Via a Buddhist group at Harvard, I just saw an interesting article from Singapore in 2007, about the tooth relic located in a Singapore temple. For those who are unfamiliar, Buddhists (especially Theravādins) often venerate items said to have come from the Buddha’s body – his hair, nails, teeth. They are housed in stūpas, the tall, pointy and/or circular towers typically located in Buddhist temple grounds.
To a Western audience, at least, this phenomenon provokes an obvious question: did these relics actually come from the Buddha’s body? And in many cases – certainly the case of this Singapore temple – any serious empirical investigation can establish the answer as a pretty clear no. Continue reading