Buddhism has significant number of its residents in
Nepal. Approximate 26% of the population practises Buddhism, specially
Tibetan form of Buddhism. Nepal can be said to be the meeting point of
Indian and Tibetan streams of Buddhism. This is not surprising for Nepal is
in close proximity to Tibet. Fine Buddhist art has also hugely developed in
Nepal. Ethnic groups residing in Central Nepal are mostly the followers of
Buddhism. Buddhism in Nepal has also been influenced by Hinduism, another
dominant religion in Nepal.
History of Nepal Buddhism
Siddhartha Gautama, who founded Buddhism, was himself born in an ancient
kingdom of Nepal. The country's closeness with India ensured that it became
a treasury of Buddhist Sanskrit literature. Emperor Ashoka of India had
established a pillar in Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha. Gradually,
Buddhism became a dominant religion in sparsely populated northern areas of
Buddhist Pilgrimage Sites in Nepal
Nepal hosts several Buddhist pilgrimage sites which are highly
revered by the Buddhists. Ancient stupas of Swayambhunath and Bodhnath are
considered most sacred among Nepali pilgrimage sites.
Kapilvastu, a historic town, is closely associated with Buddha's life. It
is located about 250 km from Kathmandu and 25 km from Lumbini. It was here
where Siddhartha Gautama, who later became Lord Buddha, was born in the
sixth century B.C. Lord Buddha lived in Kapilvastu to the age of 29. Today
the town is visited for religious, cultural and archaeological importance
Divine feelings like spirituality and holiness occupy one's heart when one
is in Lumbini. Included among the world heritage sites, Lumbini has rich
natural backdrop and impressive architectural beauty. The city, located in
South-Western Terai of Nepal, is one of the most important Buddhist
Swayambhunath, located west of Kathmandu is a pilgrimage held in high
esteem Swambhunath can be literally translated as 'self-existent Buddha'.
The grand stupa tells how Buddhism spread its influence in Nepal. The Stupa
tells all about history and origin of Buddhism in Nepal.
Tibetan culture can be experienced in Bodhnath Stupa, located in Kathmandu
valley. After the 1959 Chinese invasion, thousands of Tibetans arrived in
Bouddhanath. Henceforth, the temple developed as one of the most important
centers of Tibetan Buddhism. This largest stupa in Nepal was erected
sometime in the 14th century after the Mughal invasion.
Branches of Buddhism
Buddhism in Nepal comprises Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana streams. The
Tibetan Mahayana tradition has most of its adherents in northern Nepal, with
approximately 3000 monasteries. Newar Vajrayana Buddhism is a popular
religious system in the Kathmandu Valley with number of rituals.Some
Nepalese have also turned to Theravada practice based on the Pali canon.
Prostrating pilgrims, the spinning of prayer wheels, collective chants and
burning lamps are some popular Buddhist practices often seen by tourists.
Buddhists believe that if a slip of paper bearing a mantra is kept inside
the wheels, the prayers reach gods when the wheel is spun. Several Buddhists
are seen performing these practices in Buddhist religious sites all around