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2,000-yr-old stupa marks revival of India-China Buddhist links

Press Trust of India, September 20, 2015

Nangchen, China -- The restoration of the 2,000-year-old Ashoka Stupa in this quintessential Tibetan town by an Indian Buddhist monk marks a new beginning in the revival of Buddhism links between India and China.

Hundreds of men and women accompanied by their children in best attires attended the ceremony, which locals say is the biggest such religious gathering in recent years just to have glimpse of the Stupa containing the relics of Buddha.

Buddhist monks said the credit to preserve the Stupa in this town located in China's Qinghai province adjacent to Tibet, through the invasions of Mongols and in recent decades, the Cultural Revolution headed by Mao Zedong goes to the local people.

The parts of the original Stupa were preserved by the people by making them into hundreds of small Stupas which were preserved in the new temple, a monk said. Over 300 tiny Stupas were displayed around the main Stupa of the temple.

It was restored on September 15 signifying the revival of the Buddhist religious links between India and China in the Himalayan region strained by the departure of the Dalai Lama to India in 1959.

A massive gold-coloured statue of Buddha along with the Stupa and Ashoka Pillar was consecrated with Gyalwang Drukpa, the Himachal Pradesh-born Buddhist monk and the spiritual head of over 1,000 monasteries across Himalayas.

According to Buddhist records, Emperor Ashoka collected all parts of the body of Lord Buddha after his Nirvana, stored them in pagoda-shaped shrines before sending them to different parts of the world.

China is believed to have received 19 of them including the one in Nangchen but most of them have collapsed due to natural wear and tear as well as negligence.

Three more such Stupas were discovered in Chinese cities, Xian, Nanjing and near Ayuwang (Ashoka) Temple in Zhejiang Province. The Nangchen Stupa is the first to be discovered in Tibetan region. The fate of the rest of 15 Stupas sent by Ashoka to China is not known.


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