Lumbini


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Lumbini (Nepal)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Although most of the biographical facts concerning Gautama Buddha are matters of scholarly dispute, tradition locates his birthplace as Lumbini, in present-day Nepal. It is now considered one of four major holy places of international Buddhism. Many accept the story that Maya Devi, Buddha’s mother, gave birth while traveling to her parent’s home in Devadaha. She took a rest in Lumbini under a sal tree. The event is dated as early as 642 BCE, and as late as 566. The infant is said to have spoken immediately after separating from his mother: “This is my final rebirth.” He then took seven steps to the four cardinal points of the compass, and a lotus flower sprang forth with each step.

King Asoka visited the area seven centuries later, in 249 BCE, and erected a stele commemorating the event. He also ordered the building of a wall around the village and erected a stone pillar and four stupas to mark the spot, and he reduced the taxes the village would have to pay in the future.

Lumbini remained a Buddhist center until the ninth century CE. During the next millennium, when Muslims and then Hindus controlled the region, the Buddhist structures were destroyed and even the memory of the location lost. Then in 1895, Alois A. Feuhrer, a German archeologist, discovered the Asoka stele. Further probing led to the uncovering of a temple whose interior showed scenes of the Buddha’s life. This temple was probably constructed over one of the stupas originally erected by Asoka. Further excavations throughout the twentieth century have led to rediscoveries of many of the Buddhist sites. Japanese Buddhists raised money to have the area restored, and in recent decades it reemerged as a destination for Buddhist pilgrims in spite of its relative inaccessibility.

Today, Lumbini is home to a Tibetan Buddhist monastery, a Nepalese temple (which the former United Nations secretary general U Thant, of Burma, helped finance), the Maya Devi Temple, and the pillar with the Asoka stele. The garden where the birth actually occurred is now well kept, and visitors may also go to the nearby Puskarmi pond in which the infant Buddha got his first bath.

Sources:

Majupuria, Trilok Chandra. Holy Places of Buddhism in Nepal and India: A Guide to Sacred Places in Buddha’s Lands. Columbia, MO: South Asia Books, 1987.
Panabokke, Gunaratne. History of the Buddhist Sangha in India and Sri Lanka. Dalugama, Kelaniya, Sri Lanka: Postgraduate Institute of Pali and Buddhist Studies, University of Kelaniya, 1993.
Tulku, Tarthang, ed. Holy Places of the Buddha. Vol. 9: Crystal Mirror. Berkeley, CA: Dharma Publishing, 1994.
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