Saturday, July 3, 2010

Related topic :Buddhism...2

(This is a revised and expanded version of a talk given at Harewood House, UK, in 2006, at a conference convened to ‘clear the air’ on the thorny issue of the Piprahwa claims. Whilst challenging the reliability of those claims, it should not be regarded as any kind of endorsement, by default, of the Nepalese claim that Tilaurakot represents the site of Kapilavastu.  My views on the ‘Kapilavastu Problem’ and related questions are set out in ‘Lumbini on Trial : The Untold Story’, at which should be read in conjunction with this article).

The Piprahwa Deceptions: Setups and Showdown

‘The careful excavation of Mr Peppe makes it certain that this stupa had never been opened until he opened it…The hypothesis of forgery is in this case simply unthinkable.  And we are fairly entitled to ask : “If this stupa and these remains are not what they purport to be, then what are they?”…Though the sceptics – only sceptics, no doubt, because they think that it is too good to be true…’ (etc)

(‘Asoka and the Buddha-relics’, by T.W. Rhys Davids, JRAS (UK) 1901).

In January 1898, Mr W. C. Peppe, manager of the Birdpur Estate in north-eastern Basti District, U. P., announced the discovery of soapstone relic-caskets and jewellery inside a stupa near Piprahwa, a small village on this estate. An inscription on one of these caskets appeared to indicate that bone relics, supposedly found with these items, were those of the Buddha. Since this inscription also referred to the Buddha’s Sakyan kinsmen, these relics were thus generally considered to be those which were accorded to the Sakyas of Kapilavastu, following the Buddha’s cremation. The following year (1899) these bone relics were presented by the (British) Government of India to the King of Siam, who in turn accorded portions to the Sanghas of Burma and Ceylon.
When Peppe formally announced his finds to the local Collector on 20th January, 1898, his letter disclosed that he had been in contact with the Government archaeologist, Dr Alois Anton Fuhrer, who was then excavating at Sagarwa, just a few miles away across the Indo-Nepalese border. 1. A fortnight later, a letter was despatched from the Government of Burma to Fuhrer’s employer, the Government of the North-Western Provinces. 2. This revealed that Fuhrer had been conducting a secret trade in bogus Buddha-relics with a Burmese monk, U Ma, between September 1896, up to, and during, Peppe’s excavations in 1898. 3.  Fuhrer’s letters to U Ma have never seen the public light of day, and a brief summary of their contents reads as follows:

·        22nd September, 1896: Fuhrer mentions sending U Ma some Buddha-relics from Sravasti.

·        19th November 1896: Fuhrer states that ‘The relics of Tathagata, sent off yesterday, were found in the stupa erected by the Sakyas of Kapilavastu over the corporeal relics (saririka-dhatus) of the Lord.  These relics were found by me during an excavation of 1886, and are placed in the same relic casket of soapstone in which they were found.  The four votive tablets of Buddha surrounded the relic casket.  The ancient inscription found on the spot with the relics will follow, as I wish to prepare a transcript and translation of the same for you.’

This letter was sent to U Ma a year before the Piprahwa finds. These spurious relics of the Buddha, purportedly those claimed by the Sakyas of Kapilavastu after the Buddha’s cremation, together with a soapstone relic-casket, and an ‘ancient inscription’, are all, of course, details which are identical to those of the Piprahwa finds of 1898.  From this, it will be seen that Fuhrer (with whom Peppe had been in contact) had thus fraudulently staged the Piprahwa finds a year before Peppe’s supposedly unique discoveries.

·        6th March 1897: Fuhrer refers to further ‘sacred relics of Buddha’, which he will keep until U Ma’s proposed visit to India.

·        23rd June 1897: Fuhrer mentions ‘a precious tooth relic of Lord Buddha’ which he will send to U Ma.

·        29th August 1897: Fuhrer says that he will ‘despatch at once a real and authentic tooth relic of the Buddha Bhagavat… along with many other relics of Lord Buddha’.

·        21st September 1897: Fuhrer sends U Ma ‘a molar tooth of Lord Buddha Gaudama Sakyamuni. It was found by me in a stupa at Kapilavatthu, where King Suddhodana lived.  That it is genuine there can be no doubt’.  Says that ‘the other relics will follow shortly.’

·        30th September 1897: Fuhrer despatches a bogus Asokan inscription allegedly found at Sravasti, and says that he is ‘sending more relics of Sakyamuni after some time’.

·        13th December 1897: Fuhrer mentions that he will return a silver box which U Ma had sent him, together with yet further ‘relics of Gotama Buddha’. Says that he is now ‘at Kapilavastu, in the Nepal Tarai’, where he has ‘so far found three relic caskets with dhatus – nail-parings, hairs, and bones – of the Lord Buddha Sakyamuni.  All of these precious relics I will send you at the end of March’.

·        16th February 1898: (i.e. a fortnight after the arrival of the Burmese letter exposing Fuhrer’s deceptions, and three weeks after Peppe’s announcement of his supposed finds). Having received an indignant letter and telegram from U Ma (who finally realised that he had been duped) Fuhrer writes to him from ‘Camp Kapilavastu’, i.e. Sagarwa.  Fuhrer states that he can ‘quite understand that the Buddhadanta that I sent you a short while ago is looked upon with suspicion by non-Buddhists, as it is quite different from any ordinary human tooth’ (it was subsequently shown to be ‘apparently that of a horse’). He goes on : ‘But you will know that Bhagavat Buddha was no ordinary being, as he was eighteen cubits in height (about 27 feet) as your sacred writings state. His teeth would therefore not have been shaped like others…Kapilavastu, where the tooth was found in an ancient relic mound, is now a jungle, and overgrown with forest…I shall send you a copy of an ancient inscription which was found by me along with the tooth. It says “This sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha is the gift of Upagupta”. As you know, Upagupta was the teacher of Asoka, the great Buddhist emperor of India. In Asoka’s time, about 250 BC, this identical tooth was believed to be a relic of Buddha Sakyamuni. My own opinion is that the tooth in question was a genuine relic of Buddha’.

From these letters, we see that Fuhrer had thus been conducting a secret trade in sham relics of the Buddha both before, and during, the similar supposed finds at Piprahwa. We shall note that these bogus items included those relics of the Buddha that were claimed by the Sakyas of Kapilavastu after the Buddha’s cremation – precisely the same stupendous claim which was made for the Piprahwa relics – together with a soapstone casket and ‘ancient inscriptions’ in Asokan Brahmi characters, details also identical to those of the Piprahwa finds. And since Peppe had been in contact with this notorious forger and cheat just before announcing his supposed finds, we shall surely conclude that Fuhrer’s earlier deceptions were thus merely a ‘dry run’, as it were, for the events at Piprahwa itself.

Moreover, in his subsequent Progress Report, Fuhrer claimed that at Sagarwa he had discovered the inscribed relic-casket and stupa of Mahanaman (the successor to the Buddha’s father at Kapilavastu) together with the relic caskets of seventeen ‘Sakya heroes’, their names - all of which he carefully listed - being supposedly inscribed upon these caskets in ‘pre-Asoka characters’. 4.  A few months later, however, the full extent of Fuhrer’s U Ma deceptions was finally revealed, and V. A. Smith was appointed to investigate Fuhrer’s office at the LucknowMuseum. 5 Smith denounced all of Fuhrer’s Nepalese Sakyan inscriptions as ‘impudent forgeries’, and Fuhrer himself was summarily dismissed shortly thereafter. 6. The following year (1899) Drs Hoey and Waddell visited the Nepalese Tarai, and discovered that Fuhrer had also ‘lied and lied on a grand scale’ concerning his discoveries at other Nepalese sites, Hoey remarking that ‘one is appalled at the audacity of invention here displayed’. 7

To sum up then : in early 1898, we have two supposed discoveries, those of Sagarwa and Piprahwa respectively. Both of these discoveries were made within the same month, by two parties a few miles from and in contact with each other, and one of these parties was a notorious forger of inscriptions. Both parties purported to have discovered unique, inscribed, pre-Asokan, Sakyan relic-caskets from Kapilavastu, items which have never been found either before or since. Fuhrer’s Sagarwa claims were then exposed as fraudulent, whilst Peppe’s Piprahwa finds had been fraudulently duplicated by Fuhrer a year earlier.

But why then were Fuhrer’s claims unmasked, whilst those of Peppe were not?  As we have noted, it was the Government of Burma which had exposed the U Ma forgeries, whilst subsequent events, and the official letters relating to these, supply the answer to the Peppe question also. In his letter to the Government of India on Piprahwa, the local Commissioner, William Hoey, drew attention to the presence in India at this time of a crown prince of Siam, Jinavaravansa, who had then assumed the robe of a Buddhist monk. 8 This gentleman quickly got downwind on this supposed find of Buddha-relics at Piprahwa, and promptly expressed a keen desire for them to be made over to Siam. Having drawn attention to Jinavaravansa’s request, Hoey then recommended that the Government of India should ‘manifest its goodwill’ towards surrounding Buddhist countries by acceding to this request (pointing out that Siam was also ‘a country bordering on Burma’, a recently-acquired British possession) whilst V. A. Smith, now Acting-Secretary to the North-Western Provinces Government, declared that ‘intense interest will be aroused in the Buddhist world, and all Buddhist countries will desire to share in relics of such exceptional sanctity’. 9


By the 1890s, Britain and France had successfully taken large slices of territory from Siam, and in a desperate attempt to preserve his country’s independence Siam’s king, Chulalongkorn, was obliged to play off one imperial power against the other. During this period, the king also cultivated a close and personal friendship with the Russian leader Tsar Nicholas, a fact which gave Britain considerable cause for alarm, particularly as both the French and Russians were offering to train up the Siamese armies around this time.  In furtherance of his diplomatic aims, the Siamese king set forth on a nine-month Grand European Tour in 1897. He was accorded a full royal welcome by the monarchies, presidents, and heads of state of Italy (where he met the Pope) Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Russia, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, and France. Having arrived for a two-month stay in Britain - his son was then receiving his education at Harrow, a well-known English public school – he was officially welcomed by the Prince of Wales, and was also presented to Queen Victoria, who was by then the Empress of India. Immediately upon his return to Siam, the Buddha’s relics were supposedly discovered at Piprahwa and presented to the king, who was also accorded recognition as the leader of the Buddhist world by the British Empire. This opportunity to ‘manifest its goodwill’ was thus, for the Government of India, an opportunity that was simply too good to be missed, and this cynical piece of imperial realpolitik was allowed to go ahead with consequences that have seriously benighted Buddhist studies ever since. Is it any wonder then, that those unnamed ‘sceptics’ mentioned by Rhys Davids (see my opening quotation) would dismiss this tiresome imperial stunt as ‘just too good to be true’ shortly thereafter? 10.

Writing of the Piprahwa stupa in 1904, Dr Theodor Bloch, Superintendent of the Eastern Circle of the Archaeological Survey of India, declared that ‘one may be permitted to maintain some doubts in regard to the theory that the latter monument contained the relic share of the Buddha received by the Sakyas. The bones found at that place, which have been presented to the King of Siam, and which I saw in Calcutta, according to my opinion were not human bones at all’. 11 Bloch was then Superintendent of the Archaeological Department of the Indian Museum, Calcutta, and would doubtless have relied not only on his own archaeological expertise before making this extraordinary allegation, but also that of his zoological colleagues at the Museum, which was then considered to be the greatest museum in Asia.

Peppe himself retained a tooth from the alleged Piprahwa finds.12 This tooth was taken by the author, Charles Allen, to the Natural History Museum in London, where palaeontologists declared it to be the molar tooth of a pig. In his latest book, ‘The Buddha and Dr Fuhrer’, Allen (who supports the authenticity of the Peppe claims) attempts to explain away the distinctly awkward presence of this tooth by claiming that it came from a broken casket found by Peppe near the summit of the stupa. 13. There is not the slightest evidence for this assertion : Peppe himself states only that this casket was ‘full of clay and embedded in this clay were some beads, crystals, gold ornaments, cut stars etc’. 14.  Moreover, we have already noted Bloch’s observation that the bone relics from Piprahwa did not appear to be of human origin. Since portions of these items are now enshrined at the Wat Saket Temple (Thailand) the Shwe Dagon Pagoda (Rangoon) Anuradhapura (Ceylon) and in the Nittaiji Temple in Japan, this raises the appalling spectre that for over a century the Buddhist world may have been venerating the remains of some ancient pig.   

As for the precise location of the bone relics when they were allegedly found within the Piprahwa stupa itself, the existing accounts present startling contradictions. The first published reference to these items appeared in the ‘Pioneer’ newspaper a few days after Peppe’s official announcement, and apparently came from Peppe himself. 15 This stated that all of the caskets contained jewellery and ‘quantities of bones in good preservation’ (so good, in fact, that Peppe later declared that they ‘might have been picked up a few days ago’, a curious observation to make upon bones which had supposedly survived a blazing funeral pyre 2500 years earlier). 16 Smith and Fuhrer however (both of whom had visited Peppe to examine the finds) stated that these ‘sacred fragments’ had been ‘enshrined’ in a decayed wooden vessel which was also found within the coffer. 17 Since the bones were finally handed to the Siamese together with these decayed wooden fragments, this would presumably confirm this wooden casket as their original location, though this then raises further awkward questions about their real identity in consequence.

The four steatite caskets of 1898 from Piprahwa (Fig. 1) are virtually identical in appearance to caskets which were interred in the 2nd century BCE at stupas in the Sanchi area. These caskets are shown in Alexander Cunningham’s ‘Bhilsa Topes’, a book which was utilised by Fuhrer for other deceptions. 18 The steatite of which the Piprahwa caskets are made is still being worked in India today, I shall add ; I recently bought a couple of incense-holders made of exactly the same material, which were made in Varanasi. 

During a visit to the Indian Museum, Calcutta, in 1994, I carefully examined the inscribed Piprahwa casket, and noted features not mentioned in any report. A photograph taken in situ at Piprahwa in 1898 shows a curious feature on the centre of the lid, and also reveals that a large piece was then unaccountably missing from the base (Fig. 2).  My examination revealed that the former was a piece of sealing-wax (since transferred to the inside) which had originally been stuck on to prevent a large crack from running further, while a subsequent ‘repair’ to the base – an inset piece – looked to be a pretty botched affair also. All of which reveals that this casket had been badly damaged from the start – that it had originally been broken in fact – again, a fact not noted in any report. But is it likely, one is prompted to ask, that the Buddha’s relics would have been enshrined in this damaged casket, as claimed? Or is this the ‘broken’ casket which was reportedly found by Peppe near the top of the stupa, and which was ‘similar in shape to those found below’? 19 This casket - the first of the alleged finds - apparently vanished into thin air thereafter : it is not found in the Indian Museum collection, or on their Accessions List (which I also examined), it was not mentioned in Smith’s detailed JRAS list of the finds, and no drawing or photograph was ever made of it either. So whatever happened to this casket?  Did it become the inscribed casket – which was also broken, as we have noted - and did Fuhrer himself forge the inscription upon it? Is the Piprahwa inscription simply another Fuhrer forgery? Fuhrer certainly had the palaeographical knowledge to perform this, particularly as he was then in touch with Buhler (who may also have unwittingly provided him with emendations to the inscription, according to the published accounts). 20

Charles Allen’s book contains a photograph of the earliest-known copy of the Piprahwa inscription, which was sent by Peppe to Smith. This inscription was, in fact, very carelessly engraved upon the casket, and shows startling irregularities in some of its characters. Since Peppe wouldn’t have had the slightest knowledge of this ancient and forgotten script, he should, of course, have faithfully reproduced these ‘mistakes’ when he made his copy of it, but he didn’t : his copy shows perfectly-drawn Asokan Brahmi characters (Figs. 3 and 4).  Moreover, Smith’s transliteration of Peppe’s copy completely omits the two final characters – ‘yanam’ - of the all-important word ‘sakiyanam’, showing the alleged Sakyan association with these relics. Allen attempts to explain this astonishing omission by saying that Smith had evidently regarded these two characters as ‘random scratches’, but they are quite clearly depicted in Peppe’s copy, and were presumably added to it later on (which also accounts for their being placed above the line of the others). 21.  This explains why none of the January 1898 letters between Peppe, Smith and Fuhrer (which are cited by Allen) make any reference at all to this all-important Sakyan connection, and shows that the inscription was, in fact, engraved upon the casket invarious stages around this time – doubtless by Fuhrer - Buhler’s later emendations included.
We have already noted that Peppe was in contact with Fuhrer while the latter was excavating at Sagarwa, across the nearby Nepalese border. The difficulties surrounding precisely what was discovered by Fuhrer at Sagarwa, and the subsequent fate of those items, would now appear to be quite insurmountable. All of the jewellery, caskets, and other items found at Sagarwa promptly disappeared, and the Nepalese authorities have assured me that they have no idea of their present whereabouts either. Smith and Peppe, curiously, ‘rode up unannounced’ on January 28th, whilst Fuhrer was excavating Mound Number Five, and Smith noted seeing ‘a few gold stars, similar to those subsequently found at Piprahwa’ (though Smith’s use of the word ‘subsequently’ is inexplicable here, since Peppe’ had announced his finds a week before this visit). Mound Number Four at Sagarwa (which was excavated just before this visit) was later declared by P.C. Mukherji to have been ‘very rich in yielding relics’ (i.e. jewellery) but only ‘a naga and six relics of sorts’ were shown in Mukherji’s report, hardly ‘a very rich yield’. So was all this missing Sagarwa jewellery utilized for the supposed finds at Piprahwa, one wonders? We have already noted Smith’s comment on the ‘similarity’ of the Sagarwa items to those of Piprahwa, and having spoken to the Curator at Fuhrer’s former museum at Lucknow, I was informed that the curiously-marked bricks from Sagarwa would appear to lie uncatalogued at this location. The Peppe collection includes specimens of eight-petalled lotuses in gold leaf, and lotus seed-pods with tiny holes drilled in them to represent seeds. One of the drawings of the Sagarwa items made by Fuhrer’s draughtsman shows an eight-petalled lotus in gold leaf, with tiny holes drilled into its centre to represent seeds, whilst the Sagarwa bricks showed 21 eight-petalled lotuses carved into their surfaces also.

The question also arises as to whether Peppe’s collection of jewellery from Piprahwa was legally retained by him thereafter. V. A. Smith assured the Government of India that ‘Mr Peppe has generously placed all the items discovered at the disposal of Government, subject to the retention by him, on behalf of the proprietors of the estate, of a reasonable number of duplicates of the smaller objects’ (Smith also referring to ‘a few duplicates’ in his JRAS article, ‘The Piprahwa Stupa’). 22 Since Peppe, however, retained not merely ‘a few duplicates’ of the jewellery, but around one-third of the actual jewellery itself – about 360 pieces - it is evident that Smith’s assurance that Peppe would ‘place all the objects at the disposal of Government’ (a legal obligation anyway, according to Smith) was not met, and the question thus arises as to whether Peppe legitimately retained these items thereafter, particularly as they were then removed from India after Independence. 23. One also wonders why Smith, then Acting Secretary to the North-Western Provinces Government, found it necessary to lie about those ‘duplicates’ to the Government of India.

 In 1962, Debala Mitra, then Superintendent of the Eastern Circle of the Archaeological Survey of India, was invited by the Nepalese authorities to conduct a survey of the sites in the Nepalese Tarai, with a view to their development for pilgrimage purposes. Her subsequent report (1969) was highly critical of these sites however, and when the Nepalese refused to publish her findings, Mitra summarised them as an appendix – entitled ‘Kapilavastu’ - to her ‘Buddhist Monuments’ book, published in India (1971).  In this, she declared that the 1898 inscription provided a ‘strong presumption’ for Piprahwa being the site of Kapilavastu, and added that ‘intensive excavation in the monasteries at Piprahwa is likely to reveal some monastic seals or sealings’, which if found ‘will prove the identity of Kapilavastu with Piprahwa or otherwise’. 24

An Indian archaeologist, K. M. Srivastava (also from the Eastern circle of the ASI) promptly commenced further excavations at Piprahwa, and claimed to have discovered a ‘primary mud stupa’ below the one excavated by Peppe. This supposedly yielded yet more soapstone vessels (none of which bore inscriptions) containing bones. According to Srivastava, the ‘indiscriminate destruction’ caused by Peppe’s excavation meant that the bone relics found in 1898 could not reliably be shown to be those of the Buddha, and the inscription on the 1898 casket somehow ‘pointed’ to the bones supposedly found lower down, which were thus the real relics of the Buddha in consequence. He also claimed to have discovered - precisely as Debala Mitra had predicted - thirty-five clay sealings bearing the word ‘Kapilavastu’ in monastic remains at the site (though neither Peppe nor P. C. Mukherji had found a single specimen of such sealings when they excavated at these selfsame remains in 1898). 25.  Having delivered a sharply critical review of Srivastava’s claims however, the eminent archaeologist and historian, Herbert Härtel, stated that ‘To declare that the bones in one of the reliquaries in the lower chambers are those of the Buddha is not provable, and therefore not tenable. In our opinion, it is high time to set a token of scientific correctness in this extremely important matter’. 26  

During my 1994 visit to the Indian Museum, I found an elaborate wooden model of a stupa displayed, in appearance similar to the great stupas at Sanchi and Amaravati (Fig. 5). This purported to be a model of the Piprahwa stupa itself, and inside it was a wooden copy of the inscribed casket, displaying two pieces of bone. The accompanying caption declared that these were ‘relics of the Lord…which were found in 1972 at Piprahwa, Basti District, U.P., supposed to be ancient Kapilavastu, the capital of the Sakyas, the clan of Sakyamuni Buddha’, and stated that the Piprahwa stupa was ‘encircled by railings, having gateways at four cardinal points, embellished with beautiful sculptures of the Buddha and contemporary life’. When I enquired who was responsible for this item, I was informed that it was Mr Srivastava. However, as I was able to verify by a visit to the Piprahwa stupa, none of these ‘railings’, ‘gateways’, or ‘beautiful sculptures of the Buddha and contemporary life’ exist at the actual site itself (Fig. 6).  I then visited the National Museum in Delhi, where I discovered two of Mr Srivastava’s soapstone caskets containing yet further ‘relics of the Lord’ (and ostentatiously displaying lumps of clay on the caskets themselves, thus ‘proving’, presumably, that they had been properly unearthed as claimed). Having examined these items as closely as I was permitted – the Museum guard levelled a loaded rifle at me when I got too close – I then paid a visit to the Curator of Buddhist Antiquities, J. E. Dawson, and mentioned the 1898 bequest to Siam, when supposed relics of the Buddha were also found. He had no knowledge of this however, and promptly began telephoning around the Museum, urging staff to report to his office. Pretty soon the room was full, and he asked me to repeat this information, of which no-one else present appeared to have any knowledge. During the ensuing discussion I mentioned that Krishna Rijal, then Nepal’s leading archaeologist, had also told me of a commission which had been set up, under Rajiv Gandhi, to investigate the authenticity of Mr Srivastava’s Buddha-relics, but which had never published its conclusions thereafter. This immediately prompted one of the staff to call out ‘They are false!’ an outburst which shocked everyone into silence. I asked him to repeat this assertion, which he did. I then asked him how he knew this, and he replied that an Indian professor had told him. ‘And how does he know?’ I enquired. ‘Because he was on the commission!’ came the prompt reply.

© T. A. Phelps, 2008.  Comments on this article would be most welcome. Please address them to Terry Phelps at


1.       Government of India Proceedings, Part B, Department of Revenue and Agriculture, Archaeology and Epigraphy, August 1898, Proceeding no. 15, File no. 30 0f 1898, Page 2 (National Archives of India, New Delhi). Researchers should note that all of the official (i. e. Government) correspondence on the Piprahwa events (i. e. both Part A and Part B) can be found in the Department of India Proceedings (Home : Public) for 1898 and 1899, at the Oriental and India Office Collections, London, which is thus an absolutely indispensable source of information on these events. In particular, the following should be examined : July 1898, proceedings 225-31, pp. 1311-28 ; December 1898, proceedings nos. 258-62, pp. 2573-77; April 1899, proceedings 3-20, pp. 627-34; and June 1899, proceedings nos. 160-67, pp. 1341-55. 
2.       Government of India Proceedings, Part B, Department of Revenue and Agriculture, Archaeology and Epigraphy, August 1898, File no. 24 of 1898, Proceedings 7-10. (National Archives of India, New Delhi).
3.       Ibid. See also V. A. Smith’s ‘Prefatory Note’ to P.C. Mukherji’s ‘A Report on a Tour of Exploration of the Antiquities of the Tarai, Nepal’, footnote, p. 4 (Report no. 26, Archaeological Survey of India, New Imperial Series, 1901).
4.       A. Fuhrer, Annual Progress Report, Archaeological Survey, North-Western Provinces and Oudh Circle, Epigraphical Section, year ended 1898.
5.       Government of India Proceedings, Part B, Department of Revenue and Agriculture, Archaeology and Epigraphy, October 1898, Proceedings nos. 22-33, File no. 13 of 1898, Serial no. 18 in file. (National Archives of India,New Delhi).
6.       V. A. Smith, Annual Progress Report, Archaeological Survey, North-Western Provinces and Oudh Circle, y/e 1899, p. 2. See also ref. 3 (Smith) p. 4.
7.       Government of the North-Western Provinces and Oudh Proceedings, Public Works Department, B & R Branch, ‘Miscellaneous’, August 1899, Proceeding no. 90-91, pp. 29-33. (Oriental and India Office Collections, British Library, London). The same details are also disclosed in the Government of India Proceedings, Part B, Department of Revenue and Agriculture, Archaeology and Epigraphy, April 1899, File no. 6 (see ‘Enclosure 1’ (Report) of letter no. 53A, and also letter no.  41A in this file). (National Archives of India, New Delhi).
8.       See ref. 1. According to Charles Allen (see ref. 13) Jinavaravansa visited Piprahwa – and thus, presumably, saw the inscribed casket – a week after Peppe announced his supposed finds in January 1898, but there is not the slightest support for this assertion. Jinavaravansa arrived at Piprahwa in April of that year.
9.       See ref. 1.
10.    See website entitled ‘King Chulalongkorn Rama V : His Travels and His Voyages’ for details of this episode in the King’s career. For details of the British concern regarding the Russian/French proposals to train up the Siamese armies, see ‘Political and Secret’, Home Correspondence, 1898 (Oriental and India Office Collections, British Library, London).
11.    ‘Notes on the Exploration of Vaisali’, by Theodor Bloch, Annual Report, Bengal Circle, Archaeological Survey of India, year ended April 1904, p. 15.
12.    ‘Buried With the Buddha’, by Vicki Mackenzie, ‘The Sunday Times Magazine’ (UK), 21st March, 2004, pp. 36-42.
13.    ‘The Buddha and Dr Fuhrer’, by Charles Allen, Haus Publishing (UK) 2008, p. 260.  See also ref. 12, p. 38 (photograph).  I note, incidentally, that Allen writes (pp. 60-1) of a pillar at ‘Khango’ which was mentioned by Buchanan.  According to Allen, ‘the site of this pillar has never been identified’, and ‘the pillar itself was almost certainly broken up within a few years of Buchanan’s visit to this area’. This is the well-known pillar at Kahaon, full details of which are given in the ASI reports (Old Series) Vols. 1 and 16.  It is still there I shall add, and its details – including a photograph - are available on the Internet. 
14.     W. C. Peppe, ‘The Piprahwa Stupa, containing relics of Buddha’, p. 574, JRAS (UK) 1898).  It hardly needs pointing out that if Allen’s proposed ‘solution’ to the problems raised by this tooth was correct (and as I have shown, there is not a shred of evidence to support it) it would still fail to explain why a pig’s tooth was placed in a reliquary and then interred in a stupa which supposedly contained the Buddha’s relics.  Moreover, since this casket was allegedly ‘similar in shape to the vases found lower down’ it should presumably be ascribed to the same period as these anyway, and Allen’s proposal becomes yet more untenable in consequence.
15.    See item ‘Birdpur Ruins’, in ‘News and Notes’, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (UK) 1898, pp. 457-8. Curiously, there is no reference to either bones or inscription in Peppe’s letter to the local Collector, officially announcing his finds.
16.    See ref. 14 (Peppe) p. 576.
17.    ‘The relics consisted of some fragments of bone. These sacred fragments had been deposited in a wooden vessel, which stood on the bottom of a massive coffer’ (Smith) : see ‘The Pioneer’ (Lucknow/Allahabad newspaper) 1st March, 1898, or the Journal of the Maha Bodhi Society, Calcutta, 1st April 1898, which carries a reprint of this ‘Pioneer’ article by Smith on pp. 94-6.  For Fuhrer’s observations on the matter, see ref. 4, p. 3 (‘Another casket of fragrant red sandalwood, in which had been enshrined portions of the bone relics of Gautama Buddha, collected from his funeral pile, was found almost decayed.’).  Smith visited Piprahwa a few days after Peppe’s announcement of his alleged finds, but astonishingly, omits any mention of what he saw there. 
18.    See ref. 3 (Smith) and also ref. 6 (Smith).
19.    See ref. 14, in which Peppe states that ‘At a distance of ten feet from the summit a small broken soapstone (steatite) vase, similar in shape to the vases found lower down, was discovered. This vase was full of clay, and embedded in this clay were some beads, crystals, gold ornaments, cut stars etc.’ Since this merely ‘broken’ casket was thus sufficiently intact to be ‘full’ of clay and other items, it could hardly have been either ‘badly smashed’ or ‘completely shattered’, as Allen and Srivastava have claimed. According to Allen’s book (ref. 13, pp. 212 and 285) the Siamese envoy who was appointed to collect the relics from India also received ‘fragments of stone vase, gold and silver leaves, jewellery, pearl and coral’ from the Peppe find, this list thus intending, presumably, to account for the absence of this missing casket. But having examined the source which Allen cites – which is the wrong one anyway – I can find no reference to this list. The details of the items which the envoy received should have been present in File no. 12 of 1899, Proceedings of the Department of Revenue and Agriculture, Archaeology and Epigraphy (Part B) August 1899 (National Archives of India) but though this file gives full details of this transaction, no actual list is given here either.  
20.    In his ‘Preliminary Note on a Recently Discovered Sakya Inscription’ (JRAS, 1898, 387-9) Buhler wrote that having received an ‘eye-copy’ of the inscription from Fuhrer, he wrote back and ‘begged Mr Peppe to look if any traces of the required I in the first word, of the medial i in the second, and of a vowel-mark in the last syllable of bhagavata are visible.’ Three weeks later Fuhrer’s deceptions with U Ma had been exposed and Buhler was dead, having drowned in mysterious circumstances. Had Buhler heard of Fuhrer’s deceptions and realised that he had also been duped? Had he perhaps even collaborated with Fuhrer on earlier deceptions (he had certainly been Fuhrer’s champion) and thus feared exposure and disgrace himself?
21.    See ref. 13 (Allen). pp. 50-55, and 77-8 (Peppe’s copy of the inscription is shown on p. 54). Allen’s book draws very extensively on my own sixteen-year researches into the Piprahwa events it should be added, though no acknowledgment is made of this ‘borrowing’. Some of the Peppe private papers which are cited by Allen have now been deposited with the Royal Asiatic Society in London, and for anyone familiar with the official version of these events make for some very interesting reading. Smith, for example, referred in three of his official reports to a visit which he and Peppe had made to Fuhrer on the 28th January 1898, in which they supposedly ‘rode up unannounced’ at Fuhrer’s camp. The Peppe letters, however, not only show that this visit had been carefully arranged between these parties beforehand, but that it had even been proposed before Peppe had supposedly discovered the inscription. So why was a judge (Smith) and a planter (Peppe) proposing to pay a laborious (and unofficial) visit to Fuhrer at this time, if not to set up the entire Piprahwa scam? Most revealing of all, however, is item no. 32 in these papers. This shows a handwritten paragraph by Peppe from his proposed JRAS article, in which Peppe shows a copy of a rubbing of the inscription underneath which is the statement ‘Translation from Hoey and Buhler’. A careful analysis of Hoey’s ‘Pioneer’ translation (Feb. 1898) together with the amendments proposed by Buhler (and received by Peppe in March, coinciding with Fuhrer’s visit after leaving Nepal) shows that the inscription was indeed a ‘translation from Hoey and Buhler’, being a judicious blending of these two versions which was duly inscribed on the casket in March, 1898. This statement thus reveals the sources from which the inscription was created, and effectively confirms that it was simply a modern forgery.
22.    Government of India Proceeedings, Part B, Department of Revenue and Agriculture, Archaeology and Epigraphy, August 1898, Proceeding no. 15, File no. 30 of 1898 (National Archives of India, New Delhi, though see ref. 1). See also ‘The Piprahwa Stupa’, by V. A. Smith, JRAS (UK) 1898, p. 868. 
23.    ‘The Annihilation of Lord Buddha’s Family’, article by Paripurnanand Verma, in ‘The Pioneer’, dated 18th August 1956, which shows that the jewellery was then still at Birdpur.  Interestingly, Verma was a Member of the Legislative Assembly, and proposed that Peppe ‘hand them over to our Lucknow Museum’. A copy of this article is kept among the Peppe Papers in the library of the Department of South Asian Studies at Cambridge University, together with a privately-printed copy of Peppe’s original JRAS article. This varies considerably from the JRAS version, and makes for interesting reading in consequence.
24.    Debala Mitra, ‘Buddhist Monuments’ (Calcutta, Dec. 1971) p. 251.
25.    ‘Discovery of Kapilavastu’ (1986) ‘Buddha’s Relics from Kapilavastu’ (1986) and ‘Excavations at Piprahwa and Ganwaria’ (1996) all by K. M. Srivastava. Conflicting accounts exist as to whether Srivastava commenced his excavations at Piprahwa in ignorance of Debala Mitra’s conclusions, but as a member of the same Archaeological Circle (and Mitra had, after all, been seven years in the preparation of her report) he would surely have been aware of these. I also note that no mention is made, in any of Srivastava’s writings on Piprahwa, of the bequest of the 1898 relics to Siam.
26.    ‘On the Dating of the Piprahwa Vases’, by Herbert Härtel, in ‘South Asian Archaeology 1997’, pp. 1011-24 (Rome 2000). An eminent Nepalese writer, Dhooswan Sayami, has dismissed Srivastava’s claims as nothing but ‘a well-hatched plan and archaeological stratagem’ (‘Ancient Kapilavastu : Recent Politics’, Vasudha, Vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 3-4, May-Jun 1977 : quoted on p. 31 of ‘Archaeological Remains of Kapilavastu, Lumbini, Devadaha’, by Krishna Rijal, Kathmandhu, 1979).   


Fig. 1.  The Peppe caskets, photographed in 1898.

Fig. 2. The inscribed casket (‘rear’ view) photographed at Piprahwa in 1898.

Fig. 3.  The two characters for ‘ki’ and ‘ti’ (which are part of the word ‘sukiti’) as shown on the inscribed Piprahwa casket.  Note the marked discrepancies between these items and their correctly-drawn equivalents in Fig. 8.

Fig. 4. This shows the correct depiction of the characters shown in fig. 7.  Having no knowledge of this obscure script, Peppe should have repeated the irregularities shown in the Fig. 7 characters when making his copy, but he didn’t. He depicted them correctly, as above.

Fig. 5. Srivastava’s model of the Piprahwa stupa, photographed in 1994.

Fig. 6. The Piprahwa stupa itself.

Related topic :Buddhism

Sanchi Stupa--A World Heritage Site
Sanchi's Great Stupa is one of India's oldest surviving Buddhist monuments.  It sits on a hilltop about 30 miles northeast of Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh, and 6 miles south of Vidisha, a small town that was an important urban center at the turn of the common era. 
This shot shows the western gateway, and was taken on 12 November 2005. 

History: The original stupa was built by the Mauryan emperor Ashoka (reigned 269-32 BCE), but enlarged to its present form in the 1st century CE.   The stupa later fell into ruins and disappeared, and when it was first discovered it was severely damaged by treasure-hunters (who dug into the main vault, looking for buried treasure).  In the 1880s the Archeological Survey of India began to restore it, with the major restoration between 1912 and 1919 under the leadership of Sir John Marshall.   The ASI still does the upkeep on the monument, and was doing some repairs when I visited in November 2005.  The ASI is also in the process of restoring Marshall house (at the base of the hill), in which Sir John lived during the restoration. 
Religious Significancestupa is a dome-shaped mound that mimics the funerary mounds used to mark the graves of great kings.  The first Buddhist stupas enshrined the Buddha's physical relics (bones and teeth), and thus gave him royal status.  Another sign of this claim is the three-layer stone umbrella visible at the top of the stupa, since the umbrella was also a royal symbol (unfortunately, these umbrellas often inadvertently also served as very effective lightning rods).  The Sanchi stupa has a walkway built halfway up the mound; the faithful would use this to circle the stupa to pay homage to the Buddha.   Motion was always clockwise, since this kept one's right side (considered better) toward the relics at the center.  The perimeter wall has a gateway at each cardinal direction, and the carvings on these illustrate events from the Buddha's life and past lives.  As with the medieval European cathedrals, these were used to impart the faith to a largely illiterate audience, and also through the stories to emphasize cultivating virtues and avoiding faults. 
SymbolismWhen the Sanchi stupa was built, the Buddha was not portrayed in human form.  Maybe he was seen as having transcended human understanding, or maybe the early Buddhists wanted to underline that he had transcended the condition of birth-and-death that marks embodied existence.  Whatever the reason, in this early artwork the Buddha was portrayed by certain fixed symbols, each of which represents one of the pivotal events in his life.  These symbols are:
  • Lotus or Elephant (Birth): The lotus is a pervasive Indian symbol of spiritual growth, since the lotus seed germinates in the muck at the bottom of a pond, then the stem grows as long as is necessary (2 feet, 4 feet, 10 feet) so that the flower can blossom above the surface of the water (symbolizing transcendence of earthly circumstances).   The elephant is connected with the story of the Buddha's conception, in which his mother became pregnant when  a white elephant appeared in a dream and tapped her on the abdomen with the lotus it was holding in its trunk.  The traditional account of his birth highlights the miraculous elements: the Future Buddha emerged from his mother's side, rather than a normal delivery; upon hitting the ground he took seven steps toward the east and announced that he would be enlightened in that lifetime, and there were various celestial signs--rain and flowers falling from a clear sky, a cool breeze, melodious sounds, disabled people regaining their faculties, and many, many others.   This is traditionally believed to have occurred in Lumbini in southeastern Nepal.
  • Tree (Enlightenment): This is the most important of the four events, since this is what made him the Buddha ("Enlightened One").  According to tradition, the Buddha renounced his home after seeing the Four Signs: an old man, a sick man, a corpse, and a wandering monk.  Old age, illness, and death are inevitable parts of life--and for the Buddha seemed to have been a shorthand for all of life's unsatisfactory elements--whereas the fourth was a hint that these could be transcended.  According to tradition, the Buddha left his home at the age of 29, and spent the next six years studying with various teachers and trying various techniques (most notably strict fasting) to find the solution to old age, illness, and death, but was unsuccessful.  He then sat down underneath a ficus tree in Bodh Gaya (modern Bihar), and began to meditate on the question of birth-and-death with a focused mind.  His analysis eventually revealed the causal chain that leads to rebirth, known aspratityasamutpada ("Interdependent Origination"), in which each element provides the cause for the one that follows (for a Tibetan view of this causal chain, click on the link above).
  • Wheel (Preaching the First Sermon)The wheel symbolizes the third great event in the historical Buddha's life, in which he "turned the wheel of dharma" by preaching his first sermon (The Four Noble Truths) at Sarnath, near modern Benares.  If the tree stands for the enlightened being, the wheel represents his career as a teacher.  In order to find suitable hearers for his message, the Buddha walked 130 miles to Sarnath from Bodh Gaya (where he was enlightened).  According to tradition he was enlightened on the full moon in Vaisakh (April-May); this is the hottest part of the year, with temperatures hitting over 110 degrees every day.  Tradition relates that the Buddha was initially reluctant to teach others, since he reportedly doubted whether others would be able to understand what he was trying to convey, but traveling such a long distance in such blistering heat testifies to the strength of his resolve.
  • Stupa (Parinirvana): Even though after he became enlightened the Buddha passed beyond being subject to birth and death (or rather ensured that he would not be reborn after his present life), his body was like any other human body.  At the age of 80--a very long life for that time--he ate a bad meal (either pork or mushrooms, the text is ambiguous and can be read either way), got dysentery, and died of dehydration (the story is so inglorious it is more likely to be true).  Tradition reports that he maintained his composure to the end, even blessing the man who had fed him that meal, and also directed his followers to burn his body and then place the remains in a stupa.  His rationale was that this was the burial mode for kings, and so here he was claiming at least equal status with these rulers. 
Acknowledgements The primary source for identifying the content in the scenes from these gateways (other than the markers at the site itself) is Debala Mitra's Sanchi,(2nd ed.) New Delhi: Archeological Survey of India, 1965.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

buddha jayanti,deptt,19th may 2010.3gp

its really inspiring,his own creation reciting by Him:Prof.Basab Chowdhury

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Again Dalai Lama

so,the leader is thinking to spread his helping hand to the destitute of the China.we , Indians too expressing our heartfelt sympathy and compassion to those effected people in China.May they recover their problem as soon as possible.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

dalai lama,the most well known religious leader
His Holiness Offers his Condolences to the Victims of the Earthquake in Kyigudo

He is the most well known figure due to his own curriculam regarding human being through the preaching of Buddha.The path finder of this era.The application of Buddhas preaching is indeed fruitful through His social works.He is living legend who is always actively participate in the crisis of human being.
Wish u live fruitful long life.