With the growing popularity of social media one can see how people everywhere, including Nepal, are beginning to organize themselves. Whether it is to win the Miss World competition or to win cash prizes for a social project, to report an accident or to announce a piece of good news, the social media is being used by more and more people all over the world. The best part of this technology is that you can actually be anywhere in the world and yet be involved and engaged. It is also a very democratic media out of the reach editors and publishers. With this great tool also comes the issue of responsibility. What happens when tools like these are misused or used to attain negative results.
We are all aware of what the consequences are of posting an offensive video on these social media sites. Whether it be a religiously insensitive film or images of a “topless” princess, the impact on society is not good. Nepal’s rich heritage has insights for most social issues and problems, and in this case, local oral tradition says, “If someone says that the crow has flown away with your ears, do not run after the crow immediately. Feel your ears first.” People post anything and everything in the various social media. We need to stop and take stock before we react and cause offense.
We all know the Buddha was born in Lumbini, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and there are good records of pilgrims who arrived at Lumbini to pay their “shrada” to the Buddha and left detailed records of their travel over the last two and half thousand years. The most famous of these pilgrims was to Mauriyan Emperor Ashoka who arrived at Lumbini to mark the twentieth year of his coronation. Historians tell us that Maya, the mother of the future Buddha, gave birth at the spot as she was travelling to her parents’ home to deliver the baby as was the tradition then.
There are many other important historical sites around Lumbini that are closely associated with the life of the Buddha. For example the eastern gate of the palace from where he left to seek the answer to the source and freedom from suffering. After attaining enlightenment, the Buddha returned to the area to meet his father, step mother and son. It is said that the Buddha did not want to enter the palace and hence his father had a monastery built for him and his followers. The archeological remains of this sacred and venerated site can be seen at Kudan. All these and many more are in and around Lumbini and in Nepal.
In the various social media sites, there are many campaigns that ask Nepalis to confirm and reconfirm that the Buddha was born in Nepal. Unfortunately there are many who “run after the crow instead of feeling for one’s ears”. It is so easy to click on “like” and “share” , but a bit harder to pack a bag and make one’s way to Lumbini and see for oneself the sacred birthplace and other sites related to his life. This is “Visit Lumbini Year” and is a great opportunity for us to feel the ears for ourselves. Let us use the social media to share our experience in Lumbini and inspire more to visit, and not use it as another reason to offend anyone. The Buddha would, I am sure, like that.y