W. C. Peppé collaborated with the renowned nineteenth century historian and indologist, Vincent Smith, on every aspect of the stupa’s excavation. Smith offered Peppé advice on the actual excavation, corresponded with him frequently and attempted the first translation of the inscription. The first detailed account of the excavation was co-authored by W.C. Peppé and V.A. Smith and published in The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society.
Click on the links below to read more.
Article XXIII.- The Piprahwa Stupa, Containing Relics of Buddha by W.C. Peppé and Vincent A. Smith. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society July 1898.
Vincent Smith served in the Indian Civil Service in a variety of magisterial and executive positions including terms as a district and sessions judge before eventually retiring as Commissioner of Faizabad in July 1900. After his retirement Smith wrote a number of books including biographies of the Buddhist Emperor, Ashoka, the Mughal Emperor, Akbar, and a history of fine arts in India and Ceylon. He also published two comprehensive volumes on Indian history, The Early History of India and The Oxford History of India. Smith was honoured with a CIE (Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire) and was also awarded a doctorate by Dublin University in 1919
In both his book 'The Buddha and Dr. Führer' and the National Geographic documentary 'Bones of the Buddha', historian Charles Allen, suggests that the proximity of notorious forger Dr. Antoine Führer has cast doubts on the legitimacy of the discovery at Piprahwa. He then proceeds to demonstrate, In both the book and the documentary, that any such doubts are baseless. In the following essay Charles Alllen pieces together the letters, made available to the public on this website, to recreate the sequence of events initiated by the discovery at Piprahwa. Dr. Führer is shown to have offered advice in his letters but is clear that his commitments make it impossible for him to visit the excavation.
Charles Allen is a British writer and historian who was born in India in 1940 to British parents. He has published over twenty books that focus largely on India and the Indian subcontinent in general. Allen's 'The Buddha and the Sahibs: the Men who Discovered India's Lost Religion' is the gripping story of a pioneering group of men who in the nineteenth century uncovered much of India's lost and forgotten past while The Buddha and Dr Fuhrer is the definitive description of the Piprahwa excavation itself. His book 'Ashoka: the Search for India's Lost Emperor' was published in 2012. His most recent work ‘The Prisoner of Kathmandu’ is a biography of Brian Hodgson, the ‘father of Himalayan studies’ and was published by Haus Books in 2015
In 1956 Humphrey Peppé - one of W.C. Peppé's three sons - was visited at Birdpur by Paripurnanand Verma. Verma had been visiting Lumbini, the Buddha's birthplace, and was among a group of pilgrims who stopped off at Birdpur to learn more about the discovery at Piprahwa over fifty years earlier. Humphrey taught the visitors about the background to the find and also informed Verma of Fleet's alternative translation of the inscription and his paper from 1906. Verma subsequently published the following article.
From May 31, 2019 - June 8th 2020 The Piprahwa Jewels remained at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York. ‘Charged With Buddha’s Blessings - Relics From An Ancient Stupa,’ tells the story of W.C.Peppé’s remarkable discovery at Piprahwa in 1898.