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HindustanTimes Mon,21 Apr 2014

World

Newsweek editor lands in Buddha controversy in Nepal
Utpal Parashar, Hindustan Times
Kathmandu, January 02, 2010
First Published: 17:33 IST(2/1/2010)
Last Updated: 17:35 IST(2/1/2010)

It’s a controversy that refuses to die down. A year after Nepal banned Bollywood flick Chandni Chowk to China for claiming that Lord Buddha was born in India, eminent Indian born-American journalist and author Fareed Zakaria has landed in a similar soup.

The editor of Newsweek International and host of CNN’s weekly show Fareed Zakaria GPS stoked anger in the Himalayan nation with a statement in his book The Post American World that the founder of Buddhism was born in India.

On page 154 in the book, Zakaria mentions incorrectly that though Buddha was an Indian and Buddhism was born in India, there are no true Buddhists in that country.

The truth, however is that Buddha was born at Lumbini in present Rupandehi district of western Terai region in Nepal. A fact accepted by UNESCO while providing world heritage status to the place.

On Saturday, spokesperson for Nepal’s main opposition party Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) Dinanath Sharma wrote a scathing piece in the Nepali daily Kantipur targeting Zakaria.

Terming the renowned author’s statement as ‘Vishvakya’ (poisoned sentence), he wrote that it was a severe attack on the proud citizens of a democratic, sovereign Nepal as well as millions of Buddhists worldwide.

“How are we to believe that a person who is associated with important media organizations like Newsweek and CNN had no knowledge that Buddha was born at Lumbini in Nepal?” he questioned.

Mentioning Zakaria’s Indian roots, the article also blames successive ruling parties in the neighbouring nation of spreading false notions about Buddha’s birthplace through textbooks in schools and colleges.

Earlier Sharma, who is also an MP, had raised the issue in parliament and it had come to President Ram Baran Yadav’s notice as well.  Zakaria’s statement has also resulted in resentment on the Internet from Nepalis settled across the globe.

A Facebook group called ‘Buddha was born in Nepal’ has comments from people who want Zakaria to admit his mistake, withdraw the book or issue a clarification in the next edition.

“Are you misinformed or you want to misinform. Please come to Lumbini, Nepal—the birthplace of Buddha for correct information,” writes Rameshwar Aryal, one of the many who have posted their comments.


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