Search for Buddha maternal home

| by Ankit Adhikari

(November 12, Kathmandu, Sri Lanka Guardian) Nepal's Department of Archaeology (DoA) and Lumbini Development Trust (LDT) in unison are trying to ascertain whether Lumbini-based Devdaha was the maternal home of Gautam Buddha.

Although there are a number of folklores and old travelogues pontificating that Devdaha was the place where Buddha himself and his father King Sudhdhodhan got married, no inscriptions or coins have ever been found in the area to establish this claim.

The matter has shrouded in mystery since the fifth century after an archaeologist named Fasyan first mentioned in his travelogue that the maternal kingdom of Buddha and Sudhdhod-han was the Kwaliyar state (now called Devdaha).

According to Prakash Darnal, chief of National Archives under DoA, archaeologists and travellers including Fasyan (in fifth century), Wehn Sang (in seventh century) and Hoey ( in 1962) have mentioned this fact in their writings.

As cross cousin marriage was popular then, some archaeologists have also dropped a hint that Buddha’s mother Mayadevi and his wife Yasodhara came from the same family in Kwaliyar.

According to ancient scriptures, Kwaliyar was a neighbouring state of Kapilvastu between Lumbini’s Rohini River in the east and Narayani River in the west—an area that matches up with the location of present day Devdaha.

In their efforts to find out the remains of the palace of Buddha’s in-laws and maternal relatives, DoA and LDT had initiated an excavation on March 14 last year.

However, as the excavation process started too late and just ahead of the monsoon, the process got halted on April 14 and was postponed for the next year. Winter season is considered the best time to carry out excavations. The excavation process resumed on October 13 last month.

The "unverified ruins" of old bricks and foundations can be found in four different locations of Devdaha, Kanyamai, Bairimai, Bhawanipur and Khayar Danda, all worshipped as religious shrines by Buddhists these days.

According to Himal Upreti, a archaeologist with the Lumbini trust, who is involved in the ongoing excavation, all four locations have equal chances of turning out as the palace of Buddha’s maternal uncles.

Out of the four locations, excavation is being carried out only at Kanyamai. The Archaeo-logy Department and Lumbini trust will excavate the three other areas after completing Kanyam-ai excavation this year.

"We have unveiled some horizontally erected wall structures and old bricks so far," said Upreti, adding that the evidences gathered so far are not enough to establish that Kanyamai was the place where the Kwaliyar palace located.

Darnal, who is also involved in the excavation from DoA’s side, said the exact palace of Buddha’s maternal uncles can be found with evidences only after successful excavation in all the four locations.

( The writer is writing for the Kathmandu Post , where is article originally appeared)