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Buddhist Saints in Ancient Vedisa

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 October 2001


The Buddhist saints, that are the subject of this article, are known from a series of inscribed reliquaries collected by Alexander Cunningham and F. C. Maisey at Sanchi and neighbouring sites in central India. The inscriptions, dating to the circa early first century BC, have been known since readings of them were first published the mid-nineteenth century. The detailed re-examination of the records presented in this article shows that the reliquary inscriptions give special prominence to five Buddhist saints. The names given correspond to the five missionaries who, according to Pali sources, were sent to the Himalayan region at the time of the Third Council in the mid-third century BC. This indicates that (a) the Hemavata school was responsible for the re-vitalization of Sanchi in the post-Mauryan period and (b) that there was a well-established tradition about the nature of the Third Council in the first century BC.

Research Article
Copyright © The Royal Asiatic Society 2001

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