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ASI Buddha bowl label plea

Patna, Aug. 9: Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has requested the ministry of external affairs to write to the Afghanistan government and ask what is written on the label placed in front of the 400kg greenish-grey granite bowl kept at the entrance of National Museum of Afghanistan in Kabul.

In 2011, to a question raised by former Vaishali MP Raghuvansh Prasad Singh in the Lok Sabha (unstarred question No. 284), the Afghan government replied to the Indian embassy in Kabul that the artefact kept at the museum was the “alms bowl of Buddha”.

The bowl, considered to be one of the most revered relics in Buddhism across the globe, was supposedly used by Gautam Buddha as a daanpatra (alms bowl).

The Telegraph, in its Saturday edition, reported that archaeologists have lately found strong evidences to prove that the bowl was made in the 6th century BC at Vaishali and taken to Kandahar (then Gandhar) in Afghanistan by the first century AD Kushan emperor Kanishka.

ASI additional director-general B.R. Mani said today: “The ASI director-general has given his comment on the report already submitted by the team, which had gone to Kabul earlier this year to examine the authenticity of the bowl.”

Following a strong demand for bringing the bowl back to its place of origin by Raghuvansh, a team of ASI officials — comprising eastern regional director P.K. Mishra and epigraphy branch, Nagpur (Arabic and Persian), director (in-charge) G.S. Khwaja — was sent to Afghanistan on May 2 this year to study the inscriptions and other aspects related to the provenance of the artefact.

“As per preliminary findings, it can be said that there are some direct as well as indirect evidence to establish that the artefact is Buddha’s bowl and it was taken from Vaishali. However, the matter is still under detailed investigation,” said a Delhi-based senior ASI official on condition of anonymity.

Raghuvansh has, however, challenged the submission of a separate report by Khwaja. “Even Alexander Cunningham, the first director-general of ASI, in his archaeological survey report published in the late 19th century, stated that Persian inscriptions were imposed on the bowl later. Besides, Khwaja is an epigraphist and in no capacity, he can make such archaeological claims. I met minister of culture and tourism Shripad Yesso Naik last week and asked him to clear the issue,” he said.