New Delhi: A day after External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said Gautam Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi were remembered as “two greatest Indians ever”, Nepal reacted strongly and disputed the claim asserting that Buddha was born in Lumbini in the Himalayan nation.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nepal Sunday said it is a “well-established” and “undeniable” fact that the birthplace of Buddha was Lumbini.
“Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha and the fountain of Buddhism is one of the UNESCO world heritage sites,” the MFA Nepal’s spokesperson said.
According to the spokesperson, this was even acknowledged by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who during his address to Nepal’s Legislature Parliament in 2014 stated that “Nepal is the country where the apostle of peace in the world, Buddha, was born.”
The spokesperson added, “It is true that Buddhism spread from Nepal to other parts of the world in the subsequent period. The matter remains beyond doubt and controversy and thus cannot be subject to debate. The entire international community is aware of this.”
India has responded to the Nepali assertion, agreeing that Buddha was indeed born in Lumbini. “EAM’s remarks yesterday at the CII event referred to our shared Buddhist heritage. There is no doubt that Gautam Buddha was born in Lumbini, which is in Nepal,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said Sunday.
On Saturday, while addressing a virtual CII Summit — India@75 Summit: Collaborating for a New Self-reliant India — Jaishankar had referred to Buddha as an “Indian”. He said, according to him, Gautam Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi are the “two greatest Indians ever” whom the “world remembers”.
Jaishankar was responding to a query on moral leadership even as he highlighted the importance and relevance of their preaching in the modern world.
Latest in a series of row
The controversy over Buddha’s birthplace is the latest in a series of rows between both countries.
Last month, India and Nepal got embroiled in a row over Nepalese Prime Minister K.P.S. Oli’s comments on “real” Ayodhya and the birthplace of Hindu deity Ram.
Oli had said the “real Ayodhya lies at Thori in the west of Birgunj”, adding that Lord Ram wasn’t born in the Ayodhya of Uttar Pradesh.
Ties between India and Nepal had been plummeting steadily since May when Kathmandu released a new political map showing the disputed regions of Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and Lipulekh as part of its own territory.
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