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A Word on Buddha

Posted by worldamity on May 11, 2017

By Surabi Thapa*

SurabiHave you ever failed an exam for giving all the right Buddha born in Nepalanswers? The chances are, you have not. I first encountered this issue from a 7th grade geography bee when I asked to provide the birthplace of Buddha. Loud and proud to be a Nepali, I confidently look through the answer choices for an option marked “Lumbini, Nepal”, but to my surprise the closest option I find is “Northern India”. Confused, I marched up to my teacher to let her know that the question was faulty for not containing the correct answer. The response provided by my teacher left be baffled, because she elaborated on how even though the “exact” response was not inclusive in the answer choices, “Northern India” is a “close enough” response to the birth place of an individual that has impacted the human condition in all spheres of life.

To establish the impact discussed, Buddha was a being that guided and still guides millions of adherents that were once solely committed to the life of materials onto his discovered realm of life where desires, suffering and attachments were left to pursue the eightfold path to nirvana. Whenever the word “enlightenment” is heard, a Westerner may think of philosophers and exponents as Descartes, Voltaire, Locke, Rousseau or even Newton and their contribution to the intellectual movements of the late 17th and 18th century Europe. However, from a broader perspective that has impacted not only a continent but the world, the word “enlightenment” often registers a mental picture of a poised, relaxed figure perched under a tree and solely concentrated on the abstracts of life. In other words, one likely thinks of Lord Buddha or more commonly known as “the Enlightened One”.

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In Praise of Enlightenment

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on March 12, 2017

By Aarya Pokhrel*

Aarya PokhrelIt’s 2017, yet how far have we really come when Race,Golden Buddha religion, gender, sexuality, politics, wealth and even physical conditions, still seem to instigate large scale conflict and tension?

How long will it take one to notice that everyone’s idea about life is different? Even those in the same religions interpret Holy Scriptures differently, based on their level of perception. Your truth is not the only truth. The world is full of people with individual belief-systems – we must respect that and not use it as an excuse to belittle, ignore and abuse others.

Of course, any actions that are not in line with love can be seen as immoral and destructive to mankind. Therefore, maybe love should be a primary religion – yet, even me labelling it that will create distaste in some people. That’s just how many of us are programmed.

Our world should be a world full of equals; those who will enter and leave in the same way. We are a different manifestation of the same thing. We are all souls having a human experience – sadly it’s the instrument we choose to express ourselves in which sometimes creates separation. We’re like M&M’s; we might look different but we’re made exactly the same. The idea of fighting over which tastes is better is hideous. Like you, I’m tired of reading posts like this about equality, but I’m even more tired of seeing inequality. “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” (Nelson Mandela). Read the rest of this entry »

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Buddhism in Modern Life

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on August 31, 2014

by Ananda W.P. Guruge

[Dr. ANANDA W.P. GURUGE, international civil servant and high-ranking diplomat with a distinguished career in Sri Lankan Government and UNESCO, a reputed leader in the international Buddhist movement, the Patron of the European Buddhist Union and a Vice-President of the World Fellowship of Buddhists from 1988 and its representative to the UN and UNESCO, the President of the World Buddhist University Council (Bangkok, Thailand) and a member of the UNESCO Inter-religious Advisory Committee died peacefully during en route from Sydney, Australia to Los Angeles on 6 August 2014 while returning from his last tour to Nan Tien Institute of Fo Guang Shan for his lifelong mission of promoting Buddhist education in the world. We, Lumbini-Kapilvastu Day Movement team, are deeply saddened by the news of Dr. ANANDA W.P. GURUGE passing. This is a big loss for World Buddhist community. Our heart felt condolences to you and your family. I met him in London when Shri Lanka team was organising 2600th Sambuddha Jayanti and he came from US as special guest in the program. We are publishing this wonderful article here in his remembrance. – Ram Kumar Shrestha ]

W.PThe topic as it stands has several parts to it: What is modern life? What is Buddhism? And what role has Buddhism to play in modem life? Modem life in itself is very difficult to define. One might say that modem life is characterized by the fact that the world is getting smaller; that people are having greater access to each other; that communication barriers are fast disappearing; that it is possible for one to know what happens everywhere in the world within a short time, and thereby pen-nits participation in the life of a larger cross-section of the world than one could have ever imagined. That would be one aspect of modern life. Related to that would be modern life understood in terms of science and technology. Man in his attempt to conquer nature, disease, natural barriers, has performed certain feats of a technological complexity which are quite mind boggling. That is another aspect of modem life. A third, perhaps a more disturbing aspect of modern life, is that with the world getting closer, communication barriers breaking away, and scientific and technological advance becoming so rapid, we have come face to face with several problems in terms of economic and political rivalry, pollution, population explosion, scarcity of resources and the indiscriminate use of resources that might not be replaced. With these come a host of other issues which can be plainly labelled as “survival.”

Can Modem Civilization Survive?

To this one may add also a moral dimension – an ethical question – and ask: “To what extent, in the process of modernization and conquering nature, have we deviated from the ability to conquer ourselves? Has the struggle for survival meant that the modem man has become a slave to selfishness, bound by his own desires and his whims? Have we lost all the things of very special value to human beings such as inter-personal relations, the anxiety to look after the well-being of others, the spirit of being of selfless service to others? Have we lost these?” Read the rest of this entry »

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Buddha’s birth and Mayadevi death were not normal

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on August 7, 2014

-Dr Kavitaram Shrestha  

ततः प्रसन्नश्च बभूव पुष्यस्तस्याश्च देव्याव्रतसंस्कृतायाःKavitaram

पाश्र्वात्सुतो लोकहिताय जज्ञे निर्वेदनं चैव निरामयं च । ९ ।

ऊरोर्यथौर्वस्य पृथोश्च हस्तान्मान्धातुरिन्द्रप्रतिस्य मूघ्र्न ।

कक्षीवतश्चैव भुजांसदेशात्तथाविधं तस्य बभूव जन्म । १० ।

— बुद्धचरित, प्रथम सर्ग[1] 

3This stanza of a Sanskrit poem in Devnagari script, talks about the event of the birth of Bodhisatwa (prince Siddharth, who became Buddha later). The actual meaning of this text is:  Read the rest of this entry »

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Lumbini Nepal – the Birthplace of Lord Buddha (Video)

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on July 13, 2014

lumbiniShakyamuni Buddha was born in Lumbini, in southern Nepal, twenty five hundred years ago. Lumbini has since been a holy ground for Buddhists all over the world. The restored garden and surroundings of Lumbini have the remains of many of the ancient stupas and monasteries. A large stone pillar erected by the Indian Emperor Ashoka in 250 BC bears an inscription about the birth of the Buddha.

An important part of Lumbini is the temple of Maya Devi. It has a stone image of Maya Devi giving birth to Lord Buddha as she holds onto a branch. It has been well worn by the strokes of barren women hoping for fertility. To the south of the temple is a pool where Queen Maya Devi is said to have bathed and given her son his first purification bath.

A quiet garden, shaded by the leafy Bo tree (the type of tree under which Buddha received enlightenment), and a newly planted forest nearby lend an air of tranquillity which bespeaks Buddha’s teachings. Lumbini is now being developed under the Master Plan of the Lumbini Development Trust, a non governmental organization dedicated to the restoration of Lumbini and its development as a pilgrimage site. The plan, completed in 1978 by the renowned Japanese architect Kenzo Tange, will transform three square miles of land into a sacred place of gardens, pools, buildings, and groves. The development will include a Monastic Zone, the circular sacred Garden surrounding the Ashoka pillar and Maya Devi temple, and Lumbini Village, where visitors will find lodges, restaurants, a cultural center and tourist facilities. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tidbits of Nepali Journalism ‘’Buddha was born in ……..’’

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 6, 2014

By Chiranjibi Paudyal

Chiranjibi-PaudyalBuddha born in NepalThat evening, Indian Defence minister Fernandes had hosted a reception in honour of the participants of the conference. When I met in the reception, he was little bit furious and adamant to his statement. We had arguments. I said ‘Buddha was born in Nepal’ but he said ‘Buddha was born in India.’ I asked him ‘’who told you and how did you know Buddha was born in India’’, he said me ‘’had read since his childhood that Buddha was born in Northern India.’’ I told him if you read UN documents then you will know the real fact. I was so infuriated that I said little bit loudly: ‘’ Do you know ‘’U Thant?’’ You should know UN Secretary General from Asia? Then he said ‘’ Why not.’’

So you must be aware that there is UN project in Lumbini which is in Nepal since the time of U Thant. When I repeatedly said UN Project then he seemed to be convinced, and felt embarrassed. I arranged an interview with him for next morning in the same hotel where we were staying. When we sat for interview, I asked the same question to him like a teacher repeatedly asks a same question to a weak student. Later he corrected saying ‘Buddha was born in Nepal.’

Famous poet Sir Edwin Arnold to UN official say Buddha was born in India distorting the fact and hurting the sentiment of millions of Nepali around the globe. However, I had the opportunity to persuade a senior UN official to make him understand and acknowledge that ‘’ Gautam Buddha was born in Nepal.’’ Read the rest of this entry »

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THE BUDDHA BOY’S ‘LAMJUNG MAITRI PUJA’ FOR WORLD PEACE

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on April 20, 2014

[We post here today, a travelogue by Joan Stanley-Baker, Emeritus Professor of Art History specializing in Chinese Fine Arts at Tainan National University in Taiwan. Basically, she comes from British Columbia, Canada and recently was a team member of the Buddha Boy’s ‘spiritual entourage’ from Sindhupalchowk, Nepal’s central hill district to Lamjung, the country’s one of the west hill districts, for a special puja this February 22-27, 2014. We understand the Buddha Boy has not received yet as much ‘reception’ as anticipated from local media but her account describes the ‘religious guru’s popularity has grown leaps and bounds in the country and abroad as well. It seems Nepal has begun benefiting also from the ‘holy guru’s being there as multitudes of devotees from around the world fly into the county day and night. Nepal’s tourism promotion, jobs creation and economic development etc. get some boost seemingly .– Editor]

FEBRUARY 22-27, 2014 ‘LAMJUNG MAITRI PUJA’ FOR WORLD PEACE

By Joan Stanley-Baker PhD*

lamjung pujaIn the Village of Khudi at the foot of the Himalayas, the eye can reach directly onto the snow capped peaks of Manasulu towering over 8163M above sea level, in an illusion of being only three or four kilometres away. This is the site of the last puja of the Nepali year, held in the District of Lamjung in northwest Nepal on the border of Tibetan. Devotees were gathering from everywhere. From Nepal – they arrived from Manang, Mustang, Pokhara lake, Kaski, Gorkha, Tanau, Dading, Kathmandu, Kirtipur, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur, Kavry, Nuwakot, Sindupalchowk, Ramechhap, Makwanpur, Chitwan, Parsa, Bara, Sarlahi, Sindhuli, etc. Devotees from the far distant mountain region of Mustang travelled across the great ranges taking more than three days for their journey. There were also Indian devotees came from Sikkim and Darjeeling among other places.

The air, as in most of the highlands of Nepal, is cold in the morning and evening, getting sun during the day, warming the breeze. But here in Khudi, the air seems especially fresh, brushing down from the highest peaks of the world, and quickens the heart with a strong feeling of being in the presence of the divine. Devotees who have attended many of the Maitri Guru’s Pujas, agree that there was something rather special about the Lamjung Puja.

For this puja, the Maitri Guru had left his mountain retreat of Badegaun in Sindhupalchowk on the morning of February 19th to travel with his immediate entourage for ten hours by jeep to Lamjung. From the very beginning atop the mountain in Badegaun, there were already twenty cars waiting to be part of a convoy and, when they reached the town of Sipaghad below, it seemed that more than thirty cars were waiting, and untold motorcycles ready to brave the long journey along the bumpy and dusty Nepali roads. Along the way, motorcycles and private cars seemingly out of nowhere, continued to join the motorcade, growing at an alarming rate even as devotees appeared standing in bare feet along the roadside with offerings of flowers, candles and incense, khatas and fruit, patiently waiting for the Guru. At times in certain populated towns the road ahead became completely blocked by devotees where nothing could pass, often requiring the gentle assistance of the local police. The vehicles continued to multiply as the day wore on, and the roaring wheeled assemblage came to stretch long and wide for kilometres, creating a veritable spectacle all along the roads leading to the large town of Chabel where about 700 devotees were waiting. There was a joyous celebratory mood among one and all. And whenever passing villages and towns, there were groups of devotees gathered along the road with flowers and other offerings to greet Guru’s passage and hoping for a glimpse of the beloved face, possibly even a blessing. Read the rest of this entry »

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TIME’s Beautiful, White, Blonde ‘Mindfulness Revolution’

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on January 30, 2014

By Joanna Piacenza, Web Manager, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review

2014-01-29-dfdfdfdfdfdgreeeeIMAGE1.jpg

Few things in this world could pull me out of a six-month post-graduate-degree writing silence. Last week’s TIME cover managed to do so with vigor. Its presence and imagery choice stirred up issues about gender, beauty, race, religious marketing, and how the “face” of mindfulness and Buddhism in America hasn’t changed in over a decade.

My initial reaction to TIME’s “The Mindful Revolution” cover was pretty surface. I huffed and puffed about the fact that a prominent Western-based magazine was portraying Buddhism in such a Cover Girl way. Flawless make up, perfect bone structure, skin as supple as Snow White; this girl was getting a lot from the “Mindful Revolution.” What’s her secret?! Even the positioning of her head, tilting up as some sort of divine call-to-action, soaking up erethral rays, screamed Western Christianity. And yet, there, splashed above her bosom, was the Buddhist-themed headline.

I shared the photo — and some sort of sarcastic remark — with my social media network and called it a day. But then the wonderful Cathy Lynn Grossman, Religious New Service correspondent and all-around fantastic #religion tweeter, posted this side-by-side image… Read the rest of this entry »

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Happiest man on earth is a Buddhist monk

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on January 6, 2014

  • Brain scans reveal Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard has largest capacity for happiness ever recorded
  • Meditation ‘completely changes your brain and therefore changes what you are’, says 66-year-old
  • He says you can do it too by learning how to let your thoughts drift

By CLAIRE BATES

Ricard: 'Meditation is not just blissing out under a mango tree but it completely changes your brain'

Ricard: ‘Meditation is not just blissing out under a mango tree but it completely changes your brain’

A French genetic scientist may seem like an unusual person to hold the title – but Matthieu Ricard is the world’s happiest man, according to researchers.

The 66-year-old turned his back on Parisian intellectual life 40 years ago and moved to India to study Buddhism. He is now a close confidante of the Dalai Lama and respected western scholar of religion.

Now it seems daily meditation has had other benefits – enhancing Mr Ricard’s capacity for joy.

Neuroscientist Richard Davidson wired up the monk’s skull with 256 sensors at the University of Wisconsin as part of research on hundreds of advanced practitioners of meditation.

The scans showed that when meditating on compassion, Ricard’s brain produces a level of gamma waves – those linked to consciousness, attention, learning and memory – ‘never reported before in the neuroscience literature’, Davidson said.

The scans also showed excessive activity in his brain’s left prefrontal cortex compared to its right counterpart, giving him an abnormally large capacity for happiness and a reduced propensity towards negativity, researchers believe.

Research into the phenomenon, known as “neuroplasticity”, is in its infancy and Ricard has been at the forefront of ground-breaking experiments along with other leading scientists across the world.

‘We have been looking for 12 years at the effect of short and long-term mind-training through meditation on attention, on compassion, on emotional balance,’ he said.

‘We’ve found remarkable results with long-term practitioners who did 50,000 rounds of meditation, but also with three weeks of 20 minutes a day, which of course is more applicable to our modern times.’ Read the rest of this entry »

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IN UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY, NEPAL MAKES RESTRAINED ASSERTION THAT THE BUDDHA WAS BORN IN ITS LUMBINI

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on October 1, 2013

[In the 68th United Nations General Assembly in New York few days ago, Nepal somehow made a lamentably restrained lowly assertion that the Buddha was born in its Lumbini.  The Himalayan country’s Interim Election Council Chairman Justice Khil Raj Regmi in his address to the general assembly said, “ I bring with me the message of peace and non-violence from Lumbini; the birth place of Gautam Buddha, the apostle of peace and the greetings and best wishes from the government and people of Nepal.” I rather would have loved him say  instead that he had brought with him “the message of peace and non-violence from Nepal’s Lumbini; the birth place of Gautam Buddha”.  But he did not say so and, which is very lamentable. We fully understand why he had required to make such a strangely twisted, indirect reference in his address but very sadly he failed to do so truly. ]

 By B. K. Rana 

Buddha birth place UN
While debating the Buddha and recent television serial on him and the news reported by Hindustan Times [1]  and also by The  Washington Post[2] and The Huffington Post [3]  from down here, it may be worthwhile writing something today again on the other 12 part Buddha film made by a professor of history from Odisha[4] who also had discussed with me after the publication of my paper on the Buddha birthplace on February 14, 2010[5]. I have no idea how he has made those 12 part films but his writings seemingly based on later day literature such as Vamsa  Gathas from Ceylon, that is to say from Shri Lanka and other local publications, I assume they are also like what Zee TV aired recently.
It is not only the Buddha birthplace, Lumbini of present day Nepal Tarai, which has been brought into question since 1928; those professors and other authors from Odisha  are also found questioning about the actual location of  the Bodhi Tree[6] under whose shade the Buddha had attained enlightenment. Those scholars following, Mahagatimbiya—Tissadatta, a Bhikkshu from Shri Lanka, who seems to have visited the Bodhi Tree site, think the tree being very close to an ocean and also think the view running parallel to those of the Chinese travelers. Those historians  and authors also talk of Majjhimdesh (मज्झिम देश). In Jatakas and Lalita Vistara  the Buddha is said to have himself told he was born in Majjhimdesh or Majjhim Desh (मज्झिम देश) – the ‘middle country’ (मध्य देश) or  Madhesh (मधेश). Therefore, some Nepalese political leaders from Madhesh have nowadays begun to say that the Buddha was born in Madhesh (मधेश) – not in Lumbini either. But where wasMajjhimdesh or Majjhim Desh (मज्झिम देश) ?  I shall copy below few lines from my 2010 paper:
Read the rest of this entry »

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THE BUDDHA BIRTHPLACE LUMBINI IN CONTROVERSY AGAIN

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on September 23, 2013

[A recent Hindi language television serial, Buddha[1] launched by Zee Network, from September the 8th has added, already frustrated people by Indian over interference, both frustration and anger in Kathmandu. In reaction, on September 13, students staged demonstrations in the streets of Kathmandu against the serial and which prompted the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu to post hastily the next day, September 14th, on its Facebook wall, “The question of where Lord Buddha was born was settled over 2000 years ago when Emperor Ashoka installed the pillar with his inscription in Lumbini. Buddha was born in Lumbini, which is in Nepal.”(2)]
By B. K. Rana
Buddha born in Nepal rally
The Buddha was born in Lumbini, which now is in western Nepal Tarai. The 249 BC inscription on the Lumbini Ashokan pillar reading, “the Buddha was born here in Luminigame” is the evidence, which cannot be contravened otherwise. There are other historical and archaeological evidence that prove the Buddha being Lumbini born and now Lumbini, the Buddhist holy land, is in Nepal. The people of Nepal and others of Nepalese origin elsewhere in the world, regardless of their academic achievements, socio-economic standings and political orientations, believe the Buddha was born in Nepal but feel very offended outright when media publicize otherwise. The Buddha is considered one of the greatest historical personages or Bibhutis – so to say, one of the national heroes of Nepal.
A recent Hindi language television serial, Buddha[1] launched by Zee Network, from September the 8th has added, already frustrated people by Indian over interference, both frustration and anger in Kathmandu. In reaction, on September 13, students staged demonstrations in the streets of Kathmandu against the serial and which prompted the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu to post hastily the next day, September 14th, on its Facebook wall, “The question of where Lord Buddha was born was settled over 2000 years ago when Emperor Ashoka installed the pillar with his inscription in Lumbini. Buddha was born in Lumbini, which is in Nepal.”[2]
Few days later, on September 19 from Gorkha, a hilly township in west Nepal, the Indian envoy to Nepal, Ranjit Ray told that there was no controversy on the Buddha birthplace. He said, “Gautam Buddha was born in Lumbini and Lumbini is in Nepal.” Expressing his discontent over the Kathmandu-media-hyped controversy, the ambassador is also reported to have further told that not all Indians may know his being born in Nepal’s Lumbini but ‘children in Indian schools are taught the Buddha was born in Lumbini which is in Nepal.’[3] Read the rest of this entry »

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Lord Buddha’s Birth Place is Nepal

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on September 18, 2013

By Dirgha Raj Prasai

Buddha born in NepalDirgha Raj PrasaiThe Indian Zee TV is going to exercise that releasing the fake news- Lord Buddha’s birth place was India. But, it is 100% fallacious and wrong. Nepal is the birth land of Lord Buddha. This fake propaganda of Zee TV will invite confrontation between Nepal and India. Gautam Buddha was born in Lumbini in the 6th century BC in mid Tarai, Nepal.. Lord Buddha is the asset of Nepal who was born in this pious land. A scholar Ram Kumar Shrestha writes- ‘Ashoka Pillar built in 300 BC by Indian Emperor Ashok during his pilgrimage to the birthplace of Buddha still stands Lumbini. A thorough excavation and investigation near the Ashok Pillar has found the Nativity Stone that was laid down to mark
the Buddha’s birthplace.

An international team of archaeologists has begun a three-year survey, coordinated by the UNESCO of the archaeological ruins of Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha in Nepal. The team of archaeologists, including experts from Nepal’s Department of Archaeology and the Lumbini Development Trust, is directed by Robin Coningham, UNESCO Archaeological Expert and Professor of Archaeology, University of Durham. The UNESCO, after careful examination all facts and evidences, has already recognized Lumbini as the Buddha’s birthplace and a World Heritage Site’.

The descriptions of famous ancient Chinese pilgrims, Huian Tsang (who traveled through India between AD 629 & 645) and Fa Hein (who traveled between AD 400 & AD 414) indicate to this area, saying, ‘Lumbini, where the Lord was born, is a piece of heaven on earth where one could see the snowy mountains amidst a splendid garden embedded with Stupas and monasteries.’ Read the rest of this entry »

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Buddha’s Birthplace: Nepal Or India? New Currency Sets The Record Straight

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on September 17, 2013

By Vishal Arora

buddha birthplace nepal india

(RNS) Quick: Where was the Buddha born?

To hear many Indians talk, you’d think it was India, where he attained enlightenment and gave his first sermon.

But the people of Nepal know better — and they are eager to correct misconceptions about the Awakened One, considered one of the world’s most revered figures.

Next month, Nepal will circulate a new 100-rupee note with the imprint, “Lumbini: The Birthplace of Lord Buddha.” The currency is part of the government’s most recent effort to correct the record.

It comes amid protests following a promotional video on the private Indian channel Zee TV, which claimed the Buddha was born in India.

Zee TV corrected the error, but Nepal Cable TV Association blocked the channel when the new series on the life of Buddha premiered on Sunday (Sept. 8). The association’s chairman described the move as a way to prevent possible unrest in the country, which is predominantly Hindu but proud of its Buddhist heritage. Read the rest of this entry »

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How’s Buddhism spreading in Africa?

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 15, 2013

By Rev. ILukpitiye Pannasekara Nayaka Thero

Buddhism came to other countries few years ago by different Buddhist teachers from different countries. They have established it properly and continue up to now.

But, very recently it came to Africa not more than 100 years history of Buddhism. It is very new, but, many countries like as Tanzania, Botswana, Kenya, Uganda, Malawi and South Africa have many Buddhist temples, organizations, centers and academic studies. Therefore after looking way back we can have some happy progress in future.

Among those countries Tanzania, Botswana, Kenya, Uganda and Malawi have one Buddhist temple in each country.
But, South Africa is having more Buddhist centers, temples and organizations which teach different kinds of Buddhist practices.

Especially University of South Africa (UNISA) (www.unisa.ac.za) is having some Buddhist studies up to Doctorate Degree studies under the religious studies. And also at University of Botswana (www.ub.bw) teach distance and internal Buddhist studies. Therefore it is better to open our Buddhist view about Buddhism in Africa. Read the rest of this entry »

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Time ripe for signing a new Nepal-China Treaty of Peace and Friendship

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on May 6, 2013

news_579416435[Nepal initiated an important proposal since 1993 that Buddha should be declared as “Light of the Universe” in place of ‘Light of Asia’ only. Dr. Bishnu Hari Nepal, former Vigya Member, Foreign Policy Draft Sub-committee, Legislative Parliament of Nepal, is strongly advocating it in the international level. International Relations and Human Rights Committee of the dissolved Legislative Parliament of Nepal had unanimously passed the vision making it a part of the campaign of the Nepalese Foreign Policy. This article is based on that concept.]
obama-walkx-largeProfessor Dr. Bishnu Hari Nepal
Buddha: The light of Universe

After going through the book, as a normal reader, I got an impression that Nepal that time, through her Great Son of the Soil, Buddha —the enlightened one, was able to contribute a great and influential philosophy with its impact on the pattern of life of the people -to our today’s great neighbors India and China in particular, Asia and the world in general. I remember the kind words from the great Buddhist philosopher of the 21st century, poet laureate of Japan, global peace initiator and President of Soka Gakai International (SGI) Daisaku Ikeda during our meeting in 1995 in Tokyo, “Japan was indebted to Nepal for their present culture, civilization, way of life, behavioral patterns, and thinking and even to the visionary approaches”. He had also added that it was through the flow of Buddhism -the enlightenment of the ancient Himalayan civilization. In response, I had said, “It is now — just the reverse- you are promoting peace and philosophy of Buddhism from the Far East to the West”. He had laughed.

To my satisfaction now Nepal China Society has done a credible job adding a brick in enhancing Nepal’s deep cultural ties with China and the world. Japan’s case, Buddhism started perhaps only from the sixth century via China and Korea.

On the contrary, the case of China, Buddhism entered to this country crossing the mighty Himalayas, through the Silk Road. The authors in this book argue that this was during the 1st or 2nd century CE. As a normal materialist Nepali thinker of the 21 st century, it gives me a sense of great pride and inspiration, and also impression to be looking for a second child of Buddha’s and Araniko’s repute for the 21st century Nepal. Specially, on the political grounds, today’s Nepal badly needs it!

For me Buddhism is a philosophy directly related to the way of life of the people. As a matter of fact, it was a materialist theory, alternative to the then existing religions. But during the course of time, Buddha being too much popular by his deeds, people started regarding Buddha himself as God and Buddhism as a religion. Hindus also took the opportunity and made him the incarnation of Vishnu! I do not believe in such superstitions. I believe in the strong scientific fact of explorations that he was the Prince of Lumbini-Kapilvastu of Nepal. But I respect the beliefs of the people. Read the rest of this entry »

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How Meditation May Change the Brain

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on January 28, 2013

By SINDYA N. BHANOO
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Over the December holidays, my husband went on a 10-day silent meditation retreat. Not my idea of fun, but he came back rejuvenated and energetic.

He said the experience was so transformational that he has committed to meditating for two hours daily, one hour in the morning and one in the evening, until the end of March. He’s running an experiment to determine whether and how meditation actually improves the quality of his life.

I’ll admit I’m a skeptic.

But now, scientists say that meditators like my husband may be benefiting from changes in their brains. The researchers report that those who meditated for about 30 minutes a day for eight weeks had measurable changes in gray-matter density in parts of the brain associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress. The findings will appear in the Jan. 30 issue of Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging. Read the rest of this entry »

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How to Inspire Your Brain

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on December 4, 2012

By Deepak Chopra, Co-author, ‘Super Brain: Unleashing the Explosive Power of Your Mind to Maximize Health, Happiness, and Spiritual Well-Being’; founder, The Chopra Foundation

 GYI0000667336.jpgWe’ve entered a golden age for brain research, but all these new findings haven’t trickled down to the individual. Yet there are broad discoveries that make it possible to everyone to improve their brains. Let me state these succinctly:

• Your brain is constantly renewing itself.
• Your brain can heal its wounds form the past.
• Experience changes the bran every day.
• The input you give your brain causes it to form new neural pathways.
• The more positive the input, the better your brain will function.

In a new book, Super Brain, I and my co-author, Prof. Rudolf Tanzi of Harvard Medical School, expand upon the neuroscience behind these broad findings. The old view of the brain as fixed for life, constantly losing neurons and declining in function, has been all but abolished. The new brain is a process, not a thing, and the process heads in the direction you point it in. A Buddhist monk meditating on compassion develops the brain circuitry that brings compassion into reality. Depending on the input it receives, you can create a compassionate brain, an artistic brain, a wise brain, or any other kind.

However, as Prof. Tanzi and I see it, the agent that makes these possibilities become real is the mind. The brain doesn’t create its own destiny. Genetics delivers the brain in a functioning state so that the nervous system can regulate itself and the whole body. It doesn’t take your intervention to balance hormone levels, regulate heartbeat, or do a thousand other autonomic functions. But the newest part of the brain, the neocortex, is where the field of possibilities actually lies. Here is where decisions are made, where we discriminate, worship, assess, control, and evolve Read the rest of this entry »

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Loitering in the land of Buddha

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on November 26, 2012

By Sanjib Chaudhary

After reading the article “Tilaurakot Excavations (2023 – 2029 V.S.)” by Tara Nanda Mishra and the book “The Great Sons of the Tharus: Sakyamuni Buddha and Emperor Asoka the Great” by Subodh Kumar Singh, I was dying to visit Tilaurakot, the place where Lord Buddha spent his 29 years.

Tilaurakot – the citadel in shambles

Finally, I got the chance to visit Taulihawa. I was excited – the reason – Tilaurakot and Jagadishpur Lake being in the vicinity. As we crossed the Bhikchhu Chowk, the roundabout that leads the way to Tilaurakot, the sign board was misleading. While one showed the way to Tilaurakot, another had a two headed arrow which was pointing towards two opposite directions. However, the problem was solved within minutes as the locals told us to head northward.

On the way to the Tilaurakot complex is a museum that houses the archaeological findings that were excavated from the complex. We wanted to see the site of King Suddhodana’s palace first, so we skipped the visit to the museum.

Not a single visitor in the complex

Reaching the complex, I had thought that crowds of people will be competing for a glimpse of the ancient kingdom. However, the expectation was shattered within seconds. I could see not a single visitor in the surrounding.

Anybody can enter the complex and surprisingly you don’t need to pay for the entrance. Entering the citadel was like travelling back into the days of Buddha. I could sense the ambience – tranquil and heavenly.

Grand defence of ancient times

At the entrance of the Western Gate, the remnants of 10 feet wide defence wall were astonishing. You can imagine how well protected the citadel was – apart from the defence wall, there used to be a 22 feet wide moat with crocodiles. It was simply impossible for the enemies to enter the city.

The excavations carried out on the western end of the ruins at Tilaurakot, roughly in the central position of the western wall brought to light three different phases of defence walls. Among them, the first wall was made of clay, possibly digging the nearest outside area, and the ditch had been simultaneously converted into a moat. The first mud wall can be dated to 7th-6th Century BC. The second phase of defence wall had also been made of yellowish clay, and had been built during 200 BC. The third wall was erected just over the basement and outer toe of the second phase wall. It was made of bricks and brick-bats in yellowish mud mortar. It can be dated to 150 BC. The walls were surrounded by a deep moat, which was probably fed by water from the Banaganga River.

One of my colleagues tried to step on the wall out of curiosity but was admonished by a staffer wearing an orange tee shirt with the Lumbini Development Trust logo. However, he was himself sleeping on the wall! Read the rest of this entry »

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Greater Lumbini Master Plan: A Herculean Task Ahead

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on November 6, 2012

DR. JIBA RAJ POKHAREL

Dahal has a tall hill to climb‚ as the Greater Lumbini Project will be almost ten times costly than Lumbini alone. It is a Herculean task indeed. The need of revisiting the present rather ambitious Lumbini plan without diluting its sanctity and concepts has already been expressed in different quarters

Lumbini is again in the news, after remaining in the sidelines for a long time, following the formation of a high level committee chaired by the former prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal. And, why shouldn’t it be when it is the birthplace of Buddha? Buddha’s notion that there is suffering in the world with desire as its cause has touched the heart and mind of innumerable people around the globe. It is unfortunate that Lumbini should face developmental constraints due to shortage of funds.
This is, however, not the first time that Lumbini has been virtually raised from the ashes in its three thousand year history. It came into prominence in 563 BC when Buddha was born. Lumbini was in the limelight during the visit of Emperor Ashoka, who erected the Lumbini pillar bearing an inscription of the birth of Buddha in 249 BC. Lumbini appears to have started to fall into oblivion as none of the visiting Chinese travelers Mr Yuch Chih in the fourth century, Mr. Fa Hsien in the fifth century and Mr. Yuan Chwang in the seventh make a mention of the all important Lumbini pillar inscription, implying that it was buried in the earth, and nobody bothered to maintain it which reflects serious neglect. It is reiterated by the observation of the horse capital of Lumbini pillar lying on the ground by Mr. Wang Hiuen Tse remaining unattended again in the seventh century. Lumbini was still well known as a Buddist religious site till the visit of Ripu Malla in the year 1312, which is evident from the inclusion of a popular Buddhist verse om mani padmeham in his inscription. But, after that the popularity of Lumbini seems to have taken a nose dive, as Khadga Shamsher had to clear several feet of earth around the Lumbini pillar, when he visited it in the year 1896 along with Mr. Fuhrer. It was given a new lease of life by Kaisher Shamsher in 1928, when he did some construction work. The visit of U Thant, the United Nations General Secretary in the 1950s, was instrumental for the present revival of Lumbini. He mobilized the international community leading to the formation of an International Committee for the development of Lumbini under the umbrella of the United Nations. This international move triggered the inception of Lumbini Development Committee in an effort to coordinate works at the national level.  Read the rest of this entry »

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The Price of Faith: Chinese Buddhist Sites Plan IPOs

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on September 28, 2012

STR / AFP / Getty Images

STR / AFP / GETTY IMAGES
Shaolin monks perform for visitors on Oct. 24, 2010. The temple makes millions every year from entrance fees and online sales of Shaolin items

In China today, there’s little that money can’t buy — even when it comes to faith. Many of the country’s most popular Buddhist sites are chock-full of cure-all tonics and overpriced incense. For the most part, people seem happy, or at least willing, to oblige. That changed this summer, though, when it emerged that China’s four most sacred Buddhist mountains were hatching plans to list on the Shanghai stock exchange.

In July, Mount Putuo Tourism Development Co. announced it would attempt to raise 7.5 billion yuan in a 2014 initial public offering. The company operates the tourist facilities at Putuo Shan, located on an island 20 miles (32 km) off Shanghai. Chinese state media quoted representatives of Wutai Shan in Shanxi province and Jiuhua Shan in Anhui province as saying they too had plans to raise funds on the capital markets. The fourth of China’s sacred mountains, Emei Shan in Sichuan province, completed a public listing in Shenzhen in 1997, under the incredibly auspicious ticker symbol “888.” Read the rest of this entry »

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MISTAKEN BUDDHA BIRTH PLACE IN ‘WISDOM OF THE AGES’ : A COURSE BOOK FOR US UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on September 23, 2012

[ The author, Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, who appears for his talks almost everyday on PBS TV[2] shows in United States of America, seems not to have checked Lumbini Ashokan Pillar inscription, [” .. Hida Bhagavam Jateti Lumini Game” [3] discovered by Anton A. Fuhrer on December 1, 1896. Further more, while he was writing the book, he seems not to have been well informed of recent Lumbini archaeological finds also. If he had in anyways, he would have certainly written the “Founder of Buddhism, one of the world’s major religions, the Buddha was born Prince Siddhartha Gautama in Nepal at the border of northeast India” instead. ]
By B. K. Rana
Early morning yesterday, one of my friends, K. Kadaria called me over a phone and said “I just read a book named :’Wisdom of the Ages’ written and published in 1998 by Wayne W. Dyer. The author has written that the “Founder of Buddhism, one of the world’s major religions, the Buddha was born Prince Siddhartha Gautama in northeast India, near the border of Nepal.”So, we needed debating with the author. This is in a course book for undergraduate students at  the Bunker Hill Community College, Boston in  Massachusetts,  USA.”
He sent me a brief email message also which I  immediately  forwarded to my email-list and,  as anticipated, prompt response arrived from  a few scholars from different parts of the world. Among those response was  in an email message from a renowned linguist, Professor Madhav Pokharel of Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal,  in which he has written, “both China and Japan have officially endorsed Lumbini of Nepal being the Buddha’s  birth place, however, while doing researches in China for one year and two years in Japan, I heard that in government prescribed books in  both of these countries students are taught the Buddha  was born in India”[1]. Prof. Pokharel says there is a need for finding the truth out and making a correction to it also.
The book in discussion and its author, Dr. Wayne W. Dyer http://www.drwaynedyer.com/, acclaimed  as one of the internationally best selling authors, a motivational speaker and named also as “Modern Master”, has discussed,  in the book “Wisdomof the Ages: 60 Days to Enlightenment”,  a total of 265  different thinkers of the past and present world  from: Pythagoras and Blaise Pascal, Buddha, Lao-tzu, Patanjali  to many others and down the end himself also.  A chapter titled as ‘Knowing’ is dedicated to Buddhist philosophy. The chapter starts from page 5 in which the author writes: “Founder of Buddhism, one of the world’s major religions, the Buddha was born Prince Siddhartha Gautama in northeast India, near the border of Nepal”. This is flatly incorrect information. Our students must be told or taught the  truth and no imparted false knowledge.
The author, Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, who appears for his talks almost everyday on PBS TV[2] shows in United States of America,seems not to have checked Lumbini Ashokan Pillar inscription, [” .. Hida Bhagavam Jateti Lumini Game” [3]discovered byAnton A. Fuhrer on December 1, 1896. Further more, while he was writing the book, he seems not to have been well informed of recent Lumbini archaeological finds also. If he had in anyways, he would have certainly written the “Founder of Buddhism, one of the world’s major religions, the Buddha was born Prince Siddhartha Gautama in Nepal at the border of northeast India” instead.
The book in question was published in 1998 by Harper Collins,in other words some 14 years ago and its first Quill edition came out in 2002 already. After these long years, discussing this way may seem  ‘partisan’ to some of our readers. But the point here is that students deserve right information. We need to feed them facts of human history. But neither we are telling Dr. Wayne W. Dyer deliberately weote “the Buddha was born Prince Siddhartha Gautama in northeastIndia, near the border of Nepal.”Not every writer can visit Lumbini Garden in Nepal and read the Ashokan inscription before writing a book on the Buddha. It is not practical also to do so.  The author has utilized second hand information available to him.

No Confronting with the authors:
We can’t confront each and every author on the Buddha birth place and Kapilvastu also. A Nepalese scholar, Ram B. Chhetri, currently residing in Virginia, USAalso wrote  in reply yesterday,  “ What about Jesus Christ born in China ? We can’t go on confronting people writing whatever they feel like writing.” The point he makes here is that people have been writing on their own ways and  this is how they write; we can’t tell them do what we like.

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Science and Religion

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on August 13, 2012

This article appears in Einstein’s Ideas and Opinions, pp.41 – 49. The first section is taken from an address at Princeton Theological Seminary, May 19, 1939. It was published in Out of My Later Years, New York: Philosophical Library, 1950. The second section is from Science, Philosophy and Religion, A Symposium, published by the Conference on Science, Philosophy and Religion in Their Relation to the Democratic Way of Life, Inc., New York, 1941.


During the last century, and part of the one before, it was widely held that there was an unreconcilable conflict between knowledge and belief. The opinion prevailed among advanced minds that it was time that belief should be replaced increasingly by knowledge; belief that did not itself rest on knowledge was superstition, and as such had to be opposed. According to this conception, the sole function of education was to open the way to thinking and knowing, and the school, as the outstanding organ for the people’s education, must serve that end exclusively.

One will probably find but rarely, if at all, the rationalistic standpoint expressed in such crass form; for any sensible man would see at once how one-sided is such a statement of the position. Einstein in 1946But it is just as well to state a thesis starkly and nakedly, if one wants to clear up one’s mind as to its nature.

It is true that convictions can best be supported with experience and clear thinking. On this point one must agree unreservedly with the extreme rationalist. The weak point of his conception is, however, this, that those convictions which are necessary and determinant for our conduct and judgments cannot be found solely along this solid scientific way.

For the scientific method can teach us nothing else beyond how facts are related to, and conditioned by, each other.The aspiration toward such objective knowledge belongs to the highest of which man is capabIe, and you will certainly not suspect me of wishing to belittle the achievements and the heroic efforts of man in this sphere. Yet it is equally clear that knowledge of what is does not open the door directly to what should be. Read the rest of this entry »

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Buddha Nature and the Divided Brain

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on August 9, 2012

By John Stanley and David Loy

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a world that honors the servant, but has forgotten the gift.
–Albert Einstein

Except in the light of brain hemisphere lateralization, nothing in human psychology makes any sense.
–neuroscientist Tim Crow

An Old Tale

There’s a traditional Buddhist story about a statue of incomparable value, which is lost and then forgotten. For generation after generation, various kinds of human rubbish and debris accumulate to bury it. Nobody ever suspects that anything important lies under the ground. Eventually a clairvoyant person happens by who comments: “If you dig here, and clean up what you find, you will discover something invaluable.” But who would follow such advice?

Our Divided Brain

In his remarkable book, “The Master and his Emissary,” neurological psychologist Iain McGilchristprovides a wealth of scientific evidence to support his contention that two opposed realities are rooted in the bi-hemispheric structure of the human brain.

Although each hemisphere is specialized, neither functions as an “independent brain.” They integrate their activities to produce physical movements, mental processes and behaviors greater than, and different from, their individual contributions. With functional NMR scanners, real-time brain imaging is now routinely used to determine the functional effects of all kinds of strokes and brain injuries, and in that way we can observe how the hemispheres act together as “opponent processors.”

Basically, the right hemisphere is mute, perceives in a holistic Gestalt manner and synthesizes over space. The left hemisphere, the seat of language, analyzes over time. The right hemisphere codes sensory input in terms of images, the left in terms of words and concepts. Specialization of function offers all kinds of advantages, but integrating those functions is a special point of vulnerability. When it comes to the large and complex human mind-brain, harmony can easily be lost. Read the rest of this entry »

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Good News: You Are Not Your Brain

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on August 8, 2012

By Deepak Chopra, M.D., FACP, and Dr. Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D., Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy, Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School Director, Genetics and Aging at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).

Like a personal computer, science needs a recycle bin for ideas that didn’t work out as planned. In this bin would go commuter trains riding on frictionless rails using superconductivity, along with interferon, the last AIDS vaccine, and most genetic therapies. These failed promises have two things in common: They looked like the wave of the future but then reality proved too complex to fit the simple model that was being offered.

The next thing to go into the recycle bin might be the brain. We are living in a golden age of brain research, thanks largely to vast improvements in brain scans. Now that functional MRIs can give snapshots of the brain in real time, researchers can see specific areas of the brain light up, indicating increased activity. On the other hand, dark spots in the brain indicate minimal activity or none at all. Thus, we arrive at those familiar maps that compare a normal brain with one that has deviated from the norm. This is obviously a great boon where disease is concerned. Doctors can see precisely where epilepsy or Parkinsonism or a brain tumor has created damage, and with this knowledge new drugs and more precise surgery can target the problem.

But then overreach crept in. We are shown brain scans of repeat felons with pointers to the defective areas of their brains. The same holds for Buddhist monks, only in their case, brain activity is heightened and improved, especially in the prefrontal lobes associated with compassion. By now there is no condition, good or bad, that hasn’t been linked to a brain pattern that either “proves” that there is a link between the brain and a certain behavior or exhibits the “cause” of a certain trait. The whole assumption, shared by 99 percent of neuroscientists, is that we are our brains.

In this scheme, the brain is in charge, having evolved to control certain fixed behaviors. Why do men see other men as rivals for a desirable woman? Why do people seek God? Why does snacking in front of the TV become a habit? We are flooded with articles and books reinforcing the same assumption: The brain is using you, not the other way around. Yet it’s clear that a faulty premise is leading to gross overreach. Read the rest of this entry »

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ANCIENT KAPILVASTU WAS PRETTY MUCH WHERE THE TILAURAKOT RUINS ARE TODAY

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on August 1, 2012

By Kailash Chandra Dash

The homeland of Gautam Buddha which is described in the vast Buddhist literary texts as Kapilavastu, the land  and capital city of the Sakyas is now a central point of debate regarding its location among some historians and archaeologists. It is  a subject of considerable interest from the last decade of the 19th century A.D. and now it is associated with national interest and pride. Some historians locate Kapilavastu in Piprahwa, some others locate it in Tilaurkot and still others locate it in Bhubaneswar of Odisha. I have presented the arguments against  the location of Kapilavastu in Odisha in the pages of The Himalayan Voice. Hence in this paper my focus is directed to the debate on the location of Kapilavastu either in India or in Nepal.

The location of Kapilavastu is to be studied in the context of Lumbini, the real spot of the birth of Gautam Buddha. We find the name of Lumbini Grama in the edicts of Ashoka as well as in the famous text Buddha Charita of Asvaghosh of 1st century A.D. Interestingly Buddha Charita explains Lumbini as Vananta-bhumi(a forest area), This term Lumbini is in all probability a local term whose Sanskrit equivalent was given by Asvaghosh as Vanantabhumi. This explains the fact that Lumbini-the spot where Gautam was born was a peculiar term of the areas on the Hmalayan zone. This compels us to think  that the term was associated with  ancient Nepal and not with  ancient India. The text Buddha Charita states of Kapila Janapada Nagara where Sakyas and their leader Suddhodana-the father of Gautama were living with prosperity. Thus Lumbini and Kapilavastu(the land of Kapila) were connected. The inscriptions(pillar edicts) of Ashoka refer to the birthplace of Kanakamuni Buddha and Gautam Buddha which he had visited and erected stupas in his 20th reganl year. This suggests that both the sites were included in the kingdom of Kapilavastu. Considering their present location and the reading of the edicts of Ashoka it is now clear that they were in ancient time located near the Himalayan area which is now called Nepal Tarai zone. This also explains the location of Kapilavastu in Nepal Tarai.
The Sakyas of Kapilavastu were in control of a part of Himalayan region which was attached to the Kosala kingdom in 6th-7th century A.D. Sakya was a republican state in ancient Bharat Varsha. But according to Buddhist sources like Bhaddasalajataka Kapilavastu and the Sakyas were destroyed by king Vidudabha, son of Prasenjit  of Kosala during the lifetime of Gautam Buddha. But probably the city was not completely destroyed because the  Sakyas of Kapilavastu got a part of the ashes of Buddha  after his death which were divided into eight parts-the recipients being  Ajatasatru of Magadha, Lichhavis of Vaisali, Bulis of Allakappa, A Brahmin of Vethadipa, Mallas of Kusinagara, Koliyas of Ramagrama and the Sakyas of Kapilavastu, Thus even after the destruction by the Kosalan king some parts of Kapilavastu remained. By the time of Samudragupta the Sakya clan was not prominent, but Nepal was famous then as a frontier state. Accordng to Allahabad Pillar inscription Nepal remained a frontier kingdom under Samudragupta after paying all taxes. Thus this explains the fact that the remaining portions of Kailavastu must have been a part of the frontier kingdom of Nepal during the Gupta phase. Kapilavastu could not be separated from the border areas which covered Nepal then. Read the rest of this entry »

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