05/10/2016, 13.30
NEPAL
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Buddha is Nepali: a world conference to clarify the origins of Buddhism

by Christopher Sharma

Gautama Buddha’s 2,560th birthday falls on 21 May. According to tradition, Prince Siddhartha was born in Lumbini, southern Nepal. Nepal’s Tourism minister calls for changes in textbooks that claim that the founder of Buddhism was born in other countries.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – The Government of Nepal is organising an international conference to assert once and for all that the Buddha and Buddhist philosophy were born in Nepal. The event will be held in Kathmandu on 21 May, Gautama Buddha’s 2,560th birthday.

"There is so much confusion about the origin of Buddhism and the birthplace of Prince Siddhartha Gautama,” said Nepali Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli. “This conference should help us make clear to the world that Buddha was born in Nepal and that Buddhist philosophy is the product of Nepal.”

On 21 May, Nepalis mark Buddha Jayanti, the birthday of Buddhism’s founder. The day is a national holiday in the Himalayan nation. Everyone – including political leaders, public servants, and religious – observe the celebration.

According to religious tradition, Siddhartha was born in 566 BC in Lumbini, southern Nepal, into a noble family. He lived in Tilaurakot Palace until the age of 29.

After he fled his father's palace to see the real world around him, he witnessed the cruelty of life in three meetings (with an old man, a sick man and a dead man). This changed his vision and at that moment he decided to abandon comforts and riches and devote himself to an ascetic life.

Prime Minister Oli said that Nepal is not only the birthplace of the Enlightened One, but also the cradle of the three traditions of Buddhism (Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana).

Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Minister Ananda Prasad Pokharel announced that he had invited world leaders as well as Buddhist religious leaders to the conference, including the secretary general of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon.

The minister also asked that textbooks claiming that the Buddha was born in other countries be changed. South Korea has announced that it had taken steps to eliminate the historical mistake.

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