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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2959

Sri Lanka to receive rare Buddha relic from Bangladesh as a gesture of goodwill

By Walter Jayawardhana

Colombo, 17 July, ( The Buddhist community in the Chittagong Hill Tracts is going to donate a few strands of a lock of hair believed to have come from Gauthama the Buddha now enshrined in a Buddhist temple in Chittagong.

"The Sri Lankan government has again made the request for the sacred hair through the government. We have agreed to donate part of this sacred hair as a gesture of goodwill to our Sri Lankan brothers," Ajit Ranjan Barua, President of Bangladesh Buddhist Association said.

Few other strands of the sacred lock of hair kept under tight security in a Buddhist Monastery in the South Eastern port city of Chittagong had been also donated earlier to Thailand and Japan to be venerated by the Buddhists of those countries.

According to Barua the lock of hair of the Buddha, who lived more than 2550 years ago in Nepal and India was brought to Bangladesh in the 1930’s by a Tibetan monk.

Three cabinet ministers from majority-Buddhist Sri Lanka along with religious leaders are scheduled to arrive in the Bangladeshi capital Tuesday July 17 to collect the sacred relic, Bangladesh foreign ministry spokesman Nazmul Quanine said.

Bangladesh is a majority Muslim country of 144 Muslims. Only one million Buddhists live in that country. There are strong relations between the two Buddhist communities and Bangladesh monks go to Sri Lanka for higher education.

Ancient Buddhist scriptures record two Indian traders were given a lock of Lord Buddha’s hair when they earnestly requested it and they have been identified as Thapassu and Bhalluka. According to an ancient Pali text, Jathakatta Katha the two received this lock of hair seven weeks after ascetic Siddhartha Gauthama attained Buddhahood.

A pali stone inscription at Girhadu Seya at Thiriyaya in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka says Thapassu and Bhalluka enshrined the hair relic at Girihadu Seya. If it is the same Thapassu and Bhalluka mentioned in the Buddhist text Sri Lanka has received a hair relic long before King Asoka of India introduced Buddhism to Sri Lanka officially.

Some archeologists say it could also be descendents of the Thapassu and Bhalluka of the Buddha’s time who brought the holy relic to Sri Lanka. Ancient texts show that traders as well as kings were instrumental in spreading Buddhism all over the world.

Another famous place in the world where a hair relic is believed to be enshrined is the great stupa of Swedagon in Rangoon. Myanmar.

King Mugalan , the brother of Kashyapa of Sigiriya fame is also believed to have brought a hair relic of the Buddha from India.

- Asian Tribune -

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