Buddha’s Finger Relic in Famen 30th Anniversary
【人間社記者 Yang An An Summary報導】 2017-12-01
  • 圖說:The Anjali Mudra Sarira Pagoda. 圖/fjnet.com提供

  • 圖說:Scenic Area of Famen Temple. 圖/fjnet.com提供

  • 圖說:The Perfect Wisdom Gate of Famen Temple. 圖/fjnet.com提供

Famen Temple has a long history dating back to the early period with saying that its construction began in the era of Emperor Asoka of the Maurya Empire, an ancient Indian dynasty. After unifying India, Emperor Asoka became dedicated to the propagation of the Buddha Dharma. He distributed the Buddha’s relics to various places around the world and built eighty-four thousand stupas to store them, 19 of which were located in China. Stupas were built first, followed by the temples, in which Famen Temple was built fifth. Prior to the Northern Zhou dynasty, Famen Temple had been named Asoka Temple. Another theory suggests that Famen Temple was built under the reigns of Emperors Huan and Ling during the of Eastern Han dynasty.

During the wars of the late Sui dynasty, Famen Temple sheltered refugees, but was unfortunately caught on fire. It was later rebuilt through the combined efforts of monks. In the Wude Era, during the 7th year of his reign, Emperor Gaozu Li Yuan of the Tang dynasty gave imperial order to rebuild the temple and renamed it to “Famen Temple”.

On April 3rd, 1987, the underground chamber of Famen Temple that was built during the Tang dynasty reappeared once again after being buried for 1113 years. Also uncovered during the excavation were the Buddha’s finger bone relics along with more than 2499 pieces of antiques from the Tang dynasty. The vast variety, high quality, date and time period precision, and exquisite preservation of these antiques were unique in the Buddhist archaeology of the Tang and Sui dynasties. Zhao Puchu, who was the president of the Buddhist Association of China at the time, specifically wrote a long poem to commemorate this event. In the poem, he praised: “Emerged from the ground are many treasured niches, incomparable both in the traditional past and exalted present.”

In 1988, the Buddhist Association of China held an international homage viewing of the Buddha’s finger relics, hence Famen Temple was officially opened to the public and a new epoch began.

For 30 years, under the combined efforts and protection of the governments of the Province of Shaanxi, Baoji City and Fufeng County, and the local residents of the Town of Famen Temple has expanded its domain, renovated the temple pagoda, constructed the main shrine, the bell and drum tower, the depository of the Buddhist Scriptures, the Pilu Pavilion, the Hall of Jade Buddha, the Hall of Patriarch, the Buddhist College, all of which were constructed in Tang style architecture.

On January 16th, 2004, Famen Temple invited the vice-president and secretary of the Buddhist Association of China, Ven. Xuecheng, to be its abbot. In May 2009, a grand ceremony was held in the cultural scenic area of Famen Temple to celebrate both the completed construction of the Anjali Mudra Sarira Pagoda and the installation of Buddha’s relics within. It was the grandest ceremony for the installation of Buddha’s relics since the Tang dynasty.

This year is the 30th anniversary of the rediscovery of Buddha’s relics at Famen Temple, a commemorative homage viewing and a blessing ceremony was held for this special event. The conference that was held on November 22nd, 2017, served as a prelude to the celebration. Many scholars from around the world exchanged ideas on the ways to further develop Famen Temple, to internationalize Chinese Buddhism, and how Famen Temple could play an active role in China’s policy of implementing its “Land and Maritime Silk Road Initiative”.

In the evening, thousands of Buddhist devotees attended the Blessing and Light Passing Ceremony that was held at the Anjali Mudra Sarira Pagoda. The crowd was holding lotus candle lights in their hands and walked slowly in a procession from the shrine to the square dedicated for the light passing ceremony for thousands of people. They placed the lotus candle lights into the dedicated areas, then stood to transmit the merits. The blessing ceremony was both serene and solemn, with thousands of candle lights reflecting the light of Buddha’s wisdom, illuminating the Light of Heart of the world and propagating the wisdom of the Buddhist teachings.

(Translated by Annabelle Lui)