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In search of Buddha's maternal home

KATHMANDU, MAY 06 - With the Lumbini Development Trust (LDT) and the Department of Archaeology (DoA) having jointly initiated a trial excavation in Devdaha in Lumbini, the palace of the maternal uncles of Gautam Buddha is likely to be unveiled soon.

The matter has been shrouded in mystery since the fifth century after an archaeologist called Fasyan first mentioned in his travelogue that the Kwaliyar state (now Devdaha) was the place where both Buddha and his father Suddhodhan, the king of Kapilvastu, were married to.

As cross-cousin marriage was popular then, some archaeologists have also said both Buddha's mother Mayadevi as well as his wife Yasodhara came from the same family in Kwaliyar. Kwaliyar, as mentioned in ancient scriptures, was a neighbourig state of Kapilvastu that covered the area between Lumbini's Rohini river in the east and Narayani river in the west. 

Although archaeologists including Fasyan (fifth century), Wehn Sang (seventh century) and Dr Hoey (1962), among others, have said Kwaliyar was the maternal home of Buddha, no inscriptions or coins have been found in the area so far to prove those statements. Neither do people have any records of excavation works carried out in the area so far.

The “unverified ruins” of old bricks and foundations can be found in four different locations at Devdaha. The places are Kanyamai, Bairimai, Bhawanipur and Khayar Danda, all worshipped as religious shrines by the Buddhists these days. However, according to a senior archaeological officer at the DoA, Prakash Darnal, locals of all the four places have been claiming the particular area to be the palace of the old Kwaliyar kings, who were also the maternal uncles of Buddha.

However, as there cannot be four palaces in such a small area, Darnal mentions that all four locations have equal chances of coming out as the palace of Buddha's maternal uncles. “Others may be the ruins of other monuments and monasteries,” he added.

Out of the four locations, excavation was carried out only at Kanyamai this time. The excavation was conducted by digging two squares of 10/10. Although the excavation did not go below one metre, Darnal said they unveiled two important structures and brick foundations.

“We unveiled two important square structures moving horizontally,” he said. “Findings only within one metre depth clearly indicate there is something more. However, because of sporadic rainfall, we could not continue with the excavation work. The work will resume next winter from Kanyamai.”

According to Darnal, the exact palace of Buddha's maternal uncles can be found with evidences only after successful excavation in all the four locations. “Excavation is a slow process which may take years,” he said, adding that though the palace would be only one, all four ruins could have equally important historical importance. “What lays underground at all four places is still a tentative mystery.”

This year's excavation, which started on March 14, was halted on April 24. LDT itself is bearing the cost of the excavation. The budget for the initial phase this year was Rs 301,300.


Posted on: 2011-05-06 11:50