June 8, 2014
A begging bowl on display in an Afghanistan museum is not associated with Lord Buddha, Indian officials have concluded belying the initial perception that it belonged to the founder of Buddhism.
The conclusion has been reached after a team of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) officials studied the bowl, sources told PTI here on Sunday.
The bowl has Arabic characters etched on it and cannot be associated with Lord Buddha, they said.
“The reported claims of Lord Buddha’s association with the bowl is unlikely as the inscriptions on the vase are in Arabic script that never existed during his (Buddha) era. Moreover, Buddha’s messages were written in Pali language using Brahmi characters,” one of the sources said.
According to the sources, the inscriptions on the 400-kg bowl has been written in Persian language using Arabic script.
“Arabic script came into existence only during the fifth century AD, whereas Lord Buddha’s life dates back to second and third century BC. If at all the messages of Buddha would have been written, it would be inscribed only in Pali and not in Arabic,” the source underscored.
The sources further observed that the inscription on the mysterious bowl could have been made about 500 years ago, around 15th century AD or a century later.
The bowl created controversy after a strong demand for bringing it back and installing it at its original place at Vaishali in Bihar was made by former RJD MP Raghuvansh Prasad Singh in the Lok Sabha last year.
Raising the issue in Parliament, Mr. Singh had said that Buddha, who was on his way to attain nirvana(salvation), had presented the bhikshapatra (begging bowl) to the people of Vaishali.
The bowl was later taken away to the capital of Kanishka, Purushputra (now Peshawar), by invaders and then further to Kandahar (then Gandhar), Mr. Singh, who had represented Vaishali constituency, said, adding several noted historians have written about the historicity of the vase.
The huge greenish-grey granite bowl has a diameter of about 1.75 metres, height of almost four metres and thickness of 18 centimetre at its rim. The vessel is currently displayed at the National Museum of Afghanistan.
Mr. Singh had also urged the External Affairs Ministry and the ASI to take steps to bring it back to India and install it at its “original place in Vaishali.”
Against this backdrop, a team of ASI officials — P K Mishra, Director, Heritage Bye-laws, Kolkata and G.S. Khwaja, Director, In-charge, Epigraphy Branch, Nagpur (Arabic and Persian) — was sent.