Bangkok (AsiaNews) – The Thai government, together with the Buddhist Council (better known as the Sangha Supreme Council), were able to bring from Norway to Thailand the ‘Dharma Chedi’, the oldest known Buddhist manuscript, which date back 2,500 years. The document was on display at the Buddhamondol Centre between 8 November 2010 and 5 February 2011, allowing the faithful to pay homage as well as further their knowledge of the Dharma.
In addition to paying homage to the Dharma Chedi, the exhibit also included Buddhist chants, food offerings to monks and other gifts to the Sangha (the community of minks), prayers for King Bhumibol as well sermons.
“The government took this initiative to celebrate the birthday of his Majesty, King Bhumibol Adulyadej,” said Thai Culture Minister Nipit Intarasombut, and such step “strengthened ties between Norway and Thailand.”
This ancient scripture belongs to the Schøyen Collection, named after Martin Schøyen, 71, its Norwegian owner, who is a palaeographer and a book collector. His collection contains more than 13,000 manuscript items.
For Professor Jens Braarvig of Oslo University of Oslo, most of the Buddhist manuscripts held at the institute come from the Bamiyan area in Afghanistan.
The Dharma Chedi shows the transition from the oral traditions of the Buddha to the transcription of his teachings.