Posted by worldamity on March 9, 2010
Lumbini was a beautiful amusement grove in about 7th century B.C. This horticulture spot was recreated by Koliyas of Devdaha and Sakyas of Kapilvastu. It was a place where Bodhisatwa Siddhartha Gautam put his first step on earth. The prince of the Sakya was born in Nepal in about 563 B.C. He was probably the greatest man ever to live in the Indian sub-continent in the whole of its remarkable history. He was born in orthodox Hindu family and raised accordingly and became the founder of the great religion which has spread far beyond the border of India.
According to Buddhist literature, Lumbini was addressed as Pradimoksha Vana and compared to the Chittalate Vana of lord Indra’s paradise in Heaven. Amid the cool shadow of thick Sal trees, the touch of the flowing breeze, and the fragrance of flowers and fruits, the bees of five colors hummed and people used to live with peaceful mind. This place is 22 km. west of Siddhartha Nagar and became a holy pilgrimage site after the death of Lord Buddha. Lord Buddha at his deathbed suggested his disciple Ananda to visit four places among which the first and the foremost place is Lumbini where he was born.
Lmbini possess its history even before the birth of Siddhartha. It was a popular ancient northern trade route (Uttarapatha) and a habitual as well as a religious place. After death of Buddha this place was visited by many pilgrims, royalties, and scholars from different parts of the world.
The Maurya Emperor of India, Ashoka visited Lumbini in 3rd century B.C., after his renunciation from his regal life after the bloodshed victory of Kalinga. The emperor made a pilgrimage to Lumbini with his spiritual teacher Bikkshu Upagupta and reiterated the legendry fame of the site. He adored the birth place and installed a memorial colossal pillar with inscriptions which reads:
Devana piyana Piyadasina Lajina Visativasabhisitena
atana agacha Mahiyite hida Buddha jate Sakyamuniti
Silavigadabhica Kalapita Silathabhe Cha Usapapite
hida Bhagavana jateti Lummingame Ubalike Kata
Department of Archeology translates it as:
King Piyadashi (Ashoka), the beloved of Devas in twentieth 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. The Bhagavan having been born here, Lumbini Village was tax- reduced and entitled to the eight parts (only).
The Yuch-Chih monk Seng Tsai of the Chin Dynasty (265- 420 AD) was the first Chinese to visit Lumbini between 350 and 375 AD. He provides information about Lumbini that he saw an Ashoka tree that was gripped by Maya Devi at the time of Buddha’s birth was still living, a sculpture of Maya Devi gripping the tree was placed beneath the tree, a spot marking where Siddhartha’s feet first touched the earth was offered flowers and sweets by pilgrims, and emperor Ashoka had placed a shield of stones around the Siddhartha’s footprints.
The famous Chinese pilgrims Fa Xian (Fa-hsien) visited Lumbini in 403 AD. He described these places in his book Records of the Buddhist Kingdom. He mentions that Maya Devi had bathed in the pond in Lumbini. She walked twenty steps to the north, and raised her hand leaned by branch of the tree. The prince was borne while she was facing the east. Prince Siddhartha walked seven steps in all direction after he was born. The Dragon King bathed the prince’s body immediately.
Another famous Chinese pilgrim Hsuantsang (Yuan- Chwang) came to Lumbini in 636 AD. This was an important period in the history of Lumbini. He has left detailed descriptions of Lumbini in his book Records of the Western Countries of the Tang Dynasty. Lumbini was 80 li away to the north east from the Arrow Fountain. There was a pond in Lumbini. The water of the pond was green and clear with flowers. The Ashoka tree was twenty five steps to the north from the pond, and prince Siddhartha was born under this tree. A stupa was at the east of the tree. It was the place where two Dragons bathed the Prince after his birth. A stupa was built by Ashoka. The just born Prince walked seven steps into four directions. At that time the two Dragons appeared from the earth and they stayed in the sky. Warm and cool water spurted out from the mouth of the Dragons to bathe the Prince. Meanwhile from the north of this stupa two springs spurted with warm and cool water to bathe Maya Devi. There are two stupas beside these springs. Another stupa was in front of these two stupas, where Maya Devi had bathed. It was the place where Sakra held Bodhisattva after this birth. Four stupas were next to this stupa. It was the place where the four heavenly kings held the Bodhisattva. A pillar was near the four stupas, and a horse statue was on the top of the pillar. King Ashoka built it. Later the evil Dragon damaged it with the thunderbolt and it was broken and was lying down on the earth. There was a river near the pillar and it flowed from east to south. The local name was Telar (Oil River). First the Deva made the wonderful oil to bath Maya Devi to cure the disease after prince was born. After that it became water and flowed south.
After Hsuantsang, Wang-hiuan-tse and I-tsing visited important Buddhist sites of Nepal.
Another Chinese traveler Wu Kung (764 AD) and Fang-Chih visited Lumbini and added there own details about a great tope at the spot where the Buddha was born. Fang-Chih also introduced the inscriptions recorded in the stone pillar which was mentioned by Hsuantsang.
King Ripu Malla the popular pilgrim from western Nepal visited Lumbini in 1312 AD. He lithographed his name on the upper eastern side of the colossal pillar. After the visit from all these distinguished pilgrims other travelers may also have visited the place but left no account of their visits.
Lumbini was then slowly converted into bush land and disappeared till Khadga Shumsher Rana and Dr. A. A. Fuhrer recovered Lumbini in December 1, 1896.