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Lumbini & Kapilavastu

The birthplace and Kingdom of Shakyamuni
Our History

When the time of birth grew near, Queen Mahamaya had the wish to travel from Kapilavastu, to her childhood home, Devadaha, to give birth. On the way to Devadaha, the procession passed by Lumbini Grove, which was full of blossoming trees. Enchanted, the Queen decided to give birth there, standing up and holding on to a branch. According to the story, the baby prince emerged from her right side, took seven steps, and proclaimed, ‘I am the world-honored one.

Lumbini, located in the Himalayan foothills in what is now Nepal, is the birthplace of Gautama Siddhartha, the Sakya prince who would become the Buddha Sakyamuni. In the Buddha’s time, Lumbini was a pleasure garden. Mayadevi, the mother of the Buddha, stopped in this garden on a journey from Kapilavastu to her parents’ home to give birth. Sensing the time had come, she grasped the overhanging branch of a tree, and the Bodhisattva emerged painlessly from her right side. In the third century BCE, King Asoka traveled to Lumbini on pilgrimage, erecting stupas and a commemorative pillar. Two famous Chinese Buddhist pilgrim-scholars, Faxian (5 th century CE) and Xuanzang (7 th century CE), both visited Lumbini, finding evidence of Asoka’s pillar and features described in the Sutras. After Xuanzang’s visit, few records of Lumbini exist; the site was apparently forgotten for many years. In 1896, a German archeologist found remnants of Asoka’s pillar, with an inscription marking the site as the birthplace of the Buddha. Recent excava

tions have uncovered stupas and viharas at Lumbini. The temple of Queen Maya, an important feature of the present-day site, was built on the foundation of a much earlier structure that may have been erected by King Asoka. As a site associated with peace and compassion, it has gradually grown in popularity as a pilgrimage place, and today it is well-known throughout the Buddhist world.

First international Chanting Ceremony

Our connection to the All Nepal Bhikkhu Saṅgha and other groups in Nepal began with the International Chanting Ceremony in Bodhgaya. The word had spread that the ceremony in Bodhgaya was attracting many followers and pilgrims, and the Saṅgha reached out to the ITCC with the request that LBDFI arrange to start a similar event in Lumbini. Without any hesitation, we responded with an affirmative yes. It was in 2018, LBDFI sponsored a group of international monks from Bodhgaya to journey by bus for days before crossing over the border between Nepal and India. Once we arrived on the other side of the Nepalese border, we could see that there was still much construction going on with roads that still needed attention. I remember the evening very well when we arrived into the sacred garden premises of Lumbini. The Royal Thai temple volunteers were working on last minute beautification of the grounds. As I walked up to the site where hundreds of flowers were already adorning the grounds, they asked if the Buddha statue that was given as a gift to Lumbini should be in the center of the offering. How auspicious to arrive just at the right time when the Buddha needed to be installed!

The event is being held with the joint initiations of All Nepal Bhikkhu Association, International Tipitaka Chanting Council, Thai Buddha Vihar and the Lumbini Development Trust.

The Second International Tipitaka Chanting Program in Lumbini

In November 2019, we decided to bring our entire Dharmayatra group which consisted of close to 108 monastics from all over Southeast Asia along with American bhikkhus to the second chanting ceremony in Lumbini. In this very beautiful gathering, we had close to 1,800 participants from all over Nepal including all the Buddhist monasteries in Lumbini along with international guests from around the world. It was a three-day event and the great efforts were made in organizing this very successful program. The Nepalese government sent representatives to participate and local hoteliers joined us in making offerings to the Mahasangha. Monks from Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions were present, and it felt like one unified family under the auspices of reciting the word of the Buddha in Pali. Our Foundation supported the printing of the text of the Vessantara Jataka from Jataka Pali and the Mahasamaya Sutra from Dighanikaya.


As we completed the 2nd International Tipitaka chanting program, we continued by visiting the surrounding sacred sites of the area for the Venerable bhikkhus to experience first hand the historical significance of these areas. Our first stop was Kapilavastu, site of the palace in which Prince Siddhartha spent his childhood.


The Hometown of Prince Siddhartha. The Capital of the Ancient Sakya Kingdom. The Ancient Kapilavastu or the present day Kapilavastu district of Nepal is situated on the foothills of the Siwalik range and is 29km west of Lumbini. The kingdom is believed to have received its name from the great sage Kapila, who practiced penance here and suggested the exiled prince and princesses of Kosala kingdom to settle at present day Tilaurakot. Later, these royal offspring of the Kosala kingdom were known as the Sakyas and their kingdom as Kapilavastu. Prince Siddhartha spent his early 29 years of worldly life as a prince here in the Ancient Kapilavastu.

One part of our dharmayatra is visiting ancient ruins with historical experts to develop a greater appreciation for our Buddhist roots. In 2019, 108 Venerable Bhikkhus retraced the steps of the Blessed One, leaving the Ancient Palace.

What did the Buddha teach here according to the Pali Canon

So I have heard. At one time the Buddha was staying near Savatthi in Jeta’s Grove, Anathapiṇḍika’s monastery. Then after the meal, on return from almsround, several senior men dicants sat together in the assembly hall and this discussion came up among them……

The Light of Buddhadharma Foundation is dedicated to revitalizing and developing the Buddhasasana in India.


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