Relic of the tooth of the Buddha

Relic of the tooth of the Buddha

The Sacred Relic of the tooth of the Buddha (Buddh-dantya) is venerated in Sri Lanka as a relic of the founder of Buddhism.

History

The relic in India

According to Sri Lankan legends, when the Buddha died, his body was cremated in a sandalwood pyre at Kusinara in India and his left canine tooth was retrieved from the funeral pyre by Arahat Khema. Khema then gave it to King Brahmadatte for veneration. It became a royal possession in Brahmadatte's country and was kept in the city of Dantapuri (present day Puri in Orissa).

A belief grew that whoever possessed the Sacred Tooth Relic had a divine right to rule that land. Wars were fought to take possession of the relic. 800 years after the Buddha's death, in the 4th century CE, the tooth came into the possession of King Guhaseeva of Kalinga, which roughly corresponds to the present day state of Orissa.

Kalinga had become a Buddhist and begun to worship the Sacred Tooth relic. This caused discontent among some of the citizens, who went to King Paandu and said that King Guhaseeva had stopped believing in god and that he had started to worship a tooth.

King Paandu decided to destroy the relic, and ordered to it brought to the city. It is said that, as the tooth arrived at the city, a miracle occurred, and King Paandu converted to Buddhism. When King Ksheeradara heard, he went with his army to attack Paandu in the city of Palalus. The invaders were defeated before reaching the city, and King Ksheeradara died.

A prince from the city of Udeni who had become a Buddhist came to worship the sacred tooth. King Guhaseeva was pleased with him, and let him marry his daughter. The prince was known as Dantha and the princess as Hemamala.

When they heard that King Ksheeradara had died in the war, his sons raised a large army to attack King Guhaseeva and destroy the relic. They entered the city, but King Guhasiva secretly sent Dantha and Hemamala out of the city, with the relic.

The relic in Sri Lanka

According to legend, Hemamali hid the relic in her hair ornament and the royal couple disguised themselves as Brahmins in order to avoid discovery. They set sail from Tamralipti, a port at the mouth of the river Ganges, and landed in Sri Lanka at the port of Lankapattana (now Ilankeiturei). [ [http://www.sridaladamaligawa.lk/english/tooth_relic_in1.html Preamble ] ]

It is said that Sri Lanka was chosen as the new home for the tooth relic because the Lord Buddha had declared that his religion would be safe in Sri Lanka for 2,500 years.Fact|date=November 2007

At the time of Dantha's and Hemamali's arrival on the island, King Kirti Sri Megavanna or Kithsirimevan ruled Sri Lanka. The King was overjoyed when he heard the news and warmly welcomed the royal couple and received the Sacred Tooth Relic with great veneration. He built a beautiful palace within the Royal Palace Complex itself and enshrined the Relic in it. Thereafter, he ordered that an annual "perahera" be held in honour of the Sacred Relic.

As time went on, as the land was threatened with foreign invasions, the seat of the kingdom was moved from Anuradhapura to Polonnaruwa, then to Dambadeniya and other cities. Upon each change of capital, a new palace was built to enshrine the Relic. Finally, it was brought to Kandy where it is at present, in the Sri Dalada Maligawa temple.

The Sacred Tooth Relic came to be regarded as a symbolic representation of the living Buddha and it is on this basis that there grew up a series of offerings, rituals, and ceremonies. These are conducted under the supervision of the two Mahanayake Theros of Malwatte, Asgiriya Chapters, and Diyawadana Nilame of the Maligawa. These have a hierarchy of officials and temple functionaries to perform the services and rituals.

Other tooth relics

Aside from this specific tooth relic, another relic of the tooth of the Buddha is currently in Ling Guang Temple in Mainland China, and Fo Guang Shan monastery in Taiwan. The Shari-Den shrine of Engakuji temple in Kamakura, Japan, is also reputed to contain a tooth of the Buddha.

References


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Buddha Tooth Relics —    When Gotama Buddha died and passed into nibbana, parts of his body, especially his teeth and bones, were regarded as holy relics, a belief similar to the veneration of Christian saints remains in Catholic countries. In the 16th century, the… …   Historical Dictionary of Burma (Myanmar)

  • Relic — A relic is an object or a personal item of religious significance, carefully preserved with an air of veneration as a tangible memorial. Relics are an important aspect of some forms of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, shamanism, and many other… …   Wikipedia

  • relic — reliclike, adj. /rel ik/, n. 1. a surviving memorial of something past. 2. an object having interest by reason of its age or its association with the past: a museum of historic relics. 3. a surviving trace of something: a custom that is a relic… …   Universalium

  • The Helix Bridge — Coordinates: 1°17′15.44″N 103°51′38.15″E / 1.2876222°N 103.8605972°E / 1.2876222; 103.8605972 …   Wikipedia

  • Temple of the Tooth — Temple of the sacred Tooth ශ්‍රී දළදා මාළිගාව Temple of the Tooth situated in world heritage site, Kandy Information Founded 1595 …   Wikipedia

  • Gautama Buddha — [ Gandhara Buddha. 1st–2nd century CE, Tokyo National Museum.] Siddhārtha Gautama (Sanskrit; Pali: Siddhattha Gotama) was a spiritual teacher from ancient India and the founder of Buddhism. [ [http://www.ancientindia.co.uk/buddha/home set.html… …   Wikipedia

  • Jagannath Temple (Puri) — The Jagannath Temple in Puri is a famous Hindu temple dedicated to Jagannath (Krishna) and located in the coastal town of Puri in the state of Orissa, India. The name Jagannath (Lord of the Universe) is a combination of the Sanskrit words Jagat… …   Wikipedia

  • Esala Perahera — Elephants at the Esala Perahera Esala Perahera (the festival of the tooth) is the grand festival of Esala held in Sri Lanka. It is very grand with elegant costumes. Happening in July or August in Kandy, it has become a unique symbol of Sri Lanka …   Wikipedia

  • Diyawadana Nilame — is the office of chief lay custodian of Temple of the Tooth, Kandy, Sri Lanka. Formerly an office of the Royal household, today it remains a prestigious position, enriched with over two thousand years of history to safeguard and carry out ancient …   Wikipedia

  • Ancient stupas of Sri Lanka — After Arahat Mahinda introduced Buddhism during the reign of King Devanampiya Tissa (307 267 BC), in the Sri Lanka’s ancient sacred capital, Anuradhapura, the king built the Maha Vihara, a temple and residence for the monks, after dedicating the… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”