Friday, August 28, 2015

The story of the Buddha's RELICS (sutra/video)

Dhr. Seven, Amber Larson, Pat Macpherson, Ashley Wells, Wisdom Quarterly Wikipedia edit; Sister Vajira and Francis Story, trans. (DN 16); National Geographic ("Bones of Buddha" video)
Famous later stupa, Boudanath in a suburb of Kathmandu, Nepal (~anup dreamynomad).
There is a stupa in space, in the akasha deva loka, with a portion of the relics. It may look like Shitthuang Pagoda in the ruins of Mrauk U, Arakhine, Burma (Jon Sheer/Jraptor/flickr).
(National Geographic) "Bones of the Buddha" documentary on the discovery of one of the stupas or burial mounds (Buddhist reliquaries) in 1898 in British colonial India.

First Buddha image? Bimaran reliquary.
Do the jewels, relic bones, and ashes found in an Indian casket and tomb in 1898 mark the final resting place of the Buddha himself? Or was it all an elaborate hoax?

When Colonial estate manager William Peppe set his workers digging at a mysterious "hill" in Northern India in 1898, he had no idea what they would find. Over 20 feet down, they made an amazing discovery: a huge stone coffer containing reliquary urns, over 1000 separate jewels, and some ash and bone. One of the jars had an inscription that seemed to say that these were the remains of the Buddha himself.

Tour gathered relics for India
This seems to be a most extraordinary find in Indian archaeology. But doubt and scandal have hung over the amazing discovery for over 100 years.

For some, the whole thing is an elaborate hoax. For others, it is no less than the final resting place of the Maitreya/Messiah of one of the world's three great religions. For the doubters, suspicion focuses on...

The Shakyans (Scythians) had a vast territory in Central Asia along the Silk Route.

The Buddha Sakamuni of the Shakya clan was from Sakastan/Scythia north-west of "India."
The relics in the sutras
What's inside Buddhist burial domes?
KUSINARA, ancient India - After the Buddha's passing into final nirvana (parinirvana, complete liberation from rebirth and the end of all suffering), the body was cremated and the ashes/relics divided.

Originally the ashes were only going to go to the Sakya clan -- the Buddha's extended royal family in Afghanistan (Scythia) and northwestern "India." However, seven royal (kshatriya caste) families demanded the body relics.

To avoid fighting, a monk divided the relics into ten portions, eight from the body relics, one from the ashes of Buddha's cremation pyre, and one from the bucket used to divide the relics, according to the Mahaparinibbana Sutta (Long Discourses, DN 16).

After the Buddha's distribution the relics were enshrined and honored in royal burial mounds (reliquaries or stupas) by the royals of eight "countries" (janapadas, or "footholds of the clan," extended familial territories, republics and kingdoms before there was any "India") in this way -- one portion each to:
    A royal Scythian burial
  1. King Ajatasattu of Magadha [son of the Buddhist King Bimbisara],
  2. the Licchavis of Vesali,
  3. the Shakyas of Kapilavastu [Bamiyan according to maverick historian Dr. Ranajit Pal, Kabul, and Mes Aynak, modern Afganistan, west of modern India and Pakistan, ancient Gandhara, according to the fact that the sutras describe the Shakyas as having three capitals in their Great Territory or maha-janapada, according to original research at Wisdom Quarterly]
  4. the Bulis of Allakappa
  5. the Koliyas of Ramagrama
  6. the Brahmin of Vethadipa [who made the partition of the relics and asked to keep one portion to honor with the building of a burial mound]
  7. the Mallas of Pava
  8. the Mallas of Kusinara [modern Kushinagar, the territory the Buddha purposely chose as a former great kingdom of the remote past, where he traveled by foot with Ven. Ananda to pass into final nirvana to avoid conflict or even war breaking out between competing kingdoms wishing to keep and honor the Buddha's remains and give them a special place of honor due to his great fame ("Asoka and the Buddha-Relics,"
  9. [the devas in the akasha deva loka, that is, in a world in space, presumably a nearby planet]
  10. [uncertain but we will find out.]
Relics in Afghanistan
The world famous Buddhas of Bamiyan from faraway Scythia/Afghanistan (Azaranica).
The CIA as the Taliban or ISIS destroys.
[Why would there be Buddhist relics in Islamic Afghanistan? It is because the Buddha was from the area before it was called Afghanistan. And as their beloved prince he renounced and became a wandering ascetic who went to India to become enlightened. But he returned to help and teach his extended family and friends the path to liberation from all suffering. The Shakyans remembered him and honored him and many Shakyans became monastic-practitioners or great supporters of the Sangha and Dharma helping it spread north and west before it moved out of India where it was taking root.

We suggest that it took hold in Afghanistan and agrarian nomadic Central Asia before it caught on in Brahmin/Vedic-dominated "Indian" states. The story is usually that the Teachings traveled up the Silk Route from India passing through the waddle and daub villages of backward no man's land west of the kingdoms of modern NW India. The fact is that the Buddha returned home seven years after his enlightenment but his grand reputation as a sage (muni) preceded him and his wife, Yasodhara/Bimba Devi, was already practicing as an ascetic as she had been since he left.]

What remained prior to detonation (Azaranica).
Sometime in the middle of the 5th century the Chinese pilgrim Daorong traveled to the Buddhist kingdom of Afghanistan visiting pilgrimage sites. In Nagaharahara was a piece of bone from the top of Buddha's skull four inches long. Also in the city was an enshrined staff and a jeweled reliquary containing some teeth and hair. A shadow was said to have been projected onto a rock wall, said to have belonged to the Buddha, as well as a set of foot prints and a site venerated for being where the Buddha washed his robe.

A temple (vihara) said to have been built by the Buddha is sinking into the ground here, with what is said to be his writing on the wall (John S. Strong, 2007, Relics of the Buddha, p. xiii). A tooth of the Buddha was kept in Baktra (Strong 2007, p. 182).

Bimaran casket reliquary placed in stone box.
In Bamiyan -- site of the destruction of the world's largest Buddha statues by the CIA/Taliban -- a tooth of the Buddha was stored along with the tooth of a cakravartin ("world monarch") ruler (), the two kinds of persons the Buddha said stupas were erected in remembrance of. An early masterpiece of the Greco-Buddhist art of Gandhara and one of the earliest representations of the Buddha is the golden Bimaran casket, which was discovered in a burial mound near Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan.

Although the casket bears an inscription saying it contained some of the relics of the Buddha, no relics were discovered when the box was opened (Senior 2008, pp. 25-27). [Presumably they were taken by tomb robbers who somehow left the more obviously valuable gold and jewel-encrusted urn or devas teleported them elsewhere for safety.] The Buddha's first followers, Trapusa and Bhallika, received eight strands of hair from him, which they brought back to their home town of Balkh and enshrined in a golden stupa by the gate (Strong 2007, pp. 73-74). These relics from the Buddha just weeks after his great enlightenment went on to serve as the basis for the magnificent Shwedagon Pagoda of Burma, a massive stupa complex.
Famous Indian stupa or burial mound reliquary with ornate gate at Sanchi (
Restoration of one of the great stupas, Sarnath outside of Varanasi (Benares)
Final Passing Into Nirvana Sutra
Sister Vajira and Francis Story, trans., Mahaparinibbana Sutta (DN 16)
Introduction: Of the 34 discourses (suttas or sutras) that make up the "Collection of Long Discourses" (Digha Nikaya), the 16th is the longest. It maintains first place where length is concerned.
  • [It tells the story of "the Last Days of the Buddha" up to and beyond the final nirvana and what became of the monastic community (Sangha) and how the Buddha-Dharma was preserved and was transformed into a religion now called "Buddhism" by some prominent Brahmin monastics (like the enlightened elder Ven. Maha Kassapa), which never happened during the Buddha's life and dispensation, presumably by design as he was against religion, empty ritual, and the trappings of another -ism in the world.]
This discourse preserves the principal features of the Buddhist sutra insofar as it, like others, is a rehearsal of events that have been witnessed [by Ananda and/or others]. On account of its unique composition, however, it is, more than other sutra, capable not only of winning the affection of the confident Buddhist, as it naturally does, but also of attracting the general reader, because it is indeed a fine specimen of sacred universal literature.

The rolling the true wheel of the Dharma to a stupa in the foothills of the Himalayas.
Buddha walking (Nippon_newfie/flickr)
It gives a good general idea of the Buddha's Teaching, the Dharma, too, even though it hardly offers anything that is not found -- and often more extensively dealt with -- in other sutras that are more oriented toward teaching Dharma.
At the end of his life, after almost half a century's ministry [45 years of teaching and causing the liberating Dharma to be spread far and wide across time and space, much farther and wider than can be fathomed, as a buddha's influence is one of the Four Imponderables], the Teacher had long since taught all that was necessary for attaining the ideal [enlightenment/liberation or bodhi/nirvana].

During the last period his primary concern, therefore, was to impress on his followers the necessity of unflinchingly putting into practice those teachings: an appeal that could, of course, hardly fail in stirring their hearts [minds] more than ever before.

The world's largest Buddha statue reclining into final nirvana remains unexcavated in the Buddha's homeland, modern Afghanistan, in a former capital at Bamiyan, ancient Scythia/Sakastan/Bactria (NatGeo).
The Sangha [both the monastic (communities of monks and nuns known as the Bhikkhu and Bhikkhuni Sanghas) and the more important "community" of enlightened/noble disciples or Arya Sangha] came, indeed, to witness the greatest event in its history, and was keenly aware of it, especially since the Teacher had announced his Parinibbana three months ahead.

The impression on the monastics who flocked to him in large numbers as he was pressing northward was tremendous and could not fail to be reflected vividly in the oral account. (The Buddhist canon was originally, as is well known, completely part of an oral rather than written tradition). Because of its particular import and abundance, this material was soon formed into one body, and so this long sutra came to be. More
A Scythian, royal kshatriya, burial with finery and ornate gold like the Shakyas (NatGeo).

No comments: