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India wants Buddha begging bowl from Kabul, ASI experts going to check authenticity

New Delhi: Two senior experts of the Archaeological Survey of India will be going to Kabul soon to check the authenticity of the huge 400 kg begging bowl, said to belong to Gautama Buddha, and
India TV News Desk January 12, 2014 11:13 IST
India TV News Desk
New Delhi: Two senior experts of the Archaeological Survey of India will be going to Kabul soon to check the authenticity of the huge 400 kg begging bowl, said to belong to Gautama Buddha, and then initiate the process of bringing it back to India.

On Saturday, Rashtriya Janata Dal MP Raghuvansh Prasad Singh met ASI director general Praveen Srivastava and other officials, where it was decided that a team would be sent to the Kabul Museum to bring it back.

Singh had been campaigning for the return of the begging bowl for the last two years, as he says, the begging bowl was gifted to the people of Vaishali, his constituency, by Lord Buddha himself, before leaving for 'parinirvana' in Kushinagar, where he left the earthly abode.

The huge hemispherical stone vessel made of greenish-grey granite with a diameter of about 1.75 metre, a height of almost four meters, and a thickness of  18 cm at its rim, has a delicate lotus petal design chiselled around its base.

Inscribed in beautiful large calligraphic script horizontally along the rim of the bowl, are six rows of verses from the Holy Quran.

The bowl was possibly an early larger copy of Lord Buddhia's actual bowl placed in a monastery in Vaishali, Bihar, for people to offer their first fruits, a custom common in ancient India and which survived even in Sri Lanka and elsewhere till the 19th century.

Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur had told Parliament in reply to a question that the Indian embassy in Kabul has made enquiries, and its is learnt that the bowl was in Kandahar till the regime of Afghan president Najibullah. It was later brought to Kabul by Najibullah and is currently in the Kabul Museum. The cruel Taliban rulers destroyed all Buddhist relics in Afghanistan, but left the bowl intact because it had Quranic verses inscribed on it.

Preneet Kaur also said, the begging bowl which is rather large, has inscription in Arabic and Persian, thus calling into question its provenance.

And now, history: In the 2nd century AD, King Kanishka took the begging bowl from Vaishali to his capital Purushpara  (now Peshawar) and then to Gandhara (now Kandahar).

The bowl landed at Sultan Wais Baba shrine near Kandahar. Chinese Buddhist pilgrims, Fa Hien and Hieun Tsang, between 3rd and 9th AD, had mentioned the bowl in their travelogues.

India's first ASI chief Sir Alexander Cunningham recorded archaeological details  of the bowl with a lithography kept at the Surveyor General's office in Kolkata in July 1883.