New debate on birthplace of Buddha

by Rabindra Nath Choudhury, The Asian Age India, Sept 14, 2005

Bhubaneswar, India -- There seems to be no end to the controversy over the birthplace of Lord Buddha. The latest claim that the apostle of peace was born in Orissa has been challenged by historian Karuna Sagar Behera.

He said, "The Buddha was neither born in Orissa nor visited the place during his lifetime." Mr Behera said the claims made in this regard could go against the interests of the state.

The controversy began after it was projected sometime ago that the Buddha was born at Kapileswar, a village near here. Among others, an Ashokan inscription said to have been discovered from the place in 1928 was cited to prove the point.

The inscription was similar to the one discovered in 1898 at Lumbini in Nepal, which has all through been acknowledged as the evidence to point that the Buddha was born there. The Lumbini inscription describes that Ashok visited the place because the Buddha was born there.

Mr Behera said the Kapileswar inscription had already been declared as bogus. "Eminent epigraphist D.C. Sircar, at the 1980 Indian History Congress in Mumbai, had described the Kapileswar inscription as a forged document," he added.

"Historical claims must be backed by evidence . But what some people are doing is far from the truth. There has been no serious research to disprove that the Buddha was born in Lumbini," he said.

"Buddhist literature is silent about the Buddha being born anywhere in the Kalinga region, let alone Kapileswar village. The works of almost all noted scholars on Ashoka do not mention the Kapileswar inscription as believable evidence to change history," he said.

Quoting the 1608 work of Lama Taranath, he said there was no doubt that Orissa contributed immensely to the spread of Buddhism, even in the 16th century, when the religion had nearly declined at many places.