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Buddha must be smiling: India, Nepal row on origin

05:17 AM Aug 10, 2020 | Shirish B Pradhan

Nepal takes offence easily these days. On Sunday, it objected to External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar referring to Gautam Buddha as one of the "two greatest Indians" – the other one being Mahatma Gandhi.

The Nepalese Foreign Ministry took strong objection to the comment.

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"It is a well-established fact proven by historical and undeniable evidences that Gautam Buddha was born in Lumbini, Nepal," a statement from the spokesperson of the Nepalese Foreign Ministry said.

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It went on to cite PM Modi who, during his 2014 visit, had said "Nepal is the country where the apostle of peace in the world, Buddha, was born".

In New Delhi, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava tried to downplay the controversy, saying that the minister's remarks "referred to our shared Buddhist heritage."

The MEA also issued a clarification saying that it has never contested the fact that the founder of Buddhism was born in Nepal.

Among those who took exception to Jaishankar's statement was Nepal's former foreign secretary Madhuraman Acharya who said in a tweet, "Some 2270 years ago, Indian Emperor Ashok erected a pillar at Lumbini in Nepal to mark the birthplace of Buddha. That monument stands taller than any self-aggrandizing claim to say that Budha was an "Indian"! Period!!"

Acharya further said in another tweet: If Buddha’s enlightenment and preaching in India is to be cited to claim that he was an Indian, then most of the ‘rishi munis’ like Vyas, Valmiki and Patanjali, who India claims to be their own, are Nepalis because they meditated, wrote treatises and achieved moksha in Nepal!

Some time back, Nepal’s prime minister had raised hackles in India by asserting that Lord Ram had Nepali antecedents.

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