SRI LANKA - Five Rupee
At the request of the Ministry of Buddha Sasana, a Rs 5/- circulation commemorative coin was issued by Central Bank of Sri Lanka together with two sterling silver crown size frosted Proof NCLT; A Rs 1500/- coin and a Gold embossed Rs 2000/- coin to mark the 2550 Buddha Jayanthi year.
Obverse : Image of the Summit of Sri Pada Mountain below a 24 prong Dharma Chakra (wheel of doctrine) found on the stone pillar built by the Emperor Ashoka at Saranath in Varanasi. The words BUDDHA JAYANTHI appear within upper part annulus in Sinhala at apex and Tamil and English to left and right. 2550 appear within annulus at bottom.
Reverse : The large numeral 5 at the center with FIVE RUPEES in Sinhala, Tamil and English superimposed. SRI LANKA in Sinhala appear at the apex and Tamil and English on each side. The year 2006 at the bottom.
Edge: The coin is 2.7 MM thick and has incused lettering C.B.S.L. on milled edge in Sinhala, Tamil and English.
Minted to the specification of the definitive decimal currency Five Rupee brass plated Steel coin with a milled edge, it was first announced on 2006 May 11th and first issued to public on May 15th. It will circulate along side the older coin which remain legal tender.
The line drawing of SriPada sent by CBSL clearly illustrates the steps
up the side of the mountain and the buildings on top. However the
engraving and reduction of scale at Royal Mint seems to have returned
SriPada back to nature.
The year 1957 on the 2500 B.E. coin and the 2006 date on the 2550 B.E. coin is going to confuse many numismatists who are unaware that the Buddhist Era in Sri Lanka changes on Vesak (May) Full Moon Poyaday. However in reality the difference is even greater. The 2550 B.E. year is on the standard Buddhist Era calender which is started on 544 BC. The Mahavamsa clearly states that the coronation of Emperor Asoka (265 BC) was 218 B.E. or years after Buddha's Parinibbana at age 80. So with modern historical dating 2006 is 2489 years after the Parinibbana of the Buddha, and 2569 years after the birth depicted on the silver coins. In reality it is now 2550 years from when the Prince Siddhartha became 19 years old.
Looking at recent News reports I notice that the year 2550 is associated with either the Birth in east Asia and Parinibbana in south Asia. Is the difference associated with the Mahayana and Hinayana traditions ?
Read my article, an edited version of which was published as Coins of tribute in the Sunday Times of 2006 May 21st.
The coin was scanned at 600 dpi and the images are displayed at 300 dpi. Proof-like and enclosed by Royal Mint, in a small plastic capsule, it is one of few distributed at 2550 Buddha Jayanthi inauguration held at the Presidential Secretariat at 4 PM on Thursday 2006 May 11th.