New Delhi: The Gilgit Lotus Sutra manuscript an ancient scripture containing the teachings of Buddha and discovered by cattle grazers inside a Buddhist stupa in 1931 has now been released in a laminated facsimile edition.
The book, a joint initiative by the National Archives of India, the Institute of Oriental Philosophy and the NGO Soka Gakkai International was launched here last evening. The National Archives will make the copy available to universities and scholars on request.
The manuscripts, which date back to the 5th century were discovered inside a wooden box in a circular chamber within a Buddhist stupa and the cattle grazers who found it in three stages took it to the Wazir of Gilgit who in turn sent it to Srinagar to the Maharajah of Kashmir.
Subsequently British archaeologist Aurel Stien studied them and announced their discovery to the world.
"Much work on our cultural thought and norms has been done abroad and scholars have painstakingly worked at learning ancient scripts in order to understand the true meaning of what they have studied. It is fitting that we in India take care to preserve what we have, knowing that it is of relevance not just to us in India but the rest of the world as well," said Sangita Gairola, Culture Secretary after releasing a copy of the edition.
The manuscripts, said Lokesh Chandra, historian and Chairperson, International Centre for Indian Culture apply a value system to Asia for the last 1,600 years.
"It is the rarest of sutras that speaks about the gross national happiness, which is the happiness of each individual. Even Mahatma Gandhi`s favourite hymn had mantras from the Lotus Sutra," said Chandra.