ASI raises doubts about 'Buddha bowl' authenticity

As clamour grows for bringing back a 400-kg greenish-grey granite bowl kept at a museum in Afghanistan, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is struggling to find a “conclusive proof” that it, indeed, is the begging bowl of Gautama Buddha made in the 6th century BC at Vaishali district of Bihar.

G S Khwaja, Director ASI’s Epigraphy Branch in Nagpur, who visited the National Museum of Afghanistan in Kabul along with Phani Kant Mishra, Director (Archeology), Kolkata, to examine the artefact in May, has concluded in his report that it did not seemed to be belonging to Lord Buddha.

He noted that bowl bore a Persian inscription in Thulth style of Islamic calligraphy, dateable to the 15th or 16th century AD, and there was no other writing in Pali or Sanskrit inscribed on it.

In his report, Khwaja also underlined that there was no indication of Persian inscription overwritten on the artefact, suggesting that the belief that it belonged to the Buddha could be a case of “mistaken identity”. He suggested that the bowl might have been made around the 15-16th century AD in Kandahar for its use in a madrasa, sources said.

Mishra, however, suggested that it was the same bowl that Buddha Buddha left for his devotees in Vaishali who worshipped it before Kanishka of the Kushanas took it to his capital Purushpura, (now Peshawar) in the 2nd century AD, sources added.

“As of now, we do not have conclusive proof that the bowl belonged to us,” sources said.
Though the two experts have come up with divergent view on the origin of the bowl, the government has not yet given up. While the Ministry of External Affairs is examining the reports, the ASI is waiting for further direction.

“It is not over. We are examining the reports. Many early writings suggest that the bowl was taken away from Vaishali to Kandahar via Peshawar. A Chinese travellers Hieun Tsang and Fa-Hien, too made a reference of the bowl in their dairies,” sources said.

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