May 16, 2015, 02.00 AM IST
Buddhism is a strong bond between China and India. And, the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda has made its own contribution in strengthening the bond that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is forging with China. The PM presented Chinese President Xi Jingping replica of a stone casket holding mortal remains of Lord Buddha that had been excavated by MSU’s archaeology department from Dev Ni Mori village of Sabarkantha in 1963.
The relics are preserved at MSU’s Department of Archaeology and Ancient History under the Faculty of Arts. “We handed over the casket replica to officials from the government’s industry department. The casket has great historical significance for Gujarat and Buddhism,” said Prof K Krishnan, head of the Department of Archeology and Ancient History. Gujarat is the fifth place in the world where relics of Buddha have been found. “The casket has inscriptions that authenticate that the mortal remains are that of Dasabala – an epithet Buddha.
The inscribed relic was unearthed from a mahastupa at Devni Mori in Shamlaji and is the most important discovery to promote Buddhist tourism in the state from across the globe. “The casket is made of green schist stone. It has a 7-inch diameter and 5- inch height. It was found inside an earthen pot at a depth of 13 feet from the top of the stupa in the core part of the mahastupa which dates back to 3rd-5th century,” the professor said, adding, “The inscription begins on one side of the casket and runs in three circular lines. The remaining text is inscribed in the base.
The inscription narrates the construction of Mahastupa near Mahavihara during the reign of King Sri Rudrasena in the 127th year of Kathika kings on the 5th day of the month of Bhadrapada by two Buddhist monks namely Agnivarman and Sudarsana at Pasantikapalli (now Dev Ni Mori) near Karmantika (now Shamalaji). The inscription continues to read that the casket was made of auspicious stone and is the abode of the relics of Dasabala, the protector of Buddhist monks, and was placed on the pavement by Varaha, son of Sena.
This casket was prepared for the prosperity of Dharma and Sangha by the famous Bhikshu Mahasena.” The inscription on the lid is the text of the famous Buddhist scripture, Pratityasamutpada. “Such inscribed caskets have been unearthed from only five places including Kapilavastu in eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bhattiprolu and Nagarjunakonda in Andhra Pradesh and Takshashila in Pakistan,” director of government’s department of archaeology Y S Rawat had said. Interestingly, at all places except MSU, the caskets are on display. At MSU, it has been kept under lock and key, sparking a row with certain groups demanding that the state government construct a huge stupa in Vadodara where the relic casket will be displayed for public view.