Lumbini was the blessed site of the birth of Buddha, the Awakened One. Gautam Buddha was born in 623 BC, in Lumbini, situated in the foothills of the Himalayas in Nepal. His father Suddhodhana was the Sakya king of Kapilvastu and mother Mahamaya was the princess of Devadaha.
Rules regarding Birth of Buddha
The Buddhist text Lalita Vistara mentions that Gotama (Bodhisattva) had taken a resolution in a previous birth, under Dipankara (one of the thousand past Buddha) to become Buddha.
After several births of this incidence, Gotama was reborn in Tushita heaven and remained there till he was born in the royal family of Kapilvastu.
When God announced that it was time for the birth of Buddha, the bodhisattva made five preliminary investigations. These five basic examinations were the right time for the birth of Buddha, the right country to take birth, the right race to take birth, the right family to take birth, and the right woman who would be his mother. These are the rules for the birth of every Buddha.
He selected king Suddhodhana and queen Mahamaya, of Kapilvastu, to be his father and mother in his last birth.
When it was time for the birth of Buddha, he took leave of the gods and descended from the Tushita body fully mindful and conscious.
Buddha entered the womb of his mother at midnight in the form of an elephant. There was divine light transcending any other light in brightness, which brightened even the darkest corners of the universe.
Four Gods came to protect Mahamaya from four directions. They ensured that no harm is caused to Bodhisattva or his mother by any human or superhuman beings. This is also the rule for the birth of every Buddha.
Dream of Mahamaya
Mahamaya had four dreams before the birth of Buddha .
1 In her dream, she saw that a six tusked silver-white colored elephant descended from heaven, revolved around her three times, and then it entered inside her womb.
2. She saw that she had moved above in the space .
3. She saw in her dream that she has ascended a great rocky mountain.
4. She dreamt that a large gathering of people bowed down before her.
On the basis of these dreams, the astrologers predicted that she will give birth to a son with thirty-two signs of a great man. If he chooses to stay at home, he will become a universal monarch. But if he leaves the house and renounces the world he will become an Arahat, an enlightened Buddha.
The Birth of Buddha:
As the time of childbirth approached Mahamaya left for Devadaha the kingdom of her father, from Kapilvastu. This was done as per the tradition of Sakyas.
On the way to Devadaha, she arrived at the Lumbini grove on the full moon day of Vaisakha (May-June) month of 623 BC. She felt the pain of childbirth and realizing that the time has come, she bathed in the Sakya Pushakarini (a pond) which was situated at the center of the Lumbini grove.
After the bath, she felt the need to seek some support and walked twenty-five steps to the north. There was a beautiful Ashoka tree, in full bloom. She held a branch of the tree and gave birth to Bodhisattva in standing position.
As per the divine rule when bodhisattva is born first the gods receive him and human beings receive him only after the gods.
When Buddha was born he was born pure and clean and unstained by any liquid or filth. Two streams of water fell from the sky, one cold stream of water and another hot spring of water. These streams performed the ablution of child and mother.
Buddha takes first seven steps
Immediately after taking birth Buddha stood firmly on his feet and took seven steps in each of the prime directions.
God held a white parasol while he took the steps. Wherever he put his feet, white lotus sprung out from inside the earth which received the feet of Buddha.
Looking at North he declared he is the first among all living beings. Looking west he declared that was his last birth. Looking at the south he declared he is the chief of the world. Looking at the east he declared he will receive the highest Nirvana and there would be no more becoming for him.
Return to Kapilvastu and Naming Ceremony
Queen Mahamaya and the newborn Buddha returned to Kapilvastu, where they were received with great festivity.
On the fifth day after birth, the naming ceremony was held and the child was named “Siddhartha” which literally means “Fulfillment of every wish”. He was also called “Sarvarthsiddha” because the day Bodhisattva was born, various wishes of King Suddhodhana were granted.
Queen Mahamaya died seven days after the birth of Bodhisattva and was reborn in Tushita heaven. This is also a divine rule. The young Bodhisattva was brought up by his stepmother Maya Devi.
Places associated with Birth of Buddha in Lumbini:
- Sanctum Santorum: the Sanctum Santorum, i.e., the exact spot of the birth of Buddha was discovered after excavations of the old Maya Devi temple. The marker stone, buried deep in the sanctum sanctorum was placed by Emperor Asoka in 249 BC was.
- Nativity sculpture: The nativity sculpture dates back to the 4th century BC and is placed in the new temple built over the exact spot of the birth of Buddha. The Nativity sculpture depicts the nativity scene. It has an image of Maya Devi, holding the branch of a sal tree, and next to her is Prajapati, her younger sister. The newly born Siddhartha is depicted in a standing position with two Devas receiving him.
- Asoka Pillar: The Lumbini Pillar was erected by the Mauryan Emperor Asoka in 249 BC. Originally, it had horse capital which was lost when lightning struck the pillar and the pillar got broken into two parts. Today the pillar measures 6.7 meters and stands in the Lumbini Park. The inscription engraved on the pillar testifies Lumbini as the birthplace of Buddha.
- Puskarini pond: Close to the Asokan Pillar there is the holy pond, Puskarini, which is believed to be the same pond where Queen Maya Devi had taken bath before giving birth to Siddhartha.
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