Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly
Feature, Original Broadcast Date: November 14, 2003 (Show #711):
An usual world exhibition is offering a rare look at the physical remains said to be of Shakyamuni Buddha and other great Buddhist teachers. The Heart Shrine Relics, so named because they will be placed permanently in the heart area of a 500-foot statue to be constructed in Kushinagar, a town in northern India where Buddha died, include fossilized blood, bone fragments and ringsel - tiny pearl-like beads said to be formed when a spiritually pure master is cremated. Most of the 1,000 relics, which were donated by museums, monasteries and individuals - with a few salvaged from statues destroyed when China invaded Tibet half a century ago - are kept in small gold urns with glass tops and displayed in glass cases. Victoria Ewart, global manager of the Heart Shrine Relic Tour, describes the spiritual significance of the relics, which will remain on tour through 2008. "The relics are produced because the master has spiritual realizations," Ewart explains "So, when the body is cremated, then these ringsel - relics - are found among the ashes. And they're deliberately left there because the master wishes to leave an object of veneration."
Victoria Ewart, Global Manager, Heart Shrine Relic Tour