Sunday, June 27, 2010

Buddha's Skull Relic at Nanjing

In an event carried live on Chinese television earlier this month, confirmed relics of Sakyamuni Buddha, including a fragment of his skull, were revealed for the first time in 1,000 years.
Excavation of the Changgan Temple, built in the Song Dynasty (AD 960-1279), in Nanjing, began in July 2008. Archeologists unearthed a stupa-shaped casket, which is believed to be one of the 84-thousand stupas of King Asoka that contain Sakyamuni’s sarira, that is, part of his remains. The miniature stupa is 1.8 meters in height, embedded with more than four-hundred-and-fifty diamonds. It is the largest of its kind unearthed in China so far.

They also unearthed a miniature gold coffin nested inside a silver one. The gold casket holds Sakyamuni’s sarira. Archaeologists were excited to find the record on the stele they found conforms with historical records of an Asoka pagoda with multiple eaves buried under the Changgan Temple, the second temple in China that received and housed Sakyamuni’s sarira.

However, their most exciting moment came last August, when they excavated from the temple a wooden Asoka pagoda covered with gilded silver and inlaid with "seven treasures," including gold, silver, colored glaze, and amber.

The pagoda contained the nested coffins with the Sakyamuni relic inside. It took the team  almost another year to excavate and verify the artifacts.

Below, are some of the images published in the Chinese media:
Things like this do not happen by accident. Buddha's relics have enormous power to awaken bodhicitta, and to transform the environment where they are located.
We covered this story back in March 2009, and have been following up through Chinese news reports.

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