Archaeologists from the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage discovered an ancient elephant statue in a village on the banks of the Daya River, in the state of Odisha in eastern India. The artifact dates from 272-231 B.C. and dates back to a time when Buddhism was prevalent in the region. The statue remains intact from the time when this type of religion flourished on the shores of the Bay of Bengal.
The statue is about a meter tall and is in the same style as other similar Buddhist images found throughout the state of Odisha. The elephant is a very common motif in Buddhism, and its images can be found in many Buddhist temples. In ancient India, elephants were considered sacred royal animals; they symbolized wisdom, power, and abundance.
From about the 3rd century B.C. to the 2nd century A.D. the population of most of Hindustan, including Odisha, practiced Buddhism. But then the influence of this religion gradually began to fade, and it was replaced by Hinduism and Islam. Only 0.7% of India’s population now calls themselves Buddhists. In particular, the state of Odisha, located on the shore of the Bay of Bengal, is a well-known center of the Hindu religion.
The found artifact shows that Buddhism had a great influence on the culture and art of India in ancient times. This elephant statue is just one of many ancient Buddhist artifacts found in this region. In addition to the elephant statue, archaeologists have discovered the ruins of a Buddhist temple and many other ancient Buddhist artifacts.