Religious buildings in the form of the Buddhist stupa, a dome shaped monument, started to be used in India as commemorative monuments associated with storing sacred relics of the Buddha.
The earliest archaeological evidence for the presence of Buddhist stupas dates to the late 4th century BCE. In India, Sanchi, Sarnath, Amaravati and Bharhut are among the oldest known stupas.
After the parinirvana of the Buddha, his remains were cremated and the ashes divided and buried .
Śarīra is a generic term referring to Buddhist relics, although in common usage it usually refers to pearl or crystal-like bead-shaped objects that are purportedly found among the cremated ashes of Buddhist spiritual masters.
Relics of the Buddha after cremation are termed dhātu in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta.
Śarīra are held to emanate or incite 'blessings' and 'grace' within the mindstream and experience of those connected to them.
Sarira are also believed to ward off evil .