Chinese archeologists are ecstatic to become a part of what is allegedly the discovery of one of 84,000 mini-pagodas commissioned in the 2nd century BC by Ashoka the Great, an Indian emperor. It is believed that the pagodas (uncovered in Nanjing) contain relics of the infamous Siddhartha Gautama, better known as the Buddha.
Why is the miniature pagoda so important? It is an estimated 1,000 years old and rumor has it , a piece of skull belonging to the founder of Buddhism has also been discovered.
Tucked tightly inside an iron case, the pagoda was found at former temple city in August. Measuring nearly 4 feet into the sky and 1 Ã‚Â½ feet wide, the pagoda gives archeologists the impression that it is indeed one of the many pagodas that Ashoka the Great had made in order to hold the remains of the Buddha.
You may ask why Ashoka is involved in the burial of the Buddha, but his role emerges after he converted to Buddhism after engaging in a war in the eastern state of Orissa that was filled with great bloodshed. He is now known as one of the greatest emperors of India and is often credited with helping to spread Buddhism throughout Asia and his kingdom, which at the time , covered the modern land space of Pakistan to Afghanistan to Iran.
Nanjing was the site of the pagoda, which was made out of wood with accents of silver and inlaid gold. Additional materials used in it creation included colored glass and amber. Since the pagoda matched the description of another pagoda located underneath the Changgan Buddhist temple in Nanjing and associated with Ashoka the Great, archeologists are abuzz with the possibilities of having uncovering this historic gem.
How do archeologists know what is inside the pagoda? A description of the contents expected inside of the pagoda was found. The statement suggested that one would find a gold coffin harboring part of the Buddha’s skull inside of a silver box. Scans of the pagoda show that there are two small metal boxes inside of the pagoda. However, researchers have not looked inside as of yet. Today, the pagoda is on display at the Nanjing Museum. The head of archeology at Nanjing Museum told the public that this could very well possibly be the only known pagoda to actually contain parts of the Buddha’s skull.
If you’re wondering when researchers will finally open the metal boxes, keep in mind that the process is not as easy as you would think. In 2001, the Chinese believe to have found a case said to hold evidence of the Buddha’s hair, but no one has opened the box for fear that the contents would suffer damage. All in all, the find marks another cultural link to the history of Buddhism in China. Nanjing will certainly carry a reputation for being a prime site to explore the origin of the religion.