Prince Siddhartha Gautama was born in Nepal in the 6th century BC at Lumbini. His mother Queen Maya had a dream where an elephant with 6 tusks entered her side. This signifies that her baby was going to be a Buddha (so watch out if any of you have a dream like that!)
Legend has it that heavily pregnant Queen Maya was traveling visiting to her parents when she stopped for a rest in a grove of sweet smelling trees. There she went into labour and standing up held onto the branch of a bodhi tree. The Buddha was born with no pain (lucky her!)
The story is depicted here from the Austrian temple.
This site is now a massive complex called the Fountain of world peace. This is the peace flame
On the site is the actual bodhi tree (it’s amazing how well it has survived!!!)
As well as the ruins of an early temple which has an ancient bas relief of the birth story that we weren’t allowed to photograph.
Legend also has it that when he was born the Buddha had auspicious webbed toes and his testicles were withdrawn ‘like those of an elephant ‘ (who knew that about elephants!!!)
Allegedly, he immediately took seven steps and said something significant like:
‘I am chief in the world
Eldest am I in the world
This is the last birth
There is now no more coming to be’
Queen Maya then bathed the baby in a nearby pool which is venerated here
I think it is fascinating to learn about the birth stories of religious leaders.
The site is also significant because it has one of the Emperor Ashoka’s pillars. This one is inscribed with the birth stories.
I found this whole place fascinating as I had studied Buddhism at A level and University. Ashoka was to Buddhism what Constantine was to Christianity. He helped to popularise and establish the religion. His pillars are the earliest known Buddhist writings.
Every Buddhist country around the world has built or is building a shrine and monastery so there are lots of interesting places to visit. They are quite well spaced out and obviously infrastructure isn’t top of the priority list so the roads between each shrine are lumpy to say the least! We took a tuk tuk but I would not recommend this to anyone with a bad back or a slipped disc as we were shaken, rattled and rolled.
Here is the zen shrine from Japan.
And this is the Thai one
There were monks everywhere as this is a place of pilgrimage
And we even saw a crane in the grounds
And more stunning flowers
Finally work is progressing on the construction of a huge moat which will surround the birthplace eventually. Here the grass is being cut
I noticed that the majority of the grass cutters were women and commented on this to our guide. He said that women were better at cutting than men which is utter bollocks!!! He said the men carried the cut grass. Big deal!
On the plus side the women looked very bright, vibrant and colourful.