Dalai Lama attends religious ceremony in Bodh Gaya

by CHANDER SHEKHAR SHARMA, Punjab News Line, February 6, 2007

Dharamsala, India -- While taking part in the ceremony to consecration the statues of the Buddha and his two main disciples in Bodh Gaya of Bihar, the Tibetan Spiritual Guru and Political Leader, Dalai Lama said," "We Buddhists sincerely follow the Buddha's guidance in our day to day life. For sometime, my view may be bit too much practical, seeing relics is very good, but relics may not protect us. The real protector is our own mind. Buddha made very clear that you are your own master. So therefore I think the practice the four noble truths is of paramount importance."

He said that whether we have faith in religion or not, we all want happiness and be rid of sufferings. The key to our happiness is compassion. "So one's own happiness depends on restraining oneself from harming others, which gives you more inner satisfaction. Harming, cheating, and deceiving others may give some temporary satisfaction. But in long run, you will face defeat, and will always remain unhappy. If you remain honest, truthful, and compassionate, you will get maximum benefit", he told the gathering at the ceremony.

At the ceremony, the Dalai Lama expressed his appreciation for installing these holy statues and keeping them in Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi Vihara, a newly built shrine, at Bodh Gaya in Bihar.  He said that he had a strong desire to see all those statues in one temple which he said would give an opportunity to thousands of Buddhists pilgrims who come here every year from across the globe.

The Buddha's relic was acquired from Sri Lanka and the relics of his two disciples, Sariputta and Moggallana, were acquired from Kolkata.

The Mahavamsa, the great chronicle of Sri Lanka, records how the great Buddhist king Juay Bhu II, who reigned in the 11th century received the sacred relic of the Buddha from the then Indian Buddhist King of the Pala dynasty.

The sacred relics of Sariputta and Mahamogallana, two main disciples of the Buddha, were discovered by Sir Alexander Cunningham in two sandstone caskets at Satadhara village near Sanchi in 1851 and were taken to London and kept in the Victoria and Albert Museum for almost 90 years.

Due to campaigns led by the then secretary of the Maha Bodhi Society of India, Sri Devapariya Valisinha, the relics were returned to India in 1949. They were given for safe keeping to the then president of the Maha Bodhi Society of India, Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India on 13 January 1949.

The relics have been in the custody of the Maha Bodhi Society of India, Kolkata headquaters since that time and are now shifted to the new Jaya Sri Haha Bodhi Vihara along with the sacred relic of Sakya Muni Buddha.

Now the work on the new shrine hall has been completed at the society's Buddhagaya Centre. The unveiling of the statue of the Sakya Muni Buddha and the inauguration of the hall took place at a grand ceremony on1 February.

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