The bowl in presently lying at a Kabul museum

The Archaeological Survey of India plans to approach the Union Culture Ministry to depute a team of ASI experts to travel to Afghanistan to study the authenticity of a rare bowl believed to belong to Gautam Buddha and bring it back to India. The Ministry of External Affairs would, however, take the final call after assessing security concerns.

The bowl, earlier preserved in a monastery at Vaishali in Bihar, is of considerable significance to India as it would shed light into Buddha’s life as a monk. Talking to The Hindu, ASI Additional Director-General R. S. Mani on Sunday said: “We will be recommending to the Union Culture Ministry to allow ASI experts to travel to Kabul to study this bowl. Once the Union Government gives its consent, we will decide who the experts would be and work out other details. As far as negotiating with the Afghanistan Government over bringing the bowl back to India is concerned, it depends on how the Indian Government wants the whole process to go ahead.”

Giving an example to drive home his point, Dr. Mani said: “In the past also, there have been instances where we have sent experts to study relics of our heritage abroad and these have been brought back home. A case in point is an image of Buddha belonging to Bodh Gaya, which was kept in a museum in the United States.”

Deputy Chief of Afghanistan Mission in Delhi Ashraf Haidari told The Hindu that the present Hamid Karzai Government has always welcomed collaborations with India on culture and other fields. “The Afghanistan Government has initiated work on the reconstruction of statues like the ones destroyed by the Taliban regime in March 2001. We have invited experts from Japan, China as well as those from United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisations. These individuals have worked on restoration work. As far as India is concerned, we are interested to host a technical delegation from your country which can look at this artefact to study its originality.”

Mr. Haidari said that Buddha’s bowl was lying at the Kabul Museum.

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