Festivals, Dances, Theatre, Literature, Art in News

Ancient Votive Stupas found near Nalanda


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Stupa Art

Mains level: Not Much


The Archeological Survey of India (ASI) has discovered two 1200-year-old miniature votive stupas during landscaping activities near Sarai Tila mound on the premises of ‘Nalanda Mahavihara’, a world heritage site in Nalanda district.

What has ASI found?

  • The stupas, carved from stone, depict Buddha figures.
  • These two votive stupas (offered in fulfillment of a vow) were discovered by the ASI officials during landscaping near Sarai Tila mound within the premises of ‘Nalanda Mahavihara on January 4.
  • These, carved from stone depicting Buddha figures, must be around 1200 year old.

What are Stupas?

  • The Sanskrit word stupa signifies “heap, mound, and pile” and is derived from the root ‘stup’ “to pile up.”
  • The ashes of Buddha collected were divided into eight parts and stupa was erected on them.
  • The legend of relic sharing has been imagined latter on, after the establishment of relic worship and stupa.
  • This belief was raised only when the Buddha was considered as a God, a Chakravartin.

Types of Stupa

  • Buddha himself distinguished three kinds of stupa (Chaitya): (i) Sariraka, (ii) Paribhogika and (iii) Uddesika (according to Mahaparinibbanasutta).
  • Beside all these, there are also the sculpted, engraved painted stupas intended to procure merit for the donors.
  • Mostly stupa is containing a relic, that the stupa must have been considered from ancient times as a substitute of the Buddha.
  • In Buddhist history, the Buddha was considered to be a Chakravartin, a universal monarch.

How votive stupas were erected?

  • As his ashes were no longer available, they were replaced by his written law –i.e. factitious body of the Buddha (Niramanakaya), the relic stupas contain the spiritual relics (Dharama Sarira) and the body of law (Dharamakaya) of these represented as Buddha.
  • These stupas erected over relics are called Sariraka Stupas.
  • Other stupas called Paribhogika were erected over objects used by the Buddha, such as his bowl, girdle, clothes etc.
  • Others called Uddesika(votive) were raised over places which were made famous by the presence of Buddha (Buddha’s presence). These are commemorative stupas.


Crack Prelims 2023! Talk to our Rankers

(Click) FREE 1-to-1 on-call Mentorship by IAS-IPS officers | Discuss doubts, strategy, sources, and more

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


Join us across Social Media platforms.

💥Mentorship New Batch Launch
💥Mentorship New Batch Launch