History of Lumbini: The Birthplace of Lord Buddha

Nepal is the hidden treasure of South Asia. The country has many hidden treasures that are still unknown to the public. With the likes of Mount Everest, Durbar Square, and Nagarkot, Nepal is one of the dream countries to visit for any traveller. One of the most followed spiritual figures worldwide is the great Buddha. His teachings are widely followed by the Buddhist monks and his followers. However, Nepal is directly linked with Buddha and Buddhism via a place named Lumbini. This beautiful place is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The tranquillity and greenish surroundings attract many tourists from all over the world. So, sit back and have a read on the history of Lumbini and its importance.

Location

As per the Buddhist tradition, Lumbini is the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautama, who is also known as Buddha. This place is located in the Terai region of Southern Nepal and is very close to the Indian Nepalese border. Irrespective of their religion, people from all walks of life are always fascinated by the beauty of this place. It is easy to reach Lumbini due to Gautam Buddha Airport at Bhairahawa. Apart from the airports, there is an ongoing construction work going on for building hotels across Lumbini to promote the beauty and uniqueness of this place. 

The Birth of Buddha and Religious History 

Gautham Buddha statue.
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According to many Buddhist sources, Buddha’s mother Maya was travelling from Kapilavastu to her parent’s home. But, suddenly, she went into labour at Lumbini. It has been speculated that Maya gave birth with no pain while standing between twin Sala trees. The most astonishing fact about this theory was that the baby could speak immediately after it was born. The child said that this was his final rebirth, and then, the baby took seven steps to the four cardinal points and a lotus flower sprang forth with each step. The divinities washed both Maya and her child. This started a religious ceremony in which people bathe the baby Buddha when they celebrate Buddha’s birth. As cited by many Buddhist sources, Maya died seven days after giving birth to the Buddha. Later on, Mahaprajapati took over the role of becoming Siddhartha’s foster mother. Later on, Buddha left his luxurious life after watching the pain and suffering faced by the poor. Later on, Buddha found enlightenment. Buddhism is now one of the most followed religions in the world.

Important Historical Moments in the History of Lumbini

  • The legendary Indian Emperor developed the Lumbini which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Ashoka had visited Lumbini around 248 BCE and had erected a pillar that had the content commemorating the birth of Buddha. Later on, he built a wall around the village and created four stupas to mark the spot.
  • A Chinese pilgrim named Faxian made another visit around 403 CE. The history and beauty of Lumbini fascinated Faxian, and he wrote about it in his works named “A record of the Buddhistic Kingdom”.
  • Later on, as time passed, another Chinese pilgrim named Xuanzang visited Lumbini after two hundred years. He observed that the pillars were destroyed by lightning and the popularity of the site had decreased gradually.
  • After many years, the area came under the control of the Muslim leaders and was destroyed and later on, was under the control of the Hindu kings.
  • The shifting of rulership based on religion severely affected the condition of Lumbini as the site was being destroyed gradually.
  • In 1895 CE, a German archaeologist named Alois Fuhrer was successful in rediscovering Lumbini.
  • Alois had unearthed some structures built by Ashoka.
  • There was a temple which depicted Buddha’s life. The temple also covers the actual place where Lord Buddha was born. This place was discovered in the year 1996 CE. 

Here are some Places Associated with the History of Lumbini

1. Ashoka Pillar

The Ashoka Pillar.
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Emperor Ashoka was one of the greatest followers of Lord Buddha. To showcase his devotion towards Buddha, Ashoka had built a large stone pillar with inscriptions. The place was declared as a tax-free as it was the birthplace of Buddha. Amongst the 19 pillars present in Lumbini, the Ashoka Pillar is the oldest of them.

2. Maya Devi Temple

The Maya Devi Temple during evening.
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The Maya Devi Temple is dedicated to Lord Buddha’s mother. A very simple design and its whitish color define the architectural concept of the people during the old days. Many pilgrims visit this temple for their morning prayers and an iconic Bodhi tree is located near the temple. This tree is famous for meditation and prayers. 

3. Puskarni Pond

The Puskarni Pond.
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Puskarni Pond is an important part of Buddhist culture and the history of Lumbini. According to the history of Buddhism, it is said that Queen Maya Devi took a bath in the pond before giving birth to Buddha. Also, Lord Buddha took a bath for the first time in this pond. In the present day scenario, many pilgrims take a holy dip in this pond. 

4. Sacred Garden

The iconic tree which is related to Buddha.
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The Sacred Garden tells us the story of the transformation of Siddhartha into Lord Buddha. This place was previously the home of Queen Maya. Lord Buddha left his palace to attain enlightenment from this place. A very important place in the history of Buddhism, the Sacred Garden is an indispensable part of the Buddhist culture.

5. Gotihawa

The stupa which is made from Mauryan Bricks
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Before Lord Gautama Buddha introduced Buddhism, he met with the previous Buddha named Buddha Karkucchanda at this place. This place is home to the iconic huge stupa, which is made from Mauryan Bricks. Gotihawa too is an important place in the history of Buddhism and is a part of the history of Lumbini.

Present Lumbini

Lumbini is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It acts as one of the major tourist attractions in Nepal. In the year 2001, Nipponzan Myohoji built a Peace Pagoda in the park. This Peace Pagoda is visited by many people daily irrespective of religion and culture. 

The history of Lumbini is an important site for Buddhists and Hindus. The ruins of the ancient monasteries depict the story of the rise of Buddhism culture. The sacred Bodhi tree, the ancient bathing pond, and the pillars are an integral part of Nepal’s history too. To dig out more facts and showcase the beauty of Lumbini, there are multiple monuments and monasteries. The Lumbini International Research Institute is also present at the holy site which focuses on the history of this heritage site. As Lumbini is one of the four main pilgrimage points, it is Nepal’s most important treasure.

This post was published by Tatwamasi

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