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Sacred Complex of Lumbini

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Item Code: NAM647
Author: Dr. Gitu Giri
Publisher: Adroit Publishers, Delhi
Language: English
Edition: 2008
ISBN: 9788187392866
Pages: 283 (48 B/W Illustrations)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 9.0 inch x 6.0 inch
Weight 490 gm
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Book Description
About the Book

Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, is situated 22km west of Siddharthanagar, district headquater of Rupandehi district, in the western Terai region of Nepal. It is an important site from the Buddhist as well as Archaeological point of view. This region was associated with the Sakyas and Koliya at Kapilvastu and Ramagrama (Devadaha) respectively in ancient period. This book, a research study, funded by Tribhiwan University Research Division, is an attempt to put things in proper way. The book contains Sacred geography, history, Master Plan, art, architecture, pilgrims and pilgrimage, sacred performance, fair and festivals, scared specialists, conservation, preservation, tourism development and changes and modernization the life styles of Lumbini area. Second and third chapters throw light on sacred geography and history through Buddhist literature, Chinese account and art remains. In the fourth chapter details of Master Plan for the development of Lumbini, and its implementation as well as achievements are mentioned in proper way. Physical development and details of allotted plots are pointed out in brief. In the fifth chapter, the art remains, viz. stone sculptures, human and animals terracotta figurines, other terracotta objects, seals and sealing, coin, pottery, etc. are incorporated. The result of the analysis of terracotta figurines has been incorporated here, highlighting the origin, typology and stylistic evolution of the principal forms, their techniques and contexts. This helps us to place the changing art forms and style from the Mauryan to Pala- Sena periods in proper perspective. The sixth chapter contains the architecture of structural remain of ancient stupa, vihar, Mayadevi temple and monolithic Asokan pillar of Sacred Garden. Chapter seven throws light on the tradition of pilgrims and pilgrimage of the site. Daily and special performance is incorporated in eighth chapter. Fair, festivals, lifestyles of the monks and nuns are mentioned in nine and tenth chapter respectively. Infrastructures for the development of tourism, flow of tourists, changing lifestyles of the people and modernization through it has been mentioned in the text. It throws light on historical, archaeological, sociological, anthropological and progress of Master Plan. The book goes into a deep study of art remains, sacred performances, tourist movement and modernization which helps for planning, preservation and conservation to the authorities in future. Bibliography, appendices, glossary, index and photographs have been included to make the volume more authentic, informative and attractive.

About the Author

Dr. Gitu Giri, M.A., B.Ed, B.L., Ph.D. born on 21, May 1955 at Maranthana Pyuthan, was educated mainly at Tribhuwan University, Nepal and received the degree of Doctor of Philosophy from DDU Gorakhpur University rewarded Fellowship by University Grants Commission of Nepal in 2001. He was involved as Assistant Researcher in research project on the ‘Scared Complex of Ruru Kshetra’, sponsonered by UNESCO has completed ten research projects funded by Research Division, Research Centre for Nepal and Asian Studies, Tribhuwan University, University Grants Commission of Nepal and Lumbini International Research Institute, Lumbini. He was appointed as member of Central Subject Committee, Nepalese History, Culture & Archaeology Department, T.U. from 1997 to 2006. He has lectured at various Campuses of Tribhuwan University and at present is working as Lecturer and Chairmen at Bhairahawa Multiple Campus of Tribhuwan University, Bhairahawa, Lumbini, the birth- place of Lord Buddha. He is also an associated Editor of Journals and active member of civil society. His major interest lies in the study of different dimensions of Nepalese cultural, art, architecture and archaeology, especially wertern region of Nepal.


Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, is not only the Holy place of the Buddhists, but also the Fountain of World Peace for all human beings. As a Tirthasthala has played a vital role in the socio-cultural and religious life ways of the people. This study will play a definite role in relations of secrets of the sacred traditions of the Tirtha and in generation of love in the hearts of the people of the country to know the great glory of Lumbini. It will support in preserving their regular performances, conserving the sacred monuments, to develop the infrastructure of tourism, enhancing local arts and crafts to promote economic resources of the people. People of various faith, sects, traditions and language use to come to this place for their pilgrimage and the research made an effort to understand their spirit and mannerism, which creates unity in diversity in the domain of Buddhism. This book will support to know the local and regional complexities of this site and comprehend the process of modernization and transformation because of general development of the area. It will help in strengthening the religious tolerance and respect among the people of different classes and castes of Lumbini and adjoining areas on a common platform. Similarly, the sacred complexes of the site will work as a dominant balancing force between the traditional and modernized families as well as in the formulation of modern culture. This study has revealed that cultural and civilization boundaries cut across the national boundaries.

The text throws light on sacred geography, history, master plan, art, architecture, pilgrims and pilgrimages, performances, specialists, fair and festivals, preservation, changes and modernization, and tourism development of Lumbini complex. The author, who is an intellectual luminary and a creative writer of Lumbini area, indeed combined a deep knowledge of Lumbini, Kapilvastu and Devadaha. He has utilized his critical talents and experiences as an academic person to explore the obscure beginning the sacred value of Lumbini. I hope that this book will be useful for the students, teachers, tourists, pilgrims as well as interested persons about the archaeological, anthropological and socioglogical aspects of the Sacred complex of Lumbini. Finally, I wish the bright future in such academic work of Dr Giri.


Study on ‘Sacred Complex of Lumbini’ is a milestone in the history of the Buddhist World. It is useful in understanding the cultural role of the traditions, tourism development and modernization with the complexity of Buddhist civilization. The researcher has brought to light certain facts of pilgrimage, for example, deserved to the studied carefully from different angles and in all its ramifications (Pandey, 2000 and Jha, 1971). The use of the places of pilgrimage as trade and manufacturing centers is the network of pilgrimage organisations. Methodologically, the study of Kashi and Ruruksetra provided the first basic structure for such an appraisal of civilization; the present study provides the complete superstructure in its details. The present study is based on the available Buddhist literature, foreign accounts and personal observation of the traditions of various kinds of facts with the help of five types of questionnaires in the random sample technique. Lumbini being a mini Buddhist World and Fountain of World Peace various aspects have been studied in course of this research. This study involves the geographical, historical, sociological, archaeological, anthropological and observation methods. In the present study sacred geography, history, master plan of Lumbini, art, architecture, pilgrims and pilgrimage, sacred functionaries, sacred performances, fair and festivals, conservation and presentation, development of tourism and changes and modernization have been studied to bring to light the hidden knowledge of Lumbini complex. This is a cultural-cum- anthropological study.

I would like to thank sincerely the Research Division Tribhuwan University which kindly made the present project available. I am grateful to Prof. Dr Peshal Dahal, Head of the Department of Culture, Tribhuwan University, Kathmandu and Dr Christoph Cuppers, Director of Lumbini International Research Institute for their valuable suggestion and two words. I am particularly grateful to Dr Lam of the Vietnamese Monestery, Ven. Ashin Vivekananda and Ven. Bhadda Manika of the Panditarama Lumbini International Vipassana Meditation Centre, Phra Nirandorn Sihanam of the Thai Monastery, Ven. Thasuma of the Nipponzan Myohoji, Tasi Lama of the Mustang Vihar, Subas Sharma of Hokke, Ven. Maitra of the IBS of Lumbini complex. I would like to express my sincere thanks to Prof. Dr Tulsiram Vaidhya, Vice- Chancellor of Lumbini International Buddhist University, Prof. Dr Prem Kumar Khatry, Dr Dinesh Chandra Regmi and Dr Nareshman Vajracharya, Head of Buddhist Studies T.U., for their affectionate encouragement and the help they rendered to me in various ways. In my endeavor all the members of my family, particularly my wife Basundhara and Son Ramesh, took attention and care. Thanks are also due to the people of Lumbini area, monks, nuns and devotees who provided me great help in the collection of materials and to the writers whose writings have been utilized in this work. Finally, I thanks to Krishna Chandra Giri of World Vision who collected data from the study area and for the care, he has taken in faultless compute of this research work. Finally, I thanks to D.K. Sharma of Adroit Publisher of Delhi for this publication in proper time.


Statement of Problem

Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, is an important touristic as well as pilgrimage site. It is located at Rupandehi district of Lumbini zone in the Western Terai region of Nepal. Buddha had advised to visit Lumbini, Varanasi, Bodha Gaya and Kushinagar to his disciples from his deathbed. Emperor Asoka had visited these sacred-sites with his spiritual teacher Upagupta. In course of his visit, he kept a monolithic stone pillar in Lumbini, which is inscribed in Brahm! script. Chinese pilgrims Fa-hien and Hiuen- Tsing had also visited at Lumbini in the fifth and seventh centuries AD respectively. They had described the location and monumental structures of Lumbini and Kapilvastu in course of their visit. Their details have provided proper information to find out the exact point of Lumbini and Kapilvastu in present situation. In the thirteenth century, Ripu Malla had also visited here from Karnali Pradesh. In such away, many pilgrims had contributed for Lumbini during the Mauryan to the Medieval period.

The concept of pilgrims was deeply rooted in the society of Nepal in the early Christian centuries in Hindu as well as Buddhist society. The holy tirths of Varaha ksetra, Mithila ksetra, Muktinath ksetra, Ruruksetra, etc. are visited not only by the Hindus, but also by the Buddhist, Muslim and other sects without discrimination. Some of the Hindu sacred complexes of Nepal and India, viz. Janakpur, Pasupatinath and Ruruksetra in Nepal; Gaya, Kashi, Bhuwaneshwar in India, etc. have been studied from the anthropological and cultural viewpoint. In the present situation, sacred complexes are not only the spiritual and religious sites, but also the source of income-generation in promoting tourism. Tourism is a main source of foreign exchange and an important factor in the promotion of industry and international trade. Beside it, foreign tourism encourages the understanding in social and cultural life ways of the people among them. Domestic tourism supports to travel their own country in order to familiarise themselves with their religion and cultural tradition and their own specific heritage. In course of industrialisation, Nepal is deeply interested in developing its touristic activities due to favourable geographical situation, art, architecture, social-economic life ways of the people and cultural phenomena.

One of the cultural and pilgrimage sites of Nepal, Lumbini is enriched with potential heritages of tourism being the birthplace of Buddha. In the 19th Conference of World Federation of Buddhism held in Sydney. (Austrailia) has declare that Lumbini is the holiest pilgrimage shrine of the entire Buddhist and the peace loving people of the world. Mass tourism can contribute unique benefit in course of visiting the monumental structures, art, architecture, monastic zone, modern Lumbini village, sacred specialists or functionaries of priest, monk and nuns in various complex and natural scenes of Lumbini area. A large number of foreign tourists are interested to visit at Lumbini. Tourist's facilities such as Hotel, Restaurant, facilated-transport, sport complex, guides and other proper information sources are not sufficient due to the unmanaged system. Sacred performances of Mayadevi temple are not publicly known. Performances as well as the role of the sacred specialists of the various monasteries and vihars have not studied. Many facts of the holy sites and their sacred traditions have mentioned in several Jatak stories and in other Buddhist texts. No systematic study was made in Nepal until the beginning of the study of such tradition in India. However, these studies are incomplete, as they do not throw any light on the sacred specialists, sacred performances, art, architecture, sacred functionaries, preservation, modernisation and changing in the modern period.

Lumbini was a pleasure garden in the territory of the Sakya of Kapilvastu in ancient period. The immigration and migration of the Tharu, Muslim and other hill people in this area have developed mixed culture. Due to the religious toleration of the area-Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim people are jointly conducting various social and cultural activities. Thus, the researcher is confronted with several problems: What are the sacred centres and performances? What is the role of the sacred specialists or functionaries? Is any national boundary of a civilisation, especially in Buddhism? What are the main elements of processing in modification and transformation because of general development in the large universe of Buddhist civilisation? How can we mobilise the cultural and natural heritage to alleviate poverty in Lumbini area? How can we create peace and harmony through the process of compromise, combination and co-operation at the site among various faiths, sects and traditions? These are some of the questions that inspired the researcher to choose this topic for research and see it some of the viable answer can be found out.

Objectives of the Study

The main objectives of this study are:
(a) to find out tradition of sacred centres and performance of various monasteries, vihar, meditation centres and gandhakuti;

(b) to trace the role and position of the sacred specialists or functionaries;

(c) to examine the Buddhist civilisation at Lumbini;

(d) to make a critical study of the process of modernization and transformation;

(e) to find out the general process of mobilising cultural and natural resource to alleviate poverty;

(f) to highlight the components of peace, harmony and non- violence through co-operation and compromise among various sects.

Statement of Purpose

Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, is an important pilgrimage site of the Buddhist society. Buddha had advised with feeling of holy reverence and awe that these sites, viz. where the Tathagata was born (Lumbini), the place where he had reached perfect enlightenment (Bodha Gaya), the place where for the first time he had proclaimed the law (deer park near Varanasi), and the place of his [mal extinction (Kusinagar). Known as the sacred spot to the pilgrims hence the nobles, royalties, devotees and scholars from all over the world visited it. Asoka, Chinese pilgrims Fa-hien and Hiuen- Tsiang, Khas kings as well as other devotees had visited at Lumbini. At the last decade of the nineteenth century, Fuhrer and Khadga Shumsher J.B. Rana discovered it. From the beginning to recent years, only archaeological activities were performed by the authority there. In the present study, a modest attempt has been made to study the sacred complex of Lumbini, particularly the sacred geography, history, temple and monasteries, various aspects of pilgrims and pilgrimages. In such a way performance, specialist, various fair and festivals, conservation and preservation of the monuments, development of tourism, modernisation and changes in the behaviours of the people are also contained here. This study throws light on the hidden knowledge of the people and will support to prepare the plans and programmes to the government of Nepal. It supports to find out the basic elements of preservation and promotion of cultural tourism for the enhancement of economic status of the people in the region.

Tirthasthala has played a vital role in the socio-cultural and religious life of the people. This study will playa definite role in relations of secrets of the sacred traditions of the Tirtha and in generation of love in the hearts of the people of the country to know the great glory of Lumbini. The consciousness of the people, particularly the inhabitants of the ksetra, is being instrumental not only in reviving the prevalent sacred traditions, but also in preserving their regular performances and conserving the sacred monuments built by various agencies in Lumbini. It will support to develop the infrastructure of tourism in Lumbini enhancing local arts and crafts to promote economic resources of the people. At the academic level, it will help to understand the origin, development and functions of various traditions through the process of compromise and co-operation. People of various faith, sects, traditions and language use to come to this place for their pilgrimage and the research made an effort to understand their spirit and mannerism, which creates unity in diversity in the domain of Buddhism. It is helpful to know the local and regional complexities of this site and comprehend the process of modernisation and transformation because of general development of this site.

The study of the sacred complex of Lumbini will play a significant role in unity and bring the people of different classes and castes of Lumbini and adjoining areas on a common platform. It will help in strengthening the religious tolerance and respect among them. Similarly, the sacred complexes of the site will work as a dominant balancing force between the traditional and modernised families as well as in the formulation of modem culture. The belief which lies at the root of cultural differences, especially Buddhist, Hindus and Muslims, is also the potent factor integrity the heterogeneous cultures. M. Jha (1971) has adequately described the pattern and process of the territorial extensions of culture. According to him, the sacred complexes of Nepal are undoubtedly an integral part of Indian culture and civilisation. Thus, the cultural and civilisation boundaries cut across the national boundaries. In brief, the solidarous elements in sacred complex function as the linchpins in the Indian Modes of Cultural integration. Thus, this study will bring to light on a lot of hidden knowledge and given a new dimension to the social, religious, pilgrimage, sacred specialists, sacred performances, modernisation and changes of this area. In the light of this study, government may be able to make plans and programmes of the conservation, preservation of important historical and archaeological monuments to promote tourism at this complex.


List of Illustrations11
List of Tables13
List of Abbreviations15
Scheme of Transliteration17
1Introduction of Research19
2Sacred Geography35
3Sacred History41
4Master Plan and Development50
7Pilgrims and Pilgrimages122
8Sacred Performances132
9Fair and Festivals142
10Sacred Specialists150
11Conservation and Preservation159
12Development of Tourism at Lumbini166
13Changes and Modernisation186
14Summary and Conclusion205

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