Skip to comments.The Fate of the Buddha’s Begging Bowl
Posted on 11/21/2017 10:44:07 PM PST by nickcarraway
One of the most revered relics in the ancient Buddhist world was the Buddhas begging bowl.
A rough outline of its long convoluted history is this it was supposedly given to the people of Vesali by the Buddha when he passed through the city on his way to Kusinara. In the 1st/2nd century King Kanishka took it to Pushapura, now Peshawar, where a string of Chinese pilgrims reported seeing it between the 3rd and the 9th centuries. The importance of the bowl is attested by numerous depictions of it in Gandhara art, usually shown on the pedestal of Buddha statues. During the Islamic period it was taken from one palace or mosque to another until at a date unknown it ended up in Sultan Ways Babas shrine on the outskirts of Kandahar Afghanistan. Several British officers report seeing it there in the 19th century, one attempting to translate the inscription on it, and another, Alexander Cunningham, trying to trace its history, a fact I mention in my Middle Land Middle Way (1992, p.136). In the late 1980s during Afghanistans civil war President Najibullah had the bowl taken to Kabuls National Museum. When the Taliban came to power, their Minister of Culture ordered all Buddhist artefacts in the museum smashed although the bowl remained undamaged, no doubt because of the Quranic verses inscribed on its outer surface. Today it can still be seen in the museum.
The bowl is not small. It is a stone hemispherical vessel of greenish-grey granite with a diameter of about 1.75 meters, a height of about three ¾ of a meter, and a thickness of about 18 cm at its rim, rather thicker elsewhere particularly at its middle and the base. It has no cracks or abrasions, except for a portion about the size of the palm of ones hand that has flaked away from near the rim. There is a delicate lotus petal design chiselled around its base, attesting to its Buddhist past, and inscribed in beautiful large calligraphic script horizontally along the rim of the bowl, are six rows of verses from the Quran, reflecting its Islamic continuum and its status through the ages as an object of special religious interest. Traces of similar calligraphic script are visible on the surface on the inner side of the bowl. The bowl is about 350 to 400 kg in weigh, far too heavy to lift.
This bowl was probably an early larger copy of the Buddhas actual bowl placed in a monastery in Vesali for people to offer their first fruits in, a custom common in ancient India and which survived even in Sri Lanka and elsewhere up to the 19th century. The bowls great size may well have encouraged the acceptance of the widespread belief amongst ancient Buddhists that the Buddha was 18 feet tall. Only someone that big could have used or even lifted a bowl this size.
It is interesting to keep in mind that Sri Lanka claimed to have the Buddhas begging bowl, although any legend of how it got to the island has not been preserved. This Sri Lankan relic is mentioned several times in the Culavamsa as being as precious and holy as the Tooth Relic. The chronical tells us for instance, that when King Manabharana moved from Rohana to Polonnaruva he brought the Tooth Relic and the Bowl Relic with him. It also gives us a description of an elaborate ceremony during the reign of Parakramabahu I in which the two relics were drawn through the streets of the capital in a wheeled pavilion made of gold. Sometime after the fall of Polonnaruva the Bowl Relic disappeared and was forgotten
I am writing about the Buddhas begging bowl because after being in obscurity for so long it recently hit the headlines in India when it was mentioned in the Lok Sabha, Indias parliament. I reproduce below from the Ministry of External Affairs website. "MP Dr. Raghuvansh Prasad Singh asked; Will the Minister of External Affairs be pleased to state: (a) whether the Government has recently got the information that the begging bowl of Buddha, given to the people of Vesali by him, has been found in the Kabul museum; (b) if so, the details thereof; (c) whether the Indian Embassy in Afghanistan has sent a photo of the said bowl to the Government; (d) if so, the details thereof; (e) whether the Government has initiated the process to recover the said bowl; (f) if so, the details thereof; (g) whether the travelogues of the Chinese pilgrim Faxian and the writings of Dr. Cunningham and Shri S.V. Sahni mention the said bowl; and (h) if so, the details thereof?."
11/21/2017 | djf
Posted on 11/22/2017, 12:27:05 AM by djf
.75 (3.4) of a meter = 2 feet & 5.5275 inches (Height)
18 CM = 7 & 3/32 inches (Rim depth)
Pretty good sized bowl. 8>)
Would Buddha melt a Nazi’s face?
You forgot to take back one kadam to honor the Buddha, whose bowl this is.
Don’t look, Marion! Shut your eyes!
I hate small island in the Mediterranean Nazis.
I admit there’s very few of them I like at all. I can think of a couple from the movies that I do. Schindler, of course, and that Nazi in “The Pianist” who let the pianist go. Then he was killed by the Soviets....
Or even wax copies of ‘em.
More pagan BS.
I attach no spiritual significance to the object, but it’s kind of interesting to see the hustorical influence of clashing and mixing cultures on the object and where it ended up.
Buddhas Begging Bowl?? Cripes, is this yet another football bowl??
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