Buddhist relics unearthed in Taxila

Daily Times (APP), Nov 22, 2004

WAH CANTT, Pakistan -- The archaeology department?s preservation and restoration team has discovered eight antiquities consisting fragments including the sculpture of future Buddha, god Indra and his bodyguard dating back to the first century AD.

The antiquities had been discovered during the preservation work at the ancient and world famous archaeological site of the Gandhara civilisation locally known as the Dharmarajika Stupa and monastery which dates back to 3rd century BC to 5th Century AD situated about 3.5 kilometers north east of the Taxila Museum.

The department officials had confirmed that these antiquities include landmark, precious and rare discovery of a statue depicting ?the reappearance of Buddha?. According to the Buddhist mythology, Buddha would reappear before the end of the universe and the newly discovered fragment depicts the scene.

According to Buddhist belief another Buddha, Maitreya - the future Buddha, will come to earth at a specific time by leaving Tushita heaven to establish the lost truths in their purity. He is the only Bodhisattva known to Hinayana and Mahayan sects of Buddhism. Bodhisattva means a sentient or reasonable being. Bodhisattvas like the Buddha are honoured. It is said that a monk artist from Swat valley visited Tushita heaven to meet Bodhisattva Maitreya and carved the image when he returned to earth.

Another precious and exclusive discovery is the statue of god Indra. The Indra god was the god of ?nature? and according to the Buddhist mythology and Vedic Pantheon the thunder god Indra had attained a prominent position. Buddhist adopted numerous gods from Hinduism but modified their characteristics and importance.

Sidhartha, Buddha, visited Indrasala cave and was asked some philosophical questions, which he answered very easily, thus god Indra and Brahma entreated Buddha to start preaching Buddhism. Another remarkable discovery is the statue depicting the bodyguard of Buddha, which was named in Buddhism as VajraPani.

The fragment of Corinthian capital was also discovered. Corinthian order was used in Magna, Garcia and Sicily from early third century. Its bell shaped capital enveloped with acanthus leaves characterises it. It became favourite order of the Romans. It said that a certain Greek sculptor got the inspiration after he saw a basked full of acanthus leaves over the grave of a beautiful Corinthian girl.

Two female headless figures, one of which depicts three segments of relief of Buddha are also included in the new discoveries. The archaeologists after the preliminary examination of these newly discovered antiquities here at Sub Regional Office in Taxila said that these newly discovered fragments were made of grape black schist and green phylite. The antiquities come from the early stage of the fist or second century AD.

The site where these new discoveries had been made had a significant status in Gandhra civilisation. The Dharmarajika stupa and monastery were probably the earliest in Pakistan, archaeologists said. Either ?Dharma Raja? or the righteous King Ashok of Mauryan dynasty in the 3rd Century BC, built the stupa. The stupa was a source of inspiration and a place of attraction from the beginning of the Buddhist religion and was later reconstructed during the time of King Kanisha, in the 5th Century AD.

Sir Johan Marshall explored the site first in 1920s and a large number of precious antiquities including fragments were discovered.