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Saving Lord Buddha: Looking at the Lumbini Preservation Efforts 

It was 249 BC; emperor Asoka of India visited Lumbini and erected a stone pillar and marker-stone indicating the exact birthplace of the Buddha. Later, from 4th to 7the century Chinese pilgrims and scholars Tseng Tsai, Fa-Hsien and Hiuen-Tsang visited Lumbini and identified the place and confirmed the various sites in more detail. These honorable and religious men discovered and preserved this precious and monumental site for us which would have otherwise disappeared from the face of earth. These visits were probably the first official Lumbini preservation efforts. Since then a lot of work have been carried out by men like U Thant –Secretary General of United Nation and many nations who formulated a master plan for the preservation and further development of this world heritage site. Almost three decade has passed by since the Master Plan prepared by the Japanese Professor Kenzo Tange was prepared and implemented by the UN and the government of Nepal.

 The international community of Buddhists and the peace loving people of the world participated enthusiastically to expedite the completion of Lumbini Development Project. Millions of dollars were received as donations from various international communities and pilgrims have been spent in the 3 square mile equal to 770 hectares of land in Lumbini. Lumbini Development Trust (LDT), supposed to be an autonomous, non-governmental and non profit making organization, was formed in 1985 to accomplish the Project. It is probably the only project which has participation and support from highest numbers of international community, Buddhist pilgrims and NGO/ INGO's. 

The Secretary Generals of UN such as U Thant and Perez de Cuellar, Presidents and Prime Ministers of various country, high ranking dignitaries, resident ambassadors of many countries along with Millions of pilgrims have visited Lumbini since many centuries. Major events such as the First World Buddhist Summit, International Buddhist Conference and Second World Buddhist Summit were held which had the participation of many delegates from more than 4o countries. Hundreds of working papers, articles, books and magazine with suggestions for the development in the Lumbini Sacred Garden have been published and submitted by many prominent personalities. Researched and studied in great detail the international organization such as UNDP, UNESCO has provided clear and simple short, medium and long term working guidelines for its development. All these sincere advise, support and help should have been sufficient to easily complete the Master Plan by now within 30 years. But sadly not even 30% of the planned work has been accomplished.

 The bare minimum need of fencing to protect the land, provide basic services to the visitors and pilgrims -such as toilet facility, drinking water, rest room, areas for praying- meditating- offering incense- first aid and medical support- transportation facility for the handicap and senior citizens are not available in the Sacred garden. So it seems futile to imagine the completion of the planned major physical infrastructures like clean water supply system, sewerage system, electric & telecommunication system, pedestrian path and construction of buildings for auditorium, Lumbini center, high school, archeological school and many other environment improvement programs within Lumbini. The Master Plan mentions all these in detail with specific design, cost and ways to operate.

 The entire peace loving countries and those following the Buddhism should once again come together and save this religious World heritage site- the Birthplace of the Buddha from being destroyed and lost once again. Why is the development and completion of Master Plan taking so long in Lumbini? Why the international communities are discouraged and withdrawing their support? Why does a nation or a religious organization willing to build Monastery in Lumbini take years to get the simple permit?

Why do the pilgrims visiting Lumbini stay only for few hours and go back to India or their country? Why do the surrounding villagers and the natives look at the LDT with animosity? Why do government ministries in Kathmandu politicize and control the administrative system and daily activities of the LDT? Why does the staff at the LDT indulge in politics at such a religious spot? Why are the learned and honorable Venerable of various countries living in monastery at Lumbini not given due respect by the government for their contributions? Monks are murdered so their safety, comfort and protection should be the prime responsibility of the government. All these and many more questions need simple answers and explanations. The reasons may be something more than what it seems? Is there a devious plan of sabotage and rampant corruption for the suppression of the development of Lumbini thereby the religion of Buddhism? A thorough check of the activities of the Lumbini Development Trust from the day of its inception should be made to bring the responsible to justice.

 There is something fundamentally wrong at LDT which needs a real hard look now. The creation of obstacles and obstruction for development from individuals within and ulterior motives of other religions should be seriously considered. The need for total change in the formation of the LDT, its by-laws, its administrative and financial rules along with its organization structures should be immediately revised. An independent and professional management system must be allowed to function so as to get the required result in the specified time frame thereby regain the lost trust and support from the international communities. The man at the top management need not be necessarily Buddhist or scholars. He or she should have the professional ability and capacity to accomplish the project in a professional manner within a time frame by gaining international trust and support. Lumbini should be autonomous in true sense with authority over its policies, budget and the revenue generated. It should be a place of peace and tranquility, free from any kind of political activities and interferences from the government and other factors.

 Bhavatu Sabba Mangalam.

 Dorji Tsering Sherpa
Galfutar, Kathmandu.
Tel: 4376576
Mobile: 98510 18820

 
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