A 2000-year-old lost stupa, one of the 19 built with Lord Buddha’s relics sent by Emperor Ashoka to China, was been renovated and restored with religious rites by an Indian monk in this remote Tibetan town of Nangchen, making it a symbol of the advent of Buddhism from India to China.
The renovated stupa and Ashoka pillar along with a huge golden statue of Buddha was consecrated by Gyalwang Drukpa, the spiritual head of Drukpa lineage of Buddhism based in Ladakh, in China’s Qinghai province, located adjacent to Tibet Autonomous Region.
Legend has it that over 2,500 years ago, Buddha’s disciples retrieved one skull bone, two scapulas, four teeth and 84,000 pearl-like sariras (relics) after Lord Buddha’s body was cremated.
According to Buddhist records, Emperor Ashoka collected all of Sakyamuni’s sarira, stored them in pagoda-shaped shrines before sending them to different parts of the world.
China is believed to have received 19 of them including the one in Nangchen but most of them have collapsed due to natural wear and tear as well as negligence.
Three more such stupas were discovered in Chinese cities of Xian, Nanjing and near Ayuwang in Zhejiang Province.
The Nangchen stupa is the first to be discovered in the Tibetan region. The fate of the other 15 sent by Ashoka to China is unknown.
Advent of Buddhism to China were well chronicled since 68 AD when first Buddhist temple White Horse was built in Luoyang by Chinese monk Xuanzan after a 17-year-long voyage to India.
The Stupa signify efforts by Ashoka to spread the religion around the world.