Wednesday August 15, 2018

Blend of Belief and Science: Lord Buddha was born 300 years earlier than previously thought of

The project was led by Robin Conginham and was supported by National Geographic Channel

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August 14, 2016: Last year in December, 2015, a study was conducted by a team of 40 archaeologists and professors has found traces, that Lord Buddha might have lived 300 years earlier than researched. The discovery was led by the professors of archaeology and a pro-vice-chancellor of Durham University, England; that can perhaps reshape the very face of Buddhism.

The team found the remains of a wooden structure at Buddha’s birthplace Lumbini, Nepal, that suggests Buddha’s presence around the sixth century BC, mentioned the indiadivine.org in a report.

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After researching for more than 3 years at Lumbini’s Maya Devi Temple, the researchers have discovered a shrine which indicates all known Buddhist traces to be as old as 300 years or more. The ancient shrine that was found during the research, was made of timber at the Maya Devi Temple in southern Nepal, that has clues of Buddha’s birth. Legend has it, that Lord Buddha’s mother, Maya Devi, was on her way from her husband’s kingdom to her parents’ home  and in the midway, she gave birth to Buddha, mentioned indiadivine.org.

Maya Devi Temple, Nepal. Image source: Wikipedia
Maya Devi Temple, Nepal.
Image source: Wikipedia

The project was led by Robin Conginham and was supported by National Geographic Channel. It is a blend of tradition, science, belief and archaeology, believes Conginham. But most of what Buddhism constitutes is only oral tradition and legends, and little or no evidence that can state the existence of Lord Buddha. The estimated era of the emergence of Buddhism is more ancient than previously thought because the 6th century BC was the emergence of the middle class, coin system, kinship and ancient urbanisation. As a result, it can be easily believed that this was the time when Gautam Buddha emerged as a preacher who discarded materialistic pleasures such as wealth. Early studies on Buddhism were based on textual remains and oral narratives, which also involved the politics of transmission- where the storytellers modified the stories too.

The estimated era of the emergence of Buddhism is more ancient than previously thought because the 6th century BC was the emergence of the middle class, coin system, kinship and ancient urbanisation. As a result, it can be easily believed that this was the time when Gautam Buddha emerged as a preacher who discarded materialistic pleasures such as wealth. Early studies on Buddhism were based on textual remains and oral narratives, which also involved the politics of transmission- where the storytellers modified the stories too.

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Buddhism is an all-religion tolerant belief or ‘dharma’ that is increasingly gaining popularity all over the modern world. It preaches awakening of the mind and the soul, compassion, and impermanence of wealth and tracing Buddha’s life will have a great impact on his teachings. It is a known fact that his birthplace ‘Lumbini’ was discovered but not maintained after being found; therefore, it turned into a jungle before it was rediscovered in 1896 and now it falls under UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Buddhist statue in Kamakura, Japan. Image source; Wikimedia Commons
Buddhist statue in Kamakura, Japan. Image source; Wikimedia Commons

In a statement, Irina Bokova, Director General, UNESCO, threw light on the plans to increase tourist attraction in Lumbini by “more archaeological research, intensified conservation work and strengthened site management.”

The next research by Conginham on Buddhism is likely to be Buddha’s childhood places, funded by UNESCO and supported by the Japanese government.

prepared by Chetna Karnani, at NewsGram. Twitter: @karnani_chetna

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  • Jagpreet Kaur Sandhu

    This discovery could change the facts about Buddhism for sure… any how faith of the religion is widespread!

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Buddhist Monk Losang Samten Uses Colors to Spread Message of Peace

Samten was born in Tibet. When he was a young boy, his family escaped to Nepal fleeing Chinese Communist control of his homeland. They lived in a refugee camp for years.

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Samten
Former Buddhist monk and Tibetan scholar Losang Samten uses colored sand to build mandalas, circular images filled with complex iconography, which have great meaning in Hinduism and Buddhism. VOA

According to one estimate, there are a 5 quintillion, 5 hundred quadrillion grains of sand on earth, a number so large it must be approaching infinity. This makes sand an appropriate medium for the construction of spiritual images of the universe.

Former Buddhist monk and Tibetan scholar Losang Samten does just that, using colored sand to build mandalas, circular images filled with complex iconography, which have great meaning in Hinduism and Buddhism.

Tibetan monks have created mandalas over the centuries from a variety of materials. Before sand, they used crushed colored stone. Now Samten travels around the world to find sand in various colors. He also dyes sand in watercolors.

Now Samten travels around the world to find sand in various colors. He also dyes sand in watercolors.
Tibetan monks have created mandalas over the centuries from a variety of materials. Before sand, they used crushed colored stone. VOA

Decades of mandalas

Samten, in his mid-60s, learned the craft at the feet of the Dalai Lama.

“When I was a teenager, age of 17,” he told VOA, “I had a privilege to enter His Holiness Dalai Lama’s monastery … in India. I have been studying sand mandalas ever since then. So it’s a long time.”

VOA found Samten painstakingly layering grains of colored sand at the gallery of the Philadelphia Folklore Project. The particular mandala he was working on was the mandala of compassion, or unconditional love.

Far from random designs, mandalas have been perfected over centuries.

“These are uniquely designed many, many, many, many, many years passing to an artist to another artist to another artist to another artist,” Samten said. “The color has a meaning, the shape has different meanings. Not my design; it didn’t come out of my own idea.”

When Samten created a sand mandala at the American Museum of History in New York in 1988 at the request of the Dalai Lama, it was the first time the 2,600-years-old ancient ritual art was seen outside of monasteries. Since then, Samten has made sand mandalas in museums, galleries and universities across the U.S. and many parts of the world.

“They are used to enhance the spiritual practice through image and meditation, to overcome suffering. Mandalas represent enlightened qualities and methods which explain this path, making them very important for the spiritual journey,” Samten wrote on his web site.

Nothing is permanent

Samten was born in Tibet. When he was a young boy, his family escaped to Nepal fleeing Chinese Communist control of his homeland. They lived in a refugee camp for years.

Now Samten travels around the world to find sand in various colors. He also dyes sand in watercolors.
Samten, in his mid-60s, learned the craft at the feet of the Dalai Lama. VOA

“In the winter of 1959, [we] crossed Mount Everest, it took us two months to cross,” he told VOA. “You cannot travel during the day and so scared and not enough food not enough clothes. I was age of 5. I saw, I mean unbelievable dead bodies, people dying without food. I became a monk at age 11 when I was in school, refugee school.”

Samten left monastic life in 1995 and became the spiritual director at the Tibetan Buddhist Center of Philadelphia. He says the patience of the creative process, can lead observers to find calm determination within themselves.

“When I am doing this mandala at universities and schools, many kids came to me, (saying) ‘when I saw you doing the sand mandala, that help me so much to finish my education, patience …’ I have a lot of stories,” he said.

Monk Samten
Samten was born in Tibet. When he was a young boy, his family escaped to Nepal fleeing Chinese Communist control of his homeland. VOA

Beauty comes and goes

After a sand mandala is completed, it is dismantled ceremoniously.

“Dismantle has many different reasons,” Samten said. “… One thing is, dismantle is a beauty, whatever we see as a beauty on the earth, never be everlasting as a beauty and impermanent, impermanent, comes and goes. It’s like a season.”

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Or like sand, ever changing in the wind.

Samten often invites children to participate in the ceremony.

To gallery visitor Traci Chiodress that was part of the charm of the event.

“I think it’s powerful to see something so beautiful created, and then taken apart, and to be done in a community with a group of people of different ages,” she said. “I just think it’s an important type of practice.” (VOA)