Lumbini Garden – Buddha’s birthplace

I came across this drawing of the Buddha’s birthplace recently and it reminded me what a cruel thing Kenzo Tange did at Lumbini. Like Corbusier, Tange was a gifted designer and a terrible planner.

An ability to design objects (eg buildings) sometimes goes with an understanding of outdoor space, and gardens, but in the case of these two leading architects from West and East it did not. ‘Baroque Buddhism’ is as unwelcome as ‘Baroque Communism’, in politics and in design.

The illustration shows the scene which Fa-hsien described in c400 CE:
“Fifty li east from the city (ie from Kapilavastu) was a garden, named Lumbini, where the queen entered the pond and bathed. Having come forth from the pond on the northern bank, after walking twenty paces, she lifted up her hand, laid hold of a branch of a tree, and, with her face to the east, gave birth to the heir-apparent. When he fell to the ground, he immediately walked seven paces. Two dragon-kings appeared and washed his body. At the place where they did so, there was immediately formed a well, and from it, as well as from the above pond, where the queen bathed, the monks even now constantly take the water, and drink it.”