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Buddha's bowl wanted back

delhi Updated: Aug 27, 2013 01:39 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
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Former union minister and RJD leader Raghuvansh Prasad Singh has launched a campaign to retrieve Gautama Buddha's "Bhiksha Patra" (begging bowl) that was taken away to Afghanistan two thousand years ago.

The people of Vaishali (Singh's constituency) are the right claimants of this national treasure, as Buddha had donated it to the people of the region when he was leaving for his "mahanirvan" (abandoning his mortal body) around 500 BC, after delivering his last speech. For the next 500 years, a regular 'puja' of the begging bowl had been done at Vaishali.

Emperor Kanishka, who invaded India in the 1st century AD, took away the "patra" to "Purushpur" (present day Peshawar). During the term of former Afghanistan President Mohammed Najibullah (1987-1992), it was moved to the Kabul museum.

Singh, whose campaign is being supported by 60 international Buddhist 'maths' (schools), has furnished historical material supporting his case to the Archeological Survey of India and the Ministry of External Affairs.

"Former foreign affairs minister SM Krishna had assured me that the Indian government would take steps to retrieve the treasure. I have now sent a reminder to the present minister, Salman Khurshid," Singh said. Singh is also planning to write a letter to Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, seeking his cooperation in the matter.

"Chinese travelers including Fa Hein and Huang Tsang have referred to the presence of Buddha's begging bowl in Afghanistan, as has Alexander Cunningham (first Director General of the Archeological Survey of India). Historians including Dr. Shreedhar Vasudev Sohani and Romila Thapar have also supported the theory that the 'patra' had been taken away by Emperor Kanishka", Singh said on Monday.