By Lobsang Wangyal
McLEOD GANJ, India, 30 November 2017
Following an uproar in the Nepalese media and the Internet over the Dalai Lama’s remarks that Buddha was born in India, his office issued a statement saying that the Dalai Lama was not disputing that Buddha’s birthplace was Lumbini.
Responding to a question from a student during a function in Meerut on 16 October, the Dalai Lama had said, “Some Nepalese say Buddha was born in Lumbini, so part of Nepal. So Buddha was Nepalese, not Indian. That’s nonsense, I think. In ancient time, [maybe] small kingdom there, [but] it was under greater Bharat [India].”
The Dalai Lama’s office issued a clarification on 25 November, after Nepalese media carried stories saying, “Dalai Lama misleading people”, and “spreading illusion and lie about the birthplace of Gautam Buddha.”
The statement said: “We are concerned to know there was misunderstanding of the intent of his answer, and would like to clarify that His Holiness meant no disrespect towards his Nepalese brothers and sisters. Like Buddhists everywhere, he wholeheartedly accepts that the Buddha’s birthplace was Lumbini.
“What he wanted to emphasize in contemporary terms is the importance of understanding what the Buddha taught and the scope of his influence throughout Asia. It is universally acknowledged that India, the land of the Noble Ones, is where the Buddha achieved enlightenment and subsequently gave profound teachings.”
Nepal strongly objects to claims that Buddha was born in India, and says he was born in Nepal. Lumbini, located in the Terai plains of southern Nepal, is believed to be the Buddha’s birthplace. It is listed in the United Nations UNESCO World Heritage List.
The Wikipedia page about Buddha shows him to be born in Lumbini, as a prince of the Shakya clan, part of the Kosala kingdom, which later became part of the Magadha empire, during the reign of Bimbisara. He lived and taught mostly in the eastern part of what is now India, sometime between the sixth and fourth centuries BCE. He died in Kushinagar at the age of 80.