Cuttack, Jan. 31: A rare Buddha relic discovered at Lalitgiri, a famous Buddhist site in Odisha, will be moved out of the strong room of the Archaeological Survey of India’s (ASI) Bhubaneswar circle office for the first time in over 27 years for public view.
The relic, believed to be tooth of Lord Buddha will be put up for public view at the Bhubaneswar State Museum for seven days on the occasion of the first international conference on Buddhist heritage of Odisha at Udaygiri, a Buddhist site from tomorrow.
The rare Buddha relic was found during an excavation at Lalitgiri, 60-odd km from Cuttack in 1985. The relic was found inside a small gold casket encased in multiple boxes of silver, steatite and khondolite.
Though the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had agreed to the Odisha government’s proposal to hand over the Buddha relic for display at the State Museum till a site museum is constructed at Lalitgiri, Orissa High Court had imposed restrictions on it in September last year.
But now, Orissa High Court has allowed moving of the Buddha relics out of the ASI strong room for seven days.
“The division bench of acting Chief Justice Pradip Mohanty and Justice S.K. Mishra allowed shifting of the Buddha relic to the Bhubaneswar State Museum on the condition that it would be brought back to the Archaeological Survey of India’s strong room after seven days,” assistant solicitor general Saktidhar Das told The Telegraph today.
“The court order, however, specified that the Buddha relic will be shifted under full security and shall remain under surveillance of an Archaeological Survey of India official at the State Museum,” the assistant solicitor general said.
“Permission for shifting of the Buddha relic was sought in view of the international conference on Buddhist heritage of Odisha at Udaygiri. We want Buddhist scholars and monks from across the world participating in the three-day conference from February 1 to see the rare Buddha relic,” state culture department director Sushil Kumar Das told The Telegraph.
“Over a hundred Buddhist scholars and monks are expected to take part in the three-day conference aimed at promoting an understanding and appreciation of the art and philosophy of Buddhism,” Das said.
While allowing the state’s plea, the high court, however, has clarified in its order that the Buddha relic should be brought back to the strong room at ASI’s Bhubaneswar office and kept there till a permanent museum is constructed by ASI at Lalitgiri.
The issued had reached the high court in September last year with the filing of a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking direction to the ASI to take steps to preserve and display the Buddha relic at the protected Lalitgiri excavated Buddhist site. Buddhayana, a local Buddhist organisation, had filed the PIL after the ASI decided to allow display of the relic at the state government’s museum. Acting on the petition, the high court had imposed interim restrictions on shifting of the Buddha relic from the strong room of ASI’s Bhubaneswar circle office. “The Buddha relic shall not be shifted without the permission of the court,” the interim order said.
Debendra Kumar Sahu, secretary of Buddhayan, contended in his petition that in other parts of India, Buddha relics had been displayed at the site where they were unearthed by the ASI. But the same had not been done in the case of Buddha relic discovered at Lalitgiri in 1985. Instead, the ASI had decided to allow display of the relic at the state government’s museum, the PIL said. Another relic, believed to be that of Lord Buddha, is on display at Bodhgaya.