Bones of the Buddha

Bones of the Buddha

In 1897 a British colonial landowner living in India, W.C. Peppe, ordered his workers to uncover and dig a trench through a large mound on one of his estates. They dug down and eventually came upon a large stone casket, which was then opened.

Inside there were many jewels and gold objects, and several small vases, which he disinterred and took back with him to his home. On one of the vases an inscription was found which was in a language and script unknown to him.

Peppe therefore contacted the archeologists Vincent Smith and Dr. Fuhrer, who were able to decipher it and said the writing proclaimed that the bones and ashes inside were of the Lord Buddha, and had been presented to the Sakiyan clan.

This find meant that Piprahwa must have been the site of the ancient city of Kapilavatthu, where the Buddha had grown up. What is more the relics were the only relics that it was certain were from Lord Buddha himself.

But the whole matter became shrouded in controversy when only a few months later Dr. Fuhrer was convicted of forging other Buddhist remains, which threw doubt over the Piprahwa find also.

This documentary seeks to settle the controversy once and for all with the help of distinguished historian Charles Allen, who has written many books about India, including works about King Asoka and also about Dr Fuhrer.


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7 comments to Bones of the Buddha

  • Lovely video, visually engrossing and finely told. Thank you so much for sharing and annotating, Bhante. I imagine — if you’ll allow me — your heart grew some when the Brahmi script glowed across the screen and Prakrit syllables punctuated the audio, yes? (And I had no idea Brahmi resembled the boxy scripts of the Greeks and Phoenicians 🙂 ) May you always know the deep joy and serenity your good works elicit in so many others.

    • Anandajoti

      Hi Larry, much merit to you for the kind comment. I recently saw the inscription for myself when I visited Nepal, creating a link to the past.

  • Dear Bhante, very interesting documentary. What I didn’t understand from the film is what happened with the Buddha’s ashes. Where it is now? Is is lost or preserved.


    • Josh

      Hi Branko,

      Not sure if you still visit this website,

      To answer your question, the majority of the ashes is at Wat Saket (Golden Mountain) in Bangkok, which was built by the Thai king, Rama V (Chulalongkorn) especially to hold these relics. Small portions were also given by the Thai King to Cambodia and other South East Asian countries.

      Hope this helped cheers

  • Visakha Kawasaki

    Some say the ashes are interred in the great stupa at Lauriya Nandangar.

    Visakha and Ken

  • Anandajoti

    Hi Visakha, it maybe that the Lauirya Nandangarh is Pipphalivana (taken by the Moriyas); but I think what Branko was asking about is the ashes that were found in the relic chamber at Piprahwa (Kapilavastu), which were probably lost before it was discovered who they might have belonged to.

  • G Hunt

    I do not believe Sidartha would have cared. All beings die, and are dependant arisings. Conditional. The honor paid him, is fitting however. He was a great thinker, who with logic and inspiration sorted through the the contradiction of existence. There is no special merit in his bones or lack of them.

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