The home-coming of the relics of the Sariputta and Mogallana, the two principal disciples of the Buddha was another historic event in the regeneration of Buddhism in India.
The caskets ontaining the bone-relics of the two Arahants were discovered at Satadhara, a village near Sanchi by the Europoean archaeologists, who carried them to London. They were preserved in the Victoria and Albert Musuem there for about ninety years.
As a result of the continuous persuasion of the Secretary of the Maha Bodhi Society of India, Devapriya Valisinha since 1938, the Government of India ultimately oressed his claim to bring back the relics fir enshrinement in India.
On the 12th January, 1949 the Sacred Relics were brought from Colombo to Calcutta by IMS Tir. The Governor of West Bengal, Dr. K.N Katju, the Chief Minister, Dr. B.C Roy, the General Secretary and memebers of the Maha Bodhi Society and other distinguished persons were present at the wharf to welcome the arrival of the relics. The relics were then taken in a colorful procession to the Govt. House where they were kept in the Throne room for the night.
On the 13th January at a large and colorful gathering held at the Calcutta Maidan and attended by dustinguished dignitaries and delegates, Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru ceremoniously handed over the relics to Dr. Shyama Prasad Mookherjee, President of the Maha Bodhi Society of India. Representatives from the Bhutan, Ceylon, Thailand and Cambodia attended this ceremony. The Prime Minister in his address said,
"Many of you have come from countries round about India and even further away. It is also the home-coming of many people from far off lands. In the old days, when the message of the Buddha went out of our land, pilgrims from this land went to other countries. This bind kept us together."
The Chief Minister, Dr. B.C. Roy reiterated how "Buddha's teaching inspired Gandhiji, who preached and practice the eternal principles of non-violence and truth."
The Governor, Dr. K. N. Katju said, "It is not mere co-incidence that with the growth of our naional consciousness has come to us in large measure consciousness also of the excellence of the doctrine practiced in India 2,500 years ago and along with that Consciousness we have also discovered, as if by miracle, many of our holy treasures."
A running commentary on this ceremony was broadcast direct from all stations of All India Radio (AIR). The reputed news reader and commentator Melville DeMello gave the running commentary. It may be mentioned in this connection that i had an opportunity of witnessing this rare occasion, having been assingnedby AIR as an Officer-in-charge to look after and co-ordinate this special outside broadcast.
Finally, the sacred relics of Sariputta and Mogallana were enshrined in the especially built Vihara of the Maha Bodhi Society in Sanchi.