Lumbini, Nepal – the Birth Place of the Buddha
Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on November 11, 2011
Lumbinī (Sanskrit: लुम्बिनी, “the lovely”) is a Buddhist pilgrimage site in the Rupandehi district of Nepal. It is the place where Queen Mayadevi gave birth to Siddhartha Gautama, who as the Buddha Gautama founded the Buddhist tradition. The Buddha lived between roughly 563 and 483 BCE. Lumbini is one of four magnets for pilgrimage that sprang up in places pivotal to the life of the Buddha.
Lumbini is in Nepal. It is geographically located 25 km east of the municipality of Kapilavastu, Nepal; where the Buddha lived till the age of 29. Lumbini has a number of temples, including the Mayadevi temple, and others under construction. Also here is the Puskarini or Holy Pond – where the Buddha’s mother took the ritual dip prior to his birth and where he, too, had his first bath – as well as the remains of Kapilvastu palace. At other sites near Lumbini, earlier Buddhas were, according to tradition, born, achieved ultimate awakening and finally relinquished earthly form.
In Buddha’s time
In the Buddha’s time, Lumbini was situated between Kapilavastu and Devadaha. It was there that the Buddha was born. A pillar now marks the spot of Asoka’s visit to Lumbiní. According to an inscription on the pillar, it was placed there by the people then in charge of the park to commemorate Asoka‘s visit and gifts. The park was previously known as Rummindei, two miles north of Bhagavanpura.
In the Sutta Nipáta (vs. 683) it is stated that the Buddha was born in a village of the Sákyans, in the Lumbineyya Janapada. The Buddha stayed in Lumbinívana during his visit to Devadaha and there preached the Devadaha Sutta.
In 1896, Nepalese archaeologists (effort by Khadga Samsher Rana) discovered a great stone pillar at the site attributed toAshoka. Records made by the Chinese pilgrim Faxian were also used in the process of identifying this religiously acclaimed site.
The holy site of Lumbini is bordered by a large monastic zone, in which only monasteries can be built, no shops or hotels or restaurants. It is separated into an eastern and western monastic zone, the eastern having the Theravadin monasteries, the western having Mahayana and Vajrayana monasteries.
The holy site of Lumbini has ruins of ancient monasteries, a sacred Bodhi tree, an ancient bathing pond, the Asokan pillar and the Mayadevi temple, where the precise place of birth of Buddha is located. From early morning to early evening, pilgrims from various countries perform chanting and meditation at the site.
A Non-governmental organization called “Asia Pacific Exchange and Cooperation Foundation” (APECF) backed by chairman of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and then Prime Minister Prachanda, the Chinese government and a UN group called “United Nations Industrial Development Organization” (UNIDO) signed a deal to develop Lumbini into a “special development zone” with funds worth $3 billion. The venture was a China-UN joint project. A broader ‘Lumbini Development National Director Committee’ under the leadership of Pushpa Kamal Dahal was formed on October 17th, 2011. The six-member committee included Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) leader Mangal Siddhi Manandhar, Nepali Congress leader Minendra Rijal, Forest Minister Mohammad Wakil Musalman, among other leaders. The committee was given the authority to “draft a master plan to develop Lumbini as a peaceful and tourism area and table the proposal” and the responsibility to gather international support for the same.