Friday, February 3, 2012

Korea to correct Lord Buddha’s birthplace in textbook

Korea will correct the erroneous information regarding the birthplace of Buddha in a textbook beginning in 2013 in response to Nepal’s request.

“Authors of the book admitted to having described Buddha’s birthplace wrongly and have decided to correct it,” said Kang Hyun-tae, a senior researcher at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology. Kang said the corrected version of the book will be released next year as the books for this year have already been printed.

Nepal’s then Ambassador to Seoul Kamal Prasad Koirala called for the correction in a written petition sent to President Lee Myung-bak in December, claiming Buddha’s birthplace Lumbini is a part of Nepal, not India. (See the front-page story of the Dec. 27 edition of The Korea Times.)

The letter led the government to investigate the issue and recently found a textbook describing Lumbini as a part of India.

Nepal hailed the decision.

“It is a matter of appreciation that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Korea took it seriously and promptly acted upon it,” said Acting Nepali Ambassador to Seoul Rajaram Bartuala.

Korea, which is home to millions of Buddhists, had previously agreed to donate $2 million to build and develop Lumbini as a city of peace. Thousands of Korean tourists visit Lumbini every year on pilgrimages.

Several weeks ago, a senior official of Seoul’s foreign ministry informed Acting Ambassador Bartuala over the phone that the instruction for the correction in the relevant book has already been passed on to the concerned authorities and the corrected version will come out in 2013

A Korean primary school textbook “Ethics Part One” states that Buddha was born in Khapila Castle in India. Similarly, another secondary school book “World History” states that Buddha was born to a Royal Brahmin family and his birthplace has been stated as India.

In the December petition to President Lee, Nepal’s envoy had pointed to the factual inaccuracy about the birthplace of Buddha Shakyamuni.

“Being aware of its significance and magnanimity of the sentiments of its large (body of) believers, I take this opportunity to state the facts with humble request subsequently for its correction,” Amb. Koirala said in the four-page letter. It added Buddha was born in Lumbini, Nepal.

The letter says that when India was under the British rule, some British authors had written that Buddha was born in India, which is still believed to be true in many parts of the world. Although we the Indian ever since acknowledge that the Lord Gautam Buddha's birth place Lumbini is in Nepal.

Koirala also said that United Nations General Secretary Ban Ki-moon has shown keen interest in the development of Lumbini. “This place is at a distance of 32 kilometers north of the border of the Republic of India and while writing chronicles about Buddha the facts are on the ground,” the letter read.

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