Would We Make Such a Blunder Regarding Bodily Relics of Great Persons?
If we discovered Jesus Christ’s tomb, would we put his bodily relics in a museum?
Would we ever think about taking out the bodily relics of the revered Popes from the coffins at St. Peter’s Basilica and exhibiting them in a museum?
Would we ever take out the hair relic of Prophet Mohammed from Hazrat Bal Shrine and exhibit it in a museum?
Would we take out the bodily relics of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti Saheb of Ajmer and exhibit them in a museum, or the relics of Hazrat Nijamuddin from his shrine?
Would we ever take out the bodily relics of Sant Dnyaneshwar from his samadhi and put them on exhibition in a museum?
What to talk about these great religious personalities, would we ever think about doing this for non-religious personalities? Would we take out the bodily relics of Begum Mumtaj Mahal from Taj Mahal and exhibit them in a museum? Would we take out the bodily relics of various Mughal and non-Mughal kings from tombs all over India and put them on display in a museum?
Let us consider this issue at personal level. How would any of us feel about exhibiting bodily relics of his or her mother and father in a museum? How would we react if someone did this to the remains of our beloved parents? Would we allow this to happen?
No! We would never do this! Government of India would never do it. The various state governments would never do it.
If that is the case, then why have our governments singled out the relics of Gautama the Buddha for this deeply disgusting treatment? The bodily relics of the Buddha have been excavated from so many places. They need to be put in places of worship. To keep them in museums is sacrilege— most disgraceful and deeply painful. That this is happening in spite of, and contrary to, very clear instructions from the Buddha himself makes it a great historic wrong. This is a grievous insult to that Greatest Son of India who made our country Vishwa Guru—the World Teacher. Indeed it is insult to our country and its history.
One builds a tomb for one’s parents or one’s teacher to keep their memories alive, to show one’s respect, to honor them. We never disturb any such tomb or memorial or burial place even if the family or followers are no more. For the countless followers of the Buddha he is a spiritual father and it causes them unbearable pain to see his bodily relics being displayed as if they are some war trophy. What we should be doing instead is to build proper stupas for the relics.
Everybody fortunate enough to be in possession of the relics of the Buddha should know that the only proper places for the relics are Stupas (Pagodas) where the relics can be securely placed and where they can be worshipped properly by the devotees.
Let us hope that good sense will prevail and the Government of India as well as various state governments in possession of the Buddha relics will respectfully enshrine the relics in proper pagodas.