Which relics of Buddha were returned to the Dalai Lama in Dharamshala? | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Which relics of Buddha were returned to the Dalai Lama in Dharamshala?

Apr 08, 2024 06:40 PM IST

Following the Buddha’s passing and cremation, fragments of his bones and teeth were divided among eight kingdoms and stupas were erected over them

The sacred Kapilavastu relics of Lord Buddha Shakyamuni, discovered during the British rule in India during the famous Piprahwa excavations, reached Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh all the way from Sri Lanka to be presented to the Dalai Lama at his residence in McLeodganj.

A relic of Buddha with the Dalai Lama(Dalai Lama Instagram) PREMIUM
A relic of Buddha with the Dalai Lama(Dalai Lama Instagram)

The relics, which carry significance for Buddhists worldwide, were offered to the Tibetan spiritual leader by Waskaduwe Mahindawansa Mahanayaka Thero from the Raja Guru Shri Subuti Mahavihara Monastery in Sri Lanka, who serves as the custodian of the Kapilavastu relics. The Sri Subhuthi Maha Viharaya, a Buddhist temple in Waskaduwa, Sri Lanka houses 21 relics of the Lord Buddha.

Following the Buddha’s passing away and the cremation of his mortal remains the relics that remained, fragments of bones and teeth, were divided among eight kingdoms and stupas were erected over them in Allakappa, Kapilavastu, Kushinagar, Pava, Rajagriha, Ramagrama, Vaishali, and Vethapida. During excavations at Piprahwa, which is identified with Kapilavastu, relics of the Buddha were discovered that had been enshrined by Shakyan relatives in Kapilavastu.

British civil engineer William Peppe, who began an excavation of a mound near Piprahwa village in UP’s Siddharthnagar district in 1897, gifted the relics to the Sri Lankan monk Waskaduwe Sri Subhuthi Mahanayake Thero (1835-1917) the following year. These were enshrined in Piprahwa by the Shakyan relatives of Buddha in Kapilavastu.

Subhuthi Nayaka Thero brought 21 bone relics of Buddha to Sri Lanka after they were discovered during the excavation works carried out in Piprahwa stupa by Peppe.

The monk demonstrated that the relics attributed to Buddha were indeed the authentic and original objects of veneration — inscriptions preserved alongside the relic in a casket also authenticated them.

“Piprahwa is best known for its archaeological site and excavations that suggest that it may have been the burial place of the portion of the Buddha’s ashes that were given to his own Sakya clan,” the Siddharthnagar administration’s website states. “Some scholars have suggested that modern-day Piprahwa-Ganwaria was the site of the ancient city of Kapilavastu, the capital of the Shakya kingdom, where Siddhartha Gautama spent the first 29 years of his life,” it adds.

“Dr Damenda Porage, founder president of the Sri Lanka-Tibetan Buddhist Brotherhood in Sri Lanka, approached me back in 2017 with the idea of presenting a Kapilavastu relic to the Dalai Lama. After six years of planning and preparation, we have finally been able to fulfil this request,” the head priest of the temple said.

“During Ling Rinpoche's inaugural visit to Sri Lanka in 2022, I conveyed my earnest desire to make this offering and sought His Eminence's guidance on liaising with the office of His Holiness and organising the event. His Eminence graciously accepted my request and offered his invaluable assistance,” he added.

He added, “It is with the utmost joy and a deep sense of fulfilment that I announce this long-awaited and cherished occasion today. After many years of unwavering effort and a profound desire, our wish to offer this precious relic of Lord Shakyamuni Buddha to the 14th Dalai Lama is finally fulfilled,” he said.

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