Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Nepalese counterpart Sher Bahadur Deuba together laid the foundation stone for the India International Centre for Buddhist Culture and Heritage in Lumbini, Nepal, birthplace of The Buddha, on the occasion of Buddha Jayanti.
Historical significance of Lumbini –
- Lumbini, located across the border from Gorakhpur in Rupandehi district of Nepal’s Lumbini province, is believed to be the birthplace of the Shakya prince Siddhartha Gautam, who became The Buddha after attaining Enlightenment.
- The Lumbini complex contains a number of holy sites, including the famous Mayadevi temple, which is dedicated to The Buddha’s mother.
- Lumbini Garden is described in Buddhist literature as a Pradimoksha-vana (sin-free forest), containing groves of sal trees, beautiful flowers, birds, and natural landscapes. It was built by Anjana, king of the Koliya clan, for his queen Rupadevi or Rummindei, pronounced “Lumindei” in the Magadhi language, hence the name Lumbini, according to some historians. The Koliya were bound by matrimonial alliance with the Shakya clan of Kapilavastu, and jointly managed the garden. Mayadevi, who was the daughter of king Anjana, was married to the Shakya king Suddhodana.
- Lumbini was located on an ancient trade route passing through Kapilavastu (present location uncertain), Kushinagar (in modern-day Uttar Pradesh), and Vaishali, Pataliputra, Nalanda, and Rajgriha (all in today’s Bihar). There were shops, eating places, and rest-houses for both the elite and common people along the route.
- Ashoka connection – The 3rd century BC was a watershed moment in the history of Lumbini and Buddhism. After witnessing the massacre in the war of Kalinga, the emperor Ashoka converted to Buddhism and committed himself to promoting the spread of the religion. He visited Lumbini, and in 249 BC, built a large temple-like structure over the birthplace of Buddha and erected a sandstone pillar containing inscriptions to memorialise his pilgrimage.