Relics of the Buddha

The excellent gems of Buddhism
are the three gems
And one of them is our Lord Buddha
All things are created for his remembrance
Only Buddha’s relics
are the most important
Coming from his body for mankind

รัตนะที่ประเสริฐสุดในพระพุทธศาสนา คือพระรัตนตรัย
หนึ่งในนั้น คือองค์สมเด็จพระสัมมาสัมพุทธเจ้า

The meaning of the words about the Buddha’s relics

พระบรมสารีริกธาตุ พระธาตุสาวกสมัยพุทธกาล พระธาตุสาวกหลังกึ่งพุทธกาล

“Phra Parama Sareerikathad” (Sarīrika Dhātu) in Thai means the tiny part of the relics which originated especially from the Lord Buddha. It is not called for the relics of Buddhist disciples.

“Phra Thad” (Dhātu) in Thai means the bone or any part of the body such as hair, nail, teeth, skin, blood, etc. which are different to the bone of ordinary people. The relics shall be similar to the element as pebble, stone, glass, diamond, etc. it is not called for the bone or any part of body that look like normal.

Normally, the word “Phra Parama Sareerikathad” is the same meaning of “Buddha’s relics”. The word “Phra Thad” is the same meaning of “the Relics“. Even though the word “Relics“ does not limit the physical appearance which is totally different to the normal bone. It is not exactly the same usage as in Thai.

Relic (noun):

1. an object of interest surviving from an earlier time.
2. a surviving but outdated object, custom, or belief.
3. a part of a holy person’s body or belongings kept and revered after their death.

the Compact Oxford English Dictionary –


The kind of the Buddha’s relics

……….The Buddha’s relics are found to be different to the bone of the ordinary people. However, we have found some kind of the Buddha’s relics which looked the same as those of ordinary people from the Buddhist sanctuaries or museums in Thailand, Sri Lanka, India and anywhere else in the world. They can be separated into 2 main groups:

The Buddha’s relics which looked like Dhātu………. These kind are found mainly in Thailand, Sri Lanka, China, Myanmar, etc. They are as described in the Tipitaka. In Thailand, they are in Buddhist sanctuaries of temples.

The Buddha’s relics which looked like bone

………. These kind are found only in the ancient places in India. The British Government presented them twice to Thailand in the period of King Rama V, he was pleased to allocate them in the Golden Mount of Wat Sraket in Bangkok and the Chedi Sri Mahathat of Wat Phra Sri Mahathat, Bangkhen.
* picture shown the Buddha’s relics presented at National Museum of India


The properties of the Buddha’s relics

……….The properties of the Buddha’s relics and the relics which are found generally in the present and accepted by all Buddhists and Buddhist priests, can be described as follows:

  • They are in various colours such as crystal clear or unclear, white colour as the conch shell, gold, black, pink, red, etc.
  • They are in various shapes such as rice grain shape, cabbage seed shape, broken bean shape, etc.
  • The tiny size can be floated. Whenever floated, they can attract and float together.
  • They can increase or decrease. This happens only specially with the relics.
  • The colour and the size can be changed.
  • Most of them are light compared to size.
  • ………………………………//>>

    The type of the Buddha’s relics

    As the explanation in Dīghanikāya Aṭṭhakathā (Sumaṅgalavilāsinī), the author separated the Buddha’s relics into 2 main groups:

    1. Navippakiṇṇā-dhātu are the Buddha’s relics which remained in shape without breaking into tiny parts. They are 7 pieces: 1 frontal bone, 4 teeth and 2 collarbones.

    2. Vippakiṇṇā-dhātu are the Buddha’s relics which did not remain in shape but broke into tiny parts. They are dissipated in various places.

    The ancient author separated the Vippakiṇṇā-dhātu by considering the appearance into 3 groups:

    1.The colour of the jasmine bud
    [In pali called Sumanamakulasadisā]
    They can be estimated about 6 Doṇa*
    2.The colour of Mutta (burnished moonstone)
    [In pali called Dhotamuttasadisā]
    They can be estimated about 5 Doṇa*
    3.The colour of the golden powder
    [In pali called Suvaṇṇacuṇṇā]
    They can be estimated about 5 Doṇa*
    *Doṇa is the name of an ancient measurement. 1 Doṇa is about 1 litre
    The  consider  by  size,  they  can  be  separated  into  3  groups
    1. Small size as about cabbage seed
    [In pali called Sabbakhuddakā Dhātu Sāsapavījamattā]

    *some textbook said this size is in jasmine bud colour

    2. Medium size as about seed milled rice broken into two parts
    [In pali called Mahādhātu Majjhe bhinnatadฺulamattā]

    *some textbook said this size is in Mutta colour

    3. Big size as about green bean broken into two parts
    [In pali called Atimahatī Majjhe Bhinnamuggāmattā]

    *some textbook said this size is in golden powder colour

    * Phrachaolieplok Scripture.
    Some knowledge of Buddha’s relics colour



    As the explanation in Sumaṅgalavilāsinī, the jasmine bud colour and golden powder colour can be easily found and compared but for the Mutta colour it is quite confused.

    Mookda in Thai comes from the word Muttā in pali, in Thai dictionary it is said mookda can be pearl or can mean the name of one precious stone which is smoky colour. Hence, somebody identifies it as moonstone. If we consider it as pearl, we hardly find them.

    However if we consider it as “the moonstone which has already burnished” it can be possible that mookda may not be pearl but may be the Buddha’s relics which are in white tone and pearl tone as the pearls. The same thing in the golden powder color, any yellowish can be in this group.

    The floating relics


    The ancient teacher said the Buddha’s relics and relics which are not too big can be floated. When floating on the surface of water there appears a depression to support them. Moreover a radius can appear around the Buddha relics.

    Whenever floated, the Buddha’ s relics can attract and float together even if they are far from each other. For this reason, there is the story talking about anybody who pays the regular high respect to the Buddha’ s relics, they can attract pieces to be in one place together.

    There is the prohibition from the teacher not to test the Buddha’s relics by floating as it means to look down on our Lord Buddha.

    *refer to the article of Khunying Sureephan Maneewat about herself to apologize to the Lord Buddha after her intention to test by floating them.

    Note : About the year 2003, an elder friend visited our website and told about her case when she took the Buddha’s relics to bath. She put them into the prepared water , they sank directly into the bottom of the container. Her friends who investigated around asked for the floating as being told before. Then, she made a wish and suddenly the Buddha’s relics floated up on the surface of water.

    The history of the arising of Buddha’s relics

    The cause of arising of the Buddha’s relics was from the desire of our Lord Buddha before his Parinibbāna (the Great Decease of the Buddha).

    Normally, the Buddha who lived a long life to settle the Buddhist Legend, had his own relics in a piece of natural golden bar, which could not be shared among the people in their Buddha period and could not be placed anywhere. Hence the construction of the Buddhist sanctuary was required to be done in one place only. Our present Lord Buddha (Sakyamuni Buddha) considered that his teaching period was only 45 years which he thought not too much compared with the previous Buddhas. He also thought that his instructions were not expanded enough and taught to those who were not yet born on time in his legend. Anyone who received his relics for respecting would get a lot of Puñña (the accumulation of good blessing, fortune or well-being) so he wished that his relics be scattered to all directions except 7 pieces (1 frontal bone, 4 teeth and 2 collarbones).

    All of the above mentioned information was presented identically such as in the Sumaṅgalavilāsinī, Paṭhama Sambodhi Kathā by the Supreme Patriarch Kromphra Paramānujitajinorasa, Mulasāsanā Scripture, Jinakalamalipakaranam by Ven. Ratanapañña Thera and Phrachaolieplok Scripture.

    The places where they are installed

    The dissipation of Buddha’s relics after having been separated in to 8 parts were moved to different places. After the Buddha’s cremation, the history said that Ven. Maha Kassapa and King Ajatasatru joined to do a wish to invite the separated Buddha’s relics back to install in the same place to protect from loss due to the war. At the end of the history it is said that the person who invited the Buddha’s relics and disseminated them was King Asoka.

    According to the prayer books for worship the places where those 7 exceptional pieces of Buddha’s relics (non-scattered) are installed is as follows:

    1. His upper right canine tooth to be installed in Culamani Shrine in Tāvatiṃsā (the second heavenly abode).
    2. His upper left canine tooth to be installed in Gandhāra Kingdom
    3. His lower right canine tooth to be installed in Sri Lanka
    4. His lower left canine tooth to be installed in the Naga world
    5. His right collarbone to be installed in Culamani Shrine in Tāvatiṃsā
    6. His left collarbone to be installed in Dusasa Shrine in Brahmaloka (the Brahma world)
    7. His frontal bone to be installed in Dusasa Shrine in Brahmaloka


    Credit :

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