May 12, 2012
We talk to anthropologists Dr. James M. Freeman and Dr. Annapurna Devi Pandey as they investigate a controversial claim about the true origin of the Buddha and their film ‘The Myth of the Buddha’s Birthplace." Returning to Kapileswar, a small village in the state of Odisha, eastern India that Freeman first visited in 1962, Freeman and Pandey search for an ancient stone inscription, which was discovered in Kapileswar nearly a century ago but has since mysteriously vanished. This stone inscription, so it is said, proclaims Kapileswar to be the birthplace of the Buddha. This claim runs counter to all established theories, since Nepal is generally accepted to be the birthplace of the Buddha. In searching for the lost inscription, Freeman and Pandey make an unexpected and significant discovery. The villagers of Kapileswar have created a new myth about the Buddha’s birth and a new ritual based on this myth. ‘The Myth of the Buddha’s Birthplace’ shows how a modern myth has been created and answers the questions of the authenticity of the Kapileswar stone inscription and the credibility of the Kapileswar birthplace claim.