February 14, 2016
First day in Lumbini and third day of excursion began with visiting the birth place of Buddha in Lumbini. The students were made familiar with the script in inscription on the Asokan pillar at site. Max Deeg shared his own inference on the meaning of some complicated portions of the inscriptions. The compound also has a pond, believed to be from older times, and huge complex of excavated remains.
The inside of building is actually another excavated portion from the site, but has been kept out of reach of photographic shoots. The portion was excavated recently within span of three years. A stone laid in centre is now being worshipped as the marker stone of Buddha’s birth which has been mentioned in the Asokan inscription also. However, it is hard to claim anything concrete off that piece of stone. People are oblivious of these scholarly concerns. For the pilgrims, it has now become the most sacred piece at the site. Before its excavation, Asokan pillar had that centrality in rituals. It reflects how powerfully archaeology can transform ritual practices though narratives. As matter of fact, with great power comes great responsibility!
For the second half of the day, the team had two invitations from educational institutes in Lumbini – Lumbini Buddhist University and Lumbini International Research Institute. The team got to talk about pursuit of Nalanda University and also listened to their journey. Christoph Cueppers, Director of LIRI donned the robe of Santa and showered gifts of books for students. “His big-heart bounteousness and equally warm welcome for dinner made our day.”
Image credits: Shaashi Ahlawat
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