Images from left to right: 1) The grand and moated Sri Lankan Monastery contains statues and elaborate, colorful murals depicting the life of Buddha. 2) The Royal Thai Monastery was constructed in gleaming white marble and is designed in Thai style architecture. 3) A shrine inside the Myanmar Golden Monastery, a beautiful golden monastery that takes one on a journey to Myanmar. It stands as a symbol of peace and prosperity. 4) Wall mural of Buddha in dharmachakra mudra with disciples in the Mahabodhi Society Temple India, also located in the Lumbini Monastic Zone. 5) Lotus Flower Ceiling Mural, Mahabodhi Society Temple India, Lumbini Monastic Zone 6) World Peace Pagoda 7) Maya Devi Temple 8) Gate 5 Entrance, Lumbini Monastic Zone 9) Maya Devi Temple
Today we embarked on our Buddhist circuit tour from Kathmandu, Nepal. Our first stop is Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, which is said to be the foundation of world peace. Lumbini is located in the western Terai region of Nepal and it is a significant site for all Buddhists and peace lovers throughout the world. Our journey began by bus in Kathmandu at dawn. The bus ride from Kathmandu to Lumbini was quite comfortable although it was 8 hours long!! From early morning to early evening, pilgrims from various countries perform chanting and meditation throughout this expansive area.
The actual holy site of Lumbini is bordered by a large monastic zone in which only monasteries can be built. There are no shops or restaurants and only one hotel. The area is separated into an eastern and western monastic zone, the eastern having the Theravada monasteries and the western the Mahayana and Vajrayana monasteries. There is a long water filled canal which separates the western and eastern zones with a series of brick arch bridges along the way.
Lumbini is a UNESCO World Heritage site, which is known for its ancient values. The Mayadevi temple is the greatest attraction in Lumbini among all the holy sites of the Buddha.
Buddhism has a magical power to transform the lives of people forever. This power of transformation is beautifully illustrated in the life of Emperor Ashoka. After witnessing the bloody battle of Kalinga in Orissa, India, he dedicated his life to Buddhism. He didn’t only embrace Buddhism out of compassion but he spearheaded the mission of spreading the Buddha’s message of peace across his vast empire, reaching further to present day Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka albeit Buddha’s travels were confined within the boundary of Nepal and India.
The essence of Buddhism is embodied in the concept of the four-noble truths and the three-jewels (Buddha, Dharma and Sangha) via the eight-fold path to salvation and peace. Anticipating his death in his 80th year Buddha urged his followers, especially his chosen disciples, Sariputra and Ananda to continue his work after his imminent mahaparanirvana. Lord Buddha asked them to visit the four important places in his life, Lumbini, Bodhgaya, Sarnath, and Kushinagar as a reminder of his arduous journey in achieving its ultimate goal.
The Buddhas teachings, spiritual struggle, attainment of enlightenment, great meditations and message of peace and non-violence are as relevant to our life and times today as it was in his day.