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Lumbini

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Lumbini is the sacred birthplace of Lord Gautama Buddha. 2565 years ago, Lord Gautama Buddha, the harbinger of peace, was born from the womb of Mother Mayadevi in a beautiful and holy garden. It is from this place that he uttered an exclamation for the human race that walks on seven steps as soon as it is born.

This land is now famous as the source of world peace among all peace-loving people, including Buddhist pilgrims. Since 1997, this place has been listed in the World Heritage List. Every year millions of pilgrims and scholars from all over the world visit Lumbini.

Religious Significance and Historical Background:

Lumbini is a very important pilgrimage site for Buddhists from all over the world. Lumbini has become an important religious destination for Hindus as they have deep faith in Mayadevi and Lord Buddha. The archaeological and historical remains in Lumbini reveal the fact that various personalities have visited Lumbini for centuries. The famous Maurya emperor Ashoka made a pilgrimage to Lumbini in 249 AD following the path of his spiritual master Upagupta. He erected a stone pillar with the inscription “Hid Budhe Jate Shakyamuniti” (here Shakyamuni Buddha was born). Emperor Ashoka worshiped the memorial stone marking the place where Siddhartha Gautama was born and the holy pond where he was bathed for purification after his birth. He also visited historical places like Kapilvastu, Ramgram, Devdah.

Based on the historical facts obtained, the Chinese travelers Tseng Sai, Pai Hian and Huyen Tsang who visited Lumbini after Emperor Ashoka. Tseng Tsai visited Lumbini in the 4th century, Fahian in the 5th century and Huyen Sadd in the 7th century. Among these travelers, Huyen Sadd’s travelogues give detailed information about Lumbini. He mentions that in Lumbini he saw a trunk of Janma tree, a Chaitya, Ashoka pillar, holy pond, Telar river, a well with cold and hot water springs. In 1312, King Ripu Malla of the Karnali region of Nepal visited Luimbani and wrote Ripu Malla “Chir Jayatu” on the Ashoka Pillar to commemorate his journey. After that, Lumbini remained in oblivion for a long period of history.

Later, in 1896, Governor General Khadge Shamsher and British Indian archaeologist Alois Fuhrer rediscovered the Ashoka pillar, and Lumbini again became a matter of interest and concern. In 1999, P.C. Mukherjee excavated at the birth place of Lord Buddha and identified the idol of Mayadevi and also showed some ruins of the temple outside. Again in the 1930s, Keshar Shamsher Rana excavated the Mayadevi temple complex. Indian archaeologist Smt Devala Mitra did the research in 1962.

Since the 1960s, with the help and cooperation of the United Nations as well as various national and international organizations, the Government of Nepal has been playing a leading role in the excavation, protection and promotion of Lumbini by building various bodies with special importance. In 1970, under the Department of Building and Physical Planning, the Lumbini Development Project was formed and in 1975, Lumbini Development Committee was formed and given responsibility for Lumbini. After the formation of Lumbini Development Fund as an autonomous body since 1985, the fund has been doing the work of excavation, conservation and promotion of Lumbini area. From 1992 to 1996, the Foundation, Nepal Government Archeology Department and Japan Buddhist Federation jointly excavated the Mayadevi temple complex. Currently, Lumbini has been established as a religious, spiritual and tourist destination for millions of people around the world and is developing in a beautiful and peaceful way.

After Lord Gautama Buddha Tathagata’s Mahaparinirvana, Lumbini became an important spiritual place. Lumbini’s holiest birth spot attracted the attention of devout devotees as a result of which various stupas were built to pay homage to the Lord. These constructions were of a religious nature.

Figure: Lumbini
Figure: Lumbini

Mayadevi Temple:

Among all the heritages in this holy place, Mayadevi temple is the main attraction. The different levels of the temple built in different centuries shed light on its importance and antiquity. An ancient Mayadevi statue with the birth scene of Lord Buddha is located inside this temple. The ruins inside the temple date back to B.C. They are from the third century to the seventh century.

Birthstone:

The memorial stone is in a deep room. Which clearly shows the birth point of Lord Buddha. This rock was discovered in 1996 after intensive excavation of the Mayadevi temple complex.

Mayadevi idol:

The idol of Mayadevi is also known as Birth idol. Built in the 4th century, this statue shows the scene of the birth of Lord Buddha. Mayadevi is holding a tree branch with her right hand for support. His sister Prajapati is standing on the left side while two devas are seen ready to receive the Lord and the statue of the newborn Buddha is seen in the middle.

Holy Pool:

To the south of the Ashoka pillar is the sacred Pushkarini. It is believed that Mayadevi bathed here after giving birth to Lord Buddha and also that God was purified by taking his first bath here.

Ashoka Pillar:

The inscriptions carved on the Ashoka pillar provide historical evidence about the birth place of Lord Gautama Buddha. The inscription on this pillar is the most important official and historical record regarding the birth place of Lord Buddha and Lumbini.

Lumbini Project Wat Lumbini Development

In 1967, the visit of U Thant, the Secretary General of the United Nations, to Lumbini proved to be the key to the development of modern Lumbini. Being very impressed by the importance and sanctity of Lumbini, he discussed with the late King Mahendra and advised the Nepalese government to develop Lumbini as an international pilgrimage and tourism center. In 1970, he helped to form the ‘International Committee for Lumbini Development’ with 15 member countries to develop Lumbini with the participation of the United Nations. For the planned development of Lumbini in 1972, Japanese citizen Prof. Kenzo Tange was given the intensive responsibility of preparing the Lumbini master plan.

Lumbini Master Plan:

Pvt. The Lumbini Master Plan prepared by Kenzo Tanged was passed by the Government of Nepal and the United Nations in 1978. Before that, the Nepali government had formed the Lumbini Development Committee for the development of Lumbini. The said committee acquired the land of the local residents and carried out works such as construction of development infrastructures and tree plantation.

The master plan area covers an area of 3 square miles. The area is divided into 3 zones of 1 square mile each and connected by footpaths and central canals. 3 areas:

a) Sacred garden b) Vihar area c) Lumbini is a village.

The main attraction of Prof. Kenzo Tange’s design is the sacred garden located in the southern part. The main purpose of the design of this area is to create an environment of spirituality, peace, world brotherhood and non-violence as well as to reflect the timely message of Lord Buddha to the world. There are archeological and historical heritages in the sacred garden. Gardens and beautiful ponds have made this area very mesmerizing. Central canal divides the Vihar area located in the middle of the forest from the sacred garden to the north side. 29 plots in West Vihar area have been allocated for Mahayani Buddhists and 13 plots in East Vihar area for Theravadas.

There are research centers and libraries, auditoriums and museums in the cultural center, which provide facilities for Buddhist studies and researchers.

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