Foreign ministry verifying origin of 'Buddha hair sarira'

By Viet Tuan   January 6, 2024 | 03:15 am PT
Foreign ministry verifying origin of 'Buddha hair sarira'
Thich Truc Thai Minh (L), abbot of Ba Vang Pagoda in Quang Ninh Province, holds in his hand the object the pagoda claimed as the "Buddha hair sarira," December 2023. Photo courtesy of the Ba Vang Pagoda
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has sent documents to the Vietnamese Embassy in Myanmar to verify the origin of the object claimed as "Buddha hair sarira" displayed at a Vietnam pagoda.

A representative of the Department of Southeast Asian-South Asian-South Pacific Affairs under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday said the Embassy in Myanmar would verify the origin of the object, which was supposedly given by the Parami Monastery and the Parami International Buddhist Sarari Museum to the Ba Vang Pagoda in Quang Ninh Province in northern Vietnam in December last year.

The Ba Vang Pagoda reported that during a visit to Buddhist relic sites in Myanmar in December 2023, Buddhists from the pagoda observed the "Buddhist hair sarira" at the Parami Monastery and the Parami International Buddhist Sarari Museum.

Monks at the Ba Vang Pagoda then invited U Wepulla, the head monk of the Parami monastery, along with other monks from Myanmar, to attend a Buddhist ceremony and bring the "Buddhist hair sarira" to Vietnam.

The object was reportedly brought to the pagoda on Dec. 22, before being returned to Myanmar on Dec. 27.

"This is one of eight strands of hair that the Buddha plucked from his head, which were given to two merchants from Myanmar over 2,600 years ago," the Ba Vang website read.

Following the incident, the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha requested Thich Truc Thai Minh, the abbot of Ba Vang, to give a report on the origin of the object.

The pagoda said the so-called sarira is a sacred religious symbol, and worshipping it is a "ceremony and religious belief of Buddhism."

"The forgery and sale of fake Buddha’s sarira in Vietnam need to be condemned and dealt with in accordance with the law. Reports about Ba Vang Pagoda purchasing Pili to make fake sarira and trick the people are false," a report by the pagoda read.

In a Thursday meeting, Vu Chien Thang, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, requested authorities to deal with violations by the Ba Vang Pagoda and Thich Truc Thai Minh, in accordance with the law and the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha’s Charter. Thang requested the Sangha to correct activities at Ba Vang, as well as those of Thich Truc Thai Minh, not allowing them to affect social stability and the Sangha’s reputation.

Vu Hoai Bac, head of the religion committee of the government, said the fact that Ba Vang Pagoda allowed people to worship the so-called sarira, and the fact that Thich Truc Thai Minh left Vietnam multiple times in 2023, had violated regulations regarding religious activities with foreign factors in Vietnam.

Nguyen Thi Hanh, vice chairman of the Quang Ninh People’s Committee, said the exhibition of the "Buddha hair sarira" attracted around 50,000 people, but the pagoda reported that only 20,000-25,000 people came.

Thich Dao Hien, deputy head of the management board of the Quang Tri Buddhist Sangha, said he hoped the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha would make adjustments so that the Ba Vang Pagoda would "enter the right orbit."

Thich Truc Thai Minh on Thursday has repented for the exhibition of the "Buddhist hair sarira." Ba Vang Pagoda has been banned from organizing international activities for one year.

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