Leaflet to distribute on Kapilvastu Day
Posted by worldamity on November 21, 2009
Kapilvastu, the capital of a famed kingdom in two and a half millennia ago, is believed to be named after Hindu theological sage and founder of Sankhya Philosophy — Philosophy of duality of consciousness and phenomenal realm of matter — Kapila. This place received further fame for in its famous gardens of Lumbini, Queen of Kapilvastu, Maya Devi, gave birth to Prince Siddhartha Gautama, who later became known as Lord Buddha, in 623 BC. The place of former palace of Suddhodhana have been excavated near Taulihawa in Kapilvastu district of Nepal some 20 km away from Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha and a famous place of pilgrimage to Buddhists and Hindus alike. – This place is also famous as being the birthplace of two popular cultures of Nepal, Awadhi and Tharu.
Almost neglected after 7th century AD, Lumbini and consequently Kapilvastu got limelight after an amateur archaeologist Khadga Sumsher Jangha Bahadur Rana unearthed Ashoka pillar and German archaeologist Dr. Alois Anton Fuhrer verified it on December 1, 1896. Lumbini, which is 303 kilometres south-west from Kathmandu, hosts 138 places related to Shakyamuni Buddha. These 138 places include, garden of Lumbini, Devdaha, Ashoka Stambha (Pillar), Tilaurakot, etc. At present era of rising disparities among people, armed conflicts, and discord, Kapilvastu, which brought up the first credible messenger of peace, equality and social justice has utmost significance.
Emperor Ashoka, a warrior turned propagator of non-violence, tolerance, love, truth and vegetarianism is one of the main instrumental to spread Buddhism in Asia. He visited Lumbini in 249 BC and has erected four stupas and a stone pillar. The pillar bears his inscription written in Brahmi script and Pali language translates to “King Piyadasi (Ashoka), beloved of devas, in the 20 year of the coronation, himself made a royal visit, Buddha Sakyamuni having been born here, a stone railing was built and a stone pillar erected to the Shakyamuni having been born here, Lumbini village taxes are reduced and entitled to the eight part (only)” in English.
Famous Chinese traveller Fa-Hsien, who travelled India and Nepal on foot, has visited Lumbini in the 5th century AD. The Chinese pilgrim saw the nativity tree, the bathing pond (Puskarni) and the well among other monuments in Lumbini.
Hiuen-Tsang, a famous Buddhist monk and Chinese traveller visited Lumbini in 7th century. In his visit to Kapilvastu, he had seen seen a pillar near the old Ashoka tree that Buddha is said to have been born under and ruins of stupas.
Then UN Secretary General U Thant visited Lumbini in 1967. During his visit he made Lumbini Development Trust (LDT) an international cause.
Considering this fact expressed by famous pilgrims like Emperor Ashoka, Fa-Hsien and Hiuen-Tsang and the inscriptions verified by Dr. Alois Anton Fuhrer, then UN Secretary General U Thant in 1967 proposed to initiate Lumbini Development project. UNESCO has listed Lumbini, — proper place in Kapilvastu — where Buddha was born, as world heritage site in 1997.
Lumbini is being developed as international Buddhist pilgrimage and peace centre. The development activities are being ushered by a 13-nation Lumbini Development Committee formed in 1970 and hard works of Tribhuwan University, Institute of Engineering, and Pulchowk Campus. Several monuments are of great importance at this place, including Ashoka pillar, Mayadevi temple and Bathing Pond that Mayadevi took bath in before giving birth to Shakyamuni Buddha.
The Maya Devi Temple
The Maya Devi Shrine complex is the heart of all monuments at this holy site. The complex also bears the testimony of several layers of construction over the centuries. The main object of worship here is the nativity sculpture. The restored Maya Devi Temple was reopened on May 16, 2003 on the 2547th birth anniversary of Lord Buddha. Government of Nepal and LDT jointly restored the temple. The ground floor consists of the remains of the foundations of the early Maya Devi Temple that dates back to 3rd century BC. The sanctum sanatorium is the birth spot of the Lord Buddha.
The Marker Stone
This stone conglomerate located deeply buried in the sanctum sanatorium pinpoints the exact location of the birth of Lord Buddha. This was discovered after meticulous excavation of the Maya Devi Temple site in 1996. The exact size of Marker Stone is 70×40×10 cm. This is now covered with a bulletproof glass.
The Nativity Sculpture
The image of Maya Devi, also known as the Nativity sculpture dated back to 4th century AD, depicts Maya Devi, standing and holding the branch of a tree with her right hand for support. Next to her Gautami Prajapati, her own sister, in supporting posture at the time of delivery. The newly born prince Siddhartha is standing upright on a lotus pedestal, with two celestial figures receiving him.
The Puskarni or Holy Pond
Adjacent to the Ashoka Pillar on the southern side, there is the Puskarni, believed to be the holy pond in which Maya Devi took bath just before giving birth to the Lord Buddha. It is also the site where the infant prince Siddhartha was given his first purification bath. The pond has terraced steps and is riveted by beautifully layered bricks.
The Asoka Pillar
The Ashoka Pillar bears the first epigraphic evidence relating to the birthplace of Lord Buddha. It is the most noteworthy monument and an authentic historic document of birthplace of Lord Buddha in Lumbini. The inscription engraved by Emperor Ashoka is still intact and testifies the authenticity of the birthplace.
Tilaurakot, childhood home of Lord Buddha, lies 25 kilometres west of Lumbini is another significant archaeological and tourist site of Nepal. It is situated nearby to Shivgarh village of Kapilvastu municipality. Here used to be palace of King Suddhodhan where prince Siddhartha had spent 29 years of his life.
Devdaha is maternal home of Mayadevi, mother of Bhagawan Buddha. It is situated at 30 Kilometres east of Lumbini in Rupandehi District of Nepal.
Niglihawa, 7 kilometres west of Taulihawa, is an very important archaeological site where Kanakmuni Buddha was born. Emperor Ashoka visited Niglihawa 15 years before he visited Lumbini. Niglihawa has part of another pillar erected by Ashoka dedicating it to Kanakmuni Buddha. Aurorakot situated near Niglihawa has huge ancient brick structure.
Nepalese and internationals Monasteries/Vihara representing different architecture and culture of Buddhist countries and Buddhist organizations are other attractions of Lumbini. The Monasteries of Royal Thai (Thailand), Chinese Monastery (China), Vietnam Phat Quoc Tu (Vietnam), Mahabodhi Society of Kolkotta (India), International Nun’s Society (Nepal), The Great Lotus Stupa (Tara Foundation, Germany), Myanmar Monastery (Myanmar), Manang Sewa Samaj (Nepal), Linhson Monastery (France), Sokyao Temple (Japan), Geden International (Austria), Sri Lankan Monastery (Sri-Lanka), Korean Mahabodhi Society (South Korea), Dharmodhaya Sabha (Nepal), Drigung Kagyud Meditation Center (India), Cambodian Monastery (Cambodia) Panditarama Meditation Center (Myanmar), Vipasana Mediation Center (Nepal), Lumbini Museum, Lumbini International Research Institute, World Peace Pagoda, Eternal Peace Flame, Peace Bell and Crane Sanctuary add beauty and serenity to Lumbini.Reference Materials
Attractions are copied from Lumbini Development Trust Website
The leflet drafted by Bhanu Poudyal and finalised by Pramod Dhakal