- During the 11-day visit, the relics have been accorded the status of a ‘state guest’ in Mongolia and are taken in the same climate control case in which they have been kept presently at the National Museum.
- For the visit, the Indian Air force made available a special airplane, C-17 GlobeMaster, which is among the biggest aircraft available in India.
- In 2015, the Holy Relics were placed under the ‘AA’ category of Antiquities and Art Treasures which should not be ordinarily taken out of the country for exhibition, considering their delicate nature.
- But upon the request of Mongolian government, the government has made a special exception and permitted the exposition of the Holy Relics in Mongolia.
History of Relics of Buddha–
- The four relics come from among 22 Buddha relics, currently housed at Delhi’s National Museum.
- Together, they are known as the ‘Kapilvastu Relics’ since they are from a site in Bihar believed to be the ancient city of Kapilvastu.
- The site was discovered in 1898.
- At the age of 80, according to Buddhist beliefs, Buddha attained salvation in Uttar Pradesh’s Kushinagar district.
- The Mallas of Kushinagar cremated his body with ceremonies befitting a universal king.
- His relics from the funeral pyre were collected and divided into eight shares to be distributed among
- the Ajathsatrus of Magadha,
- the Licchavis of Vaishali,
- the Sakyas of Kapilavastu,
- Mallas of Kushinagar,
- Bullies of Allakappa,
- the Mallas of Pava,
- the Koliyas of Ramagrama and
- a Brahmana of Vethadipa.
- The purpose was erecting stupas over the sacred relics.
- Two more stupas came up — one over the urn in which the relics had been collected and the other over the embers.
- Stupas erected over the bodily relics of Buddha (Saririka stupas) are the earliest surviving Buddhist shrines.
- It is said that King Ashoka (272–232 BC) opened up seven of these eight stupas, and collected major portion of the relics for enshrinement within 84,000 stupas built by him in an effort to popularise Buddhism as well as the cult of the stupas.
Note: In religion, a relic is an object or article of religious significance from the past. It usually consists of the physical remains of a saint or the personal effects of the saint or venerated person preserved for purposes of veneration as a tangible memorial. Relics are an important aspect of some forms of Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, shamanism, and many other religions.
The Kapilavastu relics-
- The discovery of an inscribed casket in 1898 at the stupa site in Piprahwa (near UP’s Siddharthnagar) helped identify the place with the ancient Kapilavastu.
- The inscription on the casket’s lid refers to the relics of Buddha and his community, the Sakya.
- A further excavation of the stupa by the Archaeological Survey of India in 1971-77 — apart from revealing three stages of the construction brought to light two more steatite relic caskets, containing a total of 22 sacred bone relics, which are now under the care of the National Museum.
- This was followed by the discovery of more than 40 terracotta sealings from different levels and spots in the eastern monastery at Piprahwa.