In January 1898, an archeological survey team led by Peppe were excavating near the present-day Indian-Nepali border at Piphrawa. Peppe’s team discovered a ruined stupa, believed to be the site of ancient Kapilavatthu. During the excavation, a sandstone box, which contained jewels, ornaments and small urns, was discovered among the ruins.
When the sandstone box was opened, the contents and inscription within shocked Peppe and caused a sensation throughout the world! The ancient Brahmi inscription had been translated as: “These Relics of the Lord Buddha have been presented by the Supreme Sakya Lord together with his grandchildren, son and wife.” The archeologists had discovered one of the original eight portions of the Buddha’s Relics, distributed by the Brahmin Dona to kings throughout India after the Lord’s cremation in Kusinara!
This portion which was discovered at Piphrawa belonged to the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu, kinsmen of the Buddha, who erected a magnificent stupa to enshrine those Relics. Subsequently, the city of Kapilavatthu was completely destroyed by its neighbour Kosala, and thus the location of the stupa and its precious contents was hitherto lost for more than 2,400 years until Peppe’s amazing discovery!
The then colonial government of British-India presented the Sacred Relics to King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) of Siam, who sent high-ranking officials led by Chao Pya Yomaraja to receive them. The Relics were ceremoniously enshrined in the Cetiya on the Golden Mount, Bangkok on 23 May 1899. Befitting a Buddhist monarchy, the Buddha’s Relics were treated as national treasures and seldom displayed to the public.
This special year however, in commemoration of the auspicious 2600th Anniversary of Buddhism, as well as to mark the 85th Anniversary of His Majesty the King and the 80th Anniversary of Her Majesty the Queen of Thailand, a portion of those Sacred Relics of Lord Buddha were presented to Wat Chetawan in Malaysia, by H. H. Somdej Phrabuddhacharn, President of the Executive Committee of His Holiness the Supreme Patriarch, and Member of the Sangha Supreme Council of Thailand, on 27 June 2012 at Tamnak Somdej, Wat Saket Rajavoramahavihara, to represent the goodwill of Thai Buddhists to Malaysian Buddhists.
This most precious gift attests to the close friendship and trust between Thai and Malaysian Buddhist communities. Wat Chetawan in Petaling Jaya was chosen as the custodian of the Sacred Relics for all Malaysian Buddhists. An enshrinement ceremony for the Relics at Wat Chetawan will be held on Sunday, 8 July, from 9.30am to 11.00am. The Sacred Relics will also be put on display and public veneration on Saturday, 7 July, at the Buddhist Maha Vihara (9.00am to 12.00pm) as well as at Wat Chetawan (8.00pm to 9.30pm). We cordially invite all Malaysian Buddhists to venerate the Sacred Relics with devotion at this weekend’s events at Wat Chetawan Petaling Jaya, and the Buddhist Maha Vihara in Kuala Lumpur.
Bro Tan Ho Soon
Nalanda Buddhist Society Malaysia