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SOAS, University of London: Andrew Huxley: T W Rhys Davids and the Forged Relics of the Buddha


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Professor T.W. Rhys Davids (1843-1922) made himself into an expert on Pali Buddhism. He founded the Pali Text Society, the Buddhist Society, and initiated the campaign for a School of Oriental and African Studies. I concentrate on 1887 to 1906, the years in which he was employed as Secretary of the Royal Asiatic Society, and especially on 1904-06, when the RAS split between pro- and anti-Davids factions. I show that he was ousted because of his role in promoting the Piprahwa discoveries of 1898 – a reliquary deposit that supposedly contained the oldest inscription found in India, authenticating the relics found with it as dating from a month after the Buddha’s cremation.

 

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