(ORDO NEWS) — In 543 BC, the cremation of the great spiritual teacher, Buddha, took place in the town of Kushinagara. When a bright flame engulfed the body of the Enlightened One, one of his students threw himself into the fire and took out the mentor’s tooth. So the followers of the new faith found their main shrine. This precious relic suffered many ordeals, but none of them harmed her. And all thanks to the fantastic invulnerability of the shrine.
“Test” for authenticity
The brave disciple of Buddha kept the found relic throughout his life, and before his death he handed it over to the rulers of the kingdom of Kalinga (today – the territory of the state of Orissa in the East of India). It was here that the precious Tooth was destined to pass its first test. So, according to an old legend, once several Hindu Brahmins, ardent opponents of Buddhism, stole the shrine from the palace of the monarch in order to prove its powerlessness in front of their faithful adepts. For this, the thieves prepared an anvil to crush the hated “trophy” on it.
Only the intruders failed – the Tooth brilliantly passed the “test” for authenticity. When the first vandal hit the relic with a sledgehammer, the heavy tool bounced off the shrine without causing it the slightest damage, and nearly smashed its owner’s head. When the second brahmana tried to complete the work of the “colleague”, the hammer slipped out of his hands and … hovering in the air above the head of the villain, began to sway threateningly from side to side. The brahmana thieves understood the “hint” without difficulty and immediately returned the shrine to its rightful owner.
“Contraband” in the hair
In the 4th century AD, the sacred Tooth had to leave India and look for a new refuge on the island of Sri Lanka. This happened under the following circumstances. At that time, King Guhaziva ruled in Kalinga, against whom his Hindus subjects rebelled. The monarch suffered defeat after defeat, and when it became clear that his capital was about to fall, the unfortunate king made a desperate attempt to save the precious Tooth. To do this, he asked his daughter, Princess Hemamali, to hide the great relic in her high and lush hairstyle and thus take it outside the rebellious state. The princess, obedient to the will of her father, carried out his order, after which, disguised as a commoner, she boarded a ship sailing to Sri Lanka. For some reason, while the young lady was getting to the port, nobody was surprised by the skillfully styled curls of the “poor” girl,
Having sailed to the coveted island, Hemamali gave the sacred Tooth to King Sirimenghavanna, who placed the relic in his treasury. But the arrival of the shrine to Sri Lanka put an end to the world that reigned here. And the unwitting culprit of this was the new owner of the relic, who declared it the main regalia of the ruler of the island. Then the noble nobles of Sri Lanka started a series of endless wars for the shrine, since it now automatically gave its owner the right to the royal throne. These armed conflicts subsided only in the 16th century, when the era of colonization of the island began.
After the capture of Sri Lanka by the Portuguese, hard times came for the locals. So, by 1560, almost the entire island was in the hands of foreign colonialists, with the exception of the Kandyan kingdom, located on a high plateau in the very center of Sri Lanka. It was here at that time that the precious Tooth of the Buddha was kept. But during the clashes with the occupiers, the palace of the local ruler was briefly in the hands of the invaders, then they managed to steal the great shrine.
The relic was taken to Goa, where in the middle of the 16th century was the residence of the Portuguese Viceroy of India, Constantin Bragancki. It was to him that the precious trophy captured in Kandy was handed over. Of course, Buddhist rulers offered a huge ransom for the sacred Tooth, but representatives of the Catholic Church intervened and demanded that the viceroy immediately destroy the heretic shrine.
And then, in front of numerous onlookers, the local executioner crushed the ancient artifact into powder, which was then burned. But it turned out that a fake relic was subjected to execution! The ruler of Kandy prepared for the invasion of the Gentiles and sent the Tooth to a safe refuge in advance. And in the treasury in its place was left an elaborate ivory forgery.
Explosion in a “beautiful view” vault
Today, the shrine is still kept in Kandy, where the magnificent huge temple of Dalat Maligawa, decorated with intricate carvings, gold and ivory, was built especially for it in the 18th century. Moreover, the experience of previous assassination attempts taught the ministers of this sanctuary a lot, and therefore it is now oh so difficult for the attackers to get to the ancient artifact.
Today, the Tooth of the Buddha is placed in a special storage called the Hall of Beautiful Views, and only honored Buddhist monks and especially important guests of Dalat Maligava are allowed to enter there. Among the latter in 1890 was the Russian princess Maria Grigorievna Shcherbatova, who left the following description of this sanctuary: “Entering the altar, we saw a large table, brightly lit by a multitude of candles, in the middle of which, under a glass bell, stood an ark – karanduva. Inside it are placed one in the other six of the same arks, all of pure gold, and the last of them is decorated with precious stones and contains the famous Tooth. ”
Since then, practically nothing has changed in the Hall of Beautiful Views, but the entrance to the temple now has three degrees of control, which ensure the safety of the shrine. In addition, in order to avoid an attack on the relic of possessed fanatics, it is very rarely taken out of the treasured chests and the believers who have stood in a long line are allowed only once a day, and even then for a short time. The Tooth temple itself leaves only on the August new moon, when, according to an old tradition, the grandiose Perachera procession dedicated to the great relic of Buddhists takes place in Kandy. But even on this holiday, intruders cannot reach it, because the relic travels through the city streets on the back of a huge elephant, surrounded by armed guards.
However, all these precautions still could not prevent a new assassination attempt. So, in 1998, a terrorist attack by Islamists took place in Dalat Maliga-ve. On the fateful day, four fanatics-suicide bombers entered the territory of the temple in a car filled with explosives, which, flying into the air, claimed the lives of seven pilgrims, and another 25 were seriously injured. Many significant buildings of the sanctuary were destroyed, but the main relic of the Buddhists still did not suffer. Fortunately, only faint echoes of the blast wave reached the Hall of Beautiful Views, which were no longer able to cope with the cherished golden chests.
Real or not?
Today, there are many rumors that the Buddha’s Tooth is a fake, and the original relic was destroyed during the years of Portuguese colonization. Descriptions of the shrine made several decades ago serve as the basis for such claims. So, the Russian orientalist Ivan Pavlovich Minaev at the end of the 19th century noticed that the legendary Tooth is quite large – 2 inches long and 1 inches wide (about 5.5 by 2.5 cm) – and therefore it could only fit in the mouth of a giant.
The German naturalist Ernst Haeckel also supported his colleague, directly calling the relic an ivory fake. Buddhists parry these statements of pundits, claiming that Buddha was an extraordinary person, and therefore could well have gigantic growth, and parts of his body were larger than those of ordinary people.
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