THE INSCRIBED RELIC CASKET
In the year 1898 a colonial zamindar of Birdpur William Claxton Peppe opened a large brick stupa situated in village Piprahwa near Indo- Nepal border. From the top of the mound, twenty four feet under the earth he encountered with a slab covered-a massive sandstone coffer measuring 4' 4" X 2' 8.25" X 2' 2.25". The massive coffer weighed 697 Kg. and the weight of the lid alone was 185 Kg. The coffer contained the objects including a steatite vase 7.5 inches high with a maximum diameter of 4.5 inches, a similar, but inscribed casket 6 inches high and 4.5 inches-in diameter, a lota-shaped steatite vase 5.5 inches high (with lid which found away from the vessel) having a diameter of 5.25 inches, a small round steatite casket 3.25 inches in diameter and only 2.25 inches high, a crystal vase, polished to the perfection, the maximum diameter being 4.25 inches and height 4.6 inches (with cover). The cover of the vase had a beautiful fish-shaped lid.
In addition to the above, there were wooden and silver vessels reduced to pieces. The vases were very rich in their contents, the number of which was several hundred. Apart from pieces of bone they contained gold leaves impressed with various symbols like svastikas, triratnas, triangle-headed standard etc., impressions of two female figures on gold leaf; gold and silver flowers and stars; a tiny amulet-like box; gold tri-ratnas; a gold disc impressed with profuse connected spirals; plain gold bars, rolls of gold leaves, numerous pearls with or without perforations; birds, tri-ratnas and flowers in semiprecious minerals, fragments of coral; beads of various shapes in gold, silver, and precious minerals and coral; cut semiprecious stones; pieces of mica and a spirally-rolled copper wire. There were some objects of shell as well.
This inscription is believed to have been written in the pre Mauryan Brahmi character on the lid of the smaller steatite vase which reads as follows:
Sukiti-bhatinam sa-bhaginikanam sa-puta-dalanam
iyam salila-nidhane Budhasa bhagavate sakiyanam.
This inscription has been variously translated by the scholars. The gist of inscription is that the kinsmen (or descendants) of Lord Buddha established this Relic Casket. According to Pali texts and different Buddhist traditions eight stupas had been constructed over the corporeal remains of Lord Buddha immediately after his great departure.