The Legacy of Enlightenment: Buddha's Relics Revered Across the World

The Legacy of Enlightenment: Buddha's Relics Revered Across the World

Last year in June, four Holy Relics of Lord Buddha were taken from India to Mongolia for an 11-day exposition to coincide with Mongolian Buddha Purnima celebrations. These relics were displayed at the Batsagaan Monastery complex in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. 

The excavation of the relics 

The 1898 excavation by William Claxton Peppe took place at the ancient Buddhist site of Piprahwa in Uttar Pradesh, India. Peppe, conducted the and discovered a number of important artifacts and structures dating back to the 3rd century BCE coinciding with the Mauryan period. 

The most significant discovery at Piprahwa was a small reliquary containing a number of bone fragments that Peppe identified as belonging to the Buddha. The reliquary in Brahmi read  Iyang saleela nidhane Budhasa bhagawathe sakiyanan sukithi bahathanan sabhagini kathan sasuna dalatha' which in English means to: 'this noble deed of depositing of Buddha's relics were carried out by the family members of the Sakyas

This discovery was the first strong proof of the Buddha's existence and provided a crucial historical context for the development of Buddhism in ancient India. 

A further excavation of the stupa by the Archaeological Survey of India during the 1970s unearthed two more relic caskets, containing a total of 22 sacred bone relics, which are now housed in the National Museum at New Delhi. 

Mortal remains of the Buddha were also found during an excavation in 1962–1963 at Devni Mori which is a Buddhist archaeological site in Gujarat. Ashes of Buddha were found in a gold bottle that was kept inside a casket. The casket's inscription in Brahmi script reads ‘Dashabala Sharira Nilaya’ — which in English means 'abode of the bodily relics of Lord Buddha'

The following are some of the most famous relics of Lord Buddha

Sanchi, near Bhopal, has one of India’s most well-preserved and studied Buddhist sites. . There are many stupas at the site, but the Sanchi Stupa also known as the Great Stupa is considered the most prominent. The Great Stupa was built by  Emperor Ashoka in the third century BC. It contains religious relics or remains of the Buddha and also some of his disciples.


Kapilvastu Relics: These relics belong to the same group of unearthed relics that were discovered in excavation in kapilvastu and have been stored in the National Museum, Delhi.

The Relics of Kushinagar - These are the remains of a Buddhist monastery and are believed to be the site of the Buddha's death. The site was rediscovered in the 19th century and excavated, revealing a number of relics and artefacts associated to Buddha .

These relics are considered sacred by Buddhists and are often visited by pilgrims from around the world. They serve as important reminders of the Buddha's life and teachings and are revered by followers of Buddha

The Bodhi Tree - The Bodhi Tree - This is a fig tree under which the Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment. However, one needs to remember  that the tree standing here In Bodh Gaya of Bihar, India  is not the contemporary tree of Buddha but only a descendant of that tree 

Some of the Famous International places where relics associated to Buddha are said to be preserved are:

The Tooth Relic -According to Sri Lankan legend, a single tooth remained following Buddha's cremation. His left tooth was a prized possession and many small kingdoms fell over each other to get it as it was thought to have divine powers and the person having it had the divine right to rule. Consequently, the tooth was a coveted possession for many and was the bone of contention between many rulers. Today, it is well preserved in the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy, Sri Lanka

King Ashoka Temple- King Asoka Temple, located on the King Asoka Mountain in Ningbo City in China. This ancient temple, with a history tracing back to 1000 years, is named after the famous King - Asoka, who embraced Buddhism and propagated it across the world. The temple is home to the famous pagoda of the body relic of Buddha, which is housed inside a seven-storeyed stone pagoda in the Buddha's Relics Hall.

BUDDHA: The Enlightened One 

 Gautama Buddha, also known as Siddhartha Gautama, was the founder of Buddhism. He was born into a royal family in what is now Nepal in the 6th century BCE, and was raised in a life full of luxury and comfort. However, he became dissatisfied with his life of privilege and set out on a spiritual journey of self-discovery and enlightenment His family belonged to the Sakya clan which ruled from Kapilvastu, Lumbini.

At 29, Gautama left home and repudiated his royal life and embraced a lifestyle of asceticism . After 49 days of meditation, Gautam attained enlightenment under a pipal tree , which is located in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India.

Buddha gave his first sermon in the village of Sarnath, near Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. This event is known as Dhamma Chakra Pravartana or the turning of the wheel of law.

He died at the age of 80 in 483 BCE at Kushinagara, Uttar Pradesh. The event came to be known as Mahaparinirvana. After his death, the relics from his  funeral pyre were collected and divided into eight shares to be distributed among the eight kingdoms including Vaishali, Magadha etc.

The Legacy of Enlightenment: Buddha's Relics Revered Across the World
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