How did Buddha's Relics Help Spread Buddhism | Sanchi Stupa - Storytrails
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Ancient stone caskets that stored Buddha’s relics | Sanchi Stupa, India

Buddha died around 483 BCE. His remains were stored in 8 stone caskets. Emperor Ashoka had an idea – a vision to spread Buddhism through these relics. How did he do it? This story explores the journey of Buddha’s cremated remains from nearly 2500 years ago to locations that have become important Buddhist pilgrimage sites, one of which is the Sanchi Stupa.

This is the story of ancient stone caskets that contained something very precious; the cremated remains of the great Indian preceptor, Lord Buddha himself! 

Buddha is believed to have died in 483 BCE in Kushinagara in North India. His body was cremated immediately after his death. But his ashes and other relics – his hair, teeth, nails and bones, were safely preserved in stone caskets like these. Later, during the time of Emperor Ashoka, they were further divided and redistributed at Stupas across the Indian subcontinent. And one of them was the great stupa at Sanchi. The sculptures at the Sanchi Stupa tell us about the events that immediately followed the death of Buddha. This short video traces the journey of Buddha’s cremated remains from Kushinagara nearly 2500 years ago, to locations across the world that have become important Buddhist pilgrimage sites today.

Ashoka_with_his_Queens_at_Sannati-Kanaganahalli_Stupa By Ashokha – Wikimapia [1], CC BY-SA 3.0,( )

King of the Mallas bringing the relics of the Buddha to Kushinagara. The king, seated on an elephant, hold the relics on his head. By Biswarup Ganguly – Detail of, CC BY 3.0, ( )

War over the Buddha’s Relics, kept by the city of Kushinagar, South Gate, Stupa no.1, Sanchi By Asitjain – Detail of, CC BY-SA 3.0, ( )

King of the Mallas of Kushinagara under siege (left end of the architrave). By Biswarup Ganguly – Detail of, CC BY 3.0, 

Stupas_and_monasteries_at_Sanchi_in_the_early_centuries_of_the_Christian_era Reconstruction, 1900 By Percy Brown (1872-1955) – Indian Architecture (Buddhist And Hindu) [1]. First published in India in 1900 [2], Public Domain, 

Sanchi Stupa By Biswarup Ganguly, CC BY 3.0, 

Sanchi_Stupa_No2 By Kevin Standage ( INDIAN TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY – Licensed through agreement by e-mail on 8 March 2018

The division of the relics of the Buddha by Drona the Brahmin, Gandhara, Zenyōmitsu-Temple Museum, Tokyo. Personal photograph, 2005. Released in the Public Domain.) By PHG at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Leoboudv using CommonsHelper., Public Domain, 

Lord_Buddha_-_Hair_Relics By AKS.9955 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0 

02 Front View, in Bodhgaya, Bihar Photograph of the Daibutsu Buddha statue at Bodh Gaya in Bihar taken by Anandajoti. By Photo Dharma from Penang, Malaysia – 002 Front View, CC BY 2.0, 

Enlightenment of Buddha, Kushan dynasty, late 2nd to early 3rd century CE, Gandhara.,_late_2nd_to_early_3rd_century_AD,_Gandhara,_schist_-_Freer_Gallery_of_Art_-_DSC05124.JPG By Daderot – Own work, CC0, 

An aniconic depiction of the Buddha’s spiritual liberation (moksha) or awakening (bodhi), at Sanchi. By Photo Dharma from Sadao, Thailand – 050 Mucilinda with his Wives around the Buddha, CC BY 2.0

King Ashoka (right) visits the Ramagrama Stupa, Southern gateway, Stupa 1 By Photo Dharma from Sadao, Thailand – 013 King Asoka visits Ramagrama, CC BY 2.0, 

Ramagrama stupa at present day Nepal as on 2.10.80 by Laxman Burdak CC BY 2.0, 

Foreigners_at_Sanchi_Stupa_I_North_Gateway.jpg By User:Gangulybiswarup – Wikipedia Commons File:Foreigners Worshiping Stupa North Gateway – Stupa 1 – Sanchi Hill 2013-02-21 4287.JPGReformated photograph and highlighted desired portion., CC BY 3.0

The steatite box that contained the Bimaran casket. By No machine-readable author provided. World Imaging assumed (based on copyright claims). – No machine-readable source provided. Own work assumed (based on copyright claims)., CC BY-SA 3.0

Prasat Angkor Wat By sam garza – originally posted to Flickr as Angkor Wat, CC BY 2.0

Hōryū-ji in Ikaruga, Nara, Japan By 663highland – Own work, CC BY 2.5

Jade Dragon Temple, Sibu, Sarawak., Malaysia By Wingsancora93 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon – the most revered pagoda in Myanmar. By Kyaw.m.naing at the English language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

Maha Stupa at Thotlakonda,_Visakhapatnam_(2).jpg By iMahesh – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Music credits: Mayank Kapri

Editing : Anand Gautam




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