Relics of Sariputra and Mahamoggallana

Relics Of Sariputra And Mahamoggallana

Relics of Sariputra and Mahamoggallana

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Sariputra and Mahamoggallana were the two chief disciples of Gautama Buddha, and died within two weeks of one another, after which they were cremated and their relics kept. After a period, the relics were lost to civilisation.


In 1851, the British archaeologist Sir Alexander Cunningham was excavating at the Asokan Buddhist complex in Sanchi, near Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh in India, which dated to the 3rd century BCE. In the famous Third Stupa, he uncovered the bodily relics of Sariputra and Mahammoggallana. At approximately the same time, more relics of the two arahants were found in a stupa at Satadhara, about ten kilometres from Sanchi.

After sinking a shaft in the centre of the stupa on Sanchi Hill, Cunningham unearthed a large stone slab, more than five feet in length, lying in a north-south axis. Beneath the slab were two boxes of gray sandstone, each with a brief inscription in Brāhmī characters on the lid. The box at the southern end was inscribed "Sariputtasa" meaning "(Relics) of Sariputra," while that to the north bore the inscription "Maha-Mogalanasa." "(Relics) of Maha Moggallana."

Contents of the relics

Sariputra's box contained a large flat casket of white steatite, more than six inches wide and three inches in height. The surface was polished and hard, and the box, which is believed to have been turned on a lathe, was an elaborate piece of workmanship. Surrounding the casket were some fragments of sandalwood...
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