Buddha relics travelling to Mongolia


  • Four Holy Relics of Lord Buddha are being taken to Mongolia for an 11-day exposition to coincide with Mongolian Budhha Purnima celebrations to be displayed at the Batsagaan Temple in Gandan Monastery complex in Ulaanbaatar.

About the Buddha Relics

  • 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.

    Buddha relics travelling to Mongolia
    Photo Credit: National Museum, New Delhi
  • 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,
    • Licchavis of Vaishali,
    • Sakyas of Kapilavastu,
    • Mallas of Kushinagar,
    • Bullies of Allakappa
    • Mallas of Pava,
    • Koliyas of Ramagrama and
    • 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 Ashoka (272–232 BC), being an ardent follower of Buddhism, 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.

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 which refers to the relics of Buddha and his community, the Sakya, reads: ‘Sukiti bhatinam sa-bhaginikanam sa-puta-dalanam iyam salila nidhare Bhaddhasa bhagavate sakiyanam.
  • It roughly translates to: “This shrine for relics of the Buddha, the August One, is that of the Sakyas. The brethren of the distinguished One, in association with their sisters and with their children and their wives.”

Recent Discovery

  • The discovery of more than 40 terracotta sealings from different levels and spots in the eastern monastery at Piprahwa saying, ‘Om Devaputra Vihare Kapilavastusa Bhikshu Sanghasa’, which means “community of Buddhist monks of Kapilavastu living in Devaputra Vihara”, and “Maha Kapilavastu Bhikshu Sanghasa” in Brahmi script of 1st and 2nd centuries, which establish that Piprahwa was the ancient Kapilavastu.

Antiquities and Art Treasures

  • 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.



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