KAPILAVASTU, Uttar Pradesh, India (Nepalese border) - The U.P. government may be trying to project itself as a champion of Buddhism, yet the Buddha's original home Kapilavastu, along the India-Nepal border, lies in utter neglect.
[If standard history were to be believed,] back in 563 BCE, Queen Maya Devi comfortably traversed a distance of 6 miles (10 km) from her husband King Suddhodana's kingdom, Kapilavastu, to her parental home [passing through] Lumbini, Nepal [on the way to her parent's home to become a mother according to Indian custom], where she gave birth to Siddhartha, who later became the legendary Buddha Gautama. But that may not be possible today.
Tens of thousands of foreign tourists exploring the "Buddhist circuit" have to take a detour of at least 33 miles (53 km) due to the modern absence of a good road link of 12 miles (20 km) between today's "Kapilvastu" and "Lumbini."
The Humble Road to the Noble Truths in India and Nepal (Ralph Frammolino/NY Times)
* [Sadly, both of these locations are likely not archeologically correct. But they are geo-politically correct. The real sites in India's former Northwest Frontier Province are now war-torn Afghanistan (the real Kapilavastu near Bamiyan) northwest of Kabul (with the real Lumbini likely located in Baluchistan where Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan meet). Of course, setting the exact coordinates is controversial, as Dr. Ranajit Pal well knows and Wisdom Quarterly is finding out.]
"What is worse is that this detour is usually packed with trucks as it is one of the main trade routes between the two countries [India and Nepal]," Shamim Ahmad, a cab driver, told IANS.
"Often, the long wait at the Sonauli border is so disgusting for foreign tourists that they choose to give up one or two places on the Buddhist circuit," he added.
The exact location of Kapilavastu has become a matter of contention, with some regarding Tilaurakot in Nepal's Rupandehi as the site of the ancient kingdom.
Currently UNESCO, with funding from Japan [and a recent massive contribution from China], is conducting a three-year excavation there (with tourist patronage courtesy of Kosai Hotel].
But Nepal has not built a serviceable road from the Indian border at Kakrahwa -- less than a half mile (500 meters) from the Kapilavastu stupa -- to the Buddha's birthplace at Lumbini. Neither have Indian authorities bothered to persuade Kathmandu [capital of Nepal] to facilitate the easy movement of Buddhist pilgrims through the border, many have complained.
It has not struck the Uttar Pradesh state government to build a direct road link between Kapilavastu and Sravasti, both being significant stops along the much talked about Buddhist circuit.
"There is a narrow, dilapidated road connecting Sonauli to Kapilavastu and further down to Sravasti; all that is required to be done is to build it into a proper highway," said Indrajeet Gupta, a local grocer.
* The Pilgrimage of Buddhism and a Buddhist Pilgrimage
* The Earth Beneath Your Feet - Sacred Land (California's Harbin Hot Springs)
* "Where the Buddha Walked" (available for much less in Asia)
* Celebrating Bodhi Day (with a Circle of Friends)
* The Buddha walks into a bar... (A Guide To Life for a New Generation)
The Buddha on undertaking a pilgrimage
Disciples, after my passing away, if all the sons and daughters of good family with confidence [in the Buddha's enlightenment, the efficacy of the Buddha-Dhar ma to bring one to enlightenment, and the accomplishment of the Noble Sangha], so long as they live, go to four sacred places, they should go and bear in mind:
* Here at Lumbini the Enlightened One was born.
* Here at Bodhgaya he attained enlightenment.
* Here at Sarnath he set rolling the wheel of wheel of Dharma.
* Here at Kushinagar he entered parinirvana.
Disciple, after my final passing away there will be customary marks of respect such as circumambulation of these places and prostration to them.
Thus it should be told: For those who have confidence in my deeds and awareness of their own will travel to higher states.
After my final passing away, the new monastics who come and ask about the Doctrine should be told of these four places and advised that a pilgrimage [due to focusing on the good and overcoming hardship] to them will help purify [outweigh, frustrate, mitigate, replace] their previously accumulated negative karma, even [it is said] the five heinous actions.
The 8 Places of Pilgrimage
Jeremy Russell (Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive)
* Lumbini-birthplace of the Buddha
* Bodhgaya-site of Buddha's enlightenment
* Sarnath-first turning of the Wheel of Dharma
* Rajgir-second turning of the Wheel of Dharma
* Shravasti-teachings in the Jetavana Grove
* Sankashya-the Buddha descended from Tusita
* Nalanda-site of the great Buddhist university
* Kushinagar-where the Buddha entered nirvana
* Conclusion and Books Consulted
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