BEYOND LUMBINI – KapilavastuSrinivasa Shenoy
Every tour operator would suggest a day trip to Lumbini to ‘sight-see’ the grand stupas / monasteries of different countries around the Maya devi temple. Lo! Your tick on the checklist for Lumbini is done.
That’s such a tragedy! If you yearn to absorb the history of Buddha and walk in the footsteps of time, there is so much more than just the birthplace of Buddha. What about the protected place where the spent the first 29 years of his life? The exact gate where he left the royal palace to renounce the world? What about the place where he met his son and wife years after his renunciation? What about the places dedicated to the other three ‘Buddhas’ – yes, I bet you did not know this story – the fact that the Lord Buddha as we know (The Sakyamuni Buddha) and respect is the fourth Buddha of the Bhadrakalpa age!
(P.S. the other Buddhas are Kakusandha, Ko??gamana and Kassapa and the fifth and future Buddha of the Bhadrakalpa age – Maitreya Buddha)
Kapilavastu was the Sakya kingdom of Gautama Buddha. About 25 kms from Lumbini, it is the site of various important locations like Kudan, Tiraulakot (the Royal Palace), sites commemorating the first 4 buddhas etc…
This is the place where Lord Buddha stayed when he visited his childhood home after attaining Nirvana – at the request of his father. Set away from the Royal Palace, this is the place where arrangements were made for Buddha’s stay and the place where Buddha met his son – Rahul for the first time and his wife Yashodhara – since his renunciation.
A derelict and lonely place, easily mistaken for random mounds of bricks – spend some time imagining the grand occasion of the historical meeting between father (s) and son (s), husband and wife.
Still being explored and excavated, you might be forgiven for being disappointed by the small brick mounds of evidence of the Royal Palace – the place where Prince Gautama spend 29 years of his life in sheltered indulgence.
Go to the Eastern Gate, indulge in some time-travel; at the very location – imagine Prince Gautama leaving on his favourite horse – Kanthaka, along with his attendant – Channa. Legend has it that Kanthaka died at a spot a little away from the Royal Palace and on his return with Channa after leaving Prince Gautama. It is now rumoured that a great treasure was found at this spot very recently (though I found no records of it on the internet!).
The tragic part: For a location that is so historically important and of such religious significance, there is apparently no funding for a proper archaeological excavation and investigation of this place. There are just sporadic and interrupted valiant underfunded efforts being made.