Arrival of fasting Buddha image kept secret for safety

The arrival of the rare fasting Buddha statue from Pakistan last Thursday was kept top secret, given its immense value and while in Sri Lanka its security has been entrusted to the Sri Lankan government, Pakistan Embassy officials said.

In a rare gesture acceding to a request by President Mahinda Rajapaksa during last month’s visit to Pakistan, the statue was brought to Sri Lanka for public display as part of the Buddha Jayanthi celebrations this month. The only other time the statue had been moved out of Pakistan was to Japan, that too after protracted negotiations as well as planning for nearly a year on how the statue would be exhibited, Embassy official added. The statue had also been insured for millions of dollars before it was sent to Japan.

The statue was handed over to Kelaniya Rajamaha Viharaya Chief Incumbent Ven. Kollupitiye Sangharakkitha Thera on Friday by Pakistan High Commissioner Bashir Wali Mohamed, to be exhibited to the public on two days. Police ensured special security arrangements for the safety of the statue till Thursday when it would return to the National Museum in Lahore where it is permanently housed.

This 2nd Century AD statue portrays an image of the Buddha when he practised extreme self-denial in his search for the truth but abandoned it six years later when he embraced the “middle path’ as the only way of ending human suffering.

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