Headless Buddha unearthed in Indian village

Express News Service, January 21 2008

KENDRAPARA, India -- A 10-foot decapitated stone image of Lord Buddha, sitting in ‘Bhumisparsha’ posture, was unearthed from Langaleswar village, about 35 km from here on Saturday.

Some workers stumbled upon the image while digging earth near a Shiva temple in the village. Many ceramic hoards, high-framed earthen bowls, tiny bowls, begging bowls, spout jars, terracotta lamps and many broken potteries and stones with inscriptions were also unearthed along with the Buddha image.

Many holes, each measuring five to seven feet, were also spotted. According to noted historian, Harishachandra Prusti, the Buddhist monks perhaps used to store traditional medicines or fruits in these holes.

The Buddha image had perhaps been built in the 8th century AD under the royal patronage of a Buddhist king of Bhaumakura dynasty, that flourished in the 8th to 11th century AD in Orissa.

But in the 12th century, since the Hindu Rajas of Somabanshi and Gangas of Orissa were anti-Buddhist, they could have possibly demolished the monastery at Langelaswar and constructed a Shiva or Mahakala temple.

But, later in the 16th century, Muslim invaders may have demolished the Shiva or Mahakala temple, opined Prusti. The decapitated stone image of Lord Buddha is a rare discovery in the State as Lord Buddha sits in ‘Bhumisparsha’ posture beneath the earth, added Prusti.

But both the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and State Archaeological Department (SAD) have been paying little attention to such Buddhist sites for which many Buddha images and other findings are gathering dust in many villages, claimed Bebarta Ajaya Ballava Das, vice-president of ‘Buddhayan’, an organisation of Lalitagiri that has been working to protect the ancient Buddhist monasteries and artefacts.

Last week, an ancient Buddha vihar along with a headless stone image of Lord Ganesh was unearthed in village Palei, 15 km from here. “We have written letters to the officials of SAD and ASI to visit Langaleswar and they have promised to visit the place soon,” added Prusti.