The Account of the Depositing of the Relics

  1. When the topes had been founded thus, the Elder Kassapa the Great saw danger to the relics. He approached Ajatasattu, and said: ‘Your majesty, the relics ought to be deposited in one place.” ‘Very well, Venerable Sir! let the act of depositing be mine then, but how can I have the relics gathered?’ ‘Your majesty, to gather the relics is not your task, it is our task. ‘Very well, Venerable sir! please gather the relics; I will deposit them.’ The Elder, leaving only those that were attended to by the different royal families, gathered the remaining relics. But the relics in Ràmagàma were taken away by the Nagas. He thought: ‘There is no danger to them, for in future a resident (monk) of the Great Monastery in the island of Lanka will gather them at the Great Shrine. So he did not gather them. When he had gathered the rest from the seven cities, and set them in the south-eastern quarter of Rajagaha, he resolved: ‘Whatever rock there is at this place, let it vanish; let the dust be well cleansed, and let not water come up.’ The king had that place dug up, and bricks ready with the dust drawn out of it, and had eighty topes for the great disciples built. And to those who enquired: ‘What has the king built here?’ They said: ‘Shrines for the great disciples.’ No one knew that the relics were being deposited. When that place was dug eighty cubits deep, he had an iron floor spread below, and there in the toped monastery, he had a room of bronze built as big as a shrine, and he also had caskets of yellow sandal and the like made, as well as topes, eight each.
  2. Then he put the relics of the Blessed One into a casket of yellow sandal, and that casket of yellow sandal into another casket of yellow sandal and that also into another. Thus he put together eight caskets of yellow sandal. In this way, he placed the eight caskets in eight topes of yellow sandal, the eight topes of yellow sandal in eight caskets of red sandal, the eight caskets of red sandal into eight topes of deep red sandal, the eight topes of deep red sandal into eight caskets of ivory, the eight caskets of ivory into eight topes of ivory, the eight topes of ivory into eight caskets of all-jewels, the eight caskets of all-jewels into eight topes of all-jewels, the eight topes of all-jewels into eight caskets of gold, the eight caskets of gold into eight topes of gold, the eight topes of gold into eight caskets of silver, the eight caskets of silver into eight topes of silver, the eight topes of silver into eight caskets of gems, the eight caskets of gems into eight topes of gems, the eight topes of gems into eight caskets of rubies, the eight caskets of rubies into eight topes of rubies, the eight topes of rubies into eight caskets of cat’s eyes,! the eight caskets of cat’s eyes into eight topes of cat’s eyes, the eight topes of cat’s eyes into eight caskets of crystal, the eight caskets of crystal into eight topes of crystal. The topmost shrine of crystal was as big as the shrine of the toped monastery. Above it, he had a room built of all varieties of jewels. And over that he had (another) room built of gold, and over that one of silver and over that one of bronze. There he sprinkled quartzes of all varieties of jewels, and strewed thousands of flowers, born in water and land. The five hundred and fifty Birth-stories, the eighty great Elders, the queen Mahāmāyā of king Suddhodana, and the individuals born at the same time, all these he had constructed even of gold. He had vessels full of gold and silver arranged, five hundred each, and also five hundred golden banners. He had five hundred golden lamps made and filled with scented oil and provided with fine jute wicks. Then the Venerable Kassapa the Great resolved : “Let the garlands be not withered, the perfumes not destroyed, and the lamps not extinguished’, and on a golden plate he had letters incised (as follows): ‘In the future, a prince named Piyadasa, unfolding the royal canopy, will become a rightous king, Asoka by name, He will make these relics widespread.’

The king honoured them with all kinds of ornaments, and as he closed the doors, beginning with the first, he came out. Shutting the bronze door, he tied a seal ring and a key to the pulling-rope. There he placed a great mass of gems, and had letters incised (as follows): ‘Let needy kings in future honour the relics with this gem.’ Sakka, the king of devas, sent Vissakamma, addressing him thus: ‘Dear! the relics have been deposited by Ajātasattu; please keep guard there” He came there, and when he had fixed a contrivance for killing wild beasts, and had taken up with his sword of crystal colour the wooden figures in that relic-chamber, and as swiftly as the wind, having set in order the edge of the space for circling round, he had it fastened with only one bolt, and made a stone-enclosure all round in the manner of a house of bricks. And when he had covered it with a similar one above and had removed the dust and levelled the ground, he erected a stone tope upon it.