By Om Tat Sat,
“Buddha was born in Nepal,” is a slogan popular in Nepal because for ages India has been using their propaganda in the world saying that he was born in India. There might be difference of opinion on this by the term “born.” Personally I have argued that Gautama was born in Then Kapilvastu, but Buddha was “born” as an enlightened soul in Bodgaya. Of course, Nepalis are talking about physical birth while Indians might be referring to the spiritual birth. However, this claiming of a deity has now found a reverse effect.
In an event in Baluwatar, Nepal’s Prime Minister Oli stated that Ram, the Hindu deity, born in Ayodhya is actually in Nepal. This has upset many Indians who are brought up in the Hindu myths through popular media shows in television and movies believing that Ram was born in Ayodhya, which falls in Uttar Pradesh, India. It is more than 400 km.
The prime minister mentioned in an event that the Hindu God Ram was born in Ayodhyapuri, Thori that falls near Birgunj, Nepal, about 140 km. Some politicians in Nepal and many from India were swift in their response to condemn it as another move to please China and break and challenge India. The opposition party was quick to proclaim that the PM has lost moral and political ground to rule, and closed all avenues of dialogue with India. The Foreign Ministry quickly released a statement that the PM did not intend to hurt anyone’s feelings, trying to pacify the opposition in India, particularly Subramaniam Swami, who sees another political move and cultural encroachment by the PM against India.
What is a common cultural heritage should not be pulled into political tug of war. However, this controversy could be good because it has the potential to move away from relying upon and accepting all the biased views and cultural imperialism promoted by Indian scholars and government, as well as popular media through television and movies. There are actually documented research and books by scholars of India and Nepal that validates that Ayodhya was not the one promoted by India. The current Indian Ayodhya was called Saket before Valmiki changed the name. Ramayana goes back to more than 12,000 years and the lifestyle then was not as fast-paced as now. The dominant mode of land transport was horse carriages. The narrative in Ramayana on how long it took for Ram to go to Janakpur, or Sita to be sent to Balmiki’s Ashram match with the Ayodhyapuri of Nepal, inhabited by Tharu people. Nepal’s scholar has also given proof of argument that Nepal is the real Ayodhya. Based on Ramayana itself, Valmiki Ashram is also located close to Thori.
Claiming land and deity is Indian practice that continues unabated. Let us remember that they are establishing a Lumbini in India by stealing archeological materials from Nepal’s archeological sites in Lumbini and Kapilvastu and spreading lies that Lumbini is in India. They have been making such a claim about Buddha for ages. Even regarding the Mahakali River, the Indian side has created a new Kali river to cheat Nepal out of territory and water. It is consistent with Indian practice.
Fortunately, this age-old dependence and trust in India is now coming to an end. The Archeological Department of Nepal has now declared that it will do research and archeological study about this historical controversy. This kind of controversy is good for Nepal. In order to make an independent presence in the international community, Nepal needs to find its own scientific and cultural stance. This could be a good beginning.
The reality of it all is that Ramayana period recognized neither India nor Nepal. Ram was neither an Indian nor a Nepali. Deities have no nationalities no matter where they are born. It is narrow-minded humans that seek to put a label on the infinite force.
The writer is a graduate of Arizona State University in Political Science. He is working as a social activist and motivational speaker for students across Nepal since 2007. He also blogs at Strong Blog.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necesarily reflect the official policy or position of Nepalisite.