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2000-year old Nangchen Stupa with Lord Buddha's relics sent by Emperor Ashoka restored in China

Sep 18, 2015 16:18 IST

An Indian monk Gyalwang Drukpa, in September 2015 helped restore and renovate a 2000-year-old lost Nangchen Stupa with Lord Buddha relics sent by Emperor Ashoka.

Gyalwang, the spiritual head of Drukpa lineage of Buddhism based in Ladakh, consecrated the renovated stupa with all religious rites in Qinghai province of China, located adjacent to Tibet Autonomous Region.

Along with Nangchen stupa, an Ashokan pillar and a huge golden statue of Buddha was also consecrated by Gyalwang.

The Nangchen stupa, first to be discovered in the Tibetan region, is one of the 19 stupas containing Lord Buddha's relics that were sent by Emperor Ashoka to China. These stupas are a symbol of advent of Buddhism from India to China.

Out of 19 stupas, so far 4 stupas including Nangchen have been discovered. The other three were discovered in Xian, Nanjing and near Ayuwang in Zhejiang Province. The fate of the other 15 sent by Ashoka to China is unknown.

According to legends, about 2500 years ago disciples of Buddha retrieved on skull bone, two scapulas, four teeth and 84000 pearl-like Sariras (relics) after cremation of Lord Buddha’s body.
Buddhist records say that Emperor Ashoka collected all of Sakyamuni's sarira, stored them in pagoda-shaped shrines before sending them to different parts of the world.

Advent of Buddhism in China

As per records, advent of Buddhism in China was recorded in 68 AD when the first Buddhist temple White Horse was built in Luoyang by Chinese monk Xuanzan who travelled to India during the early Tang dynasty (between 629 and 645 AD).

During his travels, he visited holy sites, learned the lore of his faith, and studied with many famous Buddhist masters, especially at the famous center of Buddhist learning at Nalanda University.

He set up a large translation bureau in Chang'an (present-day Xi'an), drawing students and collaborators from all over East Asia. He is credited with the translation of some 1330 fascicles of scriptures into Chinese. His strongest personal interest in Buddhism was in the field of Yogācāra, or "Consciousness-only".

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