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Shrine found at Buddha's birthplace

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Nov. 25 (UPI) -- Archaeologists have uncovered a Buddhist structure below the main shrine of the Maya Devi Temple in Lumbini, Nepal.

The discovery at the legendary site now puts the birth of Buddha at 550 BCE, nearly a hundred years earlier than previously agreed by scholars.

The international team of archaeologists excavated postholes showing a wooden railing, and found an older wooden structure below the more recent brick structure of the Buddhist temple.

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Thanks for sharing, looks like a very cool dig site!

I notice the article says...

"Tree shrines like this one are also found in earlier Indian traditions, but the lack of sacrifices or offerings points to this being a Buddhist shrine"

If this shrine predates buddhism and then buddhism took over, wouldn't you expect to not find sacrifices or offerings to a shrine that represents something the people no longer believed in. In any case they say that points to it being a buddhist shrine, that is far from conclusive.

Edited by Razer

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Thanks for sharing, looks like a very cool dig site!

I notice the article says...

"Tree shrines like this one are also found in earlier Indian traditions, but the lack of sacrifices or offerings points to this being a Buddhist shrine"

If this shrine predates buddhism and then buddhism took over, wouldn't you expect to not find sacrifices or offerings to a shrine that represents something the people no longer believed in. In any case they say that points to it being a buddhist shrine, that is far from conclusive.

That would be a perfectly valid point were it not that Buddhism,in its beginnings, was very tolerant of other religions and practices (something you cannot say anymore for certain Buddhist sects nowadays).

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That would be a perfectly valid point were it not that Buddhism,in its beginnings, was very tolerant of other religions and practices (something you cannot say anymore for certain Buddhist sects nowadays).

What I mean is, the possibility that Buddhism took over after the shrine was built, people stopped believing in it, stopped leaving offerings, and like you say because they were tolerant, let the shrine stand and just built over it. The shrine could have been there for decades surrounded by non believers. Poor lonely shrine.

On the other hand it could be the first Buddhist shrine, which would be very cool. How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?

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What I mean is, the possibility that Buddhism took over after the shrine was built, people stopped believing in it, stopped leaving offerings, and like you say because they were tolerant, let the shrine stand and just built over it. The shrine could have been there for decades surrounded by non believers. Poor lonely shrine.

On the other hand it could be the first Buddhist shrine, which would be very cool. How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?

I tend to doubt that it is a Buddhist shrine, not because of the missing offerings but because we have other historic references as to the birth of the Buddha and unless the whole history of the Indian subcontinent has to be pushed back 100 years. And that is (given the 2500 years passed) pretty consistent.

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I've visited Lumbini a few times and it has some beautiful temple buildings there, including Burmese, Tibetan and Chinese. It's about 130 miles southeast from my place at Pokhara and sits near the border with India.

Only Buddhist Monasteries have the right to own ground there, no houses, or shops etc are permitted.

'Lumbini' in Sanskrit means 'lovely'.

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interesting

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I tend to doubt that it is a Buddhist shrine, not because of the missing offerings but because we have other historic references as to the birth of the Buddha and unless the whole history of the Indian subcontinent has to be pushed back 100 years. And that is (given the 2500 years passed) pretty consistent.

The beliefs involved in Buddhism no doubt predate Gautama, and so this shrine could be from this early 'proto-Buddhism'. It's quite possible that the belief only became known as Buddhism after Gautama 'popularised' it through his teachings. Indeed, Gautama may not have been the 'inventor' of Buddhism - just it's earliest, most notable proponent.

Edited by Leonardo
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The beliefs involved in Buddhism no doubt predate Gautama, and so this shrine could be from this early 'proto-Buddhism'. It's quite possible that the belief only became known as Buddhism after Gautama 'popularised' it through his teachings. Indeed, Gautama may not have been the 'inventor' of Buddhism - just it's earliest, most notable proponent.

I have thought about that possibility too...

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I think it was a Buddhist shrine alright, and the date problems are not problems because there was such a range in the carbon dates assigned.

Buddhism shares many beliefs with other religions of the subcontinent, and one therefore presumes these predated any of the existing religions. The unique aspects of Buddhism -- in particular viewing Samsara as a trap to escape and the agnosticism about all the gods that were then around (in spite of later stories that include them) make Buddhism something that first appeared around this time. I see no reason to deny this particular area its traditional role and now we have pretty good reasons to say it seems likely.

I was disturbed about the "intolerance" mentioned above. There is antipathy between Buddhists and Muslims, this is well known, but rarely leads to trouble, and Muslims seem to have antipathy fairly routinely with all other religions they encounter. There are a few Buddhist sects that teach cultism (the notion of having a monopoly on truth) but this sort of idea makes most Buddhists wince.

Gautama is a Buddha. The tradition says there have been others and that once the influence of the most recent Buddha is finally gone from the earth another will come.

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Oh one other thing that I found funny: the notion that scholars had ever agreed to a date for Gautama's birth.

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Be helpful if there was a Buddamas to help narrow things down.

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