The undercurrent of Buddhism runs throughout the religious system of the country during the entire history originated at an early date. It is recorded that in the 3rd cent. BC. the Mauryan emperor of India, Ashoka made a pilgrimage of Nepal and commemorated this event by the foundation of innumerable stupas and pillars (stand) as a token of his success in bringing the inhabitants into the Buddhist fold.
Lumbini was lost in oblivion until it was discovered by the German Archaeologist Dr. Fuhrer wandering in the foothills of Churia (Siwalik) range and the Ashokan pillar presented the first epigraphic evidence relating to the life history of Lord Buddha and is the most visible landmark of the sacred garden.
The historic importance of the pillar is evidenced by the inscription engraved in the Ashokan pillar (in Brahmi script). The Nativity Sculpture and Nativity cult are also important edifices relating to birth of Lord Buddha. The ultimate objective of the plan is to create an atmosphere of spirituality, peace and universal brotherhood and non-violence consistent with the time as well as to convey Buddha’s message to the world. Here, the Sacred Garden is seen as a crux for Lumbini as a Buddhist religious centre.
The name Lumbini is said to have been derived from that of the queen of Koli (Devadaha), whose daughter was Mahamaya, the mother of Gautama Buddha. It is also assumed that the name Lumbini is a colloquial derivation of the word Rummindei (the queen of King Anjana of Devdaha). Later Rummindei was pronounced as Lummindei, and still later, as Lumbini. The name Rummin is identical with Lumbini of Lummini, the form written in the inscription in the Pali Language, in which the middle or initial “R” of Sanskrit is always replaced by “L”. This site is still locally called Rummindei.
The term Buddha means “Enlightened One”, and signifies that the person to whom it is applied has solved the riddle of existence, and discovered the doctrine for the cessation of misery. It was by his attainment of this supreme ‘Enlightenment’ or ‘Wisdom’ that the warrior prince, Siddhartha Gautama, became a Buddha. Siddhartha Gautama belonged to the Sakya clan. The word Sakya means ‘Powerful’ and the families that bore the name had a reputation of pride and haughtiness. They were of the warrior caste (Khattiyajati), but cultivated peaceful arts of agriculture.
Buddhist literature describes Lumbini as a pradimoksha – vana blessed with blooming sal-trees and masses of beautiful flowers, and a place where bees of five colours hum. The sweet warbling of various birds and other natural scenery in Lumbini was compared to the Chittalata (mind captivating) grove of Indra’s (Hindu rain god) paradise in heaven. From these descriptions, we can assume that Lumbini presented an undulating landscape of considerable beauty.
Lord Buddha propounded his Hinayana, a simple religion in which he followed to a large extent methodology of silence vis – a – vis god. This was a direct and simple philosophy that appealed to masses. But Lumbini was lost in oblivion until it was discovered in 1896 by Gen. Khadga S. Rana and German Archaeologist, Dr. Fuhrer, wandering in the foothills of Churia (Siwalik) range, and the Ashokan pillar presented the first epigraphic evidence relating to the life history of Lord Buddha – the most visible landmark of the Sacred Garden. It is recorded that in 3rd cent. BC. the Mauryan emperor of India, Asoka made a pilgrimage of Nepal and commemorated this event by the foundation of innumerable stupas and pillars (stand) as a token of his success in bringing the inhabitants into the Buddhist fold.
In 1967 United Nations Secretary General, U Thant (himself a Burmese Buddhst) visited Lumbini and made an appeal in front of international community for help to maintain and improve the pitiable plight of this pilgrimage site famous for devout devotees from all parts of the world. Then suggestions of development of Lumbini as an international pilgrimage and tourist centre came into light.