Lumbini is the birthplace of Lord Buddha and located in Kapilvastu district of Nepal. Just before His birth, Bodhisattva was the lord of Tushita deva realm. There He had resolved to be reborn for the last time and show the attainment of enlightenment to the world. He had made five investigations and determined that this southern continent, where men lived for one hundred years, was the most suitable place and. Since the royal caste was the most respected at that point of time and the lineages of King Suddhodana and his Queen Mayadevi were pure, He chose to be born as their son, a prince of the Shakya dynasty. After placing crowning His successor Maitreya, Bodhisattva descended from Tushita to the world of man.
night He was to be conceived, Queen Mayadevi dreamt of a great white
elephant entering her womb. The earth trembled six times. It is said
that just like all the other bodhisattvas, he remained sitting
cross-legged for the whole time in the womb. Furthermore, like all the
other Buddhas, he was born under a tree in the forest, while His mother
At the appointed time, Queen Mayadevi was visiting the Lumbini Garden,
approximately ten miles from the Shakya city of Kapilavastu. Emerging
from a bath with her face to the east, she leant her right arm on a sala
tree. Bodhisattva was then born from her right side and immediately took
seven steps, from which lotus flowers sprang up - in each of the four
directions. Facing each direction, He proclaimed with a lion's roar, "I
am the first, the best of all beings, this is my last birth''. He looked
down to predict the defeat of Mara and the benefiting of beings in the
lower realms, through the power of His teachings. He then looked up to
indicate that the entire world would respect and appreciate his deeds.
Lord Brahma and Lord Indra then received him and bathed him, along with
the four guardian protectors. At the same time, two nagas, Nanda and
Upananda, caused water to cascade over him. Later, a well was found to
have formed there, from which monks continued to draw drinking water,
even in Fa Hien's time. The young prince was then wrapped in fine muslin
and carried with great rejoicing to the king's palace in Kapilavastu.
Many auspicious signs accompanied Bodhisattva's birth. Many
individuals, who would play a major role in his life, are said to have
been born on the same day: these included Yasodhara, his future wife;
Chandaka, the groom who would later help him leave the palace; Kanthaka,
the horse that would bear him; the future kings Bimbisara of Magadha;
Prasenajit of Koshala and his protector Vajrapani. The Bodhi tree is
also said to have come up on the day of Buddha's birth.
When Ashoka visited Lumbini, two centuries later, his advisor, sage
Upagata, described all these events to him, pointing out their sites.
Ashoka made many offerings here, built an elaborate stupa and erected a
pillar surmounted by a horse capital. By the time Heun Tsang saw it,
lightning had already destroyed the pillar. Nevertheless, even till the
end of the last century, the inscription on the ruin was sufficiently
legible to clearly identify the site as Lumbini.
Siddhartha spent the first twenty-nine years of his life in Kapilavastu.
There, he performed three more of the twelve principal deeds of a
Buddha. Surpassing all the Shakya youths and even his teachers in all
fields of learning, skill and sport, he showed that he had already
mastered all the worldly arts.
One day, while still a child, he was left unattended beneath a tree, as
his father performed the ceremonial first ploughing of the season. He
sat and engaged in his first meditation, attaining such a degree of
absorption that five sages going overhead were brought to a standstill
by the sheer power of it.
Later, he got married to Yasodhara and experienced a life of pleasure.
However, despite King Suddhodana's efforts to protect him from the
unpleasant realities of life, one day while riding in his chariot
through Kapilavastu, he happened to see a man feeble with age, another
struck down with sickness and a corpse. He immediately realized the
suffering nature of men's lives. Then he saw a monk of holy countenance
and recognized the path he would be taking in his life.
It is said that a Buddha renounces the world only after seeing these
four signs and after a son has been born to him. Seven days before
Siddhartha was to be crowned as his father's heir, a son, Rahula, was
born to Yasodhara. Without further delay, Siddhartha told his father of
his resolve to leave the transient luxury of worldly life and live as an
ascetic, to discover true happiness and aw way to end of misery.
Suddhodana was against this decision. Therefore, riding the horse
Kanthaka and accompanied by the groom Chandaka, Prince Siddhartha left
Kapilavastu. After covering some distance, he got down from the horse
and performed the great renunciation. He cut off his hair and donned the
robes of an ascetic. Then, he sent Chandaka back to the palace with his
jewels and horse, and took to the life of an ascetic.
Some years later, after attaining enlightenment, Buddha returned
briefly to Kapilavastu at His father's invitation. Lord Buddha and His
followers were welcomed by the king and his people, who later listened
to His teachings with great reverence. Five hundred Shakya youths became
monks at this time, including Rahula, Buddha's own son; Nanda, His half
brother and Upali, the barber, who later became one of Buddha's most
The splendor of Kapilavastu did not last for long, for the rival king
Vaidraka destroyed the city and most of the Shakya clan, during Buddha's
lifetime only. When the Chinese pilgrims visited the area, they found
nothing but ruins and desolation and merely a handful of people and
monks dwelling there. However, all the sites of the events mentioned in
the early scriptures were pointed out to them. Several of these were
still marked by stupas. After this, the area got lost in jungle and till
early 21st century, was accessible only by elephant.
Presently, only Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha, has been identified
with certainty. Kapilavastu is still tentatively located. Till date,
these sites are still being explored and some ruins have been unearthed.
One can see the remains of Ashoka's pillar as well as a shrine, of
indeterminate age, dedicated to Queen Mayadevi. A Nepalese Buddhist
temple was built in 1956 and a Tibetan monastery of the Sakya order was
completed in 1975. The monastery, along with a beautiful and elaborate
shrine, is well illustrated by the traditional murals. Many young monks
are studying here and practicing Buddha's teachings. Thus, they are
performing two pious acts, aiding the revival of Lumbini as a place of
Buddhist practice and preserving the great traditions lost in Tibet.
The Nepalese temple, which is cared for by a monk of the Theravada
tradition, also has rest houses within its grounds, provided by
Buddhists from Japan and the former U.N. General Secretary, U Thant. In
cooperation with the Nepalese Government, UNESCO is also helping to
improve and develop this pilgrimage.