First Reply to Lianhe Zaobao and The Straits Times
on Saturday ,14 July 2007 at 11:00am,
Published on Monday ,16 July 2007 on Lianhe Zaobao and
advertised on Wednesday,18 July 2007 on The Straits Times ,
Lianhe Wanbao and Shin Min Daily News
This note is in response to the several articles published in Lianhe Zaobao regarding the sacred Buddha Tooth. The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum (BTRTM) would like to take this opportunity to apologise for the concerns and anxieties caused to many Buddhists; and express our deepest gratitude to the numerous local and overseas Sangha, Buddhist scholars, Buddhist devotees, members of public for their emails, correspondences and telephone calls to share their support, views, advice and encouragement for BTRTM.
Other than the much revered Buddha Tooths in Kandy and Beijing, there have been discoveries of several Buddha Tooth and Relics in other countries and other parts of China, which are also extensively documented and more importantly, deeply venerated by Buddhist devotees of these countries.
These sacred Buddha Tooths and Relics have comparable characteristics, like size and shape (albeit for the respective teeth type); the location, manner,companying reliquary objects and the context these were discovered; and corresponds to several historical reference records, like Ven. Xuan Zang's Records of the Western Regions.
The main source of information regarding the Buddha's last moments are recorded in the Maha Parinirvana Sutra. There are various translations in various languages of the several versions of Maha Paranirvana Sutra, with significant differences in content.
The suggestion of DNA testing, whilst simplistic is a practical challenge to conduct. DNA testing is invasive and requires a benchmark. It is definitely unlikely that any Buddhist Temple and its devotees will agree to subject any sacred Buddha Tooth or Relic to such a test.
The Buddha Tooth is only meaningful as a sacred object for veneration to those of the Buddhist faith. For all others, it is only a historical and cultural artifect, Furthermore, for those who are advancing along the Buddhist Path, the sacred Buddha Tooth and Relics have quite a different meaning and purpose. Whatever your views, the relevance of the Buddha Tooth resides with each individual Buddhist Triple Gems follower. The Buddha, Dharma and Sangho are our guides along the Noble Path and Mind.
The BTRTM was specially built to facilitate the veneration of the sacred Buddha Tooth. More importantly, it was also designed to showcase and inform visitors of the myriad aspects of the various Buddhist Traditions from the various countries. Hence, it is more Nana Temple per se. Our Mission is to promote and impart the Buddha's Dharma and our objective remains to be the best Buddhist complex in the region. Moreover, BTRTM shall also be a site of Buddhist education and discussions, supporting other voluntary welfare organizations regardless of race and religion, and offering welfare services to the sick, poor and needy.
We are fortunate and happy to be in South Bridge Road, a very important place in Singapore's history but also a place where we are located close to the historical Muslim Mosque, Hindu Temple and Christian Church. A very uniquely Singapore situation and a testimony to the special multi-racial, multi-religious harmony that exists here. We are honored to have received numerous visits by the various IRCCs and look forward to contributing to Singapore's religious harmony.
According to Chief Monk Ven Shi Fa Zhao, "Regarding the Buddha Tooth and Relic, each of as have different views on what is 'real', as it depends on each individual's understanding of Buddhism. While we fully me,ct the opinions of others, we should stand fine on our own faith towards the sacred Relics, both the Buddha's Relics,as well as relics of all eminent Sangha. These represented the Buddhist followers' spiritual' support and respect towards the Triple Gems. BTRTM is not the private property of any single person, but belongs to all Singaporeans collectively. It represents the spiritual wealth that belongs to all devotees. Every part of it invokes special sentiments in everyone's heart. As long as we remain bonded with BTRTM, in its historical Chinatown backdrop, leverage on culture and fulfill the furtherance of the Dharma, the splendour of Buddhism will shine hem creating a new Chinatown for our multi-racial and multi-religious cosmopolis — one that carries a distinctively modem outlook that is at the same time uniquely Singapore."
Once again, our special gratitude to the Guest of Honour President S R Nathan; the Chief Incumbent of Sri Hayagiri Aegiri (Sri Lanka's Temple of the Tooth, Kandy); the many eminent Sangho from Singapore, China, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Myanmar, Thailand, Nepal, Japan, etc; the Ambassadors of Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Cambodia, Brazil; the representatives from various government agencies, the representatives from many grassroots and religious organizations; and overseas guests that came to support the historic Official Opening of BTRTM and Vesak Festival Parade on 30th May 2007.
We hope to complete the interior works for the remaining areas in BTRTM by end 2007 and will be having a Grand Consecration Ceremony in Immary 2008. We would like to thank the many devotees, donors and supporters for your generous and unstinting support, without which the Temple would not have been possible. Thank You!
With Metta and the Triple Gems Blessing,
Ee Tiang Hwee
Deputy Executive Director
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum