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Citizenship of Buddha: India and Nepal in war of words:

Topics Covered: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

Citizenship of Buddha: India and Nepal in war of words:


Recently, there has been a war of words between India and Nepal over the origin of Gautama Buddha.

What’s the issue?

Nepal is the land of origin of Lord Buddha, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kathmandu asserted recently after India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar described the founder of Buddhism as one of the greatest Indians ever.

What history says?

Gautam Buddha was a prince of the Shakya republic, which extended till the current border region of India and Nepal.

  • Its capital was Kapilvastu, whose exact location has remained unascertained among historians.
  • By the time Gautam was born to Shakya chief Shuddhodana and Mayamaya, the republic was a vassal of Kosala kingdom.
  • In Buddhist texts, Shakya chief’s family has been identified with the Ikshwaku lineage. It is the same lineage as Lord Ram’s.
  • Ayodhya under Kosala kingdom was the central line of Ikshwaku tree expanding over to Nepal and India as the borders then were not so defined as today.

According to Buddhist texts, Gautma Buddha was born while his mother Mahamaya was travelling. He was born in a park in Lumbini, which is in Nepal. Lumbini is a UNESCO-declared heritage site and holds immense significance for the followers of Buddhism.

What India says?

  • Gautam Buddha grew up in Kapilvastu, whose location is yet to be identified conclusively. He left Kapilvastu to fulfill his spiritual quest and reached Rajgrih, located in Bihar. He was still Prince Gautam.
  • What is also conclusively known is that Gautam Buddha attained enlightenment in Bodhgaya, in India. Here Gautam became Buddha. He spent over four decades of his life travelling across Indian cities and villages reaching in the India-Nepal borders.
  • Gautam Buddha delivered his first sermon in Varanasi. He kept wandering mostly in the vast expanse of the kingdom of Magadha. Buddha breathed his last in Kushinagar, a town in eastern UP.


Gautam Buddha lived in an era when citizenship was not a concept bound by political boundaries of the states. Those boundaries kept changing. His life was modelled as a citizen of humanity.

Nepal’s claim of Gautam Buddha being a Nepali citizen or giving Nepali identity to Gautam Buddha appears unfair given that as Buddha, Gautam was a general resident of India. He was born in Nepal while his pregnant mother was in journey.



Prelims Link:

  1. Holy places associated with the life of Buddha.
  2. Four noble truths.
  3. What is eightfold path?
  4. About Ikshvaku lineage.
  5. What are Jataka tales?
  6. What are Mahayana Sutras?
  7. About Hinayana and Mahayana Buddhism.
  8. About Buddhism Mudras.

Mains Link:

Discuss the ethical principles of Buddhism as articulated by Gautam Buddha.

Sources: the Hindu.