The main opposition Nepali Congress (NC) has taken exception to Indian Minister for External Affairs S Jaishankar's claim that Lord Buddha was Indian.
"Lord Buddha was born in Nepal. We have serious reservations about the expression of Indian Foreign Minister against the ancient and established facts that the land is in today's Nepal. The act of hurting the sensitivities of Nepal and Nepalis by 'serving passion in response to passion' is never acceptable to us," NC Spokesperson Bishwa Prakash Sharma tweeted on Sunday.
"Passion in response to passion does not serve interests of both the countries. Comments made without considering mutual sensitivities be it the question of the birthplace of Ram or birthplace of Buddha can leave deep injuries, can divert from the main issues and cannot connect the hearts for long-term benefits," Sharma has said in another tweet.
"We have not sought registered evidence from anywhere in the world saying 'Buddha was born in Nepal.' The comments made from the Indian territory have also been dismissed after Indian PM Narendra Modi himself stated in our parliament that Nepal is the land of Buddha. This exceptionable comment once again is very unfortunate."
Indian Minister for External Affairs Jaishankar addressing the [email protected] Summit: Collaborating for a New Self-reliant India, a virtual event organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) on Saturday, had claimed that Lord Buddha was Indian. "Who are the greatest Indians ever that you can remember?" he asked while addressing the program virtually and then added in answer, "I would say one is Gautam Buddha and the other is Mahatma Gandhi."
Leaders in the two neighboring countries have been resorting to one-upmanship making irresponsible claims about religious figures instead of sitting for a dialogue to resolve border disputes in recent times.
Prime Minister (PM) KP Sharma Oli on July 13 had accused India of encroaching on cultural facts and claimed Ayodhya, the birth-place of Ram, is not in India but is a village to the west of Birgunj.
Addressing a program organized at the PM's official residence in Baluwatar to mark the birth anniversary of the First Poet Bhanubhakta Acharya, Oli rued that Nepal has been oppressed culturally.
"We have been oppressed a bit culturally. Facts have been encroached. We still believe that we gave Sita to Indian Prince Ram. But we gave to the prince from Ayodhya not India. Ayodhya is a village a little west to Birgunj, not the Ayodhya created now," he elaborated.
Oli argued how can a prince from so far come to Janakpur for marriage if the Ayodhya claimed by India were real. He claimed that science and knowledge originated and developed in Nepal and rued that it could not be continued.
Oli's claims about Ayodhya were widely condemned by those within his ruling party and the opposition alike with CPN Vice-chairman Bam Dev Gautam urging him to self-criticize and take back his Ayodhya claims.
Oli's unwarranted claims were seen by many as a dig against Indian PM Narendra Modi and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that rose to power on the back of promise to build a Ram temple at the site of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya that it raged in 1992.
Oli's comments that came less than a month before Modi was scheduled to lay foundation stone for the Ram temple in Ayodhya had further compounded the recent tension between the two governments regarding border disputes.
The Foreign Ministry was forced to clarify that the Ayodhya claims made by PM Oli were non-political and not made with intention to hurt anyone's feelings and sentiments.
Issuing a statement a day after PM Oli's controversial claims that India has encroached on cultural facts and Ayodhya is not in India but is a village to the west of Birgunj, the ministry had stated that the remarks were not meant to debase the significance of Ayodhya and the cultural value it bears.
"As there have been several myths and references about Shri Ram and the places associated with him, the Prime Minister was simply highlighting the importance of further studies and research of the vast cultural geography the Ramayana represents to obtain facts about Shri Ram, Ramayana and the various places linked to this rich civilization," the statement read.
The ministry had also pointed at the tradition of celebrating Bibaha Panchami where a marriage procession coming from Ayodhya, India to Janakpur takes place every year to stress in the statement. "The Prime Ministers of Nepal and India launched the Ramayana Circuit in May 2018, of which Janakpur-Ayodhya Passenger Bus Service is an important component. These facts signify the bond of time honored cultural affinity between our two countries and peoples."