No matter how many different ways I search, I seem to get this exact/ALMOST exact phrase:"These relics include the staff of Kakusandha, the water filter of Koṇāgamana, a piece of the robe of Kassapa, and eight strands of hair from the ..." But I cannot find an explanation for it. This supposedly belonged to the "grandfather" Buddha to Gautama, aka Koṇāgamana (all according to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_the_named_Buddhas), and Siddhartha supposedly lived in the 6th century BCE. If there are 1,000 Buddhas per kalpa and 4.32 billion years in a kalpa, that means they average 4.32 million years between appearances. So, what could this "water filter" possibly consist of? Thank you for your input.

To be specific, I am interested in the history and historicity of this artifact. For example, when was it first mentioned? From where did it originate? How did it come to Shewdagon Pagoda? Etc...

3 Answers 3


It is believed there are relicts from the previous Buddhas' in the Shwedagon Pagoda. This is possible that such artifacts survived since it is within the world cycle Maha Kalpa.

All monks should carry a water filter to filter out insets from the water. I would believe this will not be any different. It will be a basic piece of cloth.

  • Would it be allowable for monks to use a modern filtering devices, than just a piece of cloth? Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 19:49
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    It is part of the 8 requisites. This filtering is not intended to really filter, in the same custom with the Jains when there was accusation that monks could halm life by not removing small creatures in the water. Modern filters are fine also perhaps this being done as a form of symbolism. Commented Apr 5, 2016 at 3:08
  • Thanks Suminda. Can monks boil the filtered (or rather strained) water before consumption, as there can be many microbial parasites? (Filtered sounds like a purification process, for all a piece of cloth can do is strain the water.) Commented Apr 5, 2016 at 10:23
  • Yes this is a straining small insects. This is more symbolism in most cases but since it is in the Vinaya I think it should be done as a custom. We still have Jains and people holding similar view. So this will keep the happy and not be contempt of Buddhist Monks as you might drink a small creature and kill it due to negligence. Commented Apr 5, 2016 at 10:29

There's no "Grandfather" Buddha. The Buddhas are not related. Prince Siddhartha's grandfathers were king Sinhahanu(father's side) and king Anjana(mother's side).

Corporeal relics of each Buddha disintegrate as the respective Buddha Sasanas end. But it is possible for other relics to survive longer. Like the staff of the Buddha Kakusandha and the water filter of the Buddha Koṇāgamana in the Shwedagon Pagoda.

4.32 billion years is a Hindu count. An exact number isn't given in Buddhism. Only analogies provided.

There are no 1000 Buddhas per Kalpa. The maximum you get is 5. It is called the Maha Badra Kalpa.

The water filter is a piece of cloth, just like mentioned in the other answers.

  • The reason "grandfather" was in quotes was because I was not talking about his blood grandfather, i.e. the father of his father. I was talking about the Buddha (Koṇāgamana= "grandfather" Buddha) who preceded the Buddha (Kassapa="father" Buddha) who preceded Gautama. I was not being literal. Also, according to here (buddhistdoor.com/OldWeb/bdoor/archive/nutshell/teach36.htm) "Each Kalpa has 1,000 Buddhas." Commented Apr 5, 2016 at 2:47
  • Either way, you really missed the point here. I don't think this should be answer, it should be a comment. You commented on every aspect of the question without answering the actual question. Commented Apr 5, 2016 at 2:48
  • In that case G.W. Bush can be called as Obama's grandfather just because he was the previous president. :) Not sure if that is appropriate, even if you don't mean it literally. The link you have given is quoting Hindu/Mahayana sources. Commented Apr 5, 2016 at 3:10

You probably get the exact phrase because the phrase originates from one source, i.e. information about the Shwedagon Pagoda. Also if I google the phrase, google tries to return sites which include the exact phrase.

The timing between the arising of Buddhas is not uniform, and I haven't come across suttas which mention exact numbers like 1000 Buddha's per kalpa.

I am not aware of the existence of physical archaeological evidence of the 3 Buddhas before Gautma. That would be an interesting discovery in many ways, including the theories of human evolution. However, that wouldn't affect my practice.

The hair strands of the Gautma Buddha seem plausible, and the wiki site about the Pagoda says that they were the hair given by Gautma Buddha to Thapassu and Bhalluka. As the artifacts of the other Buddha's, I am skeptical.

Water filter's during Gautma Buddha's time were simple pieces of cloth, to strain out insects out of compassion, and during a life time of a Buddha/Bhikkhu he could have used many.

  • The likelihood of former Buddhas existing, especially when you're talking about the time scales Buddhism uses, is pretty much zero; thus, the same is true for their relics. I just wanted to know about the historiocity of this artifact. I'm going to edit the question. Commented Apr 5, 2016 at 10:58

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