Rel 133

Topics: Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, Tibet Pages: 2 (612 words) Published: March 4, 2013
The Origin and history of the Tibetan prayer flags is a long. The tradition of the flags began more than 2000 years ago. They are based off of the ruler’s banners at the time. The native people made these flags to honor their gods in their shamanistic religion. The Indian Buddhist sutras were originally written on cloth in India, where they were transmitted to other regions of the world including Tibet. These sutras on banners were the original prayer flags. The origin of the prayer flag comes from the Shakyamuni Buddha, whose prayers were written on battle flags used by devas against their enemies the asuras. Monks carried this knowledge of the prayer flags in Tibet after 640 C.E. and the actual flags were introduced no later than 1040 C.E. The Indian monk Atisha (980-1054 C.E.) introduced the Indian practice of printing on cloth prayer flags to Tibet. They used colors of the five elements, blue for the sky, white for clouds or air, red for fire, green for water, and yellow for the earth. They hung their flags everywhere anyone would pass for the benefit of all who pass underneath them, for example in mountain passes and in rivers. Another use off the prayer flags was to arrange them around a sick person, and it was believed they would harmonize the five elements in their body, thus curing their ailments. Prayer Flags originally had hand printed messages and prayers written in Sanskrit. Later these messages were replaced with wood block printed images introduced from China in the 15th century. This way the flags could be mass produced and distributed widely. Tibetan Buddhist masters created images and designs that were passed down for centuries through their generations, making the designs we see today hundreds of years old. “When Buddhism was brought to Tibet by Padmasambhava (aka Guru Rinpoche) around 700CE, he blended the Bön and Buddhist worldviews thus giving Tibetan Buddhism many of its Bön-inspired features (a process known as syncretism). The use of...
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