- The journey continued. . .
Lumbini or Rummindel, the local name by which it is now known today, is a sacred place within the territories of the Nepal Government. It is one hundred miles north of Benares within the full sight of the snow-capped Himalayas.
It was discovered by General Alexander Cunningham, the renowned archaeologist, in 1886 A.D.
There exists a pillar of King Asoka proclaiming that Prince Siddhartha was born there.
Standing among the ruins of Lubmini Park, I could not help reflecting on the momentous events that took place some 2500 years ago at the very spot where I was standing. There were no words that could adequately express the feelings as I recall what the Blessed One said as it was narrated by Arahant Ananda:
“The Boddhisatta’s mother gave birth to him after carrying him in her womb for exactly ten months and standing up. When the Bodhisatta’s came forth the mother’s womb, first gods received him, then human beings; he did not touch the earth. Four young gods received him and set him before his mother saying “Rejoice, O queen, a son of great power has been born to you.” He came forth unsullied, unsmeared by water or humours or blood or any kind of impurity, clean and unsullied. Two jets of water appeared to pour from the sky, one cool and one warm, for bathing the Bodhisatta and his mother. As soon as the Bodhisatta was born, he stood firmly with his feet on the ground; then took seven steps facing north, and with a white parasol held over him, he surveyed each quarter and utter the words of the Leader of the Herd: “I am the highest in the world; I am the best in the world; I am the foremost in the world. This is my last birth; now there is no renewal of beings for me.” A great immeasurable light surpassing the splendor of the gods appeared in the world with its gods, Maras, and Brahmas, princes and its people. All this ten-thousand fold world systems shook and quaked and trembled; and there too a great immeasurable light surpassing the splendor of the gods appeared.” (Majjhima Nikaya, Sutta 123, Acchariya-abbhuta Sutta: Wonderful and Marvellous. See also Digha Nikaya, Sutta 14, Mahapadana Sutta: The great Discourse on the Lineage).
We were blessed to meet Venerable Ramesh Kumar Baniya (Lumbini) at the airport. He was on his way home to Shakyadhitanum’s Center at Lumbini and offered to be our guide to visit the ruins of King Suddhodana’s palace at Kapalivatthu and other sites.
Along the 25 kilometer journey from Lumbini to Kapilavatthu we passed vast stretches of wheat field with grazing buffaloes. It reminded me of the ploughing ceremony where Prince Siddhartta was left alone under the shade of a rose-apple tree and rose into the air cross-legged, quietly engaged in anapana meditation, and thereby attained the first rupavacara jhana. King Suddhodana saluted and made obeisance to his son for the second time.
Along the way to Kaplivatthu we stopped by Kudan and explored the ruins of a monastery at Bayan Grove.
Kapilavatthu, a Buddhist religious site, lying on the Indo-Nepal border, is now known as Piprahwa. Prince Siddhartha spent 29 years of His early life there and in Lumbini. It is associated with several memorial events such as encounter with the four sights, competition with Shakya youth, marriage and so on. Upon his enlightenment in Bodhgaya, 500 Shakyas and 9 princes embraced Buddhism. The Buddha also preached to his father, King Suddhodana and son, Rahula there.
In the stillness of the Aslha Full Moon night, Prince Siddhartha then 29 years old, together with Channa rode out of the city of Kaplivatthu on the horse, Kanthaka. Brahma Ghantikara, as well as the Four Great Deities from Catumaharajjka Heaven assisted. The galloping of the horse’s hooves were muffled and the city gate swung open for the Prince and Channa to exit.
The main archaeological site that was discovered during excavations in 1973-74. The seals and inscriptions over the lid of the pot discovered read “Om Deoputra Vihare Kapilvastu Bhikschu Mahasanghasa” and “Om Deoputra Vihare Kapilvastu Bhikschu Sanghasa”. The title Deoputra refers to Kanishka, a great patron of Buddhism who built the biggest Vihara at Kapilvastu and renovated the main stupa there.
We ended our journey and proceeded to Varanasi in India to visit the other holy sites.
The journey continues with the next episode in “A visit to Buddhist holy sites in India.”
Do keep a date and lookout for the next posting.
Contributor: Chin Kee Thou