Rajesh Kumar behera, Kendrapada, Orissa, India
The recent decision of the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) to keep the holy relics of Lord Buddha at the famous Buddhist site in Lalitagiri , where the relic had been unearthed in 1985, has been welcomed by several quarters, including Buddhist scholars ,historians and tourists. The ASI has decided to keep holy relic of Lord Buddha in the famous Buddhist site in Lalitagiri , said Ashok Kumar Pate,l the superintendent of Archeological Survey of India (ASI) , Bhubaneswar on Thursday. “ The relics is going to be kept at Lalitagiri shortly after the ASI will build a museum at Lalitagiri”, added Patel. Notably, the locals of Lalitagiri under the fold of Buddhayana ,,a Lalitagiri –based Cultural organization works, to protect the Buddhist heritage earlier expressed their resentment and anger over the lackadaisical attitude of the officials of Archeological Survey of India (ASI) for not keeping the relic of Lord Buddha and demanded to keep the holy relics at Lalitagiri where the relic were excavated , informed Bebarta Ajaya Das, a member of Buddhayana. “We earlier met the union tourism minister, Ambika Soni, Dalai Lama and senior officials of ASI in New Delhi and Bhubaneswar and demanded before them to take adequate steps to keep holy relics of Buddha at Lalitagiri”, said Debendra Sahoo, the Secretary of Buddhayana.. According to Pradipta Bhuiyan, the President of Buddhayan,the Lalitagiri hillock is famous for the discovery of several Buddha idols, a Stupa and three Buddhist monasteries where the Buddhist monks used to stay and worship. The holy relic of Buddha was also unearthed in Lalitagiri hillock by Archeological Survey of India (ASI). Seven consecutive sessions of archeological spadework brought to light a huge Stupa on a hilltop at Lalitgiri. The golden casket containing tiny bones, presumed to be the relics of Lord Buddha and his favourite disciple. The relic are kept like a Chinese puzzle box in four independent caskets one inside the other, forming a unique unity. Those caskets are of Khandolite, stupa shaped, pale grey soap stone, with silver and gold enclosed . Now the golden casket is at the strong room of Archeological Survey of India’s office in Bhubenswar After the excavation of the relics, the ASI officials and the state government had decided to keep the relics at Bhubaneswar for its safety. In 1988, M. Bipulasar Mahathera ,the secretary of Mahabodhi society of India urged the ASI officials and the government to keep the relics of Lord Buddha in Buddhabihar near Bhubaneswar. But the people of Lalitagiri had strongly opposed this and demanded before the authorities to hand over the relics to Lalitagiri to any place other than Lalitagiri. ,added Bhuiyan The archaeological treasures of Lalitagiri were first brought to notice in 1869 by Chandrasekhar Banarjee leading to subsequent documentation of the site by P.P. Chanda in 1927-28. Considering its archaeological importance , the ancient vestiges were declared centrally protected in 1937.Later in 1985 ASI started excavation and unearthed a massive stupa on hill top with two reliquaries made of khondalite stone and gold casket containing relic in the form of a small fragment of bone, added the ASI officials.