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LUMBINI

Buddha Statue

Lumbini was the birth place of the Buddha. Lumbini is situated at the foothills of the Himalayas in Nepal. The birthplace of the Gautama Buddha, Lumbini, evokes a kind of holy sentiment to the millions of Buddhists all over the world- and is the Mecca of every Buddhist, being one of the four holy places of Buddhism. Lumbini is the place Lord Buddha -the apostle of peace and the light of Asia was born in 623 B. C.,It is said in the Parinibbana Sutta that Buddha himself identified four places of future pilgrimage: the sites of his birth, enlightenment, first discourse, and death. All of these events happened outside in nature under trees. While there is not any particular significance in this, other than it perhaps explains why Buddhists have always respected the environment and natural law.

For centuries, Buddhists- all over the world, knew that Lumbini where the Lord was born is somewhere around. The descriptions of famous Chinese pilgrims (of ancient times) Huian Tsang and Faeihan indicated to this area-saying ‘Lumbini-where the lord was born is a piece of heaven on earth and one could see the snowy mountains amidst a splendid garden-embedded with stupas and monasteries!

However, the exact location remained uncertain and obscure till December the 1st 1886 when a wandering German archaeologist Dr. Alois A. Fuhrer came across a stone pillar and ascertained beyond doubt it is indeed the birthplace of Lord Buddha.

Lumbini was a beautiful garden full of green and shady Sal trees (Shorea). The garden and its tranquil environs were owned by both the Shakyas. and Kolias clans. King Suddhodana, father of Gautama Buddha was of the Shakya dynasty belonging to the Kshatriya or the warrior caste. Maya Devi, his mother, gave birth to the child on her way to her parent's home in Devadaha while taking rest in Lumbini under a sal tree in the month of May in the year 642 B.C. The beauty of Lumbini is described in Pali and Sanskrit literature. Maya Devi it is said was spellbound to see the natural grandeur of Lumbini. While she was standing, she felt labor pains and catching hold of a drooping branch of a Sal tree, the baby, the future Buddha, was born.

The bas relief above depicts Maya Devi with her right hand holding on to a branch of a sal tree with a newborn child standing upright on a lotus petal, shedding an oval halo, around his head, while two celestial figures pour water and lotuses from vessels of heaven as indicated by the delineation of clouds. This nativity scene was installed by Malla Kings of the Naga dynasty from about the 11th to 15th Century in the Karnali zone of Nepal.

INSIDE LUMBINI GARDEN

Maya Devi Temple

Lumbini remained neglected for centuries. In 1895, Feuhrer, a famous German archaeologist, discovered the great pillar while wandering about the foothills of the Churia range. Further exploration and excavation of the surrounding area revealed the existence of a brick temple and a sandstone sculpture within the temple itself which depicts the scenes of the Buddha's birth.

It is pointed out by scholars that the temple of Maya Devi was constructed over the foundations of more than one earlier temple or stupa, and that this temple was probably built on an Ashokan stupa itself. On the south of the Maya Devi temple there is the famous sacred bathing pool known as Puskarni. It is believed that Maha Devi took a bath in this pool before the delivery. By the side of the Ashoka pillar there is a river which flows southeast and is locally called the 'Ol' river. In 1996, an archaeological dig unearthed a "flawless stone" placed there by the Indian Emperor Ashoka in 249 BC to mark the precise location of the Buddha's birth more than 2,600 years ago, if authenticated, the find will put Lumbini even more prominently on the map for millions of religious pilgrims.

Lumbini remained neglected for centuries. In 1895, Feuhrer, a famous German archaeologist, discovered the great pillar while wandering about the foothills of the Churia range. Further exploration and excavation of the surrounding area revealed the existence of a brick temple and a sandstone sculpture within the temple itself which depicts the scenes of the Buddha's birth.

It is pointed out by scholars that the temple of Maya Devi was constructed over the foundations of more than one earlier temple or stupa, and that this temple was probably built on an Ashokan stupa itself. On the south of the Maya Devi temple there is the famous sacred bathing pool known as Puskarni. It is believed that Maha Devi took a bath in this pool before the delivery. By the side of the Ashoka pillar there is a river which flows southeast and is locally called the 'Ol' river. In 1996, an archaeological dig unearthed a "flawless stone" placed there by the Indian Emperor Ashoka in 249 BC to mark the precise location of the Buddha's birth more than 2,600 years ago, if authenticated, the find will put Lumbini even more prominently on the map for millions of religious pilgrims.

Puskarni-the sacred pool

South of the Ashokan Pillar, there is the famous sacred pool- ‘Puskarni’ believed to be the same sacred pool in which Maya Devi took a holy dip just before giving birth to the Lord and also where infant Buddha was given his first purification bath. Architecturally the pool has the projecting terraces in descending order and is reverted with a fine brick masonry.


Sanctum-Sanctorum of the Birthplace

The single most important place of the Lumbini (and to the entire Buddhist world for that matter) is the stoneslab-located deep in the Sanctum sanctorum.

Revealed after a hard and meticulous excavations under the three layers of ruins over the site of a famous Maya Devi temple, the stone slab foundation pinpoints the location of the original place-marking the exact spot of the birthplace of Lord Buddha.

The Buddhist Temple

The monastery-of the Buddhist temple is built inside the surrounding complex of Lumbini in the manner of modern Buddhist shrines in Nepal. The prayer hall contains a large image of Buddha. medieval style murals decorate the walls.

To develop " Lumbini" as a center of Internatinal Buddhist Culture and Learning a master plan development is at the end of its completion. In the arena of lumbini beautiful shrines have been built by devotees from Buddhist countries like Sirlanka, Thiland, China etc. A visit to Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha, is not only for spiritual enlightenment but also for solace and satisfaction that one gets in such a calm and peaceful place.

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