Colonies in London on behalf of the Buddhists of Sri Lanka.
The Buddhism Protection Committee (also known as the Colombo Committee) was formed in January 1884 under the patronage of Colonel Olcott, mainly with the objective of getting the Vesak full-moon day holiday restored. The British had not shown any interest in restoring the Vesak holiday which the Buddhists lost in 1770 during the Dutch rule. Dharmagunawardena was elected President - again a post he held until his demise - with Don Carolis as Vice President.In 1885 the Vesak holiday was restored and the committee elected a steering committee, to which Dharmagunawardena and his son-in-law were again elected, which went on to design the Buddhist flag.About three thousand people attended his funeral, at which the customary funeral orations were made by Colonel Olcott and Ven. Gnanisara. His ashes are interred on the grounds (donated by him) of the Vidyodaya Pirivena at Maligakanda.Arrest and assassination of Ngo Dinh Diem
The arrest and assassination of Ngô Đình Diệm, the president of South Vietnam, marked the culmination of a successful CIA-backed coup d'état led by General Dương Văn Minh in November 1963. On 2 November 1963, Diệm and his adviser, his younger brother Ngô Đình Nhu, were arrested after the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) had been successful in a bloody overnight siege on Gia Long Palace in Saigon. The coup was the culmination of nine years of autocratic and nepotistic family rule in South Vietnam. Discontent with the Diệm regime had been simmering below the surface, and exploded with mass Buddhist protests against long-standing religious discrimination after the government shooting of protesters who defied a ban on the flying of the Buddhist flag.
When rebel forces entered the palace, the Ngô brothers were not present, having escaped before to a loyalist shelter in Cholon. The brothers had kept in communication with the rebels through a direct link from the shelter to the palace, and misled them into believing that they were still in the palace. The Ngô brothers soon agreed to surrender and were promised safe exile; after being arrested, they were instead executed in the back of an armoured personnel carrier by ARVN officers on the journey back to military headquarters at Tân Sơn Nhứt Air Base. While no formal inquiry was conducted, the responsibility for the deaths of the Ngô brothers is commonly placed on Minh's bodyguard, Captain Nguyễn Văn Nhung, and on Major Dương Hiếu Nghĩa, both of whom guarded the brothers during the trip. Minh's army colleagues and US officials in Saigon agreed that Minh ordered the executions. They postulated various motives, including that the brothers had embarrassed Minh by fleeing the Gia Long Palace, and that the brothers were killed to prevent a later political comeback. The generals initially attempted to cover up the execution by suggesting that the brothers had committed suicide, but this was contradicted when photos of the Ngôs' corpses surfaced in the media.Buddhism and Theosophy
Theosophical teachings have borrowed some concepts and terms from Buddhism. Some theosophists like Helena Blavatsky, Helena Roerich and Henry Steel Olcott also became Buddhists. Henry Steel Olcott helped shape the design of the Buddhist flag. Tibetan Buddhism was popularised in the West at first mainly by Theosophists including Evans-Wentz and Alexandra David-Neel.
Blavatsky sometimes compared Theosophy to Mahayana Buddhism. In The Key to Theosophy she writes:
"But the schools of the Northern Buddhist Church ... teach all that is now called Theosophical doctrines, because they form part of the knowledge of the initiates..."Buddhist crisis
The Buddhist crisis (Vietnamese: Biến cố Phật giáo) was a period of political and religious tension in South Vietnam between May and November 1963, characterized by a series of repressive acts by the South Vietnamese government and a campaign of civil resistance, led mainly by Buddhist monks.The crisis was precipitated by the shootings of nine unarmed civilians on May 8 in the central city of Huế who were protesting a ban of the Buddhist flag. The crisis ended with a coup in November 1963 by the Army of the Republic of Vietnam, and the arrest and assassination of President Ngô Đình Diệm on November 2, 1963.Buddhist symbolism
Buddhist symbolism is the method of Buddhist art to represent certain aspects of dharma, which began in the fourth century BCE. Anthropomorphic symbolism appeared from around the first century CE with the arts of Mathura the Greco-Buddhist art of Gandhara, and were combined with the previous symbols. Various symbolic innovations were later introduced, especially through [Tibetan Buddhism]Culture of Sri Lanka
The culture of Sri Lanka mixes modern elements with traditional aspects and is known for its regional diversity. Sri Lankan culture has long been influenced by the heritage of Theravada Buddhism passed on from India, and the religion's legacy is particularly strong in Sri Lanka's southern and central regions. South Indian cultural influences are especially pronounced in the northernmost reaches of the country. The history of colonial occupation has also left a mark on Sri Lanka's identity, with Portuguese, Dutch, and British elements having intermingled with various traditional facets of Sri Lankan culture. Additionally, Indonesian culture has also influenced certain aspects of Sri Lankan culture. Culturally, Sri Lanka, particularly the Sinhalese people, possesses strong links to both India and Southeast Asia.The country has a rich artistic tradition, with distinct creative forms that encompass music, dance, and the visual arts. Sri Lankan culture is internationally associated with cricket, a distinct cuisine, an indigenous holistic medicine practice, religious iconography such as the Buddhist flag, and exports such as tea, cinnamon, and gemstones, as well as a robust tourism industry. Sri Lanka has longstanding ties with the Indian subcontinent that can be traced back to prehistory. Sri Lanka's population is predominantly Sinhalese with sizable Sri Lankan Moor, Sri Lankan Tamil and Indian Tamil minorities.Ellen Hammer
Ellen Joy Hammer (September 17, 1921 – January 28, 2001) was an American historian who specialized in 20th-century Vietnamese history.
Born in New York City, the daughter of David and Rea (Welt) Hammer, she received a bachelor's degree from Barnard College in 1941 and worked for a few years on the research staff of the Council on Foreign Relations in Manhattan. She earned a doctorate in public law and government from Columbia University, where she specialized in international relations. She became known in the early 1950s for her work on colonial rule in French Indochina. She was regarded as one of the first Americans to become scholars of Vietnamese history, often traveling to the Asian country for extended periods.Her first book, The Struggle for Indochina, published in 1954, was regarded as a pioneering text for that period of history. Douglas Pike, a historian and director of research at the Vietnam Center at Texas Tech University, said that as a scholar Hammer was "one of the few Americans that got into Vietnam before the American buildup there" in the mid-1960s. It follows the history of French Indochina from 1940 to 1955, documenting the Japanese takeover of the French colony during the Second World War and the subsequent struggle between the communist Vietminh and the French Union between 1946 and 1954, which resulted in the independence and partition of Vietnam at the 17th parallel as a result of the Geneva Conference.
A Death in November: America in Vietnam, 1963 was published in 1987, and Thomas Omestad wrote in a New York Times Book Review, "The title of this carefully researched book refers to the death of Ngo Dinh Diem, president of South Vietnam from 1955 to 1963, and that of his brother and adviser, Ngo Dinh Nhu." The book incorporated a variety of classified American government cables detailing the American involvement in the downfall of Diem. It documents the events leading up to the 1963 South Vietnamese coup in November, which saw the Arrest and assassination of Ngô Đình Diệm, the first President of South Vietnam, and follows the downfall of the Diem regime amid mass protests following the Hue Vesak shootings, in which nine Buddhists were shot dead by government forces while protesting a ban on the Buddhist flag. The book documents the unfolding Buddhist crisis, covering events such as the self-immolation of Thich Quang Duc, the Xa Loi Pagoda raids and the United States' maneuvering amid the crisis.Hammer was regarded by Pike as being "very loyal personally to Diem" and being "bitter" about his demise. After the fall of Diem, she moved to France and vowed to stay away from the subject. Despite this, she still wrote A Death in November. She died of lymphoma in 2001 in New York City.Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala Thera
Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala Thera (Sinhala: හික්කඩුවේ ශ්රි සුමංගල නාහිමි; 20 January 1827 – 29 April 1911) was a Sri Lankan Buddhist monk, who was one of the pioneers of Sri Lankan Buddhist revivalist movement in the 19th century. He did a great service to improve the Buddhist Education in the country and was the founder of Vidyodaya Pirivena, Maligakanda in 1873 which was granted the university status later in 1959 by the Government of Sri Lanka. A veteran author and a fiery orator, he was a major figure in the Panadurawadaya, a religious debate held between Christian missionaries and Buddhist monks in 1873 at Panadura, Sri Lanka. He was well versed in Sinhala, Pali, Sanskrit, English, Buddhism, History, Arithmetic, and Archaeology and was one of the primary sources of information on Buddhism for the success of the Panadura debate.Huế Phật Đản shootings
The Huế Phật Đản shootings were the deaths of nine unarmed Buddhist civilians on 8 May 1963 in the city of Huế, South Vietnam at the hands of the army and security forces of the Roman Catholic government of Ngô Đình Diệm. The army and police fired guns and launched grenades into a crowd of Buddhists who had been protesting against a government ban on flying the Buddhist flag on the day of Phật Đản, which commemorates the birth of Gautama Buddha. Diệm denied governmental responsibility for the incident and blamed the Việt Cộng, which added to discontent among the Buddhist majority.
The incident spurred a protest movement by Buddhists against the religious discrimination which they felt was perpetrated by the Diệm regime, known as the Buddhist crisis, and this led to widespread civil disobedience among the South Vietnamese. Generals from the Army of the Republic of Vietnam conducted a coup on 1 November 1963, after six months of tension and growing opposition to the regime; this led to the arrest and assassination of Ngô Đình Diệm on 2 November 1963.Huế chemical attacks
The Huế chemical attacks occurred on 3 June 1963, when soldiers of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) poured liquid chemicals from tear gas grenades onto the heads of praying Buddhists in Huế, South Vietnam. The Buddhists were protesting against religious discrimination by the regime of the Roman Catholic President Ngô Đình Diệm. The attacks caused 67 people to be hospitalised for blistering of the skin and respiratory ailments.
The protests were part of the Buddhist crisis, during which the Buddhist majority in South Vietnam campaigned for religious equality after nine people were killed by government forces while defying a ban that prevented them from flying the Buddhist flag on Vesak. The incident prompted the United States to privately threaten to withdraw support for Diệm's government and when the Americans finally reduced aid a few months later, the army took it as a green light for a coup. An inquiry determined that the chemical used in the attack was a liquid component from old French tear gas grenades that had never functioned properly. The findings exonerated the ARVN soldiers from charges that they had used poison or mustard gas. The outcry over the attack had already forced Diệm to appoint a panel of three cabinet ministers to meet with Buddhist leaders for negotiations regarding religious equality. The talks led to the signing of the Joint Communique, but the policy changes it provided were not implemented and widespread protests continued, leading to the assassination of Diệm in a military coup.Kotahena
Kotahena is a suburb part of Colombo, Sri Lanka. It is an area known as Colombo 13N. S. Fernando
Muhandiram N. S. Fernando Wijesekera was a Ceylonese entrepreneur and philanthropist.Fernando developed a successful import export business and expanded into graphite mining and plantations. A devoted Buddhist, he was a notable member of the Theosophical Society assisting Colonel Henry Steel Olcott establish Buddhist schools around the island and served on the Colombo Committee that created the Buddhist flag. He contributed in the development on many Buddhist temples throughout the island and was the primary sponsor of the Victoria Memorial Eye Ward of the Colombo General Hospital, which became the National Eye Hospital. He was given the titular title of Muhandiram for social service by the Governor of Ceylon.Fernando married Caroline Pedris, the sister of the wealthy businessmen D. D. Pedris. He was the uncle of Henry Pedris. His mansion on Kynsey Road, Borella is now the regimental centre of the Sri Lanka Army Women's Corps.Ngô Đình Cẩn
Ngô Đình Cẩn (Vietnamese: [ŋo˧ ɗɨ̞̠n˦˩ kəŋ˦˩]; 1911 – 9 May 1964) was a younger brother and confidant of South Vietnam's first president, Ngô Đình Diệm, and an important member of the Diệm government. Diệm put Cẩn in charge of central Vietnam, stretching from Phan Thiết in the south to the border at the 17th parallel, with Cẩn ruling the region as a virtual dictator. Based in the former imperial capital of Huế, Cẩn operated private armies and secret police that controlled the central region and earned himself a reputation as the most oppressive of the Ngô brothers.
In his youth, Cẩn was a follower of the nationalist Phan Bội Châu. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, he worked to organise support for Diệm as various Vietnamese groups and international powers sought to stamp their authority over Vietnam. Cẩn, who succeeded in eliminating alternative nationalist opposition in central Vietnam, became the warlord of the region when his brother became president of the southern half of the partitioned nation in 1955. He became notorious for his involvement in smuggling and corruption, as well as his autocratic rule. Cẩn was regarded as an effective leader against the Viet Cong communist insurgency, which was much weaker in central Vietnam than in other parts of South Vietnam. His Popular Force militia was regarded by US officials in central Vietnam as a successful counter to the communists.Cẩn's influence began to wane after his elder brother Ngô Đình Thục was appointed the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Huế. Thục overshadowed Cẩn and aggressively promoted Catholicism, which led to the banning of the Buddhist flag in 1963 during Vesak, the celebration of the birthday of Gautama Buddha. Cẩn's forces opened fire on a crowd who were protesting the ban, killing nine and precipitating the Buddhist crisis. Ongoing demonstrations intensified throughout the summer as the regime responded with increased brutality, sparking the toppling of the Diem regime in a November 1963 coup. Cẩn had been offered asylum by the US Department of State, but ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. had CIA agent Lucien Conein arrest the fallen Ngô in Saigon. Cẩn was turned over to the military junta, which tried and executed him in 1964.Peter De Abrew
Peter De Abrew (1862–1940) was a Ceylonese industrialist and philanthropist.Born to William de Abrew, a successful businessman, Peter De Abrew was educated at the Colombo Academy (now Royal College Colombo). Going into business as a produce merchant, De Abrew gained a strong reputation amongst the business community. In 1904 he was appointed as the Assistant Commissioner by the Government of Ceylon for the St. Louis Exposition in the USA.
A devoted Buddhist, he was a member of the Colombo Committee that created the Buddhist flag. He was a notable member of the Theosophical Society and he was a founder and patron of the Musaeus College in Colombo.The Peter De Abrew Memorial Scholarship has been awarded annually since 1948 in his memory at his alma mater Royal College, Colombo and the Peter De Abrew Memorial Auditorium at Musaeus College is named after him.Rainbow flag
A rainbow flag is a multicolored flag consisting of the colors of the rainbow. The designs differ, but many of the colors are based on the seven spectral colors of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet that compose the visible light spectrum. The actual color attributed as "blue" or "indigo" is cyan.There are several independent rainbow flags in use today. The pride flag represents LGBT pride (since 1978). The international peace flag is especially popular in Italy (since 1961). The International Co-operative Alliance adopted a rainbow flag in 1925. A similar flag is used in Andean indigenism in Peru and Bolivia to represent the legacy of the Inca Empire (since ca. 1920).
American Revolutionary War writer Thomas Paine proposed that a rainbow flag be used as a maritime flag, to signify neutral ships in time of war.Thích Trí Quang
Thích Trí Quang (born 1924) is a Vietnamese Mahayana Buddhist monk best known for his role in leading South Vietnam's Buddhist population during the Buddhist crisis in 1963.
Quang's campaign, in which he exhorted followers to emulate the example of Mahatma Gandhi, saw widespread demonstrations against the government of President Ngô Đình Diệm which, due to the influence of both Diệm's elder brother, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Huế, Pierre Martin Ngô Đình Thục, and Diệm's younger brother, Ngô Đình Nhu, mistreated and persecuted the Buddhist majority. The suppression of Buddhists' civil rights and violent crackdowns on demonstrations, along with the self-immolation of at least five Buddhist monks led to a military coup in which Diệm and Nhu were deposed on 1 November 1963 and assassinated the following day.Xá Lợi Pagoda raids
The Xá Lợi Pagoda raids were a series of synchronized attacks on various Buddhist pagodas in the major cities of South Vietnam shortly after midnight on 21 August 1963. The raids were executed by the Army of the Republic of Vietnam Special Forces under Colonel Lê Quang Tung, and combat police, both of which took their orders directly from Ngô Đình Nhu, younger brother of the Roman Catholic President Ngô Đình Diệm. Xá Lợi Pagoda, the largest pagoda in the South Vietnamese capital, Saigon, was the most prominent of the raided temples. Over 1,400 Buddhists were arrested, and estimates of the death toll and missing ranged up to the hundreds. In response to the Huế Vesak shootings and a ban on the Buddhist flag in early May, South Vietnam's Buddhist majority rose in widespread civil disobedience and protest against the religious bias and discrimination of the Catholic-dominated Diệm government. Buddhist temples in major cities, most prominently the Xá Lợi pagoda, became focal points for protesters and assembly points for Buddhist monks from rural areas.
In August, several Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) generals proposed the imposition of martial law, ostensibly to break up the demonstrations, but in reality to prepare for a military coup. However, Nhu, already looking to arrest Buddhist leaders and crush the protest movement, used the opportunity to preempt the generals and embarrass them. He disguised Tung's Special Forces in army uniforms and used them to attack the Buddhists, thereby causing the general public and South Vietnam's U.S. allies to blame the army, diminishing the generals' reputations and ability to act as future national leaders.
Soon after midnight on 21 August, Nhu's men attacked the pagodas using automatic firearms, grenades, battering rams and explosives, causing widespread damage. Some religious objects were destroyed, including a statue of Gautama Buddha in the Từ Đàm Pagoda in Huế, which was partially leveled by explosives. Temples were looted and vandalized, with the remains of venerated monks confiscated. In Huế, violent street battles erupted between government forces and rioting pro-Buddhist, anti-government civilians.
Initially, the Ngô family claimed that the army had carried out the raids, something their U.S. allies initially believed. However, this was later debunked, and the incident prompted the United States to turn against the regime and begin exploring alternative leadership options, eventually leading to Diệm's overthrow in a coup. In South Vietnam itself, the raids stoked widespread anger. Several high-ranking public servants resigned, and university and high school students boycotted classes and staged riotous demonstrations, resulting in further mass incarcerations. As most of the students were from middle-class public service and military families, the arrests caused further upset among the Ngô family's power base.Đặng Sỹ
Major Matthew Sy Dang, (Vietnamese: Matheo Đặng Sỹ; July 29, 1929 – November 11, 2006) was an officer in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. He acquired a degree of infamy for ordering his soldiers to open fire on a crowd of Buddhists demonstrating against a ban on the Buddhist flag, leading to the Huế Vesak shootings in which nine people died. This sparked the Buddhist crisis and downfall of Ngô Đình Diệm.
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