grove near the southern border of modern-day Nepal where, according to Buddhist (Buddhism) legend, Queen Mahā Māyā stood and gave birth to the future Buddha while holding onto a branch of a sal tree. There are two references to Lumbinī as the birthplace of the Buddha in the Pāli scripture, the first in a narrative poem attached to the Nālaka Sutta and the other in the Kathāvatthu, but the earliest canonical accounts of the birth are in Sanskrit scriptures, the Mahāvastu (ii.18) and the Lalitavistara (ch. 7), neither of which can be dated earlier than the 3rd or the 4th century AD. The discovery of an inscription recording the visit of Aśoka (Ashoka), Maurya emperor of India from about 273 to 232 BC, to the spot he considered the birthplace makes it probable, however, that the legend was established at least as early as the 3rd century BC. The site is a popular place of Buddhist pilgrimage. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997.
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