I must have missed this presentation of PBS’s Secrets of the Dead when it aired earlier this year, but see now all their episodes are available to watch on their website. Wow, I did not realize what they found when they dug up the Piprahwa Stupa back in the late 1800s and then in the 1970s until I watched Bones of the Buddha last night. It seems an amateur archeologist dug up this stupa in 1898 and found a stone box that contained several jars filled with bones and jewels and gold lotus pieces, and on the one jar it was identified as Relics of the Buddha. Supposedly when he died and was cremated his ashes went to 8 locations in northern India, and then over the centuries were divided even more to many sacred temples in central and SE Asia. Back then Buddhism was becoming popular in the West and so there were many fakes and hoaxes perpetrated, and it has always been questioned whether the Piprahwa relics were real or not. In this video host Charles Allen puts the question before a Professor Harry Falk who confirms that the inscriptions on the main reliquary were from a language about 150 years after Buddha died, and that the one person who may have faked them did Not have the knowledge of ancient Sanskrit to write them. It seems the relics may have been buried in a simple stupa and then 150 years later King Asoka (a ruthless warrior King who converted to Buddhism and raised the pillars of Asoka with new fair laws of the land carved into them) reburied them into a bigger and better stupa on top of the original, as he did all around other relic sites in India. Then in the late 1970s they dug deeper and found the original casket he took the relics from. It is am amazing story.
Reliquaries found in the stupa cask Source
I have written earlier in a post called Blessings of the Relics of Sariputta ( or Sariputra) what a powerful blessing it was to be in the presence of these relics which were dug up in the mid-1800s and distributed around the world also.
Sariputra relics in Thailand
I am going to embed a short clip from the documentary here:
And below is the URL for the PBS video (which i cannot embed) which i am not sure is viewable from outside of the US or not, but i hope so. Its about 50 minutes long and i think by the end you may be convinced as i am that they are some of the bones of the Buddha Siddhartha Gautama. Amazing story!.