TALKING THE BUDDHA BIRTH PLACE : MISINFORMING PEOPLE TO GLORIFY A NATION IS WRONG
Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 16, 2012
[ Below today we re-post an article with a video taken this morning of a professor of history from Bhuvaneshowr, Orissa India. The Buddha birth place controversy was brought out of Orissa in 1928. But the speaker in the video below, Professor Kailash Chandra Dash, who himself comes from Orissa, says those were forged (his)stories to glorify Orissan as well as Indian peoples. And he added that the Indian scholars and historians should have interpreted historical information or data more scientifically, rather than any ‘nationalistic zeal’. Prof. Dash says, the birth place of Buddha is present day Lumbini of Nepal, not in any part of India. For more please watch the video.- Editor (Himalayan Voice)]
By Kailash Chandra Dash
The two edicts from Paderia and Nigliva were edited by G.Buhler on the basis of the inked estampages furnished by their discoverer, Dr. A. A. Fuhrer who found the second in March 1895 and the first in December 18961. Both came from the Nepal Terai, where Nigliva was situated 38 miles north west of the Uska Bazar station of the Bengal and the North-Western Railway in the Nepalese tahsil Taulihva of the Zillah Bataul. Paderia was two miles north of the Nepalese tahsil Bhagvanpur of the same Zillah and according to Dr Fuhrer`s estimate about thirteen miles from Nigliva2. Both were incised on mutilated stone pillars and the Paderia edict which was found three feet below the surface of the ground was in a state of perfect preservation while that of Nigliva had suffered a great deal on the left side and had lost the first five letters of line three as well as the first seven of line four3.
- Niglihawa pillar. Image Google
Aftetr about thirty-one years of the discovery and publication of these records on Ashoka a copy of Paderia edict (The so-called Rummindei inscription) was found in Kapileswar of Bhubaneswar, the present capital of Odisha4. This stone inscription(Silaphalaka) was brought to public notice by Haran Chandra Chakaldar of Calcutta university and it was procured in about March 1928 by Birendranath Ray for his museum at Puri from the village of Kapileswar5. It created a belief that Buddha was born in Kapiavastu which was near Kapileswar of Bhubaneswar as the said edict contains the message of the birthplace of Gautam Buddha in Lumbini which was not far away from Kapilavastu. Thus this inscription from Kapileswar of Bhubaneswar arrested the attention of the historians and the archaeologists of India and abroad. In this paper I have proposed to make a comparative study of the two sets of Ashokan edicts from Paderia and Nigliva with Kapileswar inscription to justify the legitimacy of the inscriptions found from Nepal and to establish the fake nature of the Kapileswar grant on the basis of new findings and interpretations.
In this respect I would like to present the text of Paderia edict as given by Buhler in 18966. The text contains the following
lines-“Devana-piyena Piyadasina lajina-visativasabhisitena/atana-agacha mahiyite hida-Budhe-jate Sakyamuni-ti /sila-vigadabhi-cha kalapitasilathabhe-cha usapapite/ hida-Bhagavam-jate-ti Lumminigame ubalike-kate/athabhagiya-cha(II) In 1896-98 the translation of this edict was in the following manner-“King Piyadasi, beloved of the gods, having been anointed twenty years, came himself and worshipped, saying: Here Buddha Sakyamuni was born. And he caused to be made a stone(slab) bearing a big sun(?); and he caused a stone pillar to be erected . Because here the wonderful one was born, the village of Lummini has been made free of taxes and a recipient of wealth.”7.
Image: V. A. Smith
In 1928 when an inscription was discovered from the village of Kapileswar of Bhubaneswar this interpretation was well known8. But Kapileswar inscription was not an exact copy of this Paderia edict stated above. Hence we quote here the entire text of Kapileswar inscription which is in the following-“ D(e)vanamphiyena Piyadashina l(a)jina vi-/sa(bh)isitena agacha mahida Budha j(a)ta/Sakyamuni ti sila vigada-bhicha kalaph(i)-/t(a) sila-thabha va u(s)ap(a)p(i)ta: hida Bhagava/j(a)tet(i) L(u)mini-game ubalik(e) kat(e) (-) Ila/ (v)uth(e) (200) 40 (-)atha-bhagiy(e) cha Chu(m)draya9. The translation of this version is exactly similar with that of Paderia edict; but the Kapileswar inscription contains some additions-Ila vuthe 200 40 and Chundraya10. Chakradhar Mahapatra has given a translation of the inscription found from Kapileswar which may be quoted here for our comparative study11. According to his interpretation-As Lord Buddha was born here, he exempted the Lumbini village from the payment of tax. He did it in the Ila(worshipful) 240 abda(Buddhist era). Prior to it 1/8th taxation was in vogue. Chundraya(the script writer). According to Mahapatra this was also the explanation of Pandit Banambar Acharya, a famous Sanskrit writer of Odisha12.
This interpretation of the inscription from Kapileswar from the time of its discovery is not at all correct as the historians who had dealt with this problem from 1898 were not clear in the meaning of the terms in Paderia edict. Recently Harry Falk in his interesting paper entitled The Fate of Ashoka`s Donations at Lumbini has suggested a new and revised reading of the Paderia edict13. He had given emphasis on two points-vigadabhi and athabhagiya. On the first point he suggested that king Ashoka who had been anointed for twenty years came to the birth-place of Buddha at lumbini where he had a stone fencing constructed and a stone pillar erected. On the second point he suggested that the term athabhagiya has not been correctly interpreted the historians. The meaning given by Buhler in 1898 of this term which is recipient of royal bounty is not correct. As suggested by Harry Falk the term in Sanskrit would be Ashtabhagika which means eight parts or bhaga. This term athabhaga as stated by Falk also appears in Kanganhalli inscription near Sannathi in Karnataka which states-ramogamilo athabhagathubho upai which means the stupa of Ramagrama containing one eighth part. It refers to the division of the ashes of the Buddha into eight parts as it is found in the Dighanikaya. Falk in his interesting study stated that one part of the ashes each went to Rajagriha, Vaisali, Kapilavastu, Allakappa, Ramagrama, Vethadipa, Pava and Kusinagara where they reached divided into eight equal parts. Here Lumbini is missing from the list. The text Dighanikaya stated that the relics should be ashtabhaga so that the stupas containing them can be constructed in the eight directions. The eight parts are thus linked to eight stupas in eight directions and Ramagrama is not the least amongst them. As stated by Falk before Ashoka came to Lumbini, the real birth-place of Buddha the site had not yet received a share of the Buddha`s relics and that he provided Lumbini with a share of it for the first time. Thus before Ashoka`s visit at the site, no stupa hallowed the place in memory of the birth of the Sakyamuni. Thus Ashoka must have changed Lumbini from an insignificant place in the woods to a possible centre of pilgrimage. The translation of the edict is thus in the following as stated by Falk-
When king Priyadarsin, dear to the gods, had been anointed for twenty years, he came in person and paid reverence. Being aware that the Buddha was born here he had stone fencing constructed on the site of the birth and a stone pillar erected. Being aware that the Lord was born here he made the village of Lumbini tax-free and provided it with a share in the eight parts-the ashes of the Buddha had originally been divided)14
That is why in the edict at Paderia there is the mention of Cha near Athabhagiya and before Athabhagiya there is Ubalika-kate. Both Ubalika-kate and Athabhagiya as different terms are applicable to Lumbini. If we accept 1/8th part of tax the term ubalika-kate would be irrelevant and so both the terms-Ubalika-kate and Athabhagiya connote two different contexts and not related to one another.
Niglihawa pillar. Image Google
In the Kapileswar inscription the use of additional letters as symbol of an era definitely suggests its fake nature. Probably the composer of the inscription could not know the meaning of athabhagiya and he accepted it as a type of tax. There was no need of an era called Buddhist era in this inscription as Ashoka`s regnal year was present. We find the statement of the era (Vyuthene 256) in the Siddhapura grant of Ashoka where the regnal year is absent15 Most likely the composer wanted to surpass the composer of Paderia edict by stating something unique-the so-called Buddhist era which was not necessary and so it justified its fake nature.The mention of the script writer was another interesting addition in the grant of Kapileswar which is not found in the Paderia grant. The name stated is Chundraya which seems to be incorrect from the point of view of grammar. We find the name of the scribe in the Siddhapura edicts of Ashoka which was Pada and the statement Padena is grammatically correct.The addition of this name was made in the Kapileswar grant to provide legitimacy to the grant which rather added to its fake nature. The composer probably had gone through the text of Siddhapura edicts of Ashoka as published in Epigraphia Indica(Vol.III) of 1894-95 where we find the term Vyuthena 256. In fact this numerical symbol was found to be stated in many minor rock edicts and there the rengal year of Ashoka was absent16. The term Vyuthena has been interpreted in two different ways17;
The word Vyutha may refer to Gautam Buddha and the figure to the number of years elapsed since the Nirvana.
Vyutha-Vivutha may be derived from vivas and Buhler who accepted the first meaning also took it as representative of Vyustha. The verb vivas occurs indeed not rarely in the sense of ‘to elapse’ or ‘to pass away. For example in Grihasutra there is-Jananad dasaratre vyushte which Oldenberg correctly interpreted-when ten nights have elapsed after the child`s birth. In Panchatantra it has also been used in this sense-Rajani vyushta.
Interestingly as the editor of Siddhapur grant, G.Buhler in Epigraphia indica(Vol.III) which was published in 1897 accepted the term in the sense of an era-Buddhist era, the composer of Kapileswar inscription used it without considering the second implication of the term Vyutha. As a matter of fact many minor edicts of Ashoka-like Brahmagiri, Erragudi, Gujjara, Nittur, Panguraria, Rajula Mandagiri, Rupnath,have accepted this term. With the new interpretation of Harry Falk we can justifiably state that the Kapileswar inscription was really a fake document.
As we read the Nigliva script we have to face some problems on the birthplace of Gautam Buddha in Limbini. The Nigliva record states-when king Priyadarsin, dear to the gods, has been anointed for fourteen years, he enlarged the stupa of Buddha Konagamana to double its size. When he was consecrated for twenty years he came in person and paid reverence and had a stone pillar erected18. This inscription articulates some problems on the birthplace of Buddha. Why did not Ashoka visit Lumbini, the real birthplace of Buddha in his 14th regnal year? Was the site unknown to Ashoka in that regnal year? He visited the site of Konakamana Buddha which was a mythical name only and originally there was a stupa which Ashoka enlarged in his 14th regnal year. In that year he did not visit Lumbini, the real birthplace of Buddha which suggested that this site of Lumbini as the birth place of Buddha did not gain any prominence in his 14th regnal year and that the site for Konakamana was probably considered the real birthplace of old Buddha. Thus before Ashoka a site belonging to old Buddha(Konakamana) was the centre of a stupa and Lumbini which was the real birthplace of Gautam Buddha was not known to the emperor then. Had he known the site as the real birthplace of Buddha in his 14th regnal year he would have made it a point to visit it. So he only enlarged the stupa at the site of Konakamana Buddha in his 14th rengal year and in his 20th regnal year he visited the real birthplace of Buddha as well as the site of Konakamana Buddha. Between his 14th regnal year and 20th regnal year there must have been some developments in the zone of the birthplace of Buddha. It might be that the site of Lumbini was really detected by the Buddhists and Ashoka was intimated about it in his 20th regnal year for which he took a momentous decision to visit the site for marking his regard for Buddha`s real birthplace. It also makes it clear that the real birthplace of Gautam Buddha -Lumbini was unknown before Ashoka and with Ashoka`s rapid movement for spreading Buddhism in and outside India led to the search of the real site where Gautam Buddha was born. It was Ashoka who by visiting the spot of Lumbini made it famous and popular and there for the first time a stupa was erected by Ashoka and a share of Ashtabhagiya (Ashes of Buddha) was given to the area. There was no evidence to present Lumbini as the real birthplace of Buddha until his 14th regnal year when he visited the site of mythical Konakamana Buddha and developments in the period from 14th to 20th regnal year led to the discovery of the site of Lumbini grama as the real birthplace of Gautam Buddha.
- G.Buhler, ‘The Ashoka Edicts of Paderia and Nigliva, Epigraphia Indica(hereafter cited as EI), Vol.V, p.1-6.
- For this context see Pravasi (a Bengali monthly), Sravan, 1335,B.S.(i.e., July 1928),p.627.S.N.Mitra, ‘The Lumbini Pilgrimage Record in two inscriptions’, Indian Historical Quarterly, Vol.V, 3-4, 1929,p.728; Also see B.K.Rana,’Nepal`s Lumbini:Where the Buddha was Born’, The Himalayan Voice, February 14, 2010; Kailash Chandra Dash, ‘Was Kapileswar of Bhubaneswar the Birth-place of Gautam Buddha?’, Orissa historical Research Journal, Vol.LII, No.1 and 2, Orissa State Museum, Bhubaneswar, 2011,p.104-117; The Himalayan Voice, 12 December, 2012.
- EI, Vol.V, p.4-6.
- Kailash Chandra Dash, p.104-117.
- S.N.Mitra, 1929, 752-753.
- Chakradhar Mahapatra,The Real Birth-place of Buddha, Granth Mandir, Cuttack, 1977.p.8-31.
- Ibid, p.17.
- Harry Falk,’The Fate of Ashoka`s Donations at Lumbini’, Reimagining Ashoka Memory and History,eds., Patrick Olivelle, Janice Leoshko and Himanshu Prabha Ray, Oxford University Press, new delhi, 2012,p.204-216.
- Harry Falk,p.215-216.
- G.Buhler, ‘The Siddhapura Edicts of Ashoka’, EI, Vol.III, p.134-142. This Volume was published in 1897.
- Meena Talim, Edicts of King Ashoka A new Vision, Aryan Books International, New Delhi, 2010, p.151-226.
- G.Buhler, EI, Vol.III, p.142.
- G.Buhler, EI, Vol.V, p.5-6