Historical Background *
At the end of the nineteenth century in India, the collapse of a stupa that belonged to the clan of the Shakyas resulted in the discovery of authentic Relics of the historical Buddha that had been preserved for more than two millenia.
India and most of Asia were colonized at the time. Because Thailand was the only Buddhist country spared, G. N. Curzon, then Governor General of India and former Ambassador to the Kingdom of Siam, entrusted Thailand with the precious Relics.
King Rams the 5th placed the Relics in Wat Saket in the Stupa of the Golden Mountain, that stupa being one of the major temples in the capital city of Bangkok. This occurred in the Buddhist year 2442, or May 23, 1899, of the western calendar.
One hundred eleven years later, considering the political upheaval in Asia and the spread of Buddhism in the West and especially in Europe, the Thai Patriarchs, with the approval of the Buddhist communities in Asia, decided to present the Relics to the Western World and to entrust them to a European nation, their new land of asylum.
The Patriarchs selected France, land of the Rights of Man and more specifically Paris, a city that represents the dynamic nature of European Buddhism.
The Buddhist Union of France received word from the Thai authorities, who asked the Union to take delivery of and keep the Relics and to make plans to celebrate this historically significant event.
The Relics are a gift to the West from Somdej Phra Buddhacharn, Head of Thailand’s Patriarchal Committee of the Sangha.
Venerable Chao Khun Dhammasitthinayok, accompanied by a delegation of monks and Thai officials, will bring the Relics on the occasion of the 2552 Vesak (2009).
The Transfer of the Relics to Paris
Under the sponsorship of the Buddhist Union of France, an event is planned for May 15, 16 and 17 of 2009 to mark the solemn reception of the sacred Relics in the heart of Paris.
The highest Buddhist authorities of every tradition will participate in the ceremony of the presentation of the Relics. By being honored as the symbol of Buddhism, fundamentally unified, the Relics will pay homage to the very source of its various traditions.
This spirit of unity and cooperation is embodied in the heart of the Buddhist Union of France. The Union is a federation comprised of almost all the Buddhist schools in France, and is in fact the ideal organization for planning such a celebration.
The Relics will be enshrined in a stupa constructed following the model of the monuments found in the Golden Mountain’s Wat Saket monastery.
The stupa will be raised in an appropriate site open to the public, a site that is both respectable and respected, which will allow all to go there for meditation.
* Un grand merci aux traducteurs en anglais - Maria, José et Lydie