The Snow lion, (Seng ge), appears on the Tibetan national flag as symbols of Tibet The two lions (in white, with green manes and tails) symbolise the twin system of the temporal and spiritual rule or, in other words, harmony between religious and earthly government. The brave posture of the two snow lions represents the total victory of any action held by the government of the union of spiritual and material powers. The bravery of the lions is suggested by the five prominent lines of their head. – powerful and brave. it is said to be the endorsement of the law. In Buddhism, it is the protector of the temple and other holy palaces, as well as the protector of Buddha Wen Shu, the left side servant of Sakyamuni.
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Buddha Shakyamuni is referred to as Lion of the Shakya (his clan) and is therefore depicted seated on the lion throne. Long before that time (6th-century BCE) the lion had assumed its association with royalty in general, and especially the role of vehicle [Skt. vahana] "familiar" or animal associated with divinity.
From early on, whenever Buddha is shown seated, there are eight lions -- one at each corner of the base or dais -- supporting his lotus throne.
< One of the Ashokan edict pillars.
The lion was once the leader of the procession of constellations, and therefore is considered the King of Beasts.
Because of the wobbling path of the earth as it moves against the backdrop of the heavens, (recorded as Hamlet's Mill, or in Indian mythology as the Churning of the Sea of Milk -- the Milky Way) the first or Spring astrological sign changes every 26 thousand years. This causes the day of equinox (the couple of days in the year when daylight and night hours are equal) to shift over time, and results in a precession of the equinoxes. Precess means to get closer, to come nearer.
The precession has affected astrology, which would cause any skeptic to further question the validity of contemporary natal-chart interpretation.
Researchers find that around 10, 500 BCE, the pyramids at Gizeh perfectly mirrored the placement of the three belt stars in the constellation Orion. At that time (early Old Kingdom of Egypt) Leo, the pattern of stars seen as the form of a Lion, was the spring sign. For people in the northern hemisphere, when the Lion constellation appeared in the night sky, it heralded the cycle of growth.
Some scholars believe that the monumental Egyptian Sphinx once stood at the very edge of the Nile Delta facing the appropriate constellation as it rose. When there was a correspondence of position, the flooding of the Nile was anticipated. Today, the sphinx bears a much-too small human head (in proportion to its crouching body) but that may not always have been the case.
Perhaps not all pre-historic peoples viewed that formation of stars as a lion, but when they did, for a long time that animal was associated with the initial steps in fertility of the land. In Egypt, it was also associated with Osiris, the deity who was both the culture hero who introduced agriculture, and the one associated with the resurrection of the dead.
The 4th avatar or form of Lord Vishnu is as Narasimha, the Hindu deity who is part lion, part man. Emerging from a golden pillar, in the form of a giant, Narasimha vanquished the ashuras and subdued their king.
The lion is called simham in Sanskrit. Today, it is pronounced singh in northern India. Many Sikhs took this as their surname sometime in the late 17th-century when the synthesis of Hinduism and Islam which is Sikhism emerged as a separate religion entirely.
Vehicle of Goddesses
Qadesh or Qetesh, the Egyptian goddess of love and beauty was generally depicted nude and standing or riding upon a lion holding flowers, or sometimes, a mirror, or snakes. She is one of the rare deities to be depicted full-face (rather than in profile.) Beloved of Ptah, she is consort of Min and mother of Reshep. That she is a form of the Syrian love/fertility goddess seems obvious for in Semitic languages, her name means "Consecrated."
Anyone observant of the behaviour of lions in the prides, will recognize that the maned, male lion is not the leader as far as hunting goes; the lionesses certainly out-perform him. And it is the lioness -- in fact, a pair of them -- that are associated with the Great Goddess of very ancient times known in classical times as Kybele (Cybele, pron. Koubili.) In fact, In a Chariot Drawn by Lions is the title of an important book by A. Long on the subject of goddesses.
Popular fiction writer, Anne Rice wrote one of her earlier (1993) vampire novels, Queen of the Damned, inspired by this figure.
Not surprisingly, the lion is one of Durga, the Indian great protector goddess's vahanas (along with the tiger, and the black goat.)
A mythological, turquoise or lapis lazuli blue-maned, white lion known as a snow lion, has become the national symbol of Tibet. And Achi Chokey Dolma is the protector who rides this lion. In that way, she is the counterpart of India's goddess, Durga.
It is thought that the ancestors of the Sakyas came from central Asia where, as the Persians have described, the lion still roamed the land. It may have been their totemic animal. In any event, it is the animal most often associated with the Buddha in all cultures. And he himself is often referred to as Lion of the Shakyas.
There is also the fact of the golden hue of a lion's coat that reminds us of the traditional description of Shakyamuni's complexion.
The Lion's Roar
"The Lion's Roar" is a metaphor for the Awakening Doctrine of the Buddha.
Fa-hsien, the Chinese pilgrim who toured India in 400 CE, tells us that at Sarnath where King Ashoka had erected one of his edict pillars, there was living a group of monks. When a member of an opposing sect questioned their right to live there, the lion emblematic of Buddhism that sits atop the post gave a loud roar which frightened him away.
"What do you do when the stone lion roars?" is a Zen Buddhist koan.
Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi (Mohammed b. Md. b. Hussain al-Balkhi, 1207-1273) founder of Tassawuf (Sufi) Islamic sect, also made reference to the roar (Feeling the Shoulder of the Lion. Putney, VT: Threshold Press, 1991): Once a farmer went out on a moonless night to check on an ailing mule. He could not know that there, in the dark shed where there was no ray of light, a lion had lain down in place of the mule. The farmer unwittingly puts out his hand and, there in the utter darkness, he touches the shoulder of the lion.
His heart is stirred and he reassuringly pats that shoulder. If he could see what he was doing, he would surely have heart failure. Rumi uses this situation as a metaphor for that mysterious occasional contact that produces a roaring in us. As Zen teacher Susan Murphy says, "... to hear it is to be devoured by it, torn free from all habitual familiarity into a familiarity far more profound and terrifying."
In Chinese architecture two lions, often referred to as "lion dogs" or Fo-, ie. Buddha-dogs are placed outside grand residences and institutions as protectors/guardians. Also known as Shi-shi, one is a male playing with a ball of ribbon, and the other is a female with her cub. Their mouths are shaped to form, respectively, the mantric sounds AH and HUM. The golden-red breed of dog known as the Pekinese (named after the capital city of Peking, now Beijing) was developed to resembled those protector lions. Longhaired cats are sometimes shorn to resemble these guardians.
A popular variant of Fo dogs -- those associated with longevity:
Sakhmet (or Sekhmet) was the lion-headed form of the Egyptian goddess Hathor in her manifestation as destroyer. In this case, the lioness aspect is considered a solar symbol. She illuminates the darkest corners, burning out the opposition.
Lion of Judah
Each of the 12 Tribes of Israel (descendants of the sons of the Hebrew patriarch Jacob) had an emblem. That of the tribe of Judah was a lion. Judah was a group whose southern territory included the capital city, Jerusalem where the kings ruled. The Romans called the united Israel-Judah territory Judea after it, and the Jews received their name from that.
Ras Tafari took the name Hailie Selassie on becoming first emperor of Ethiopia (1929.) To emphasize his link with the tradition that the Queen of Sheba (a land thought to be Ethiopian, was a consort of Solomon, King of Israel, he adopted the Lion as his emblem and Lion of Judah as one of his titles. (Others think Sheba was in Yemen.) The primarily Jamaican, Rastafarian movement takes its name from his, and identifying with the African Biblical tradition, uses that Lion as its symbol.
Compassion and Karma
Singh: The tenth guru of the Sikhs instituted a “Community of the Pure” into which members are initiated with water stirred by a sword. They adopt the name of Singh and the five K's: (1) Kesh, uncut hair (2) Kangh, a comb (3) Kach, underdrawers (4) Kara, the steel bangle of restraint (5) Kirpan, the symbolic sword.
see de Santillana, Giorgio. Hamlet's Mill. 1977.
... It is said that the main features of the Tibetan flag were designed in the latter half of the 7th century A.D. by King Srongtsan Gampo, ... The lion emblem first displayed as a war-banner became in time the national flag. The final consolidation of Tibetan independence brought about the addition of the rising sun and the twelve stripes of red and blue, which were introduced by the thirteenth Dalai Lama in 1912...
by Dave Martucci 01 August 1996
From another site, the details are slightly different:
The Tibetan flag was designed by the 13th Dalai-Lama in the beginning of the 20th century. It is based on the traditional flags of the Tibetan regiments. From that time, it has been the official flag of Tibet.
Here is the meaning of the symbols:
Source : CSPT (Comité
de Soutien au Peuple Tibetain) Bulletin Nr. 11, February 96.
The Tibetan Flag IS illegal
in the T.A.R. As is possession of a photograph of the Dalai Lama, for
which the punishment is imprisonment. The PRC only refer to the former
province of U'Tsang as the Tibet Autonomous Region (T.A.R.) The term
"Tibet" itself refers to the three original provinces of U'Tsang, Kham
and Amdo (sometimes called Greater Tibet). When the Chinese refer to
Tibet, they usually mean the T.A.R., which includes only U'Tsang. Amdo
and Kham were renamed by the Chinese as the province of Qinghai, and
as parts of Sichuan, Gansu and Yunnan provinces, respectively.
Many Thanks To Khandro For Much of the Buddhist Information In This Site