Kathmandu. An International Conference organized at Lumbini International Research Institute from January 9-11, 2024 that has brought together eminent scholars and researchers from diverse countries to delve into the life story of the Buddha within the context of Asian tradition and its broader implications. The conference was organized by Prof Chongdok C. H. Park, Director, Buddhist Culture Research Institute, and Prof Soonil Hwang, Dean, College of Buddhism from Dongguk University, South Korea. In the conference scholars gathered from 8 counties and explored various facets of the Buddha’s life, teachings, and cultural impact as shared by distinguished participants.Dignitaries and scholars from eight nations, including Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Taiwan, Germany, Sri Lanka, India, and host country Nepal, converged at the Lumbini International Research Institute (LIRI), Lumbini, Nepal. The primary focus of the conference was to delve into the nuances of the Buddha’s life story as interpreted and transmitted through the lens of the East Asian tradition. In his welcome cum keynote address Dr. Christoph Cueppers, Director, Lumbini International Research Institute, expressed gratitude for the diverse gathering, emphasizing the institute’s commitment to collecting and preserving Buddhist scriptures for future generations. This international collaboration underscored the shared dedication to unraveling the profound teachings encapsulated in the life story of Siddhartha Gautama. The three-day conference featured a plethora of research papers and presentations that explored various facets of the Buddha’s life within the context of Asian Traditions and beyond.Delegates presented their findings, shedding light on the cultural, historical, and philosophical dimensions that have shaped the East Asian understanding of the Buddha’s journey to enlightenment. The thematic focus on Lumbini, Kapilavastu, and Tilourakot provided a unique lens through which scholars from South Korea, India, Nepal, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia, and Germany examined the historical and cultural dimensions of Buddhism.
Key Presentations are:
Prof Soonil Hwang’s in his presentation on ‘Lumbini, Kapilavastu, and Tilourakot’ in which he has explored the debate surrounding the birthplace of the Buddha and capital city of the Shakya and highlighted the historical and archaeological evidence related to Lumbini, Kapilavastu, and Tilourakot. Prof Chongdok C. H. Park’s Examination of Horse Barley Offering to Buddha: Delved into the significance of Horse Barley based on Mulasarvastivaadin Vinaya and further explored the cultural and religious context of this offering in relation to Buddha’s life. Prof Basanta Bidari’s Insights on Buddhist Archaeology and shared his views on various Buddhist sites around Lumbini, Kapilavastu, and Tilourakot with focus of arcaheological evidences to prove his point and also explored the significance of these sites in understanding Buddha’s birth place and his childhood days at Kapilvastu. Dr Arvind Kumar Singh’s dealt with Buddha’s Life from an Environmental Perspective and emphasized the relevance of Buddha’s teachings by addressing the environmental concerns as reflected in his life events and teachings and further explored the ethical and spiritual dimensions of Buddha’s teachings in the context of present days environmental crisis and its significance in resolving the same. Dr Gurmet Dorjey’s exploration the Twelve Deeds of the Buddha in Tibetan Buddhism and focused his research on the significance of the 12 deeds and its relevance in Tibetan Buddhism by provided insights into the spiritual and cultural impact of these deeds. Dr Chandan Kumar’s focused his research on Kashmir’s Role and Positioning in the dissemination and development of Buddhism from the historical point of view in spread of Buddhism to Central Asia and China and further to Korea as a conduit for the transmission of Buddhist teachings. Prof Kyungrae’s discussion on the Death of the Buddha and Three Councils in Myanmar Traditions focused on the narrative of Buddha’s death and the subsequent councils in Myanmar traditions and he further investigated the impact of these events on the development of Buddhism in Myanmar. Prof Yasassi Panahaduwe’s Reflections on the Humanistic Aspects of Buddha and His Teachings through which he highlighted the humanistic dimensions of Buddha’s teachings and their contemporary relevance from Theravadin perspective from the ethical and moral aspects of Buddhism in addressing societal challenges. Prof Jahyun Kim addressed was focused on Iconography of the Buddha’s Life in Korea and he research focused on the iconography of the Buddha’s life in the context of significant events and further explored the cultural and artistic representations of key moments in Buddha’s life. Prof Eng Jin Ooi’s has discussed on the Issue of Buddha’s Ordination based on the Milind Panha and dealt with the various issues and context of Buddha’s ordination as discussed in the Milind Panha in the historical and cultural context of ordination in Buddhism. Prof Pram Sounasamut’s discourse on the Significance of Buddha’s Life in Thai Art in which he focused on the artistic representations of Buddha’s life in Thai art from the cultural and religious significance of those representations. Prof Yushuang Yao’s Examination of Humanistic Buddhism, Tzu Chi Foundation, and Gender Issues in Taiwan: Explored the principles of Humanistic Buddhism and its embodiment in the Tzu Chi Foundation. She further nalyzed the role of gender in the context of Buddhist culture in Taiwan.The International Conference on The Life Story of the Buddha in Asian Tradition and Beyond at Lumbini International Research Institute, Lumbini, Nepal served as a platform for scholarly exchange and deepened our understanding of the rich cultural, historical, and philosophical dimensions of Buddhism. The diverse perspectives presented by participants from different countries added a global context to the exploration of the Buddha’s life and teachings. The insights shared during the conference contribute to the ongoing dialogue on the cultural heritage and enduring relevance of Buddhism in today’s world. Another highlight of the conference was a meticulously planned field trip to Kapilvastu and Lumbini. Delegates embarked on a journey to explore the sacred sites associated with the Buddha’s early life. Kapilvastu, the ancient capital of the Shakya kingdom, and Lumbini, the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautama, provided an immersive backdrop for participants to connect with the historical and spiritual roots of Buddhism. The visit to Kapilvastu offered insights into the socio-cultural milieu that shaped the Buddha’s upbringing. Scholars marveled at the archaeological remnants and gained a deeper understanding of the historical context in which Siddhartha Gautama’s early life unfolded. The ancient ruins served as a tangible link to the past, fostering a sense of reverence among the conference attendees. Lumbini, with its serene ambiance and the iconic Maya Devi Temple, offered a poignant experience. Delegates explored the sacred garden, paying homage to the historical significance of the site. The field trip served not only as a moment of reflection but also as a catalyst for further discussions during the conference sessions.