Saturday, May 3, 2014

Ask Maya: Was the Buddha born in India?

Maya, Ashley Wells, Dhr. Seven, Wisdom Quarterly; Dwaipayan;
The caves of Orissa (Odisha), India - Udayagiri and Khandagiri (Aisamit/
Ask Maya is a regular service to WQ readers
Wisdom Quarterly reader Dwaipayan writes in questioning the Buddha's birthplace.
It is customary nowadays to say that Siddhartha was born in Nepal bordering India, near Gorakhpur. However, historian Dr. Ranajit Pal (, as well as reading a wide variety of Buddhist texts, makes it clear that Afghanistan (Gandhara, Mes Aynak, Bamiyan, Kabul) is a much more likely candidate for the real Kapilavastu.

We are convinced. But like no other issue, questioning Nepal inflames proud Nepalis, who remain anonymous and full of animosity. We are accused of being too "pro-India" -- with no mention made of the fact that Wisdom Quarterly is actually pro-truth (whatever that may be). And we are very pro-ancient Afghanistan.

Maya knows all and answers some.
But as a tribute to our friends in beautiful Buddhist Nepal, particularly "Buddha Boy" -- Ram Bahadur Bomjon (aka  Tapaswi Palden Dorje, Ven. Sanghamitta), here is our question of the day. It comes from an Indian reader on the possibility that the Siddhartha, who became the Buddha, was actually born in East India, rather than ancient India's northwestern frontier (now Afghanistan) very close to where he taught in Magadha.
QUESTION: Is it possible the Buddha was not born in faraway northwest frontier of India (modern Afghanistan beyond ancient Gandhara, India)? Might Siddhartha Gautama been born in Orissa? Please have an open mind and look at the evidence [which is conveniently put forward by the Government of Orissa].
ANSWER: Our reply comes courtesy of Ajit Kumar Tripathy (OHRJ, Vol. XLVII, No. 1) via the Indian government, which at the very least shows the fraud and falsification of German and British archeologists Dr. Pal rails against who gave us our current Nepalese misinformation:

The Real Birth Place of Buddha: Yesterday's Kapilavastu, Today's Kapileswar[?]
Old Orissa is now Odisha, India
It has long been taken for granted that Kapilavastu, the capital city of the Sakyas [the Shakya clan], and Lumbini, the actual birth place of Goutam Buddha, were situated in the Nepalese Tarai. 

The main basis of this belief is the inscribed pillar of Rummindei, recording the visit of the Mayuran emperor Asoka, the great to the place where Buddha was born. It is little known that the same fact in similar words and script existed in Orissa. So much has been taken for granted on this issue that few scholars are now prepared to go deep into the matter. That Buddha was born in India and not in Nepal, needs to be accepted on the basis of a number of proofs, which are discussed in this article.
Dr. Cunningham in his Ancient Geography of India points out the place where from the Tarai inscription had been discovered is not at all related to the name Kapilavastu or even the name Kapila. 

And the noted historian Dr. Smith asserts that the place of the discovery of the Tarai inscription was never called Rummindei; it was a forged name given to it by archaeologist Dr. Fuhrer. Besides it has been proved that Buddhism had not been adopted in Nepal till the 6th century A.D. In face of all these clear-cut statements of noted scholars, it is quite sane to focus our attention on the village Kapileswara in Bhubaneswar in Orissa.

The centuries old Kapileswara village has got some similarity with the Kapilavastu in name and a region nearby called Lembai is similar to Lumbini. According to [the] Tri-pitaka ["Triple Basket," not a citation because this is merely a very general name for canonical Buddhist texts taken as a whole], Lumbini was a small estate with its capital at Kapilvastu.

Till recently, as can be seen from maps of 1817 AD there was a Lembai Pragana; and Kapileswara was a part of it. Besides, the inscription of Kapileswara village corroborates the statement of [the] Tripitaka and the Kalinga war of Asoka. The mention of the era of [the] Buddha and the name of the scribe in the said inscription help us to take this as genuine.
Out of four places hallowed in memory of [the] Buddha, one is his birthplace Kapilavastu. When the birthplace sculptures were destroyed, the Buddhist monks searched for a new place in the dense forests of Tarai region in Nepal and put another stupa [burial mound, reliquary] there. As other places associated with the life of Buddha such as his enlightenment, turning the Wheel of Dharma, and his [final nirvana], all happened to be in the North, it was quite natural to locate it again in the same North.

In no Buddhist literature there is any description relating to history or geography of the so-called Kapilavastu or Lumbini of Nepal. Only because the Tarai inscription was discovered there, the place attained celebrity status throughout the world.
Dr. Fuhrer discovered the Asokan stone inscription in the Nepal Tarai in 1896. The Kapileswara birth-plate, also evidently an Asokan stone inscription, was discovered 32 years later. A great deal of discussion on the Kapileswara plate appeared in the Indian Historical Quarterly (Vol. V) in 1929, but no research was conducted on it. Research scholars both inside and outside Orissa and India did not examine the evidence with any seriousness and it was left at that, till Chakradhar Mahapatra conducted extensive research on the subject and brought out a book named The Real Birth Place of Buddha published in 1977.
Mr. Chakradhar Mahapatra argues that an Asoka-pillar existed at the then Kapilavastu and the present Kapileswar, which recorded the birth. It was destroyed in religious disturbances in Orissa. The Buddhists erected a second pillar in the then inaccessible Nepal Tarai, and engraved on it a duplicate of the original inscription. This is why, we are told, the date of the epigraph in “the Buddha era” and the name of engraver, Chundray, are not mentioned on Rumindei pillar. The duplicate plate makers were at least honest enough to remain silent on the date of the inscription and did not repeat the name, “Chundray.” It is also a fact that this pillar is devoid of the characteristic Asokan capital. It looks very much different from the standard Ashoka pillars.

The noted historian V.A. Smith challenges this statement of Dr. Fuhrer and comments -- “This gives no further evidence for Fuhrer’s assertion and it appears that neither the Nepalese officials nor the hill-men called it Rumindei.” This... More

1 comment:

Dr Kailash Chandra Dash said...

The place of Lumbini edict of Ashok in Tilaurkot zone is not a forgery as in the report of V.Smith in The Journal of Royal Asiatic Society of GB of 1896-97 the matter has been made clear. KAPILESWAR OF BHUBANESWAR in Odisha cannot be associated with the birthplace of Buddha as this does not satisfy the report of Asvaghosh and the Chinese pilgrims which place the birthplace in the Himalayan zone. Again KAPILESWAR inscription is purely a fake document as has been remarked by several historians including Harry Falk.
Kailash Chandra Dash