Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

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Mahāparinibbāṇa Sutta
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 7/10/21

For the Mahayana sutra, see Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra.

19. When the Blessed One had stayed at Nalanda as long as he pleased, he addressed the Venerable Ananda thus:

"Come, Ananda, let us go to Pataligama."

"So be it, Lord."

And the Blessed One took up his abode at Pataligama together with a large community of bhikkhus.

20. Then the devotees of Pataligama came to know: "The Blessed One, they say, has arrived at Pataligama." And they approached the Blessed One, respectfully greeted him, sat down at one side, and addressed him thus: "May the Blessed One, Lord, kindly visit our council hall." And the Blessed One consented by his silence.

21. Knowing the Blessed One's consent, the devotees of Pataligama rose from their seats, respectfully saluted him, and keeping their right sides towards him, departed for the council hall. Then they prepared the council hall by covering the floor all over, arranging seats and water, and setting out an oil lamp. Having done this, they returned to the Blessed One, respectfully greeted him, and standing at one side, announced: "Lord, the council hall is ready, with the floor covered all over, seats and water prepared, and an oil lamp has been set out. Let the Blessed One come, Lord, at his convenience.

22. And the Blessed One got ready, and taking his bowl and robe, went to the council hall together with the company of bhikkhus. After rinsing his feet, the Blessed One entered the council hall and took his seat close to the middle pillar, facing east. The community of bhikkhus, after rinsing their feet, also entered the council hall and took seats near the western wall, facing east, so that the Blessed One was before them. And the devotees of Pataligama, after rinsing their feet and entering the council hall, sat down near the eastern wall, facing west, so that the Blessed One was in front of them.

The Fruits of an Immoral and a Moral Life

23. Thereupon the Blessed One addressed the devotees of Pataligama thus: "The immoral man, householders, by falling away from virtue, encounters five perils: great loss of wealth through heedlessness; an evil reputation; a timid and troubled demeanor in every society, be it that of nobles, brahmans, householders, or ascetics; death in bewilderment; and, at the breaking up of the body after death, rebirth in a realm of misery, in an unhappy state, in the nether world, in hell.

24. "Five blessings, householders, accrue to the righteous man through his practice of virtue: great increase of wealth through his diligence; a favorable reputation; a confident deportment, without timidity, in every society, be it that of nobles, brahmans, householders, or ascetics; a serene death; and, at the breaking up of the body after death, rebirth in a happy state, in a heavenly world."

25. And the Blessed One spent much of the night instructing the devotees of Pataligama in the Dhamma, rousing, edifying, and gladdening them, after which he dismissed them, saying: "The night is far advanced, householders. You may go at your convenience.

"So be it, Lord." And the devotees of Pataligama rose from their seats, respectfully saluted the Blessed One, and keeping their right sides towards him, departed. And the Blessed One, soon after their departure, retired into privacy.

26. At that time Sunidha and Vassakara, the chief ministers of Magadha, were building a fortress at Pataligama in defense against the Vajjis. And deities in large numbers, counted in thousands, had taken possession of sites at Pataligama. In the region where deities of great power prevailed, officials of great power were bent on constructing edifices; and where deities of medium power and lesser power prevailed, officials of medium and lesser power were bent on constructing edifices.

27. And the Blessed One saw with the heavenly eye, pure and transcending the faculty of men, the deities, counted in thousands, where they had taken possession of sites in Pataligama. And rising before the night was spent, towards dawn, the Blessed One addressed the Venerable Ananda thus: "Who is it, Ananda, that is erecting a city at Pataligama?"

"Sunidha and Vassakara, Lord, the chief ministers of Magadha, are building a fortress at Pataligama, in defence against the Vajjis."

28. "It is, Ananda, as if Sunidha and Vassakara had taken counsel with the gods of the Thirty-three. For I beheld, Ananda, with the heavenly eye, pure and transcending the faculty of men, a large number of deities, counted in thousands, that have taken possession of sites at Pataligama. In the region where deities of great power prevail, officials of great power are bent on constructing edifices; and where deities of medium and lesser power prevail, officials of medium and lesser power are bent on constructing edifices. Truly, Ananda, as far as the Aryan race extends and trade routes spread, this will be the foremost city Pataliputta, a trade-center. [16] [Puta-bhedanam. Comy. explains as the breaking open, the unpacking, of boxes (puta) of merchandise for the purpose of distribution. But probably it refers to the bursting open of the seed-box of the patali flower.] But Pataliputta, Ananda, will be assailed by three perils — fire, water, and dissension."

-- Maha-parinibbana Sutta: Last Days of the Buddha, translated from the Pali by Sister Vajira & Francis Story

The Mahāparinibbāṇa Sutta महापरिनिर्वाण सुत्त'' is Sutta 16 in the Digha Nikaya, a scripture belonging to the Sutta Pitaka of Theravada Buddhism. It concerns the end of Gautama Buddha's life - his parinibbana - and is the longest sutta of the Pāli Canon. Because of its attention to detail, it has been resorted to as the principal source of reference in most standard accounts of the Buddha's death.[1][full citation needed]


The sutta begins a few days before the rainy retreat when Vassakara, the minister, visited the Buddha in Rajgir on the initiative of Ajatashatru, a king of the Haryanka dynasty of Magadha. The narrative continues beyond the three months of the rainy retreat and records the passing away of the Buddha, his cremation and the division of relics finally ending with the erection of eight cetiyas or monuments enshrining the relics of the Buddha.[2] This shows the Indian origin of Buddhist funeral customs.[3]


There are numerous versions of the Mahāparinibbāṇa Sutta. Among them, the Pali version is of an early date in respect of language and contents. The Mahāparinibbāṇa Sutta is of utmost historical and cultural value and therefore it has become a sourcebook for students of Buddhism, Buddha biography and history of Buddhist thought and literature. Other versions of the text exist in Sanskrit, Tibetan and Chinese.

Date of Composition

On the basis of philological evidence, Indologist and Pali expert Oskar von Hinüber says that some of the Pali suttas have retained very archaic place-names, syntax, and historical data from close to the Buddha's lifetime, including the Mahāparinibbāṇa Sutta. Hinüber proposes a composition date of no later than 350-320 BCE for this text, which would allow for a "true historical memory" of the events approximately 60 years prior if the short chronology for the Buddha's lifetime is accepted (but also reminds us that such a text was originally intended more as hagiography than as an exact historical record of events).[4][5]

The contents of narratives about the First Buddhist Council follow closely the narrative presented in the Mahāparinibbāṇa Sutta, leading scholars like Louis Finot and Erich Frauwallner to conclude that they originally formed a single continuous narrative.[6] These narratives of the First Council and found in part or in whole in all six extant Vinaya traditions, whose organization and basic contents are believed by many scholars to stem from before the earliest schisms in the Buddhist Sangha.[6][7] In some versions, the contents of the Sutta are included before the narrative of the First Council that ends the Skandhaka section of the Vinaya Pitakas. In other cases, the sutta narrative and the council narrative are divided between the Sutta Pitaka and Vinaya Pitaka.[6]

See also

• Pāli Canon
• Sutta Piṭaka
• Digha Nikāya
• Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra
• Shinnyo-en


1. Buddhism: Critical Concepts in Religious Studies, Paul Williams, Published by Taylor & Francis, 2005. page 190
2. ... lished.pdf
3. ... #ref888742
4. Oskar von Hinüber "Hoary past and hazy memory. On the history of early Buddhist texts", in Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, Volume 29, Number 2: 2006 (2008), pp.198-206
5. see also: Michael Witzel, (2009), "Moving Targets? Texts, language, archaeology and history in the Late Vedic and early Buddhist periods." in Indo-Iranian Journal 52(2-3): 287-310.
6. Frauwallner, Erich (1956). The Earliest Vinaya and the Beginnings of Buddhist Literature. Rome: Istituto Italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente. pp. 41–46. ISBN 8857526798.
7. Schopen, Gregory (2004). "Vinaya". MacMillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism. 1. New York: MacMillan Reference USA. pp. 885–89. ISBN 0-02-865719-5.


• Buswell, Robert Jr; Lopez, Donald S. Jr., eds. (2013). "Mahāparinibbānasuttanta", in Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. pp. 502–504. ISBN 9780691157863.
• Rhys Davids, T. W. and C. A. F. trans. (1910). Dialogues of the Buddha, part II, Oxford University Press, pp. 78–191.
• von Hinüber, Oskar (2009). Cremated like a King: The Funeral of the Buddha within the Ancient Indian Cultural Context, Journal of the International College for Postgraduate Buddhist Studies 13, 33-66
• Walshe, Maurice, trans. (1987). “Mahaparinibbana Sutta: The Great Passing.” In Thus Have I Heard: The Long Discourses of the Buddha. London: Wisdom Publications.

External links

Pali text

• Mahāparinibbānasutta in the original Pali SuttaCentral


• The Great Discourse on the Buddha's Extinguishment, translation by Bhikkhu Sujato
• The Discourse about the Great Emancipation, translation by Bhikkhu Ānandajoti
• "Maha-parinibbana Sutta," or PDF, translated from the Pali by Sister Vajira & Francis Story
• "Mahaparinibbana-sutta and Cullavagga," article by Louis Finot, published in the "Indian Historical Quarterly" (8:2, 1932 June 1, pp. 241–46), concerning the Mahaparinibbana Sutta and a related text.
• "Did Buddha die of mesenteric infarction?" by Ven. Dr. Mettanando Bhikkhu, a Thai monk and former medical doctor, published in the "Bangkok Post" (2000 May 17).
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Sun Jul 11, 2021 6:44 am

Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 7/10/21

For the sutta of the Pāli Canon, see Mahaparinibbana Sutta.

The Buddha said: "O Manjushri! Do not enter into the all-wonderful depths of the “Paramartha-satya” of all dharmas. Explain things by means of secular truth." Manjushri said: "O World-Honoured One! To the east, beyond worlds as numerous as the sands of 20 Ganges, is a world called "Acala". The site where the Buddha of that country resides is extensive and all-equal and is as large as 12,000 yojanas lengthwise and crosswise. The ground is made of jewels and has no earth or stones. All is flat and soft, and there are no ditches or pits. All the trees are made of the four gems, namely, gold, silver, beryl, and crystal. Flowers and fruits are in abundance, and there is no time when these are not present. As people come into contact with the flowers and their fragrance, their body and mind experience peace and bliss, which can be likened to a bhiksu sitting in the third dhyana. And there are 3,000 great rivers that surround the land. The water is delicate and wonderful and is perfect in the eight tastes. The people who bathe in it experience joy and bliss comparable to the state of a bhiksu in the second dhyana. The rivers contain various flowers, such as the utpala, padma, kumuda, pundarika, the fragrant, the greatly fragrant, the wonderfully fragrant, the nitya, and the bloom that unhinderedly protects all beings. Also, on both banks are numerous flowers, such as the atimuktaka, campaka, pataliputra, varsika, mallika, mahamallika, simmallika, sumana, yukthika, dhanika, nitya, and the bloom that unhinderedly protects all beings. The river-bed is of golden sand, and there are flights of stairs on the four sides, made of gold, silver, beryl, and crystal of mixed colours. Numerous birds fly over these. Also, there live many tigers, wolves, lions, and all kinds of evil birds and beasts [there], all of whom, however, regard one another with the mind of a baby. There is in that land no one who carries out the grave offences, nor are there those who slander Dharma, nor are there any icchantikas, nor those who have committed the five deadly sins. The land is good and fit, so that there is no cold or heat, and no sufferings from famine or thirst; no greed, anger, indolence or jealousy reign there; there is no talk of sun and moon, no day and night, and there are no seasons; all obtains as in Trayastrimsa Heaven. The people of that land shine and have no arrogance in their mind. All are Bodhisattvamahasattvas; all possess divine powers and great virtues, and their minds look up to Wonderful Dharma. They ride in the Mahayana, love the Mahayana, die for, and protect, the Mahayana. They are accomplished in great Wisdom, are perfect in the Mahayana, and always pity all beings. The Buddha of that land is Tathagata-Full-Moonlight, who is an Alms–Deserving, All-Enlightened One, an All-Accomplished One, a Well-Gone, an All-Knower, an Unsurpassed One, Best Trainer, and Teacher of Gods and Humans, a Buddha-World-Honoured One. He delivers sermons where he resides. And there is not a single land that cannot indeed hear [them]. He delivers a sermon on the Great Nirvana Sutra to Bodhisattva Vaiduryaprabha. "O good man! If a Bodhisattva-mahasattva thoroughly practises the Way of the Great Nirvana Sutra, those who cannot actually hear can also hear." This Bodhisattva-mahasattva Vaiduryaprabha questions Buddha Full-Moonlight as Bodhisattva All-Shining Highly-Virtuous King [questions me]. All is the same, and there is nothing different.

-- The Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra, Translated into English by Kosho Yamamoto, from Dharmakshema’s Chinese version, 1973

A Sui dynasty manuscript of the Nirvāṇa Sūtra

The Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra (महापरिनिर्वाण सूत्र, traditional Chinese: 大般涅槃經; pinyin: Dàbānnièpán-jīng; Japanese: Daihatsunehan-gyō, Tibetan: མྱང་འདས་ཀྱི་མདོ་[1]) or Nirvana Sutra is a Tathāgatagarbha sūtra of Mahāyāna Buddhism.[note 1] Its precise date of origin is uncertain, but its early form may have developed in or by the second century CE. The original Sanskrit text is not extant except for a small number of fragments, but it survives in Chinese and Tibetan translation. It was translated into Chinese twice from two apparently substantially different source texts, with the 421 CE translation of Dharmakṣema being about four times longer than the 416 translation of Faxian. The two versions also differ in their teachings on Buddha-nature: Dharmakṣema's indicates all sentient beings have the potential to attain Buddhahood, but Faxian's states some will never attain Buddhahood. Ultimately, Dharmakṣema's version was far more popular in East Asia and his version of the text had a strong impact on East Asian Buddhism.[2] this sutra is not a context in Digha Nikaya's The Mahaparinibbana sutta of the Hinayanists (Theravada).



The text of the Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra in the original Sanskrit has survived only in a number of fragments, which were discovered in Central Asia, Afghanistan and Japan. It exists in Chinese and Tibetan versions of varying lengths. There are four extant versions of the sūtra, each translated from various Sanskrit editions:[3]

1. The "six fascicle text",[note 2] the translation into Chinese by Faxian and Buddhabhadra, translated during the Jin dynasty (266–420) between 416 and 418, containing six fascicles, which is the shortest and earliest version;
2. The "northern text", with 40 fascicles,[note 3] translated by Dharmakṣema between 421 and 430 in the Northern Liang kingdom, containing forty fascicles. This version was also translated into Classical Tibetan from the Chinese.
3. The "southern text",[note 4] with 36 fascicles, in approximately 453 by Huiguan and Huiyan during the Liu Song dynasty, integrated and amended the translations of Faxian and Dharmakṣema into a single edition of thirty-six fascicles;
4. The Tibetan version (c790CE) by Jinamitra, Jñānagarbha, and Devacandra;

According to Hodge, some other versions have also existed:[3]

• a secondary Chinese version of Dharmakṣema's translation, completed in 453 CE. This was produced "by polishing the style and adding new section headings";[3]
• Chinese catalogues of translations mention two other Chinese translations, slightly earlier than Faxian, which are no longer extant.[3]

Origins and development

According to Shimoda Masahiro, the authors of the Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra were leaders and advocates of stupa-worship. The term buddhadhātu originally referred to śarīra or physical relics of the Buddha. The authors of the Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra used the teachings of the Tathāgatagarbha Sūtra to reshape the worship of the śarīra into worship of the inner Buddha as a principle of salvation: the Buddha-nature. "Buddhadhātu" came to be used in place of tathagatagarbha, referring to a concrete entity existing inside the person.[4] Sasaki, in a review of Shimoda, conveys a key premise of Shimoda's work, namely, that the origins of Mahayana Buddhism and the Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra are entwined.[5]

The Indian version of the Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra underwent a number of stages in its composition. Masahiro Shimoda discerns two versions:[5]

1. a short proto-Nirvāṇa Sūtra, which was, he argues, probably not distinctively Mahāyāna, but quasi-Mahāsāṃghika in origin and would date to 100 CE, if not even earlier;
2. an expanded version of this core text was then developed and would have comprised chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7 of the Faxian and Tibetan versions, though it is believed that in their present state there is a degree of editorial addition in them from the later phases of development.

The sutra was further developed in China by the Chinese translator Dharmakṣema in the fifth century CE, who added a thirty extra fascicles to the original core text.


Cave complex associated with the Mahāsāṃghika sect. Karla Caves, Mahārāṣtra, India

Scholars believe that the compilation of the core portion (corresponding to the Faxian and Tibetan translations) must have occurred at an early date, during or prior to the 2nd century CE, based on internal evidence and on Chinese canonical catalogs.[6][8]

Using textual evidence in the Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra and related texts, Stephen Hodge estimates a compilation period between 100 CE and 220 CE for the Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra. Hodge summarizes his findings as follows:[9]

[T]here are strong grounds based on textual evidence that the MPNS (Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra), or a major portion of it, together with related texts were compiled in the Deccan during the second half of the 2nd century CE, in a Mahāsāṃghika environment, probably in one of their centres along the western coastal region such as Karli, or perhaps, though less likely, the Amaravatī-Dhanyakaṭaka region.

Place of origin and Indian dissemination

The history of the text is extremely complex, but the consensus view is that the core portion of this sutra[note 5] was compiled in the Indian subcontinent, possibly in Andhra, South India.[10][11][12][9]

The language used in the sūtra and related texts seems to indicate a region in southern India during the time of the Śātavāhana dynasty. The Śātavāhana rulers gave rich patronage to Buddhism, and were involved with the development of the cave temples at Karla and Ajaṇṭā, and also with the Great Stūpa at Amarāvati. During this time, the Śātavāhana dynasty also maintained extensive links with the Kuṣāṇa Empire.[9]

According to Stephen Hodge, internal textual evidence in the Aṅgulimālīya Sūtra, Mahābherihāraka Parivarta Sūtra, and the Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra indicates that these texts were first circulated in South India and they then gradually propagated up to the northwest, with Kashmir being the other major center. The Aṅgulimālīya Sūtra gives a more detailed account by mentioning the points of distribution as including South India, the Vindhya Range, Bharuch, and Kashmir.[9]



Earliest translations

According to early Chinese sutra catalogues such as the Lidai Sanbao ji (歷代三寶紀), a part of the core portion of the sutra was translated previously into Chinese by Dharmarakṣa (fl. c260-280), though this version is now lost.[6]:124


Though the translation of the "six fascicle" version is conventionally ascribed to Faxian (法顯), this attribution is probably inaccurate. According to Faxian's own account, the manuscript copy forming the basis of the six juan Chinese version was obtained by him in Pāṭaliputra from the house of a layman known as Kālasena, during his travels in India. The earliest surviving Chinese sutra catalogue, Sengyou's Chu Sanzang Jiji (出三藏記集), which was written less than 100 years after the date of this translation, makes no mention of Faxian. Instead it states that the translation was done by Buddhabhadra and his assistant Baoyun (寶雲), quoting earlier catalogues to corroborate this attribution. The idea that Faxian was involved in the translation only emerges in later catalogues, compiled several hundred years after the event.[13]


Chinese canonical records also mention that a now lost translation was made by the Chinese monk Zhimeng who studied in India from 404-424 CE. According to Zhimeng's own account, he also obtained his manuscript from the same layman in Pataliputra as Faxian did some years earlier.[6][14]:231


The translation done by Dharmakṣema from 421 CE onwards may for a large part be based on a non-Indian text.[15]

The first ten fascicles may be based on a birch-bark manuscript of the Mahāparinirvāṇa-sūtra from North-Western India that Dharmakṣema brought with him, which he used for the initial translation work of his version. This version corresponds overall in content to the "six fascicle" version and the Tibetan version.[16]:157[17][6]:104

Dharmakṣema's translation of the Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa-sūtra extends for a further thirty fascicles, beyond the first ten fascicles of this sutra. Many scholars doubt if these thirty fascicles are based on an Indian Sanskrit text. The chief reasons for this skepticism are these:[18]:12–13

• no traces of an extended Sanskrit text has ever been found, while Sanskrit manuscript fragments of twenty four separate pages distributed right across the core portion of the Mahāparinirvāṇa-sūtra have been found over the past hundred years in various parts of Asia;[18]:12–13
• no quotations are known from this latter portion in any Indian commentaries or sutra anthologies;[15]
• no other translator in China or Tibet ever found Sanskrit copies of this portion.[15]
• In addition, these doubts correspond with an account from the Chinese monk-translator Yijing,[note 6] who mentions that he searched for a copy of the enlarged Mahaparinirvāṇa-sūtra through all that time, but only found manuscripts corresponding to the core portion of this work.[6]

In addition, these doubts correspond with an account from the Chinese monk-translator Yijing,[note 6] who mentions that he searched for a copy of the enlarged Mahaparinirvāṇa-sūtra through all that time, but only found manuscripts corresponding to the core portion of this work.[6]
For these reasons, textual scholars generally regard the authenticity of the latter portion as dubious. It may have been a local Central Asian composition at best, or else written by Dharmakṣema himself, who had both the ability and the motive for doing so.[6]:124–5[7] On the strength of their investigations, certain specialist scholars have formulated and expressed a theory in which they suggest that this latter portion of the Mahāparinirvāṇa-sūtra translated by Dharmakṣema may not represent a definitive source, for scholars, for the history of the development, in India, of the Buddha-nature concept and related doctrines.[18][19]

English translations

• Yamamoto, Kosho, trans. (1973-1975). The Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra, 3 Volumes, Karinbunko, Ube City, Japan.[note 7]
• Blum, Mark, trans. (2013). The Nirvana Sutra: Volume 1 (of a projected 4), Berkeley, Calif. : BDK America (distr.: Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press). ISBN 978-1-886439-46-7.
• Kato, Yasunari, trans. (2014). Daihatsunehankyou Vol.2: Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra Vol.2, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. ISBN 9781499284355
• Yamamoto & Page, Dr. Tony, trans. (2015). Nirvana Sutra: A Translation of Dharmakshema's Northern version, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. ISBN 978-1517631727


See also: Two truths doctrine

According to Sallie B. King, the sutra does not represent a major innovation, and is rather unsystematic,[21] which made it "a fruitful one for later students and commentators, who were obliged to create their own order and bring it to the text".[21] According to King, its most important innovation is the linking of the term buddhadhātu[note 8] with tathagatagarbha.[21] The "nature of the Buddha" is presented as a timeless, eternal "Self", which is akin to the tathagatagarbha, the innate possibility in every sentient being to attain Buddha-hood and manifest this timeless Buddha-nature.[22] "[I]t is obvious that the Mahaparinirvana Sutra does not consider it impossible for a Buddhist to affirm an atman provided it is clear what the correct understanding of this concept is, and indeed the sutra clearly sees certain advantages in doing so."[23]

The Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṅa Sūtra, especially influential in East Asian Buddhist thought, goes so far as to speak of it as our true self (ātman). Its precise metaphysical and ontological status is, however, open to interpretation in the terms of different Mahāyāna philosophical schools; for the Madhyamikas it must be empty of its own existence like everything else; for the Yogacarins, following the Laṅkāvatāra, it can be identified with store consciousness, as the receptacle of the seeds of awakening.[24]


The Nirvana Sutra is an eschatological text.[9] Its core was written in India in a time which was perceived as the age in which the Buddha-dharma would perish, and all the Mahayana sutras disappear. The sutra responds to this awaited end with the proclamation of the tathagatagarbha, the innate Buddhahood present in all man:[9]

[T]he tathâgata-garbha doctrine was promoted precisely as a means to save as many people as possible in a short time. Put simply, this doctrine teaches that Buddhahood already lies within all beings as an innate spiritual nature. This spiritual nature is concealed by ignorance and multitudes of afflictive factors – the kleśas – and needs to be awakened and revealed. The presence of this nature implies that all beings, in theory, may awaken to Buddhahood quite rapidly, if only they would recognize the presence of that nature within themselves. The role of the MPNS itself is not only to inform people about this innate spiritual nature, but also to act as a trigger which engenders the necessary willingness in people to uncover their inherent Buddhahood, provided they listen to the sûtra with open-mindedness, faith and confidence in its veracity [...] the MPNS itself claims to have a salvific role due to its own numinous power as the last teachings of the Buddha before his parinirvâna.[9]

The existence of the tathagatagarbha must be taken on faith:

Essentially the Buddha asks his audience to accept the existence of buddha-nature [tathagatagarbha] on faith [...] the importance of faith in the teachings of the Nirvana Sutra as a whole must not be overlooked.[25]


A central focus of the Nirvana Sutra is the Buddha-nature,[note 8] "the nature of the Buddha", that which constitutes a Buddha.[22] According to Sally King, the sutra speaks about Buddha-nature in so many different ways, that Chinese scholars created a list of types of Buddha-nature that could be found in the text.[21]

Buddha-nature, "true Self" and Emptiness

The buddhadhātu is described as a true self, due to its eternal nature.[26] It is what remains when "non-Self" is discarded:

What the Buddha says here is that he spoke thus to meet the occasion. But now the thought is established [of non-Self], he means to say what is true, which is about the inner content of nirvana itself [...] If there is no more any non-Self, what there exists must be the Self.'[27]

According to Dharmakṣema's extended version of the sutra, this "true Self" is eternal, unchanging, blissful, pure, inviolate and deathless:

... if the non-eternal is made away with [in Nirvana], what there remains must be the Eternal; if there is no more any sorrow, what there remains must be Bliss; if there is no more any non-Self, what exists there must be the Self; if there is no longer anything that is impure, what there is must be the Pure.[27]

Paul Williams notes:

Nevertheless the sutra as it stands is quite clear that while [...] we can speak of [the tathagatagharba] as Self, actually it is not at all a Self, and those who have such Self-notions cannot perceive the tathagatagarbha and thus become enlightened.[28][23]

Williams also comments:

One thing anyway is clear. The Mahaparinirvana Sutra teaches a really existing, permanent element (Tibetan: yang dag khams) in sentient beings. It is this element which enables sentient beings to become Buddhas. It is beyond egoistic self-grasping -– indeed the very opposite of self-grasping -– but it otherwise fulfils several of the requirements of a Self in the Indian tradition. Whether this is called the Real, True, Transcendental Self or not is as such immaterial, but what is historically interesting is that this sutra in particular (although joined by some other Tathagatagarbha sutras) is prepared to use the word ‘Self’ (atman) for this element. However one looks at it, the Mahaparinirvana Sutra is quite self-consciously modifying or criticizing the not-Self traditions of Buddhism ...[29]

Mark Blum speaks both of the fictitious discursive self and the real Self of the Buddha-nature. Commenting both on the non-Self and Emptiness teachings of the Nirvana Sutra, he states:

For the Nirvana Sutra, nonself is treated like another negative expression of truth, emptiness. That is, nonself is a very important doctrine to be expounded when the listener is attached to his or her notion of selfhood or personality, because it deconstructs that object of attachment, revealing its nature as a fantasy. Emptiness likewise performs the function of deconstructing attachments to notions of identity in things or ideas. But both are merely tools, or upaya (skillful means) and not final truths in and of themselves. Regarding emptiness, we find a strong assertion of the sacred nature of nonemptiness ... [and] although the discursive, evaluating self is fiction, there does exist a genuine self and that, according to the sutra, is precisely the buddha-nature.[30]

Eternal Buddha

Main article: Dharmakāya

Mark Blum stresses the fact that the Buddha in this sutra is presented, on the eve of his Great Nirvana, as one who is not subject to the processes of birth and death, but abides undying forever:

He [the Buddha] makes it clear that while he will disappear from their [i.e. beings'] sight, he is not going to die, because in fact he was never born in the first place. In other words, buddhas are not created phenomena and therefore have no beginning and no end.[31]

The Buddha is presented as (an) eternal Being, transcending normal human limitations:

What is the Tathagata [Buddha]? [...] He is one who is eternal and unchanging. He is beyond the human notion of "is" or "is-not". He is Thusness [tathata], which is both phenomenon and noumenon, put together. Here, the carnal notion of man is sublimated and explained from the macrocosmic standpoint of existence of all and all. And this Dharmakaya is at once Wisdom and Emancipation [moksha]. In this ontological enlargement of the concept of existence of the Buddha Body [buddhakaya], this sutra and, consequently, Mahayana, differs from the Buddha of Primitive Buddhism.[32]

Kosho Yamamoto gives a series of equations:

Thus, there comes about the equation of: Buddha Body = Dharmakaya = eternal body = eternal Buddha = Eternity.[32]


The Buddha-nature is equated with the Tathagatagarbha. According to Sally King, the term tathāgatagarbha may be understood in two ways:[33]

1. "embryonic tathāgata", the incipient Buddha, the cause of the Tathāgata,

2. "womb of the tathāgata", the fruit of Tathāgata.

The Chinese translated the term tathāgata in its meaning as "womb", c.q. "fruit". It was translated as Chinese: 如來藏; pinyin: rúlái zàng,[33] "tathāgata storehouse" [34] "Buddha-matrix", or "Buddha embryo", the innate possibility of every sentient being to attain awakening[21] in every sentient being. According to Mark Blum, Dharmaksema translates tathāgatagārbha as Chinese: 如來密藏; pinyin: rúlái mìzàng or simply mìzàng,[25] "tathagata's hidden treasury". He notes that the two major Chinese versions of the sutra don't use the literal Chinese term for embryo or womb, but speak of the "wondrous interior treasure-house of the Buddha" found in all beings. "We never see a word that specifically means embryo or womb used for garbha in either Chinese translation of this sutra."[25]

This "hidden treasury" is present in all sentient beings: "[the Buddha] expounds the doctrine that this quality [of the hidden interior, wondrous treasury] is not only common to buddhas but to all living beings as well."[25] The Buddha-nature is always present, in all times and in all beings. According to Liu, this does not mean that sentient beings are at present endowed with the qualities of a Buddha, but that they will have those qualities in the future.[22] It is obscured from worldly vision by the screening effect of tenacious negative mental afflictions within each being. Once these negative mental states have been eliminated, however, the buddhadhātu is said to shine forth unimpededly and can then be consciously "entered into", and therewith deathless Nirvana attained:[35]

[T]he tathagatagarbha is none but Thusness or the Buddha Nature, and is the originally untainted pure mind which lies overspread by, and exists in, the mind of greed and anger of all beings. This bespeaks a Buddha Body that exists in a state of bondage.[36]


Despite the fact that the Buddha-nature is innate in all sentient beings, there is a class of people who are excluded from salvation, the Icchantikas, "extremists":[9]

[A]ny person, no matter whether they are a monk, a nun, a lay-man or lay-woman, who rejects this sûtra with abusive words, and does not even ask for forgiveness afterwards, has entered the icchantika path.[9]

The longer versions of the Nirvana Sutra additionally give expression to the new claim (not found in the shorter Chinese and Tibetan versions) that, because of the Buddha-dhatu, absolutely all beings without exception, even icchantikas (the most incorrigible and spiritually base of beings), will eventually attain liberation and become Buddhas.[37][38]

The Nirvana Sutra in Mahayana Schools

In the introduction to his translation of the Nirvana Sutra (Chinese: 大般涅盘经; Jyutping: da4ban1Nie4pan2jing1), Mark Blum speaks of the tremendous importance of this sutra for East-Asian Buddhism:

It would be difficult to overstate the impact of [the] Nirvana Sutra in East Asian Buddhism. Not only did it inspire numerous commentaries on the sutra itself in China, Korea, and Japan, it is cited extensively in the works of untold numbers of Buddhist writers and frequently appears in 'secular' literature as well [...] the very idea of Chan [Buddhism] without the concept of buddha-nature is unthinkable.[2]

There is one story in the Nirvana Sutra about a blind man feeling an elephant (Chinese: 盲人摸象; Jyutping: maang4yaan4mok3cheung6). The elephant in this tale symbolizes the "Buddha nature". A group of blind men reach touch a different part of the elephant—one feels the tusk and thinks it is a carrot, another mistakes the elephant's belly for an urn, and so on. The king seeks that Shakyamuni illuminate their limited perception (symbolized by blindness in the parable) that permits only partial truths.[39]

Nichiren Buddhism

In Nichiren Buddhism the Nirvana Sutra, with the Lotus Sutra, make up what Tiantai called the Fifth of the Five Periods of Teaching.[40] The Nirvana Sutra is seen as inferior to the Lotus Sutra however, based on the passage in Nichiren´s writings that reads:

When this sutra was preached . . . the prediction had already been made in the Lotus Sutra that the eight thousand voice-hearers would attain Buddhahood, a prediction that was like a great harvest. Thus, the autumn harvest was over and the crop had been stored away for winter [when the Nirvana Sutra was expounded], and there was nothing left for it [but a few gleanings]."[41]

Shin Buddhism

The Nirvana Sutra is among the most important sources and influences on Shinran's magnum opus, Kyogyoshinsho, which is the foundational text of the Japanese Jōdo Shinshū Pure Land School. Shinran relies on crucial passages from the Nirvana Sutra for the more theoretical elaboration of the meaning of shinjin. The Nirvana Sutra and the Pure Land Sutras are quoted extensively in the Kyogyoshinsho.

See also

• Anunatva-Apurnatva-Nirdesa
• Ātman (Buddhism)
• Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen
• Faith in Buddhism
• God in Buddhism
• Kulayarāja Tantra
• Parinirvana
• Mahāyāna sūtras
• Nirvana (Buddhism)
• Shinjō Itō, founder of the Shinnyo-en school of Buddhism
• Śrīmālādevī Siṃhanāda Sūtra
• Buddha-nature
• Tathāgatagarbha Sūtra


1. It shares its title with another well-known Buddhist scripture, the Mahaparinibbana Sutta of the Pāli Canon, but is quite different in form and content. It is therefore generally referred to by its full Sanskrit title, Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra, or more commonly simply the Nirvāṇa Sūtra.
2. T 376.12.853-899
3. T 374.12.365c-603c
4. T 375.12.605-852
5. Corresponding to the Tibetan translation, the six juan Chinese translation attributed to Faxian, and the first ten juan of the Dharmakṣema Chinese translation.
6. In his account of Eminent Monks who Went West in Search of the Dharma, 大唐西域求法高僧傳 T2066. He travelled widely through India and parts of Southeast Asia over a 25-year period.
7. Qualified by Stephen Hodge as a "sadly unreliable, though pioneering, attempt".[20]
8. Buddha-dhatu (佛性), Buddha element, or Buddha principle; also "the nature of the Buddha", that what constitutes a Buddha.[22]
1. "myang 'das kyi mdo". Dharma Dictionary. Retrieved 29 January 2008.
2. Blum 2013, p. xix.
3. Hodge 2004.
4. Jikido 2000, p. 73.
5. Sasaki 1999.
6. Wang, Bangwei (1993). "The Transmission of the Mahāyāna Mahāparinivāṇa-sūtra ( 略論大乘《大般涅槃經》的傳譯定)". Chung-Hwa Buddhist Journal. 06: 103–127. Archived from the original on October 15, 2006.
7. Chen[year missing]
8. Shimoda 1997, pp. 446–48.
9. Hodge 2006.
10. Chen 1993 p103-5[full citation needed]
11. Matsuda 1988, p. 5.
12. Shimoda 1997, p. 156.
13. Shimoda 1997, p. 157.
14. Chen 2004.
15. Matsuda 1988, pp. 12–13.
16. Shimoda 1997.
17. Chen 2004, pp. 221–2.
18. Matsuda 1988.
19. Shimoda 1997, pp. 163–4.
20. Hodge 2012, p. 2.
21. King 1991, p. 14.
22. Liu 1982, p. 66-67.
23. Williams 2002, pp. 163-164.
24. Gethin 1998, p. 52.
25. Blum 2013, p. xv-xx.
26. Liu 1982, p. 66.
27. Yamamoto 1975, p. 107–108.
28. see Ruegg 1989a: 21-6[full citation needed]
29. Paul Williams, Mahayana Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations, 2nd edition, Routledge, London and New York, 2009, pp. 108-109
30. Mark L. Blum, The Nirvana Sutra, BDK Berkeley, California, 2013, pp. xvi-xvii
31. Blum 2013, p. xv.
32. Yamamoto 1975.
33. King 1991, p. 4.
34. King 1991, p. 48.
35. Yamamoto 1975, p. 94–96.
36. Yamamoto 1975, p. 87.
37. Yamamoto 1975, p. 153–154.
38. Liu 1984, p. 71-72.
39. Berger, Patricia Ann (1994). Latter Days of the Law: Images of Chinese Buddhism, 850 - 1850. University of Hawaii Press. p. 405. ISBN 0824816625. Retrieved 6 August 2019.
40. "Soka Gakkai Dictionary of Buddhism, T'ien-T'ai". Archived from the original on 2014-05-30. Retrieved 2011-09-03.
41. Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Soka Gakkai, Volume 1 P693.


• Blum, Mark L. (2013), The Nirvana Sutra, Vol. 1 (PDF), BDK America
• Chen, Jinhua (2004), The Indian Buddhist Missionary Dharmakṣema (385-433): A New dating of his Arrival in Guzang and of his Translations, T'oung Pao 90, 215–263
• Hodge, Stephen (2004), Textual History of the Mahāyāna-mahāparinirvāna-sūtra, retrieved 21 January 2012
• Hodge, Stephen (2006), On the Eschatology of the Mahaparinirvana Sutra and Related Matters (PDF), lecture delivered at the University of London, SOAS, archived from the original (PDF) on June 14, 2013
• Hodge, Stephen (2012), The Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra. The text & its Transmission (PDF), corrected and revised version of a paper presented in July 2010 at the Second International Workshop on the Mahaparinirvana Sutra held at Munich University, archived from the original (PDF) on December 19, 2013
• Jikido, Takasaki (2000), "The Tathagatagarbha Theory Reconsidered. Reflections on Some Recent Issues in Japanese Buddhist Studies", Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, 27 (1–2): 73–83, archived from the original on July 27, 2014
• King, Sallie B. (1991), Buddha Nature, SUNY Press
• Liu, Ming-Wood (1982), "The Doctrine of the Buddha-Nature in the Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra.", Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, 5 (2): 63–94, archived from the original on October 16, 2013
• Liu, Ming-Wood (1984), "The Problem of the Icchantica in the Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra", Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, 7 (1): 57–82
• Liu, Ming-Wood (2005), "The Doctrine of Buddha-nature in the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra", Buddhism: Critical Concepts in Religious Studies (Vol. V), Paul Williams, Taylor & Francis, p. 190
• Matsuda, Kazunobu (1988). "Sanskrit Fragments of the Mahāyāna Mahāparinivāṇa-sūtra. A Study of the Central Asian Documents of the Stein/Hoernle Collection of the India Office Library". Studia Tibetica. 14.
• Sasaki, Shizuka (1999), "Review Article: The Mahaparinirvana Sutra and the Origins of Mahayana Buddhism" (PDF), Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, 26 (1–2): 189–197, archived from the original (PDF) on August 11, 2011, retrieved 21 January 2012
• Shimoda, Masahiro (1997). A Study of the Mahāparinivāṇasūtra ~ with a Focus on the Methodology of the Study of Mahāyāna Sūtras. Tokyo, Shunjū-sha. (in Japanese)
• Yamamoto, Kosho (1975), Mahayanism: A Critical Exposition of the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra, Karinbunko

Further reading

• Blum, Mark (2003). Nirvana Sutra, in: Buswell, Robert E. ed., Encyclopedia of Buddhism, New York: Macmillan Reference Lib., pp. 605–606
• Bongard-Levin, G.M (1986). New Sanskrit fragments of the Mahāyāna Mahāparinivāṇa-sūtra: Central Asian manuscript collection, The International Institute for Buddhist Studies.
• Ito, Shinjo (2009). Shinjo: Reflections, Somerset Hall Press.
• Lai, Whalen (1982). Sinitic speculations on buddha-nature: The Nirvaana school (420-589), Philosophy East and West 32 (2), 135-149
• Radich, Michael (2015). The Mahāparinivāṇa-mahasūtra and the Emergence of Tathagatagarba Doctrine, Hamburg Buddhist Studies Vol. 5, Hamburg University Press
• Yuyama, Akira (1981). Sanskrit fragments of the Mahāyāna Mahāparinivāṇa-sūtra: Koyasan manuscript, The Reiyukai Library.

External links

• Tony Page's Nirvana Sutra website
• Revised translation of the Mahaparinirvana Sutra
• [permanent dead link] Digital Dictionary of Buddhism (log in with userID "guest")
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

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Vayu Purana
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 7/11/21

The Vayu Purana (Sanskrit: वायु पुराण, Vāyu Purāṇa) is a Sanskrit text and one of the eighteen major Puranas of Hinduism. Vayu Purana is mentioned in the manuscripts of the Mahabharata and other Hindu texts, which has led scholars to propose that the text is among the oldest in the Puranic genre.[1][2] [3] Vayu and Vayaviya Puranas do share a very large overlap in their structure and contents, possibly because they once were the same, but with continuous revisions over the centuries, the original text became two different texts, and the Vayaviya text came also to be known as the Brahmanda Purana.[4]

The Vayu Purana, according to the tradition and verses in other Puranas, contains 24,000 verses (shlokas).[5] However, the surviving manuscripts have about 12,000 verses.[6] The text was continuously revised over the centuries, and its extant manuscripts are very different.[7] Some manuscripts have four padas (parts) with 112 chapters, and some two khandas with 111 chapters.[7] Comparisons of the diverse manuscripts suggest that the following sections were slipped, in later centuries, into the more ancient Vayu Purana: chapters on geography and temples-related travel guides known as Mahatmya,[8] two chapters on castes and individual ashramas, three chapters on Dharma and penances, eleven chapters on purity and Sanskara (rite of passage) and a chapter on hell in after-life.[9]

The text is notable for the numerous references to it, in medieval era Indian literature,[10] likely links to inscriptions such as those found on the Mathura pillar and dated to 380 CE,[11] as well as being a source for carvings and reliefs such as those at the Elephanta Caves – a UNESCO world heritage site.[12]


The Vayu Purana is mentioned in chapter 3.191 of the Mahabharata, and section 1.7 of the Harivamsa, suggesting that the text existed in the first half of the 1st-millennium CE.[1][2] The 7th-century[13] Sanskrit prose writer Banabhatta refers to this work in his Kadambari and Harshacharita. In chapter 3 of the Harshacharita Banabhatta remarks that the Vayu Purana was read out to him in his native village.[14][15] Alberuni (973 -1048), the Persian scholar who visited and lived in northwest Indian subcontinent for many years in early 11th century, quoted from the version of Vayu Purana that existed during his visit.[16]

The various mentions of the Vayu Purana in other texts have led scholars to recognize it as one of the oldest.[1] The early 20th-century scholar Dikshitar, known for his dating proposals that push many texts as very ancient and well into 1st millennium BCE, stated that the Vayu Purana started to take shape around 350 BCE.[1] Later scholarship has proposed that the earliest version of the text is likely from the 300 to 500 CE period, and broadly agreed that it is among the oldest Puranas.[1][17]

The text, like all Puranas, has likely gone through revisions, additions and interpolations over its history. Rajendra Hazra, as well as other scholars, for example, consider Gaya-mahatmya, which is an embedded travel guide to Gaya, as a later addition. The Gaya-mahatmya replaced older sections of the Vayu Purana, sometime before the 15th century.[18][19] Vayu Purana, like all Puranas, has a complicated chronology. Dimmitt and van Buitenen state that each of the Puranas is encyclopedic in style, and it is difficult to ascertain when, where, why and by whom these were written:[20]

As they exist today, the Puranas are stratified literature. Each titled work consists of material that has grown by numerous accretions in successive historical eras. Thus no Purana has a single date of composition. (...) It is as if they were libraries to which new volumes have been continuously added, not necessarily at the end of the shelf, but randomly.

— Cornelia Dimmitt and J.A.B. van Buitenen, Classical Hindu Mythology: A Reader in the Sanskrit Puranas[20]
Editions and translations

The Asiatic Society, Calcutta published this text in two volumes in 1880 and 1888, as a part of their Bibliotheca Indica series. It was edited by Rajendralal Mitra. The Venkateshvara Press, Bombay edition was published in 1895. It was followed by the publication of another edition by the Anandashrama (Anandashrama Sanskrit Series 49), Poona. In 1910, the Vangavasi Press, Calcutta published an edition along with a Bengali translation by Panchanan Tarkaratna, the editor of the text.[21] In 1960 Motilal Banarsidass published an English translation as part of its Ancient Indian Traditions and Mythology series.[22]


The Yogin

The Yogin possesses these attributes,
Straightforwardness towards all,
Knowledge beyond simple perception,
Composed in mind,
Absorbed in the Brahman,
Delighting in the Atman
Alert and pure.
Such are the ones who master Yoga.

—Vayu Purana 16.22-16.23[23]

The Vayu Purana exists in many versions, structured in different ways, For example:

• In the Anandashrama and Vangavasi editions, this text is divided into four padas (parts): Prakriya-pada (chapters 1–6), Anushanga-pada (chapters 7–64), Upodghata-pada (chapter 65–99) and Upasamhara-pada (chapters 100–112). The Gayamahatmya (chapters 105–112 in these editions), praising the Gaya tirtha in Magadha is not found in all the manuscripts of this work and also found separately as an independent work.[14]
• In the Asiatic Society and Venkateshvara Press editions, this text is divided into two parts: Prathamakhanda comprising 61 chapters and Dvitiyakhanda comprising 50 chapters. The chapters 1-6 of Prathamakhanda are titled Prakriya-pada and no title is provided for the chapters 7-61. The chapters 1-42 of Dvitiyakhanda are titled Anushanga-pada and the chapters 43-50 are the Gayamahatmya.[21]

The Vayu Purana discusses its theories of cosmology, genealogy of gods and kings of solar and lunar dynasties, mythology, geography, manvantaras [a cyclic period of time identifying the duration, reign, or age of a Manu, the progenitor of mankind. In each manvantara, seven Rishis, certain deities, an Indra, a Manu, and kings (sons of Manu) are created and perish. Each manvantara is distinguished by the Manu who rules/reigns over it ], the solar system and the movements of the celestial bodies.[14] In addition to these, the text has chapters which were inserted in the later centuries into the older version of the Vayu Purana, such as chapters 16-17 which discuss duties of the Varna (caste or class) and duties of a person during various Ashrama, chapter 18 which discusses penances for sannyasi (monks, yati), chapters 57–59 on dharma, chapters 73 to 83 on sanskaras (rites of passage), and chapter 101 on the theory of hell in after-life.[9]

The text shares a large number of verses with the Brahmanda Purana, and the two texts originated most likely from the same core text.[7] The comparison of the two texts and specifics within the texts suggests, states Hazra, that the split into two texts could not have happened before 400 CE.[9] The chapters which were slipped into the Vayu Purana are missing in many versions of Vayu and in Brahmananda manuscripts. Chapter 18 on penances for those in monastic life, was likely inserted before the 14th century.[24] The travel guide to Gaya, Bihar was likely inserted before the 15th-century, because the Gaya-mahatmya was referenced many times by the 15th-century Vacaspatimisra (not to be confused with 9th-century Advaita scholar of the same name).[19]

The text also contains chapters on music,[25] various shakhas of the Vedas, Pashupata-Yoga, and geographic Mahatmya (travel guides) particularly about Gaya in Bihar.[10] The Vayu Purana also features other topics such as those dealing with construction of mountain top Hindu temples.[26]

The Revakhanda of Vayu Purana since 1910 has been wrongly attributed to the Skanda Purana, says Juergen Neuss, but he adds that the manuscripts attest the Revakhanda containing 232 chapters belongs to the Vayu Purana and was wrongly included in the Skanda Purana by Veṅkateśvara Steam Press in 1910 and all publications of the Skanda after it. The one belonging to the Skanda Purana has 116 chapters.[27]


1. Rocher 1986, p. 245.
2. Winternitz 1922, p. 13.
3. Rocher 1986, pp. 31-33.
4. Rocher 1986, p. 244.
5. Winternitz 1922, p. 14.
6. Wilson 1864, p. xxxix.
7. Rocher 1986, pp. 243-244.
8. Glucklich 2008, p. 146, Quote: The earliest promotional works aimed at tourists from that era were called mahatmyas.
9. Hazra 1940, p. 15.
10. Rocher 1986, pp. 243-245.
11. Mark S. G. Dyczkowski (1988). The Canon of the Saivagama and the Kubjika: Tantras of the Western Kaula Tradition. State University of New York Press. pp. 144 with notes 87–88. ISBN 978-0-88706-494-4.
12. Collins 1988, p. 37, 49, 149-150.
13. Banabhatta Encyclopædia Britannica (2012)
14. Hazra, R.C. (1962). The Puranas in S. Radhakrishnan ed. The Cultural Heritage of India, Vol.II, Calcutta: The Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, ISBN 81-85843-03-1, pp.253–5
15. Winternitz 1922, p. 13 with footnote 10.
16. Winternitz 1922, p. 13 with footnote 11.
17. Collins 1988, p. 36.
18. Gietz 1992, p. 548 with note 3015.
19. Hazra 1940, p. 17.
20. Dimmitt & van Buitenen 2012, p. 5.
21. Rocher 1986, pp. 243–245.
22. Tagare, G.V. and Shastri, J.L (ed.) (1960) The Vāyu Purāṇa (2 volumes). Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 9788120803329
23. Tagare, G.V. (1987), Vayu Purana Part 1, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120803329, page 112
24. Hazra 1940, p. 16.
25. Tagare, G.V. Vayu Purana, Vol 2, pages 666-671
26. Kramrisch 1976, p. 169 with footnote 97, Volume 1.
27. Jurgen Neuss, Oliver Hellwig, Revakhanda of the Vayupurana


• Gregory Bailey (2003). Arvind Sharma (ed.). The Study of Hinduism. University of South Carolina Press. ISBN 978-1-57003-449-7.
• Collins, Charles Dillard (1988). The Iconography and Ritual of Siva at Elephanta: On Life, Illumination, and Being. SUNY Press. ISBN 978-0-88706-773-0.
• Dalal, Rosen (2014), Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide, Penguin, ISBN 978-8184752779
• Dimmitt, Cornelia; van Buitenen, J. A. B. (2012). Classical Hindu Mythology: A Reader in the Sanskrit Puranas. Temple University Press (1st Edition: 1977). ISBN 978-1-4399-0464-0.
• Gietz, K.P.; et al. (1992), Epic and Puranic Bibliography (Up to 1985) Annoted and with Indexes: Part I: A - R, Part II: S - Z, Indexes, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, ISBN 978-3-447-03028-1
• Glucklich, Ariel (2008). The Strides of Vishnu : Hindu Culture in Historical Perspective: Hindu Culture in Historical Perspective. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-971825-2.
• Gonda, Jan, ed. (1986). A History of Indian Literature, Vol.II: Epics and Sanskrit religious literature, Fasc.3. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. ISBN 978-3447025225.
• Hazra, Rajendra Chandra (1940). Studies in the Puranic Records on Hindu Rites and Customs. Motilal Banarsidass (1987 Reprint). ISBN 978-81-208-0422-7.
• Kramrisch, Stella (1976), The Hindu Temple, Volume 1 & 2, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 81-208-0223-3
• Rocher, Ludo. "The Puranas". In Gonda (1986).
• Wilson, H. H. (1864). The Vishnu Purana: A System of Hindu Mythology and Tradition (Volume 1: Introduction, Book I). Read Country Books (reprinted in 2006). ISBN 1-84664-664-2.
• Winternitz, Maurice (1922). History of Indian Literature Vol 1 (Original in German, translated into English by VS Sarma, 1981). New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass (Reprint 2010). ISBN 978-8120802643.

External links

• Vayu Purana - English Translation by G.V.Tagare - Part 1
• Vayu Purana - English Translation by G.V.Tagare - Part 2
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Sun Jul 11, 2021 12:11 pm

Magadha-Vajji war
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 7/11/21

Magadha-Vajji War
Date: 484–468 BCE
Location: Modern-day Bihar, India
Result: Magadhan victory
Territorial changes: Magadhan annexation of Vajji confederacy
Belligerents: Haryanka dynasty of Magadh / Vajji confederacy led by the Licchavis
Commanders and leaders: Ajatashatru / Chetaka

The Magadha-Vajji War was a conflict between the Haryanka dynasty of Magadha and the neighbouring Vajji confederacy which was led by the Licchavis. The conflict is remembered in both Buddhist and Jain traditions. The conflict ended in defeat for the Vajji confederacy and the Magadhans annexing their territory.[1][2]


There are differing accounts between the Jain and Buddhist traditions as to how the war played out although both sides agree that the Magahdans were victorious and ended up conquering the region.[1]

Buddhist tradition

According to the Buddhist tradition, there was a diamond mine near a village on the river Ganges. There was an agreement between Ajatashatru and the Licchavis of Vajji that they would have an equal share. However one day, Ajatashatru failed to collect his own share and the entire load were taken by the Vajjians. This happened on multiple occasions, and at last, Ajatashatru lost his patience and thought, "it is almost impossible to fight against the whole confederacy of Vaishali. I must uproot these powerful Vajjis and exterminate them". He sent his chief minister Vassakara to Buddha to ask him the purpose of Vaishali being invincible, to which Buddha gave seven reasons which included Vajjis being punctual to the meetings, their disciplined behaviour, their respect for elders, respect for women, they do not marry their daughters forcefully, they give spiritual protection to the Arhats, and the main reason was the Chaityas (altar) inside the town.[1][3]

Ajatashatru sent his chief minister Vassakara to infiltrate the Vajji confederacy and within three years he had managed to split the Vajjis and also demolished the altars in Vaishali. Ajatashatru used a scythed chariot with swinging mace and blades on both the sides and attacked the town and conquered it with little resistance.[1]

Part One: In Magadha

1. Thus have I heard. Once the Blessed One [1] dwelt at Rajagaha, on the hill called Vultures' Peak. At that time the king of Magadha, Ajatasattu, son of the Videhi queen, [2] desired to wage war against the Vajjis. He spoke in this fashion: "These Vajjis, powerful and glorious as they are, I shall annihilate them, I shall make them perish, I shall utterly destroy them."

2. And Ajatasattu, the king of Magadha, addressed his chief minister, the brahman Vassakara, saying: "Come, brahman, go to the Blessed One, pay homage in my name at his feet, wish him good health, strength, ease, vigour, and comfort, and speak thus: 'O Lord, Ajatasattu, the king of Magadha, desires to wage war against the Vajjis. He has spoken in this fashion: "These Vajjis, powerful and glorious as they are, I shall annihilate them, I shall make them perish, I shall utterly destroy them."' And whatever the Blessed One should answer you, keep it well in mind and inform me; for Tathagatas [3] do not speak falsely."

3. "Very well, sire," said the brahman Vassakara in assent to Ajatasattu, king of Magadha. And he ordered a large number of magnificent carriages to be made ready, mounted one himself, and accompanied by the rest, drove out to Rajagaha towards Vultures' Peak. He went by carriage as far as the carriage could go, then dismounting, he approached the Blessed One on foot. After exchanging courteous greetings with the Blessed One, together with many pleasant words, he sat down at one side and addressed the Blessed One thus: "Venerable Gotama, Ajatasattu, the king of Magadha, pays homage at the feet of the Venerable Gotama and wishes him good health, strength, ease, vigour, and comfort. He desires to wage war against the Vajjis, and he has spoken in this fashion: 'These Vajjis, powerful and glorious as they are, I shall annihilate them, I shall make them perish, I shall utterly destroy them.'"

Conditions of a Nation's Welfare

4. At that time the Venerable Ananda [4] was standing behind the Blessed One, fanning him, and the Blessed One addressed the Venerable Ananda thus: "What have you heard, Ananda: do the Vajjis have frequent gatherings, and are their meetings well attended?"

"I have heard, Lord, that this is so."

"So long, Ananda, as this is the case, the growth of the Vajjis is to be expected, not their decline.

"What have you heard, Ananda: do the Vajjis assemble and disperse peacefully and attend to their affairs in concord?"

"I have heard, Lord, that they do."

"So long, Ananda, as this is the case, the growth of the Vajjis is to be expected, not their decline.

"What have you heard, Ananda: do the Vajjis neither enact new decrees nor abolish existing ones, but proceed in accordance with their ancient constitutions?"

"I have heard, Lord, that they do."

"So long, Ananda, as this is the case, the growth of the Vajjis is to be expected, not their decline.

"What have you heard, Ananda: do the Vajjis show respect, honor, esteem, and veneration towards their elders and think it worthwhile to listen to them?"

"I have heard, Lord, that they do."

"So long, Ananda, as this is the case, the growth of the Vajjis is to be expected, not their decline.

"What have you heard, Ananda: do the Vajjis refrain from abducting women and maidens of good families and from detaining them?"

"I have heard, Lord, that they refrain from doing so."

"So long, Ananda, as this is the case, the growth of the Vajjis is to be expected, not their decline.

"What have you heard, Ananda: do the Vajjis show respect, honor, esteem, and veneration towards their shrines, both those within the city and those outside it, and do not deprive them of the due offerings as given and made to them formerly?"

"I have heard, Lord, that they do venerate their shrines, and that they do not deprive them of their offerings."

"So long, Ananda, as this is the case, the growth of the Vajjis is to be expected, not their decline.

"What have you heard, Ananda: do the Vajjis duly protect and guard the arahats, so that those who have not come to the realm yet might do so, and those who have already come might live there in peace?"

"I have heard, Lord, that they do."

"So long, Ananda, as this is the case, the growth of the Vajjis is to be expected, not their decline."

5. And the Blessed One addressed the brahman Vassakara in these words: "Once, brahman, I dwelt at Vesali, at the Sarandada shrine, and there it was that I taught the Vajjis these seven conditions leading to (a nation's) welfare. [5] So long, brahman, as these endure among the Vajjis, and the Vajjis are known for it, their growth is to be expected, not their decline."

Thereupon the brahman Vassakara spoke thus to the Blessed One: "If the Vajjis, Venerable Gotama, were endowed with only one or another of these conditions leading to welfare, their growth would have to be expected, not their decline. What then of all the seven? No harm, indeed, can be done to the Vajjis in battle by Magadha's king, Ajatasattu, except through treachery or discord. Well, then, Venerable Gotama, we will take our leave, for we have much to perform, much work to do."

"Do as now seems fit to you, brahman." And the brahman Vassakara, the chief minister of Magadha, approving of the Blessed One's words and delighted by them, rose from his seat and departed....

26. At that time Sunidha and Vassakara, the chief ministers of Magadha, were building a fortress at Pataligama in defense against the Vajjis. And deities in large numbers, counted in thousands, had taken possession of sites at Pataligama. In the region where deities of great power prevailed, officials of great power were bent on constructing edifices; and where deities of medium power and lesser power prevailed, officials of medium and lesser power were bent on constructing edifices.

27. And the Blessed One saw with the heavenly eye, pure and transcending the faculty of men, the deities, counted in thousands, where they had taken possession of sites in Pataligama. And rising before the night was spent, towards dawn, the Blessed One addressed the Venerable Ananda thus: "Who is it, Ananda, that is erecting a city at Pataligama?"

"Sunidha and Vassakara, Lord, the chief ministers of Magadha, are building a fortress at Pataligama, in defence against the Vajjis."

-- Maha-parinibbana Sutta: Last Days of the Buddha, translated from the Pali by Sister Vajira & Francis Story

Jain tradition

The Jain tradition has been pieced together from multiple sources and confirms many of the Buddhist accounts but also differs in many ways. Queen Padmavati, the wife of Ajatashatru while sitting on her balcony saw Halla and Vihalla kumaras with their wives sitting on an elephant and one of the wives was wearing the 18 fold divine necklace.[1]

She went to her husband Ajatashatru who requested both brothers to give the elephant and the necklace to him, which both brothers denied saying that these gifts were given by their father. Ajatashatru sent the request thrice but got the same reply all three times. In response he sent his men to arrest them however the two brothers escaped to their maternal grandfather Chetaka who was the king of Vajji and the leader of the Licchavi clan. Ajatashatru sent notice thrice to Chetaka to surrender them but was denied by Chetaka.[4] This was enough for Ajatashatru. He called his half-brothers, Kalakumaras (10 kalakumaras, those born to King Bimbisara and 10 Kali Queens Kali, Sukali, Mahakali, etc.) to merge their army with his. As he could not possibly hope to defeat the Vajjians without their help. On the other hand, Chetaka invited his own allies; 9 Mallas, 9 Lichhavis and 18 kings of Kasi-Kosala to fight Ajatashatru.[2]

As the war began, King Chetaka, who was a devout follower of Mahavira, had a vow to not shoot more than one arrow per day in a war. It was known to all that Chetaka's aim was perfect and his arrows were infallible. His first arrow killed one commander of Ajatashatru's. On the following nine days, the rest of the nine commanders were killed by Chetaka.

According to legend, as Ajatashatru was moving towards defeat he practised penance for three days and offered prayers to Indra to help him achieve victory. In the following battle, the Vajjians were defeated and the Licchavis were abandoned by the other confederate tribes so they took shelter inside the city walls of Vaishali and closed the main gate. The walls around Vaishali were so strong that Ajatashatru was unable to break through them. Eventually, they succeeded in breaching the walls and conquering Vaishali and the surrounding region.[1]

Role of the Buddha

According to the account that is given in the Mahāparinibbāṇa Sutta in the Buddhist tradition, the Buddha advised Vassakāra of the seven conditions of welfare which would ensure the prosperity of Vajji. Vassakara inferred from this the way to defeat the Vajjis. There is a debate as to whether the Buddha did this intentionally.[2][5]

See also

• Avanti-Magadhan Wars


1. A. L Basham (1951). "Ajātasattu's War with the Licchavis". Proceedings of the Indian History Congress. 14: 37–41. JSTOR 44303932.

2. Pandita, Ven (2011). "The Buddha and the Māgadha-Vajjī War". Journal of Buddhist Ethics. 18: 126–144. Retrieved 2 August 2020.
3. James A. Benn; Lori Meeks; James Robson (10 September 2009). Buddhist Monasticism in East Asia: Places of Practice. Routledge. pp. 20–. ISBN 978-1-134-00991-6.
4. Upinder Singh (2008). A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India: From the Stone Age to the 12th Century. Pearson Education India. pp. 260–263. ISBN 978-81-317-1677-9.
5. Chakrabarti, Dilip (1995). "Buddhist sites across South Asia as influenced by political and economic forces". World Archaeology. 27 (2): 185–202. doi:10.1080/00438243.1995.9980303.
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Ajatasattu's War With the Licchavis
by A.L. Basham
Proceedings of the Indian History Congress
Vol. 14, pp. 37-41
In the light of these researches, peering down the dark vistas of the past, we see that at the time of Buddha's visit, referred to in the above-quoted lines, — that is, somewhere between the fourth and fifth centuries before our era — Pataliputra was a small village on the south bank of the Ganges, and it was being fortified by the king of Rajagrha (Rajgir) as a post from which he might conquer the adjoining provinces and petty republics across the river.

Standing at a point of such great commercial and strategical importance, at or near the confluence of all the five great rivers of Mid-India, namely, the Ganges, the Gogra, the Rapti, the Gandak, and the Son, as seen in the accompanying map, and commanding the traffic of these great water-ways of the richest part of India, it quickly grew into a great city, as was predicted.

Within about one generation after Buddha's visit the new monarch left the old stronghold of Rajgir, on the eastern edge of the highlands of Central India, overlooking the rich Ganges Valley, and one of the hilly fastnesses to which the vigorous invading Aryans fondly clung, and transferred his seat of government out to the new city in the centre of the plain. Thus when the conquest of all the adjoining and upper provinces welded India for the first time into one great dominion, Pataliputra became the capital of that vast empire.

-- Report on the Excavations At Pataliputra (Patna): The Palibothra of the Greeks, by L.A. Waddell


Reasons have been advanced by the translator of the Mahaparinibanna-Sutta for holding that the work cannot well have been composed very much later than the fourth century B.C. And, in the other direction, he has claimed that substantially, as to not only ideas but also words, it can be dated approximately in the fifth century. That would tend to place the composition of its narrative within eight decades after the death of Buddha, for which event B.C. 482 seems to me the most probable and satisfactory date that we are likely to obtain. In view, however, of a certain prophecy which is placed by the Sutta in the mouth of Buddha, it does not appear likely that the work can be referred to quite so early a time as that.

In the course of his last journey, Buddha came to the village Pataligama. At that time, we know from the commencement of the work, there was war, or a prospect of war, between Ajatasatta, king of Magadha, and the Vajji people. And, when Buddha was on this occasion at Pataligama, Sunidha and Vassakara, the Mahamattas or high ministers for Magadha, were laying out a regular city (nagara) at Pataligama, in order to ward off the Vajjis. The place was haunted by many thousands of “fairies” (devata), who inhabited the plots of ground there. And it was by that spiritual influence that Sunidha and Vassakara had been led to select the site for the foundation of a city; the text says: “Wherever ground is so occupied by powerful fairies, they bend the hearts of the most powerful kings and ministers to build dwelling-places there, and fairies of middling and inferior power bend in a similar way the hearts of middling or inferior kings and ministers.” Buddha with his supernatural clear sight beheld the fairies. And, remarking to his companion, the venerable Ananda, that Sunidha and Vassakara were acting just as if they had taken counsel with the Tavatimsa “angels” (deva), he said: -- “Inasmuch, O Ananda!, as it is an honourable place as well as a resort of merchants, this shall become a leading city, Pataliputta, a great trading centre; but, O Ananda!, three dangers will befall Pataliputta, either from fire, or from water, or from dissension.”

-- The Tradition about the Corporeal Relics of Buddha, by J. F. Fleet, The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, (Jul., 1906), pp. 655-671 (17 pages)

In Magadha

1. Thus have I heard. Once the Blessed One dwelt at Rajagaha, on the hill called Vultures' Peak. At that time the king of Magadha, Ajatasattu, son of the Videhi queen, desired to wage war against the Vajjis. He spoke in this fashion: "These Vajjis, powerful and glorious as they are, I shall annihilate them, I shall make them perish, I shall utterly destroy them."

2. And Ajatasattu, the king of Magadha, addressed his chief minister, the brahman Vassakara, saying: "Come, brahman, go to the Blessed One, pay homage in my name at his feet, wish him good health, strength, ease, vigour, and comfort, and speak thus: 'O Lord, Ajatasattu, the king of Magadha, desires to wage war against the Vajjis. He has spoken in this fashion: "These Vajjis, powerful and glorious as they are, I shall annihilate them, I shall make them perish, I shall utterly destroy them."' And whatever the Blessed One should answer you, keep it well in mind and inform me; for Tathagatas do not speak falsely."

3. "Very well, sire," said the brahman Vassakara in assent to Ajatasattu, king of Magadha. And he ordered a large number of magnificent carriages to be made ready, mounted one himself, and accompanied by the rest, drove out to Rajagaha towards Vultures' Peak. He went by carriage as far as the carriage could go, then dismounting, he approached the Blessed One on foot. After exchanging courteous greetings with the Blessed One, together with many pleasant words, he sat down at one side and addressed the Blessed One thus: "Venerable Gotama, Ajatasattu, the king of Magadha, pays homage at the feet of the Venerable Gotama and wishes him good health, strength, ease, vigour, and comfort. He desires to wage war against the Vajjis, and he has spoken in this fashion: 'These Vajjis, powerful and glorious as they are, I shall annihilate them, I shall make them perish, I shall utterly destroy them.'"

Conditions of a Nation's Welfare

4. At that time the Venerable Ananda was standing behind the Blessed One, fanning him, and the Blessed One addressed the Venerable Ananda thus: "What have you heard, Ananda: do the Vajjis have frequent gatherings, and are their meetings well attended?"

"I have heard, Lord, that this is so."

"So long, Ananda, as this is the case, the growth of the Vajjis is to be expected, not their decline.

"What have you heard, Ananda: do the Vajjis assemble and disperse peacefully and attend to their affairs in concord?"

"I have heard, Lord, that they do."

"So long, Ananda, as this is the case, the growth of the Vajjis is to be expected, not their decline.

"What have you heard, Ananda: do the Vajjis neither enact new decrees nor abolish existing ones, but proceed in accordance with their ancient constitutions?"

"I have heard, Lord, that they do."

"So long, Ananda, as this is the case, the growth of the Vajjis is to be expected, not their decline.

"What have you heard, Ananda: do the Vajjis show respect, honor, esteem, and veneration towards their elders and think it worthwhile to listen to them?"

"I have heard, Lord, that they do."

"So long, Ananda, as this is the case, the growth of the Vajjis is to be expected, not their decline.

"What have you heard, Ananda: do the Vajjis refrain from abducting women and maidens of good families and from detaining them?"

"I have heard, Lord, that they refrain from doing so."

"So long, Ananda, as this is the case, the growth of the Vajjis is to be expected, not their decline.

"What have you heard, Ananda: do the Vajjis show respect, honor, esteem, and veneration towards their shrines, both those within the city and those outside it, and do not deprive them of the due offerings as given and made to them formerly?"

"I have heard, Lord, that they do venerate their shrines, and that they do not deprive them of their offerings."

"So long, Ananda, as this is the case, the growth of the Vajjis is to be expected, not their decline.

"What have you heard, Ananda: do the Vajjis duly protect and guard the arahats, so that those who have not come to the realm yet might do so, and those who have already come might live there in peace?"

"I have heard, Lord, that they do."

"So long, Ananda, as this is the case, the growth of the Vajjis is to be expected, not their decline."

5. And the Blessed One addressed the brahman Vassakara in these words: "Once, brahman, I dwelt at Vesali, at the Sarandada shrine, and there it was that I taught the Vajjis these seven conditions leading to (a nation's) welfare. So long, brahman, as these endure among the Vajjis, and the Vajjis are known for it, their growth is to be expected, not their decline."

Thereupon the brahman Vassakara spoke thus to the Blessed One: "If the Vajjis, Venerable Gotama, were endowed with only one or another of these conditions leading to welfare, their growth would have to be expected, not their decline. What then of all the seven? No harm, indeed, can be done to the Vajjis in battle by Magadha's king, Ajatasattu, except through treachery or discord. Well, then, Venerable Gotama, we will take our leave, for we have much to perform, much work to do."

"Do as now seems fit to you, brahman." And the brahman Vassakara, the chief minister of Magadha, approving of the Blessed One's words and delighted by them, rose from his seat and departed....

26. At that time Sunidha and Vassakara, the chief ministers of Magadha, were building a fortress at Pataligama in defense against the Vajjis. And deities in large numbers, counted in thousands, had taken possession of sites at Pataligama. In the region where deities of great power prevailed, officials of great power were bent on constructing edifices; and where deities of medium power and lesser power prevailed, officials of medium and lesser power were bent on constructing edifices.

27. And the Blessed One saw with the heavenly eye, pure and transcending the faculty of men, the deities, counted in thousands, where they had taken possession of sites in Pataligama. And rising before the night was spent, towards dawn, the Blessed One addressed the Venerable Ananda thus: "Who is it, Ananda, that is erecting a city at Pataligama?"

"Sunidha and Vassakara, Lord, the chief ministers of Magadha, are building a fortress at Pataligama, in defence against the Vajjis."

-- Maha-parinibbana Sutta: Last Days of the Buddha, translated from the Pali by Sister Vajira & Francis Story

The Magadha-Vajji War was a conflict between the Haryanka dynasty of Magadha and the neighbouring Vajji confederacy which was led by the Licchavis. The conflict is remembered in both Buddhist and Jain traditions. The conflict ended in defeat for the Vajji confederacy and the Magadhans annexing their territory.

There are differing accounts between the Jain and Buddhist traditions as to how the war played out although both sides agree that the Magahdans were victorious and ended up conquering the region.

-- Magadha-Vajji war, by Wikipedia

Daffy Duck: "This is preposterous"
Contamination, in manuscript tradition, a blending whereby a single manuscript contains readings originating from different sources or different lines of tradition. In literature, contamination refers to a blending of legends or stories that results in new combinations of incident or in modifications of plot.

-- Contamination: Literature, by Encyclopedia Britannica

NOTE -- From considerations of time and space I have not given references to many of the better known facts. All are to be found in such well known works of reference as Dr. Malalasekera's Dictionary of Pali Proper Names and Dr. H.C. Raychaudhuri's Political History of Ancient India.

The war between the king of Magadha Ajatasattu and the confederacy of the Vajjis, of which the most important element was the tribe of the Licchavis of Vesali, must have made a great impression upon contemporary India, for it is remembered and described in some detail by the independent traditions both of the Buddhists and the Jains. It is scarcely necessary to summarise the Buddhist account, but we will do so for the sake of completeness. The story occurs in the Mahiparinibbana Sutta of the Digha Nikiya, and in Buddhaghosa's commentary thereon.

A certain river port half in Magadhan territory and half in that of the Vajjis, produced a mysterious scented substance which was much in demand. Ajatasattu claimed this stuff, but when be sent his men for it on one occasion he found that the Vajjis had anticipated him and had taken it all.1 [Sumangala Vilasini, ii, 516.] He vowed to extirpate the Vajjis root and branch, and his chief minister Vassakara went to the Buddha to enquire whether the project was feasible. This was the occasion of the famous pronouncement of the Buddha, which seems to me to bear every sign of being authentic -- as long as the Vajjis held together, had regular folk-moots, revered the ancestral shrines and respected their women they were invincible. These are evidently the words of one who had a great love for the more or less democratic constitution of the so-called republican tribes and deplored the passing of traditional virtues. Soon after his interview with Vassakara, Buddha went north on his last journey. As he crossed the Ganges with his followers he again met Vassakara, with another minister named Sunidha, supervising the construction of a fort at the village of Pataligama, and prophesied the future greatness of the site.2 [Digha Nikaya, ii. 72 ff.] Meanwhile Vassakara, thought of a scheme to weaken the Vajjis. He pretended to quarrel with Ajatasattu, and fled to Vesali in the guise of a refuge. He was given a position of trust in the council of the tribal chieftains, and made use of the position to sow discord among them. In this he was so successful that in three years they were completely divided among themselves. Then Vassakara sent a message to Ajatasattu that the time was ripe, and he occupied Veslali with very little fighting.3 [Sumangala Vilasini, ii, 522.]

The Jain story, like the Buddhist, has to be pieced together from various sources. In this summary I retain the Buddhist names of the kings of Magadha for convenience. There is of course no shadow of doubt that the Seniya and Kuniya of the Jains are the Bimbisara and Ajatasattu of the Pali scriptures. Bimbisara, according to the Nirayavalika Sutra, committed suicide in prison in order to save his usurping son of the sin of patricide. This story virtually confirms the Buddhist account of Ajatasattu's murder of his father. But even before his father's death the new king had repented of his evil courses. On hearing of the suicide he moved his court to Campa. But soon after he was again inspired to evil by a wicked queen, called by the common Jaina name of Padmavati. His younger brothers Halla and Vehalla possessed a splendid elephant and a wonderful jewelled necklace. These the queen coveted, and persuaded Ajatasattu to demand them. The princes, rather than give them up, fled to the court of their maternal grandfather Cetaka, the chieftain of the Licchavis of Vesali. Ajatasattu sent to Cetaka to demand the treasures. When they were refused he made war on the Licchavis and the Nirayavalika speaks of a great battle in which many of Ajatasattu's brothers were killed.4 [Nirayavalika Sutra, ed. A.S. Gopani and V.J. Chokshi, Ahmedabad, 1935, p. 19 ff.]

The story is continued by the Bhagavati Sutra, which speaks of two great battles. The first lasted ten days, and on each day the Magadhan army lost one of its generals, shot by Cetaka. On the eleventh day Ajatasattu threw in a secret weapon, presented to him by the god Indra himself -- a mahasilakantaka, which from its description seems to have been a great stone- thrower. This turned the scales. The second battle had a similar course, and Ajatasattu's fortunes were turned in the nick of time by another wonderful weapon, a chariot-club (ralthamusala), which caused great carnage.5 [Bhagavati Sutra, 3 vols., Bombay, 1918-21, sutra 299 ff.]

The story is carried yet further by the early medieval commentator Jinadasa Gani in his curni, to the Avasyaka Sutra. The ruling body of the confederacy, described here and elsewhere in the Jaina scriptures as the nine Licchavis, the nine Mallakis and the eighteen tribal chieftains (ganaraja) of Kasi and Kosala, broke up. The confederate chieftains went home, and Cetaka, forced to fight alone, retreated to Vesali, where he was besieged for twelve years. The Licchavis had [i]a living palladium
in Kulapalaka, a famous ascetic whose piety and austerities rendered the city impregnable. But Ajatasattu lured him to break his vows by means of a beautiful prostitute, and so the city fell. Cetaka drowned himself in a well and the remnant of the Licchavis fled to Nepal.6 [Avasyaka Sutra with curni of Jinadasa Gani, 2 vols., Ratlam, 1928-9; vol. ii, p. 172 ff.]

The story, which is told very elliptically by Jinadasa, is expanded in a commentary to the Uttaradhyayana Siltra quoted in the Jain encyclopedia Abhidhana Rajendra.7 [Abhidhana Rajendra, vol. iii s.v. Kulavalaya.]

The two versions disagree in many important details, but certain facts are in agreement and it is possible to extract credible history from them. The Jaina account of a long and difficult war is indirectly confirmed by the Buddhist story. The result of the war was clearly much in doubt when Ajatasattu sent Vassakara to the Buddha to enquire as to his prospects of success. The fort on the Ganges was built specifically for defence and not attack. In the fragmentary opening paragraph of the Sarvastivadin Sanskrit version of the Mahaparinibbina Sutta, recently published by Prof. Waldschmidt, Ajatasattu uses the words vyasanam, disaster, and rddhams ca sphi(tam), rich and prosperous, in his rage against the Vajjis.8 [Berlin, 1950, p. 7.] The easy victory superficially indicated by the Buddhist story was evidently preceded by a period of protracted and difficult warfare.

The enemy of Ajatasattu was not a single one, but a confederation.
The Vajjis of the Pali scriptures are explicitly stated to be such a confederation, but the phrase used by the Jains 'the nine Licchavis, the nine Mallakis, and the eighteen tribal chieftains of Kasi and Kosala', suggest a wider alliance than that of the eight local tribes under the leadership of the Licchavis who comprised the Vajjian confederation. This phrase has attracted the attention of Prof. H. C. Raychaudhuri, who suggests 'that all the enemies of Ajatasattu, including the rulers of Kasi-Kosala and Vaisali, offered combined resistance. The Kosalan war and the Vajjian war were probably not isolated events but parts of a common movement directed against the hegemony of Magadha'.9 [Political History of Ancient India, 5th edn., Calcutta 1950, p. 213.] The Kosalan war, that between Ajatasattu and his uncle Pasenadi of Kosala immediately on the former 's usurpation, is less well attested than that with the Vajjis, since it is mentioned in the Buddhist tradition only.10 [Samyutta Nikaya, tr., i., 109.] But the evidence of that tradition points to the fact that peace had been concluded between the two sides, and Pasenadi had been succeeded by his son Vidudabha and had died, before the war with the Vajjis. Raychaudhure's hypothesis does not explain how Kasi and Kosala, both of which had been controlled by Pasenadi, came to be ruled by eighteen tribal chieftains. For this reason it is difficult of acceptance as it stands. Even more improbable is a theory once suggested by Prof. B. M. Barua,11 [Indian Culture, ii. 810.] that the whole of the Kosalan kingdom was under the suzerainty of the Licchavis; this is contradicted by the whole of the Buddhist tradition and need not be considered further.

A possible explanation of the eighteen ganarajas of Kasi and Kosala would link them with Vidudabha's devastation of the Sakiyas, and his death soon afterwards. The motive given for Vidudabha's wanton attack on the tribe, that he was incensed at their duplicity in providing his father with a base born girl all a bride, is too fantastic to be easily credible. It may well be that the only motive of the new and ambitious king of Kosala was the desire to impose a tighter and more centralized control on the feudatory tribes to the north and east of his kingdom. But whatever his motive, such an attack might be expected to rouse the suspicion and hostility of other tribes tributory to Kosala, of which the Mallas were one. We have no reliable account of the fate of Vidudabha, but the Pali story that he was drowned immediately after his destruction of the Sakiyas12 [Dhammapada Commentary, i, 346 ff. 357 ff.] indicates at least that he did not long survive that event. It may well be that he was killed while trying to subdue other subordinate tribes in the eastern part of his kingdom. We suggest that these tribes, unwilling to accept Vidudaha's suzerainty and incensed at his destruction of the Sakiyas, took advantage of his death to throw off all allegiance, and allied themselves with the strongest tribal republic of the region, the Vajjis or Licchavis of Vesali.

Of the names given in the Jaina formula the nine Licchavis need no further definition. They are the chiefs of the Vajjian confederacy of the Pali scriptures. The nine Mallakis must surely be the Mallas, probably the most important of the Kosalan tribes formerly tributory to Pasenadi. The eighteen tribal chieftains of Kasi and Kosala are probably the leaders of lesser tribes, originally included within the Kosalan empire. We would agree with Raychaudhuri to this extent, that the accounts give evidence of a widespread league of the tribal peoples north of the Ganges, no doubt uneasy at the growing imperialist ambition of the new rulers of Kosala and Magadha, and determined to preserve their own constitutions and way of life, which they saw were seriously threatened.

It is perhaps possible to trace a definite general policy followed throughout the reigns of Bimbisara and Ajatasattu, of which the Vajjian war was one phase. When Alexander reached the Seas he was told that all the Ganges-Yamuna basin was in the hands of a single king, Agrammes. The expansion of Magadha at the time of the Buddha was the first stage of the process which led to the empire of Asoka. It is hardly likely that Bimbisara and Ajatasattu ever visualized so mighty an empire, but they may have had the more liited objective of gaining control of as much of the Ganges river system as possible. It may be possible to trace the same objective later, motivating the campaigns of Samudra Gupta, Sasanka, and Dharmapala -- the king in possession of the lower course aiming at control of the whole river system. The importance of the rivers, in an India where population was smaller, roads were bad, and jungle more widespread, need hardly be emphasized.

Bimbisara's one annexation was Anga, with its wealthy river port of Campa, where, if we are to believe the Pali accounts, an already flourishing trade with the south brought gold jewels and spices. Campa must have served as an entrepot, from which southern luxury goods were distributed all over northern India. The acquisition of Amga was perhaps a necessary preliminary to the further expansion of Magadha, providing the wealth with which Bimbisara financed his policy of internal consolidation and Ajatasattu his aggressive wars. Of these the war with Kosala seems to have given Magadha control of a further length of the river, while from the war with the Vajjis she gained a foothold north of the Ganges, and thus controlled both banks. It is perhaps significant that according to the Buddhist story the latter war arose over a dispute in a river port which was half controlled by Ajatasattu and half by the Vajjis.

Both in internal and external policy Magadha under Bimbisra and Ajatasattu seems to have transcended earlier Indian conceptions of statecraft. It is possible, and I believe reasonably probable, that some inspiration for these new developments in ancient Indian polity came from the west. It may be more than a coincidence that while Bimbisara was a young man Cyrus was building up the greatest empire the world had yet seen. Before Ajatasattu's usurpation Achaemenid power extended to the Indus, if not beyond, and Taksasila seems to have been annexed. Bimbisara had been in diplomatic contact with Pukkusati, the king of Takasila. A busy caravan route led from Magadha to the north-west, and young men of the two upper classes would go from the Ganges valley to Taksasila to finish their education. It seems very unlikely that the two energetic king of Magadha should have been unaware of what was happening on the north-western borders of India. With the increased wealth at their disposal as a result of their control of trade at the eastern gate of Aryan India they may well have been inspired in their policy of expansion by what they heard of Persian affairs.

One further point deserves consideration -- the wonderful weapons with which, according to the Jain story, Ajatasattu successfully decided his two battles with Licchavis. The 'mahasilakantaka' evidently suggests a catapult, and the 'rathamusala' a battering ram. In the acceptance of the historicity of the latter weapon there is no difficulty once allowance has been made for the exaggerations to which Jain writers were so inclined. The catapult is more difficult however. Battering rams, siege towers, and other large war-engines were used by the Babylonians and Persians, and there is no reason why Ajatasattu should not also have used them. But we have no record of the use of war-engines for the discharge of large missiles in Asia until the days of Alexander, with one dubious exception. The exception occurs in the Old Testament, in the 2nd Book of Chronicles (xxvi, 15), where it is stated that king Uzziah of Judah, in the 7th century B.C., defended Jerusalem with engines which discharged great stones. If it could be shown that some form of catapult was even occasionally used in the Middle East the acceptance of Ajatasattu's mahasilakantaka would be much easier. But the Book of Chronicles is generally thought to have been compiled at a comparatively late date, and Professor Sidney Smith, with whom I have discussed the matter, believes that Uzziah's catapults are almost certainly the false attribution of a much later writer, to whom catapults were familiar. I am assured by Prof. Henning that there is no record of their being used by the Achaemenids.

This being the case we must either believe that catapults were invented independently in India at about the time of Ajatasattu, or that the wonderful weapon described by the Jain commentator is also a false attribution. On the strength of this one late reference I find it hard to accept the former alternative. The Jaina story, read in conjunction with Pali references, may, however, be taken to indicate that as in civil so in military affairs the Magadha of Bimbisara and Ajatasattu outstripped its contemporaries. The foundation was laid by the peaceful Bimbisara and the aggressive Ajatasattu of the first united India, and the fact that Bharat at the present day is a single republic and not an aggregate of warring petty states must in some measure be ultimately due to the progressive policies of these two energetic kings of 2,500 years ago.
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XXIV. The Tradition About the Corporeal Relics of Buddha
by J. F. FLEET, I.C.S. (Retd.), Ph.D., C.I.E.
The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland
P. 655-671


By way of a preliminary to some further remarks on the inscription on the Piprahava relic-vase,1 [I have been using hitherto the form Piprawa, which I took over from another writer. But it appears, from Major Vost’s article on Kapilavastu (page 553 ff. above), that the correct form of the name is that which I now adopt.] which I shall present when a facsimile of the record can be given with them, I offer a study of an interesting side-issue, the tradition regarding the corporeal relics of Buddha.

The subject has been touched by another writer in this Journal, 1901. 397 ff. And I am indebted to his article for (in addition to some minor references) guidance to the story told in Buddhaghosha’s Sumangalavilasini, which otherwise might have remained unknown to me. For the rest, however, that treatment of the subject was biassed by starting with the postulate that the Piprahava record could only register an enshrining of relics of Buddha by the Sakyas at Kapilavastu. It was, consequently, entirely directed to throwing discredit on the tradition about the eventual fate of the relics. Also, it has by no means told us, or even indicated, all that there is to be learnt; and it is not exactly accurate even as far as it goes.

I take the matter from the opposite point of view; namely (see page 149 ff. above), that the inscription registers an enshrining of relics, not of Buddha, but of his slaughtered kinsmen, the Sakyas themselves. And my object is to exhibit the details of the tradition about the relics of Buddha more clearly; to add various items which have been overlooked; and to examine the matter carefully, in the light of the tradition having quite possibly a basis in fact.

And there is a difference between the two cases. To support the previous interpretation of the Piprahava record, it was vitally important to invalidate the tradition about the eventual fate of the corporeal relics of Buddha; for, if, some centuries ago, the memorial mound raised at Kapilavastu by the Sakyas over their share of those relics was opened, and the relics were abstracted from it, how could that monument be found in 1898, externally indeed in a state of ruin, but internally unviolated, with the relics, and a record proclaiming the nature of them, still inside it? For my case, however, the truth or otherwise of the tradition is of no leading importance at all, and might almost be a matter of indifference, except for the intrinsic interest attaching to the tradition itself: the tradition might be shewn to be false, but that would not affect my interpretation of the record; we could still look to find corporeal relics of Buddha in some other memorial in the same neighbourhood. At the same time, while my case is not in any way dependent upon proving the tradition to be true, it is capable of receiving support from a substantiation of the tradition.

However, the question of the merits of the tradition cannot be decided either way, until we have the traditional statements fully before us, in a plain and convenient form. So, I confine myself first to exhibiting those statements just as they are found; starting the matter, in this note, with the tradition about the original division and enshrining of the relics, and going on afterwards to the tradition about the subsequent fate of them. I will review the whole tradition, and consider it in connexion with certain instructive facts, in my following article on the inscription.


In tracing the history of the corporeal relics of Buddha, we naturally commence with the narrative, presented in the ancient Pali work entitled Mahaparinibbana-Sutta, and possibly dating back to B.C. 375 (see page 670 below), of the circumstances that attended the distribution of them and the building of Stupas or memorial mounds over them. And I prefix to that the account, given in the same work, of the cremation of the corpse of Buddha; because it includes several features of interest which may suitably be brought into relief, with some comments, from the artistic setting in which they stand in the original text.

The narrative runs as follows; see the text edited by Childers in this Journal, 1876, 250 ff., and by Davids and Carpenter in the Digha-Nikaya, part 2. 154 ff., and the translation by Davids in SBE, 11. 112 ff.:1 [Using Childers’ text, which is divided into rather long paragraphs, I found the translation very useful in leading me quickly to the points to be noted. The translation, however, cannot be followed as an infallible guide; and I have had to take my own line in interpreting the text at various places. While revising these proofs, I have seen for the first time Turnour’s article in JASB, 7, 1838. 991 ff., where he gave a translation of the sixth chapter (the one in which we are interested) of this Sutta, and an abstract of the preceding ones. By the later translator, Turnour’s work has been dismissed with the observation (SBE, 11. Introd., 31) that, “though a most valuable contribution for the time, now more than half a century ago,” it “has not been of much service for the present purpose.” Nevertheless, there are several details in which it contrasts very favourably with the later translation.]

The Bhagavat, “ the Blessed One,” Buddha, died, 2 [In this Sutta, Buddha is most usually designated as the Bhagavat. But other appellations of him used in it are the Tathagata, the Sugata, the Sambuddha, and the Samana Gotama. The appellation Buddha occurs in the expression:—amhakam Buddho ahu khantivado; “our Buddha was one who used to preach forbearance” (text, 259/166), in the speech of the Brahman Dona, when he was asking the claimants not to quarrel over the division of the relics. The word used for “he died” is parinibbayi (text, 252/156). From that point, the text constantly presents parinibbuta to describe him as “dead;” and it several times, both here and in previous passages, presents parinibbana to denote his “death.” And, just after the statement that he died, it places in the mouth of the venerable Anuruddha a gatha, of which the last fine runs:— Pajjotasszeva nibbanam vimokho chetaso ahu; “just like the extinction of a lamp, there was a deliverance (of him) from consciousness, conscious existence.” The text thus establishes nibbuta (Sanskrit, nirvrita) as the exact equivalent of parinibbuta (Skt., parinirvrita) in the sense of ‘dead.’ And it establishes nibbana (Skt., nirvana), and any such Sanskrit terms as vimoktha, moksha, mukti, etc., as the exact equivalent of parinibbana (Skt., parinirvana) in the sense of ‘ death.’ I mention this because a view has been expressed that, in addition to a reckoning running from the parinirvana, the death, of Buddha, there was also a reckoning running from his nirvana as denoting some other occurrence in his career.] at the good old age of fourscore years,1 [For this detail, see text, 73/100; trans., 37. And compare text, 249/151; trans., 108; where we are told that, seeking after merit, at the age of twenty-nine he went forth as a wandering ascetic, and that he wandered:— vassani pannasa samadhikani; “for fifty years and somewhat more.” With this last expression, compare the same phrase, but in another connexion, in the Jataka, ed. Fausboll, 2. 383. There, the commentary (after perhaps suggesting, according to one manuscript, sama, for sama, + adhikani) distinctly explains the expression by atireka-pannasa-vassani. From that we can see that samadhika, in both places, is not sama + adhika, ‘increased by a year,’— (giving “fifty years and one year more”),— but is samadhika, ‘possessed of something more,’ with the short a of the antepenultimate syllable lengthened for the sake of the metre. And, in fact, in the passage in the Jataka we have the various reading samadhikani. The long life thus attributed to Buddha is somewhat remarkable in the case of a Hindu. But, if it were an imaginative detail, the figure would almost certainly have been fixed at eighty-four or eighty-two, on the analogy of something referred to further on, under the Divyavadana. The actual cause of the death of Buddha was, coupled with extreme old age, an attack of dysentery induced by a meal of sukara-maddava (text, 231/127). This has been rendered by “dried boar’s flesh” (trans., 71), and elsewhere, not very kindly, by “pork.” Having regard to mridu, ‘soft, delicate, tender,’ as the origin of mardava, maddava, I would suggest “the succulent parts, titbits, of a young wild boar.”] at Kusinara, the city of a branch of a tribe known as the Mallas. And we may note that, though Kusinara is several times mentioned in the Sutta as a nagara, ‘a city,’ still it is distinctly marked as quite a small place. We are expressly told (text, 245/146; trans., 99) that it was not a mahanagara, a great city, like Champa, Rajagaha, Savatthi, Saketa, Kosambi, and Baranasi, full of warriors and Brahmans and householders all devoted to Buddha, but was merely:—kudda-nagaraka, ujjangala- nagaraka, sakha-nagaraka; “a little town of plaster walls, a little town in a clearing of the jungle, a mere branch town;” and that Buddha accepted it for the closing scene of his life because of its pristine greatness, under the name Kusavati, as the royal city of the righteous monarch Maha-Sudassana.

At this little place, then, Buddha died. And he breathed his last breath, in the last watch of the night, on a couch, with its head laid to the north, between a twin pair of Sala-trees which were masses of fruiting flowers from blossoms out of season,1 [The words (text, 239/137) are:— Tena kho pana samayena yamaka-sala sabba-phaliphulla honti akala-pupphehi. The month is not specified. And there were two views on this point. Buddhaghosha says, in the introduction to his Samantapasadika (Vinayapitaka, ed. Oldenberg, 3. 283), that Buddha became parinibbuta, i.e. died, on the full-moon day of the month Visakha, = Vaisakha. Hiuen Tsiang has said (Julien, Memoires, 1. 334; Beal, Records, 2. 33; Watters, On Yuan Chwang, 2. 28) that, according to the ancient historical documents, Buddha entered into nirvana, at the age of eighty, on the fifteenth day of the second half— [meaning apparently the full-moon day]— of the month Vaisakha, but that, according to the school of the Sarvastivadins, he entered into nirvana on the eighth day of the second half of Karttika. We need not speculate about the rival claims. But the following remarks may be made. From Roxburgh’s Plants of the Coast of Coromandel (1819), 3. 9, and plate 212, and Drury’s Useful Plants of India (1858), 405, I gather the following information about the Sala-tree. It has two botanical names, Vatica robusta and Shorea robusta; the latter having been given to it by Roxburgh in honour of Sir John Shore, Bart. (Lord Teignmouth), who was Governor-General of India, 1793-98. It is a native of the southern skirts of the Himalayas, and is a timber-tree which is second in value to only the teak. It grows with a straight majestic trunk, of great thickness, to a height of from 100 to 150 feet, and gives beams which are sometimes 2 feet square and 30 feet or more in length. And it yields also large quantities of resin, the best pieces of which are frequently used, instead of the common incense, in Indian temples. It flowers in the hot season (Roxburgh), in March-April (Drury), with numerous five-petalled pale yellow flowers about three-quarters of an inch in breadth. And the seed, which has a very strong but brief vitality, ripens (by the maturing of the fruit) about three months after the opening of the blossoms. The flowers, of course, begin to fall when the fruit is becoming set. Roxburgh’s plate exhibits well both the flowers and the fruit. Now, it is somewhat difficult to compare the Indian months, whether solar or lunar, with the English months; because (1), owing to the precession of the equinoxes being not taken into consideration in determining the calendar, the Indian months are always travelling slowly forward through the tropical year; and (2), owing to the system of intercalary months, the initial days of the Indian lunar months are always receding by about eleven days for one or two years, and then leaping forwards by about nineteen days. But, in the present time, the full-moon of Vaisakha falls on any day ranging from about 27 April to 25 May, new style. In the time of Buddhaghosha, it ranged from about 2 to 30 April, old style. At the time of the death of Buddha, it ranged from about 25 March to 22 April, old style. The specified day in the month Karttika comes, of course, close upon six months later. The tradition about the month Vaisakha in connexion with the death of Buddha may thus be based on some exceptionally early season, when the Sala-trees had burst into blossom an appreciable time before the commencement of the hot weather. On the other hand, it might quite possibly be founded on only some poetical description of the death of Buddha, containing a play on the word visakha in the two senses of ‘branched, forked,’ and of ‘branchless’ in the way of all the branches being hidden by masses of flowers.] — (the text goes on to emphasize the condition of the flowers by saying that they were constantly dropping off and falling onto the body of Buddha),— in the Sala-grove of the Mallas which was an upavattana, an adjacent part (outskirt or suburb), of the city, on the bank of the Hirannavati, on the further side from the town Pava.  

The venerable Ananda having notified the occurrence,, early in the day, to the Mallas of Kusinara (text, 253/158; trans., 121), the Mallas bade their servants collect perfumes and garlands and all the cymbals and similar musical instruments in Kusinara. And, taking with them those appliances and five hundred pairs of woven cloths (dussa), they repaired to the place where the corpse (sariram) of Buddha lay. They spent the whole of that day in doing homage to the corpse with dancing and songs and music, and with garlands and perfumes, and in making canopies of their garments (chela), and in fashioning wreaths. And then, finding it too late to cremate the corpse, they determined to perform the cremation on the following day. In the same way, however, there passed away the second day, and the third, the fourth, the fifth, and even the sixth.1 [Here the question arises: how was the corpse of Buddha preserved from hopeless decomposition during the time that elapsed? I would suggest that the mention of the perfumes and the woven cloths (dussa, — Skt. dursa) may indicate that recourse was had to some process of embalming and swathing. And, in fact, (see trans., introd., 39 f.), Robert Knox, in his Historical Relation of Ceylon, part 3, chapter 11, in describing the arrangements for cremation, has expressly mentioned disembowelling and embalming in cases where the corpse of a person of quality is not cremated speedily.]

On the seventh day (text, 254/159; trans., 123), the Mallas proposed to carry the corpse by the south and outside the city to a spot outside the city on the south, and to cremate it there. And eight of their chief men, having washed their heads and clad themselves in new clothes (ahata vattha), prepared to lift the corpse. But they could not raise it; for, as the venerable Anuruddha explained, such was not the purpose of the gods.

Accordingly (text, 255/160; trans., 124),— the intention of the gods having been fully made known to them,— still doing homage to the corpse with their own mortal dancing and songs and music and with garlands and perfumes, together with an accompaniment of divine dancing and songs and music and garlands and perfumes from the gods, they carried the corpse by the north to the north of the city. Then, entering by the northern gate, they carried it through the midst of the city into the midst thereof.1 [A very special honour was conferred on the corpse of Buddha by this treatment; for (as the translator has indicated, 125, note), to carry into the city, in any ordinary case, the corpse of a person who had died outside it, would have polluted the city. In a similar manner, the corpse of Mahinda was carried into the city Anuradhapura by the eastern gate, and through the midst of the city, and then out again on the south; see Dipavamsa, 17. 102, 103.] And then, going out by the eastern gate, they carried it to the shrine known as the Makutabandhanachetiya or coronation-temple2 [See note on page 160 above.] of the Mallas, which was on the east of the city. And there they laid it down.

There, under the directions of the venerable Ananda (text, 255/161; trans., 125),3 [He was, in fact, repeating instructions which had been given to him by Buddha; see text, 242/141; trans., 92.] the corpse was prepared for cremation, in all respects just as if it had been the corpse of a Chakkavatti or universal monarch. It was wrapped in a new cloth (ahata vattha), and then in flocks of cotton (kappasa), alternately, until there were five hundred layers of each. It was then placed in an iron-coloured oil-trough, which was covered by another iron-coloured trough.4 [The text here is:— ayasaya tela-doniya pakkhipitva annissa ayasaya doniya patikujjitva. For following the translator in rendering the apparently somewhat rare word patikujjetva, patikujjitva — (it is not given in Childers’ Pali Dictionary; but the translator has given us, p. 93, note 1, two other references for it, in the Jataka, 1. 50, 69)—by “having covered,’’ I find another authority in the Theragatha, verse 681:—“A puffed up, flighty friar, resorting to evil friends, sinks down with them in a great torrent,— ummiya patikujjito, covered, turned over, overwhelmed, by a wave.” And it appears that we have in Sanskrit nikubjana in the sense of ‘upsetting, turning over.’ So also Childers has given us, in Pali, nikujjita, with the variant nikkujjita, in the sense of ‘overturned, upside down,’ and nikhijjana, ‘reversal, upsetting.’ As regards the word ayasa, I suppose that it does represent the Sanskrit ayasa, from ayas, 'iron;’ in fact, it is difficult to see how it can be anything else. As to its meaning, Buddhaghosha’s assertion (see trans., 92, note 4) that ayasa (as he has it) was here used in the sense of ‘gold, golden,’ can hardly be accepted; but his comment is of use in indicating that he was not quite satisfied that the troughs were made of iron: he may have thought that, whereas iron troughs could not be burnt up or even melted, golden troughs might at least be melted. In following the understanding, when I previously had this passage under observation (note on page 160 above), that the troughs were made of iron, I felt the following difficulty:— The two iron troughs themselves cannot have been consumed; and how could any fire from the outside reach what was inside them?: and, even if the contents of the lower trough were set on fire before the covering trough was placed over it, still, how could they continue to burn without free access of air? But I did not then see any way out of the difficulty. It has been since then suggested to me that perhaps the troughs were made red-hot, and the corpse of Buddha was baked, not burnt; but there could hardly be accomplished in that way the complete destruction of everything except the bones. If, however, it was really intended to mark the troughs as made of iron, why were two separate words used— (at any rate where doni is not in composition with tela),— instead of the compound ayo-doni, just as we have in Sanskrit ayo-droni, ‘an iron trough’?; in such a trough, we are told (Divyavadana, 377), there was pounded to death, along with her child, a lady of the harem who had given offence to Asoka. Further, ayasa is distinctly used to mean, not ‘made of iron,’ but ‘of the colour of iron,’ in the Mahabharata, 5. 1709; there Sanatsujata tells Dhritarashtra that brahman, the self-existing impersonal spirit, may appear as either white, or red, or black, or iron-coloured (ayasa), or sun-coloured. And Robert Knox (loc. cit.; see note on page 660 above) has mentioned a custom of placing the corpse of a person of quality, for cremation, inside a tree cut down and hollowed out like a hog-trough. In these circumstances, I now take the text as indicating wooden troughs, which, naturally or as the result of being painted, were of the colour of iron; adding that an oil-trough seems to have been used as the lower receptacle because, being saturated with oil, it would be very inflammable. But, to make sure of understanding the whole passage correctly, we require to find a detailed description of the cremation of the corpse of a Chakkavatti.] And it was then placed on a funeral pile (chitaka) made of all sorts of odorous substances.

Four chief men of the Mallas (text, 257/163; trans., 128), who had washed their heads and clothed themselves in new clothes for the purpose, then sought to set the funeral pile on fire. But they could not do so; because, as was explained to them by the venerable Anuruddha, the intention of the gods was otherwise: namely, that the pile should not catch fire until homage should have been done at the feet of Buddha by the venerable Maha-Kassapa, who, travelling at that time from Pava to Kusinara with a great company of five hundred Bhikkhus, friars, had heard on the way, from an Ajivaka,1 [A non-Buddhist religious mendicant; probably a worshipper of Vishnu (see, e.g., IA, 20. 361 f.).] the news of the death of Buddha, and was pushing on to Kusinara. In due course, Maha-Kassapa and the five hundred Bhikkhus arrived. And, when they had done homage at the feet of Buddha, the funeral pile caught fire of its own accord.

The corpse (sariram) of Buddha was then (text, 258/164; trans., 130) so thoroughly consumed, and, with it, every two cloths of the five hundred pairs of woven cloths (dussa) in which it had been swathed, that, just as when ghee1 [The word is sappi, ‘ghee, clarified butter;’ not anything meaning ‘glue’’ as might be thought from the translation.] or oil is burnt, neither ashes nor soot could be detected, either of the cuticle, or of the skin, or of the flesh, or of the sinews, or of the lubricating fluid of the joints; only the bones (sarirani) were left.2 [It may be useful to remark here that the tradition seems to have been as follows:— The following bones remained uninjured; the four canine teeth, the two collar-bones, and the unhisa, ushnisha, an excrescence from the cranium. The other bones were more or less injured by the fire, and were reduced to fragments, of which the smallest were of the size of a mustard-seed, the medium-sized were of the size of half a grain of rice, and the largest were of the size of half a mugga or kidney-bean. I take this from Turnour, JASB, 7, 1838. 1013, note. He apparently took it from Buddhaghosha’s commentary.] Then streams of water fell down from the sky, and extinguished the pyre. So, also, from “the storehouse of waters (beneath the earth)” streams of water arose, and extinguished the pyre. And the Mallas of Kusinara extinguished the pyre with water scented with perfumes of all kinds.3 [To this apparent act of supererogation, attention has been drawn by the translator (130, note). As, however, Buddha had died and was cremated in their village-domain, the Mallas were entitled to take a part in quenching the funeral fire.]

Then, for seven days (text, 258/164; trans., 131), the Mallas of Kusinara guarded the bones, the corporeal relics (sarirani), of Buddha in their santhagara, their townhall, within a cage of spears with a rampart of bows; doing homage to them with dancing and songs and music, and with garlands and perfumes.

Meanwhile, the news had spread abroad. So (text, 258/164; trans., 131), messengers arrived, from various people who claimed shares of the corporeal relics (sarirani), and promised to erect Thupas (Stupas, memorial mounds) and hold feasts in honour of them. Ajatasattu, king of Magadha, the Vedehiputta or son of a lady of the Videha people, sent a messenger, and claimed a share on the ground that both he and Buddha were Khattiyas, members of the warrior and regal caste.4 [Fourteen days elapsed, and apparently no more, from the death of Buddha to the distribution of his relics. The distances over which, during the interval, the news had to travel and the claims to shares of the relics had to be transmitted in return, can hardly be estimated until we can arrive at some definite opinion as to the identification of Kusinara.] Shares were claimed on the same ground, and in the same way, by the Lichchhavis of Vesali, the Bulis of Allakappa, the Koliyas of Ramagama, and the Mallas of Pava. A share was claimed by the Sakyas of Kapilavatthu, on the ground:— Bhagava amhakam natisettho; “the Blessed One was our chief kinsman.” And a share was claimed by a Brahman (not named) of Vethadipa, on the ground that, as a Brahman, he was entitled to receive relics of a Khattiya.

At first (text, 259/166; trans., 133), the Mallas of Kusinara, addressing the messengers company by company and troop by troop,1 [The text before this indicates only one messenger from each claimant. It here says:— Kosinaraka Malla te samghe gane etadzavochum. The translator has said:—“The Mallas of Kusinara spoke to the assembled brethren.” But I do not find any reason for rendering the words te samghe gane by “the assembled brethren.” We need not exactly go as far as Buddhaghosha does, in asserting that each claimant took the precaution, in case of a refusal, of following his messenger in person, with an army. We may, however, surmise that each messenger was, not merely a runner bearing a verbal demand or a letter, but a duly accredited envoy, of some rank, provided with an armed escort. ] refused to part with any of the relics; because Buddha had died in their gama-kkhetta, their village-domain. It was pointed out to them, however, by a Brahman named Dona, who addressed the parties company by company and troop by troop, that it was not seemly that any strife should arise over the relics, and that it was desirable that there should be Thupas far and wide, in order that many people might become believers. So, with their consent, thus obtained, he divided the corporeal relics (sarirani) into eight equal shares, fairly apportioned, and distributed them to the claimants. And he himself received the kumbha, the earthen jar in which the bones had been collected after the cremation.2 [See note on page 160 above. One of the manuscripts used for the text in the Digha-Nikaya gives, instead of kumbha, both here and twice below, tumbha. This latter word is explained in Childers’ Pali Dictionary as meaning ‘ sort of water vessel with a spout.’] And to the Moriyas of Pipphalivana,— who, also, had claimed a share on the ground that, like Buddha, they were Khattiyas, but whose messenger had arrived too late, after the division of the relics,— there were given the extinguished embers (angara) of the fire.

Thus, then (text, 260/166; trans., 134), Ajatasattu, king of Magadha, made a Thupa over corporeal relics (sarirani) of Buddha, and held a feast, at Rajagaha. So did the Lichchhavis of Vesali, at Vesali. So did the Sakyas of Kapilavatthu, at Kapilavatthu. And so did the Bulis of Allakappa, at or in1 [Here, and in two other cases, I have not been able to determine whether mention is made of a place or of a territory. ] Allakappa; the Kdoiyas of Ramagama, at Ramagama; the Brahman of Vethadipa, at or in Vethadipa; the Mallas of Pava, at Pava;2 [Both here, and in the passage about the messengers, the Mallas of Pava stand last among the seven outside claimants who obtained shares of the corporeal relics. Of course, someone or other was bound to be mentioned last. But Buddhaghosha, taking things very literally, has made a comment to the following purport:—Considering that Pava was only three gavutas from Kusinara, and that Buddha had halted there on his way to Kusinara, how was it that the Mallas of Pava did not arrive first of all? Because they were princes who went about with a great retinue, and the assembling of their retinue delayed them. He has apparently not offered any explanation of a really practical point; namely, why the messenger of the Moriyas of Pipphalivana did not arrive in time to obtain a share of the corporeal relics for them.] and the Mallas of Kusinara, at Kusinara. And, at some unspecified place, the Brahman Dona made a Thupa over the kumbha, the earthen jar in which the bones had been collected after the cremation, and held a feast. And the Moriyas of Pipphalivana made a Thupa over the embers, and held a feast, at or in Pipphalivana.

Thus there were eight Thupas for the corporeal relics (attha sarira-thupa), and a ninth for the kumbha, the earthen jar, and a tenth for the embers. “That is how it happened in former times!”3 [Buddhaghosha says, in his commentary, that this sentence:—evam etani bhuta-pubbam, was established by those people who made the third Samgiti (who held the third “Council”). Of course, from his point of view, which was that the Sutta was written at the time of the events narrated in it. But the sentence is, in reality, the natural, artistic complement of the opening words of the Sutta:— Evam me sutam; “thus have I heard!”]

Some verses standing at the end of the Sutta (text, 260/167; trans., 135) assert that the body (sariram) of Buddha measured (in relics) eight measures of the kind called dona;1[The word dona, drona, has sometimes been translated by ‘bushel.’ But, even if there is an approximation between the two measures, there are difficulties in the way of employing European words as exact equivalents of Indian technical terms; see, for instance, a note on the rendering of one of Hiuen Tsiang’s statements further on.] and they say that, of these, seven donas receive honour in Jambudipa, India, and one from the kings of the Nagas, the serpent-demons, at Ramagama.2 [This statement seems calculated to locate Ramagama outside the limits of Jambudipa; unless we may place it, with the usual abodes of the Nagas, below the earth. ] They further say that one tooth is worshipped in heaven, and one is honoured in the town of Gandhara, and one in the dominions of the king of Kalinga, and one by the Naga kings.3 [For a statement of belief, apparently not very early, regarding the localities of deposit of various personal relics of Buddha, see the Buddhavamsa, ed. Morris, section 28. According to that work, the alms-bowl, staff, and robe of Buddha were at Vajira. And in this place we recognize the origin of the name of the Vajiriya, the members of one of the schismatic Buddhist schools which arose after the second century after the death of Buddha; see the Mahavamsa, Turnour, p. 21, as corrected by Wijesinha, p. 15. Amongst the Jains, there was a sect the name of which we have, in epigraphic records, in the Prakrit or mixed-dialect forms of Vaira Sakha (EI, 1. 385, No. 7; 392, No. 22; 2. 204, No. 20; 321); Vera or Vaira Sakha (EI, 2. 203, No. 18); Vairi Sakha (VOR, l. 174); Arya-Veri Sakha (EI, 2. 202, No. 15); and the Sakha of the Arya-Veriyas (EI, 1. 386, No. 8): and, in literature, in the Prakrit forms of Vairi or Vayari, and Ajja-Vaira Sakha (Kalpasutra, ed. Jacobi, 82), with the concomitant mention, evidently as the alleged founder of it, of a teacher named Ajja-Vaira, Vayara, or Vera (id., 78, 82). May we not find the origin of the name of this sect in the same place-name, rather than in a teacher Vajra, in connexion with whom the sect is mentioned, by a Sanskrit name, as the Vajra-Sakha (EI, 2. 51, verse 5)? ]

Buddhaghosha says, in his commentary, that these verses were uttered by Theras, Elders, of the island Tambapanni, Ceylon.4 [According to his text, as I have it, he does not say that they were “added by Theras in Ceylon” (trans., 135, note).] And they seem to have been framed after the time when there had been devised the story (which we shall meet with further on, first under the Dipavamsa) to the effect that the god Indra, while retaining the right tooth of Buddha, gave up the right collar-bone to be enshrined in Ceylon. Otherwise, surely, the verses would have mentioned the right collar-bone, also, as being worshipped in heaven? On the other hand, they must have been framed before the time when the tooth-relic was transferred from Kalinga to Ceylon; that was done, according to the Mahavamsa (Turnour, 241; Wijesinha, 154), in the ninth year of king Siri-Meghavanna of Ceylon.

They are, however, useful in helping to explain an expression, drona-stupa, a Stupa containing a drona of relics, which is applied, in the story which we shall take from the Divyavadana, to the Stupa of Ajatasatru at Rajagriha. As has been remarked long ago, the idea that each of the eight original Stupas contained a dona, a drona, of relics, of course had its origin in a dim reminiscence of the part played by the Brahman Dona, Drona; to whom, by the way, some of the later traditions, reported by Buddhaghosha and Hiuen Tsiang, impute disreputable behaviour, with a view to securing some of the corporeal relics, in addition to the kumbha.


Some remarks must be made here regarding the probable date and the value of the preceding narrative.

Reasons have been advanced by the translator of the Mahaparinibanna-Sutta for holding (trans., introd., 13) that the work cannot well have been composed very much later than the fourth century B.C. And , in the other direction, he has claimed (this Journal, 1901. 397) that substantially, as to not only ideas but also words, it can be dated approximately in the fifth century. That would tend to place the composition of its narrative within eight decades after the death of Buddha, for which event B.C. 482 seems to me the most probable and satisfactory date that we are likely to obtain. In view, however, of a certain prophecy which is placed by the Sutta in the mouth of Buddha, it does not appear likely that the work can be referred to quite so early a time as that.

In the course of his last journey, Buddha came to the village Pataligama (text, 60/84; trans., 15). At that time, we know from the commencement of the work, there was war, or a prospect of war, between Ajatasatta, king of Magadha, and the Vajji people. And, when Buddha was on this occasion at Pataligama, Sunidha and Vassakara, the Mahamattas or high ministers for Magadha, were laying out a regular city (nagara) at Pataligama, in order to ward off the Vajjis [NO CITATION!] (text, 62/86; trans., 18.)1 [Compare the story about the founding of Rajagriha which we shall meet with further on, under Hiuen Tsiang.] The place was haunted by many thousands of “fairies” (devata), who inhabited the plots of ground there. And it was by that spiritual influence that Sunidha and Vassakara had been led to select the site for the foundation of a city; the text says (trans., 18): “Wherever ground is so occupied by powerful fairies, they bend the hearts of the most powerful kings and ministers to build dwelling-places there, and fairies of middling and inferior power bend in a similar way the hearts of middling or inferior kings and ministers.” Buddha with his supernatural clear sight beheld the fairies. And, remarking to his companion, the venerable Ananda, that Sunidha and Vassakara were acting just as if they had taken counsel with the Tavatimsa “angels” (deva), he said (text, 63/87; trans., 18): -- “Inasmuch, O Ananda!, as it is an honourable place as well as a resort of merchants, this shall become a leading city (agga-nagara), Pataliputta (by name), a (?) great trading centre (putabhedana); but, O Ananda!, (one of) three dangers will befall Pataliputta, either from fire, or from water, or from dissension.” 2 [From the use of the particle va, ‘or,’ three times, the meaning seems clearly to be that only one of the three dangers should actually happen to the city. For the danger from fire, compare the story about Girivraja, under Hiuen Tsiang.]

Unless this passage is an interpolation, which does not seem probable, the work cannot have been composed until after the prophecy had been so far fulfilled that the village Pataligrama had become the leading city, the capital Pataliputra.

Now, Hiuen Tsiang, in the account given by him under Rajagriha, has reported that a king Asoka, who, so far, might or might not be the promulgator of the well-known edicts, transferred his court to Pataliputra from Rajagriha; that is, that he, for the first time, made Pataliputra the capital. And, from the way in which mention is made of Pataliputta in the Girnar version of the fifth rock-edict (EI, 2. 453, line 7), we know that Pataliputra was certainly the capital of the promulgator of the edicts, Asoka the Maurya, who was anointed to the sovereignty in B.C. 264, when 218 years had elapsed after the death of Buddha.

But we know from Megasthenes, through Strabo.1 [See McCrindle in IA, 6.131, and Ancient India, 12 i.] that Pataliputra was the capital of also Chandragupta, the grandfather of the Asoka who promulgated the edicts. In his account of Pataliputra itself, Hiuen Tsiang has said, more specifically,2 [Julien, Memoires, 1. 414; Beal, Records, 2. 85; Watters, On Yuan Chwang, 2. 88. As a matter of fact, not even Kalasoka the Saisunaga was a great-grandson of Bimbisara. But this point is not a material one. Except perhaps in the passage mentioned just above, from the account given by Hiuen Tsiang under Rajagriha, where Julien has left the point undertermined, and except in the present passage, Hiuen Tsiang has, in the passages which I am using on this occasion, denoted his Asoka by the Chinese translation of the name, meaning (like the Indian name itself) ‘sorrowless,’ which has been transcribed by Julien as Wou-yeou, by Beal as Wu-yau, and by Watters as A-yu. It was A-yu who visited Ramagrama, and who opened the Stupas at Vaisali and Rajagriha and that in the Chan-chu kingdom over the earthen jar. Here, however, Hiuen Tsiang has denoted his Asoka by the Chinese transliteration of the name, which has been transcribed by Julien as ‘O-chou-kia, by Beal as ‘O-shu-kia, and by Watters as A-shu-ka. This detail is noteworthy: because Hiuen Tsiang has said in the immediately preceding sentence that it was A-yu who made the “hell” at Pataliputra; and, even closelyi after introducing the name A-shu-ka here, he has reverted to the other, and has said again that A-yu made the “hell” (Julien, ibid.) and that A-yu destroyed it (418), and also that it was A-yu who built one, or the first, of the 84,000 Stupas (417 f.). For reasons, however, which may be stated on another occasion, it cannot be said for certain from this passage that the king Asoka who made Pataliputra the capital was, at that place, expressly identified to Hiuen Tsiang as being not the Asoka who made the hell, opened the original Stupas, built 84,000 other ones, etc.] that in the first century, or in the year 100, after the death of Buddha, there was a king Asoka (A-shu-ka), a great-grandson of Bimbisara; and that he left Rajagriha, and transferred his court to Patali(putra), and caused a second wall to be made round the ancient town. And the Dipavamsa, in its first reference to Pataliputta, mentions it (5.26) as the capital of that Asoka, Kalasoka, son of Susunaga, who began to reign ninety years after the death of Buddha; mentioning, on the other hand, (3.52) Rajagaha (but ? rather Giribbaja) as the capital of Bodhisa (for Bhatiya) the father of Bimbisara.

Tradition thus seems to indicate, plainly enough, that it was by Kalasoka, who reigned for twenty-eight years,1 [So Buddhaghosha, in the introduction to his Samantapasadika; see the Vinayupitaka, ed. Oldenberg, 3. 321. So also the Mahavamsa, 15, line 7. Buddhaghosha has mentioned him as simply Asoka in that place, but as Kalasoka in passages on pages 293, 320.] B.C. 392-365, that Pataliputra was made the capital, and to make it practically certain that the Mahaparinibbana-Sutta cannot have been composed before about B.C. 375.

The Sutta may really have been written then. Or it may be of later origin; how much so, we cannot at present say.2 [The following suggests itself as a point that should be considered in any full inquiry. Does the appellation of the work really mean, as has been understood, “the book of the great decease”? If so, when did the terms mahabhinikkhamana, ‘the great going forth from worldly life,’ and mahaparinibbana, ‘the great decease,’ applied to those events in the case of Buddha as against nikkhamana and parinibbana in the case of ordinary people, first become established? Or does the appellation indicate only “the great(er) book of the decease,” as contrasted with some earlier and smaller work of the same kind?] But it is certainly a very ancient work. The narrative presented all through it is so simple and dignified, and for the most part so free from miraculous interventions – (these occur chiefly, and not unnaturally so, in connexion with the death and cremation of Buddha) – and from extravagances of myth and absurdities of doctrine and practice, that it commands respect and belief. And so, in spite of the way in which (we know) history in India was liable to be somewhat quickly overlaid with imaginative and mythical details, I see no reason for regarding as otherwise than authentic the main facts asserted in the Sutta, including those attending the original disposal of the corporeal relics of Buddha.

It follows that we may at least believe that, over the eight portions of the corporeal relics of Buddha, Stupas were erected—

(1) At Rajagriha, by Ajatasatru king of Magadha.

(2) At Vaisali, by the Lichchhavis.

(3) At Kapilavastu, by the Sakyas.

(4) At or in Allakappa, by the Buli people.

(5) At Ramagrama, by the Koliyas.

(6) At or in Vethadipa, by an unnamed Brahman of that place or territory.

(7) At Pava, by a branch of the Mallas.

(8) At Kusinagara, by another branch of the Mallas.

Further, there were erected Stupas—

(9) At some unstated place, by the Brahman Drona, over the kumbha, the earthen jar in which the bones of Buddha had been collected.

(10) At Pippalivana, by the Mauryas, over the extinguished embers of the funeral pile.  
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Part 1 of 2

Megasthenes and the Indian Chronology As Based on the Puranas
by K.D. Sethna
Purana VIII
Bulletin of the Purana Department
Ministry of Education
Government of India

One last point in connection with the puranic king lists ought to be mentioned here. Arrian's Indike (9.9), quoting Megasthenes, states that "from Dionysus to Sandracottus the Indians counted a hundred and fifty-three kings, over six thousand and forty-three years."41 [41 Loeb, tr., E. Iliff Robson, p. 333.] Similarly, in Pliny's Natural History (6.59): "From the time of Father Liber to Alexander the Great 153 kings are counted in a period of 6451 years and three months."42 [42 Loeb, tr. H. Rackem, p. 383.] Classical scholars have wondered about these figures, not to mention the intriguing discrepancy.43 [43 E.g., Pierre CHANTRAINE: Arrien. L'Inde, Paris: Belles Lettres, 21952, p. 35. For a different type of speculation, identifying Sandracottus with Candragupta I Gupta -- rather than Maurya -- who would have been enthroned in 325 or 324 B.C., and on the Indian identity of Father Bacchus, the kind of chronology handed Megasthenes; etc., see K.D. SETHNA: Megasthenes and the Indian Chronology as Based on the puranas, Pur 8, 1966, 9-37, 276-294; 9, 1967, 121-129; 10, 1968, 35-53, 124-147.] More important is the fact that, at least from Megasthenes' time onward, Indians had puranic lists of kings, some of which came to the notice of the foreign visitor.44 [44 Cf. L. ROCHER: The Greek and Latin Data about India. Some Fundamental Considerations, Zakir Husain vol. (1968), 34. Also KANE 1962: 849.]

-- Frederick Eden Pargiter: Excerpt from The Puranas, by Ludo Rocher

Megasthenes was the Greek ambassador sent by Seleucus Nicator in c. 302 B.C. to the court of the Indian king whom the Greeks called Sandrocottus and whose capital they designated as Palibothra in the country of the Prasii. Scholars have identified the Prasii as the Prachya (Easterners) and Palibothra as Pataliputra and seen the eastern kingdom of Magadha, whose capital was Pataliputra, in the Greek references to the Prasii. The name "Sandrocottus" has been equated with "Chandragupta" and the king who received Megasthenes is said to have been Chandragupta Maurya who, like Sandrocottus, was the founder of a dynasty in Magadha.  

The Question of the Two Chandraguptas

The founder of the Mauryas, however, is not the only Chandragupta known to history as a Magadhan emperor and the founder of a dynasty. There is also the first of the Imperial Guptas, Chandragupta I. Modern historians date him to 320 A.D. and set forth many reasons for the identification of Sandrocottns with Chandragupta Maurya. These are claimed to be supported most convincingly by several lines of evidence converging to date Chandragupta Maurya's grandson Asoka to the middle of the 3rd century B.C. But the ancient chronology of India herself, based on the dynastic sections of the Puranas and other indigenous testimonies and traditions, runs counter to this historical vision.

The Puranic account starts with the date 3102 B.C. which it calls the beginning of the Kaliyuga and goes back by 36 years to 3138 B.C. for the Bharata War between the Kuru and the Pandavas as well as for the birth of Parikshit, the grand-nephew of Yudhishthira -- Yudhishthira who ruled at Hastinapura after the Pandava victory in that year down to the Kaliyuga year which was marked by the death of Krishna and the installation by Yadhishthira of Parikshit in his own place so that he and his family might be free to go on a world-pilgrimage. The ancient Indian chronology takes also into account 3177 B.C. This date is connected with what is termed the cycle of Sapta Rishi, the Seven Rishis, the stars of the constellation Great Bear. The Seven Rishis are supposed to make a cycle of 2700 years by a stay of 100 years in each of the 27 Nakshatras or lunar asterisms of the ecliptic. 3177 B.C. marks their entry for a century's stay in the asterism Magha.

The Puranas offer two sets of general calculation. One is concerned with the Sapta Rishi cycle. The Vayu-Purana (99. 423, as well as the Brahmanda Purana,1 [F. I. Pargiter, Purana Texts of the Dynasties of the Kali Age (London, 1913, p. 61, n. 92.] says that the Seven Rishis who were in Magha in the time of Parikshit complete their 24th century in a part of the Andhra (Satavahana) dynasty. This means: when 2400 years had passed after 3177 B.C. the Andhra dynasty had already started. The Brahmanda (III. 74.230) again says that during the same dynasty there is the 27th century and that the asterism Magha, whose guardians are the Pitris (Ancestors), follows once more. A verse of the Matsya Parana1 [ Ibid., p. 59. ] speaks also of the cycle repeating itself after the 27th century and connects the repetition with the same dynasty using an expression which can be translated either as "at the end of the Andhras" or as "in the end..." The second rendering would be consistent with the substance of the Brahmanda verse. And both the verses, putting the completion of the 27th century in the terminal portion of the Andhras, balance those which put the completion of the 24th in the initial portion.

The Andhra line consisted, according to most Puranas, of 30 kings. So the closing part should mean at least one-fourth of the number, the last 7 or 8 kings. We may hold that 2700 passed from 3177 B.C. up to some point in the reign of one of the last 7 Andhras. The total of these reigns in the Puranas is (28 + 7 + 3 + 29 + 6 + 10 + 7 = ) 90 years. Hence the end of the dynasty might be anywhere between (3177-2700 =) 477 B.C. and (477- 90 = ) 387 B.C.

As a complement to the Sapta Rishi computation we get from the Puranas a number of periods termed "intervals", which bring a greater exactness. From the birth of Parikshit to the Coronation of Mahapadma Nanda, founder of the dynasty just preceding the Mauryas, there was an interval which is variously given as 1015, 1050, and 1500 years. From this coronation to the beginning of the Andhras there was an interval of 836 years. Since 1500 years -- as Anand Swarup Gupta2 ["The Problem of Interpretation of the Puranas", Purana, Vol. VI, No. I. January, 1964, pp. 67-68. ] has recently reminded us tally with the total of the reign-lengths which most Puranas ascribe to the dynasties of Magadha from the Bharata War to Mahapadma's coronation,3 [Ibid., p. 68: Barhadrathas, 1000 years; Pradyotas, 138; Sisunagas, 362.] we may use it to reach the date of the rise of the Nandas. We get (3138-1500 = ) 1638 B.C. Then we reach the start of the Andhras in (1638-836 =) 802 B.C. The Puranas, as D.C. Sircar1 [The Satavahanas and the Chedis, The Age of Imperial Unity, edited by R. C. Majumdar and A.D. Pusalker (Bombay, 1951), p. 196, fn. 1 continued from p. 195. ] notes, record for the full run of the Andhras several numbers: 300, 411, 412, 456, 460 years. Out of these, 411 and 412 bring us from 802 B.C. to 391 and 390 B.C. respectively -- both the dates falling within the range 477- 387 B.C. obtained from the Sapta Rishi computation.

The next great dynasty after the Andhras is the Imperial Guptas. The Puranas mention the Guptas in general and connect a group of territories with them, which by being referred to no one particular Gupta would seem to be the persistent core, the stable heartland, of the expanding or contracting Gupta empire. But the Puranas supply no chronological matter about the Guptas, except that some lapse of time between them and the Andhras is suggested. Hence the Imperial Guptas, according to the Puranas, must come somewhere in the rest of the 4th century B.C. With a Chandragupta of Pataliputra at their head and a Sandrocottus becoming king of Palibothra in c. 325 or 324 B.C. by modern calculations, it is evident that Puranically Sandrocottus must be Chandragupta I of the Imperial Guptas and not Chandragupta Maurya.

Whatever we may say, by way of criticism, about the Kaliyuga's commencement in 3102 B.C. or the Bharata War's occurrence in 3138 B.C. or the coronation of Mahapadma Nanda in 1638 B.C. or even the start of the Andhras in 802 B.C., we cannot help being struck with the precision with which this chronology s ynchronises Chandragupta I with Sandrocottus.

Such a situation raises the question: "Which of the Chandraguptas was Sandrocottus at whose court Megasthenes lived?" And it is indeed very pertinent to ask: "Does Megasthenes offer any chronological clue to solve it?"

The Chronological Clue from Megasthenes

We have three versions of a statement by Megasthenes, which can bear upon our problem. J. McCrindle has translated all of them.1 [The Classical Accounts of India, edited with an Introduction, Notes and Comments by R. C. Majumdar (Calcutta, 1960),- pp. 840, 457, 223. ]

Pliny (VI. xxl. 4-5) reports about the Indians: "From the days of Father Bacchus to Alexander the Great, their kings are reckoned at 154, whose reigns extend over 6451 years and 3 months."

Solinus (52.5) says: "Father Bacchus was the first who invaded India, and was the first of all who triumphed, over the vanquished Indians. From him to Alexander the Great 6451 years are reckoned with 3 months additional, the calculation being made by counting the kings, who reigned in the intermediate period, to the number of 153."

Arrian (Indica, I. ix) observes: "From the time of Dionysus to Sandrocottus the Indians counted 153 kings and a period of 6042 years, but among these a republic was thrice established... and another to 300 years, and another to 120 years. The Indians also tell us, that Dionysus was earlier than Heracles by fifteen generations, and that except him no one made a hostile invasion of India.... but that Alexander indeed came and overthrew in war all whom he attacked..."

It would be worth while discussing the three versions in every detail and arriving at what must have been the full original pronouncement of Megasthenes which has thus got transmitted with some confusions and inconsistencies and one lacuna. But for our immediate purpose it will suffice to make a few clarifying observations and then inquire: "What historical or legendary figure mentioned by the Indians became identified with Dionysus (Bacchus) in the Greek mind to serve as the starting-point of Indian chronology and of the line of Indian kings?

First, we may note from the more expansive versions of Solinus and Arrian that Dionysus and Alexander are terms of comparison in respect of the invaders of India -- especially the Greek ones. Dionysus is declared to be the first who invaded India, Alexander the only other person to do so. The most appropriate way to connect them is by calculating the time that elapsed between them. Solinus gives us just this time-connection, To connect the two invaders by a number of kings, as does Pliny is controversial; for, it brings up at once the issue: "Does the number refer to the whole of ancient India?" 153 or 154 kings are far too few for the whole, in which there were a host of practically independent kingdoms, each with its own genealogy of rulers. The number must be in reference to merely one particular kingdom which was associated with Alexander and with which Dionysus may have been associated either directly or through some scion of his. But can we associate any such kingdom with Alexander? He subjugated several states, but he was not specifically a king of this or that state. So his name at one end of a king-series is an anomaly.

Quite the reverse is the case with Sandrocottus whose name in Arrians' king-series replaces Pliny's "Alexander". Sandrocottus, though emperor of many peoples, is specifically known as the King of the Prasii -- the Prasii whom Pliny elsewhere (VI.22) describes as the greatest nation in India. We can easily conceive him as the tail-end of a line which goes back through various dynasties of kings of Palibothra to a hoary past along one branch among many leading to a common ancestor.

This conception seems natural when we realise that the small king-number was mentioned to Megasthenes at Palibothra itself, where he was stationed as ambassador. And what endows this conception with inevitability is the importance which Indian chronologists and historians have given to Magadha whose capital was Palibothra: the kings of Magadha after the Bharata War are the principal theme of the Puranic lists of dynasties, Sandrocottus and not Alexander was certainly the terminus intended by Megasthenes to the king-series the Indians mentioned to him.

But this series, although not related to Alexander, can well serve to describe from the Magadhan point of view the time-span from Dionysus to Alexander. And that is exactly how Solinus uses it, even if without the implication of Magadha such as Arrian has. Arrian too is justified in using it to describe the time-span from Dionysus to Sandrocottus. For, the two time-spans could not be much different. Alexander and Sandrocottus were contemporaries, and the gap of over 409 years which is there between the number in Arrian and that in Pliny or Solinus is a gross mistake. Arrian's time-span should really be not so much less nor even the same but a little more. Plutarch1 [Life of Alexander, LXIII. ] as well as Justin2 [Historiarum Philippicarum, XV. 1 v.] record that when Alexander, some time after his invasion, met Sandrocottus, the latter was not yet a king. According to Plutarch, the meeting took place round about the time the Macedonians "most resolutely opposed Alexander when he insisted that they should cross the Ganges". Alexander's progress came to a halt at approximately the end of July 326 B.C.3 [ "Foreign Invasions" by R. K. Mookerji, The Age of Imperial Unity p. 50. ] Thus we are sure that Sandrocottus mounted the throne of Palibothra later than this date. If we accept the more detailed time-span -- 6451 years and 3 months -- conveyed by Pliny and Solinus as our basis and if we try to guess the one in Arrian by introducing the least possible changes in the figures which he supplies, Sandrocottus's coronation must have been not 6042 but 6452 years after what Arrian calls "the time of Dionysus" and Pliny "the days of Father Bacchus".

Here we must consider the import of these two phrases, for they determine how we should count the 153 or 154 kings. Do they direct us to the beginning of Dionysus's kingship in India or to the end of it? In other words, is Dionysus included in the 153 or 154 kings? The phrase "From... to" employed by all the writers is ambiguous, whether we apply it to the "time" and "days" or to the king-number. Luckily we have an unequivocal phrase in Solinus to guide us: "the calculation being made by counting the kings who reigned in the intermediate period..." The reference is to the number of years and months from Dionysus to Alexander and these years and months are brought into relation with the number of kings. About both the time-period and the king-series we get the clear term: "intermediate". The number of kings applies to those who reigned between the days of Dionysus and the days of Alexander: the total of their reigns -- 6451 years and 3 months -- applies also to the period between the reigns of Dionysus and Alexander. After Dionysus ceased reigning and before Alexander started doing so we have the intermediate period. Similarly, the kings who are counted are the ones succeeding Dionysus and preceding Alexander. Indeed, Dionysus, who "was the first of all who triumphed over the vanquished Indians", must be counted as the first king over the Indians. But he is not a part of the 153 or 154 kings. Neither is Sandrocottus. If we count both of them, the king-number will be 155 or 156.

The final point to glance at is: "Which of the two king-numbers is to be accepted?" Since two authors out of three give 153 and since Arrian who correctly refers the king-series to Sandrocottus is one of them, 153 would appear to have more weight. But, when the difference of 154 from it is exceedingly small, perhaps the two serial numbers are there because of a disagreement among computers whether a certain name was to be included or not in the full tally.

In view of all our observations our job is to link Sandrocottus with an intervening chain of 153 or 154 kings to the ancient monarch of India whom the Greeks named Dionysus. By doing it we should be able to decide between Chandragupta Maurya and Chandragupta I for Sandrocottus and between the rise of the Mauryas and the rise of the Imperial Guptas for 325 or 324 B.C. The whole of ancient Indian chronology hinges on our decision apropos of the clue from Megasthenes.

Dionysus in India

Obviously, to come to a decision we must consult the Indian sources on which Megasthenes based himself. Where time-periods or king-lists are concerned, the informants of Megasthenes are very likely to have been Puranic pundits. "In fact," says D. R. Manked1 [Puranic Chronology (Anand, 1951), p. 2. ] rightly, "apart from the Puranas, there is no other source for such information." No doubt, the early Puraras were not quite in the form which we have today of this kind of literature, but there must have been many things in common and we are justified in tracing the extant Puranic documents to versions in fairly ancient times. "The early versions of the Puranas", A.D. Pusalker2 [Studies in the Epics and Puranas (Bhavan's Book University, Bombay, 1955), p. lxvi.] sums up, "existed at the period of the Bharata War and that of Megasthenes." And, like the original work of Megasthenes himself, these versions must have had a consistent tale of historico-chronological indications, which at present we can partly rebuild only by critical collation of the various reports.

Along with the Puranas there were some other traditional accounts -- the Vedas, the Brahmanas and the Epics. These too we must draw upon wherever necessary in our search for Dionysus in India.

Strictly speaking, the religious Indian analogue of Dionysus, god of wine, is Soma. Soma is apostrophised in the Rigveda as lord of the wine of delight (ananda) and immortality (amrita), pouring himself into gods and men, the deity who is also deep-hidden in the growths of the earth, waiting to be released us a rapture-flow for men and gods. In the times after the Rigveda, Soma emerges more specifically as a lunar god no less than as a king of the vegetable world with his being of nectar passing between heaven and earth through ritual and sacrifice. During those times, Soma is also regarded, in the earliest reference to the origin of kingship (Aitareya Brahmana, 1.14), as the god whom the other gods, seeking to fight the Titans (Asuras) effectively, elected as their king after having lived without a king so far. In the Satapatha Brahmana (V. 3. 3. 12; 4. 2. 3; XIII. 6. 2. 18; 7. 1. 13) the Brahmins speak of Soma as their king while common folk acknowledge an earthly monarch. The same book (XI, 4.3.9) applies to Soma the epithet (Raja-pati), "lord of kings." All this goes to suggest that Soma in ancient Indian tradition was the primeval as well as the supreme king from the religious stand-point.

But the true religious analogue of Dionysus need not be exclusively what the Greeks had in view, and we are concerned with the Indian figure whom they in the days of Alexander and Megasthenes identified with their Dionysus for various reasons, among which a strong touch of Soma, even if inevitable, might yet be only one stimulus. Besides, although Megasthenes connects wine with some religious ceremonies in India, there seems to have been in the country then no marked cult of the wine-god. The god mentioned as "Soroadeios" and interpreted to Alexander as "maker of wine" is now recognised to have been "Suryadeva", the sun-god. "Some illiterate interpreter" , E. Bevan1 [ The Cambridge History of India (1923), Vol. I, p . 422. ] explains, "must have been misled by the resemblance of Surya, 'sun', to Sura, 'wine'."

In the absence of a marked cult of Soma, the wide-spread Indian worship, which the Greeks reported, of Dionysus must indicate some other deity tinged with Soma-characteristics. The unanimous vote of scholars, bearing on Strabo's statement (XV, I) from Magasthenes that the Indians who lived on the mountains worshipped Dionysus, whereas the philosophers of the plains worshipped Heracles, is for Shiva, who was worshipped with revelry by certain hill-tribes. The pillar symbol, linga, associated popularly with Shiva as a phallus, making him a fertility god, and the bull which goes with him as his vahana, vehicle -- these two characteristics must have affirmed him still further with Dionysus who "is believed to have been originally a Thracian fertility god worshipped in the form of a bull with orgiastic rites".2 [Smaller Classical Dictionary (Everyman), p. 110, col. 2. ] and whose exoteric symbol, the phallus, was carried about in the rural festivals as well as in the mysteries.3 [The Encyclopaedia Britannica (13th Ed.), Vol. VIII, p. 287, col. 2.]

But surely when the Greeks spoke of royal history running in India from the time of Dionysus to that of Alexander and Sandrocottus, their Dionysus was a fusion of this Shiva with some legendary hero who, unlike Shiva, was celebrated as a primal king and who carried even more than Shiva a Soma-colour in some way affirming him to the wine-aspect of the Hellenic god.

The fusion is to be expected, since he was to the Greeks as much an empire-builder as a god. In the imagination of the Macedonian soldiers he was the subject of Euripides's fable -- a conqueror of the East whom they endowed with a constructive role in the remote past of India. This role bulked large in the thought of Megasthenes and it is well spotlighted by Arrian, (Indian, I, vii) drawing upon the Greek ambassador's book: "Dionysus,... when he came and conquered the people, founded cities and gave laws to these cities and introduced the use of wine among the Indians, as he had done among the Greeks, and taught them to sow the land, himself supplying seeds for the purpose... It is also said that Dionysus first yoked oxen to the plough and made many of the Indians husbandmen instead of nomads, and furnished them with the implements of agriculture; and that the Indians worship the other gods, and Dionysus himself in particular, with cymbals and drums, because he so taught them; and that he also taught them the Satyric dance, or, as the Greeks call it, the Kordax; and that he instructed the Indians to let their hair grow long in honour of the god, and to wear the turban; and that he taught them to anoint themselves with unguents, so that even up to the time of Alexander the Indians marshalled for battle to the sound of cymbals and drums." Then Arrian refers to Dionysus's departure from India after having established the new order of things and having appointed as king of the country one of his companions who was the most conversant with Bacchic matters and who subsequently reigned for 52 years. Among the cities founded by Dionysus, Arrian (Anabasis, V.I; Indica, I. 1) in company with all his fellow-annalists names only Nysa (in the Hindu Rush), so called after either Dionysus's nurse or his native mountain.

Some further points may be cited from Diodorus. Like others he (II. 38) mentions the Indian mountain "Meros" (Meru), at whose foot lay the city of Nysa, as a place where Dionysus bad been, and he links with its name the Greek legend that Dionysus was bred in his father Zeus's thigh (meros in Greek). In a few things Diodorus differs from what most authors have quoted from Megasthenes. After repeating the story of the invasion of India by Dionysus, he (ibid.) mentions Dionysus as not leaving the country after his achievements but as reigning over the whole of India for 52 years and then dying of old age while his sons succeeded to the government and transmitted the sceptre in unbroken succession to their posterity. What is more, Diodorus (III. 63) shows us that the Greeks knew of a counter-legend to the one about the entry of Dionysus into India from the west. And from this counter-legend the starter of the king-series to whom the Indians referred emerges in a clearer shape:

"Now some,... supposing that there were three individuals of this name, who lived in different ages, assign to each appropriate achievements. They say, then, the most ancient of them was Indos, and that as the country, with its genial temperature, produced spontaneously the vine-tree in great abundance, he was the first who crushed grapes and discovered the use of the properties of wine... Diouysus, then, at the head of an army, marched to every part of the world, and taught mankind the planting of the vine, and how to crush grapes in the winepress, whence he was called Lenaios. Having in like manner imparted to all a knowledge of his other inventions, he obtained after his departure from among men immortal honour from those who had benefited by his labours. It is further said that the place is pointed out in India even to this day where the god had been, and that cities are called by his name in the vernacular dialects, and that many other important evidences still exist of his having been born in India..."

There are some more details to the Dionysus-story, but all about him is not of equal importance; and those points in particular which have too clearly a Greek colour cannot be of much help to us. A few points which strike us as rather fanciful may also be passed over.

What we have mainly to match from Indian sources is an ancient human-divine personage who is a great progressive and constructive leader, no less than a conqueror -- one who is organically knit together with the country's traditional history and geography and stands deified in legend at the head of all royal successions in India.

The Three Candidates

Indian tradition shows us three human-divine personages, each of whom in an important sense is a king in the past and acted as a fundamental force of progress.

Legendary India starts with Manu Svayambhuva.1 [The Vedic Age, edited by R. G. Majumdar and A.D. Pusalker (London, 1952), pp. 270-71. ] He is reputed to have subdued all enemies, become the first king of the earth and revived the institutions of the four castes and of marriage, which had been established by his predecessor and progenitor, the deity Brahma.

With a status similar in another epoch is Manu Vaivasvata.2 [Ibid., pp. 271-72. ] He is said to be the originator of the human race and all the dynasties mentioned in the Puranas spring from him. He framed rules and laws of government, and collected a sixth of the produce of the land as a tax to meet administrative expenses. He is also famous for having saved humanity from the deluge which occurred at this time.

As a conqueror, Dionysus may be seen as resembling Svayambhuva. As a law-giver, he may be traced in Vaivasvata. As a primal king, he is more like Vaivasvata than Svayambhuva, for, though both are royal genealogy-starters in their own ways, the latter is such simply by being the first Indian -- and Dionysus, even as "Indos", was not the Adam of India. But in all his other capacities Dionysus is not at all like either Vaivasvata or Svayambhuva.

The third human-divine figure who is a primal king in Indian eyes stands in time intermediate between Svayambhuva and Vaivasvata: he is Prithu Vainya -- Prithu, the son of Vena. When we examine him, we discover that in all important respects he is the candidate par excellence for the Indian Dionysus.
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Part 2 of 2

Prithu Vainya as Dionysus

Prithu is not explicitly acknowledged by extant Indian records as a genealogy-starter, but he is called again and again the first king in a very special connotation of the phrase and, if he suited the Greeks who were obsessed with their Dionysus in Indian annals and who connected Dionysus with Sandrocottus, Indian records could easily lend themselves to making him for them a genealogy-starter. For, although Svayambhuva was the first king on earth and Vaivasvata the king at the source of all detailed human families, Prithu initiated the special status and significance enjoyed by kingship in ancient Indian history: he is "celebrated as the first consecrated king, from whom the earth received its name Prithvi".1 [Ibid, p. 271.] Even the hoary Satapatha Brahmana (V. 3. 5. 4) styles him the first anointed monarch. As D. R. Patil2 [Cultural History from the Vayu Parana (Poona, 1946), pp. 28, 163.] relates, the Vayu Purana terms him adiraja (first king) and the Mahabharata (IV and XI) says that the divine Vishnu entered the person of the king and hence the whole universe worships the kings as if they were gods. The Vishnu Purana,3 [Tr. by M. N. Dutt (Calcutta, 1896), p. 62.] too, deems him a portion of deity.

Prithu as king precedes Vaivasvata in time, but it is not by mere precedence that, like Svayambhuva, he is primal in royalty. He is adiraja by God-invested right and thus combines in himself the typical position of Dionysus the starter of royal dynasties: king as god and god as king. Thus he is suited the most to begin a line of duly coronated rulers.

Nor is he less a conqueror than Svayambhuva. When he was born, says the Vayu Purana,4 [Patil, Op. cit., p. 163. ] he stood equipped with bow, arrows and a shining armour. After his consecration he proceeded to vanquish the earth because he found her devoid of Vedic rites and proper service. Terrified of his uplifted weapons the earth fled in the shape of a cow and, on being pursued, pleaded not to be destroyed and she surrendered herself to his demands. Prithu is also the earliest among the kings to be called chakravartin -- that is, in F. E. Pargiter's words,1 [Ancient Indian Historical Tradition (London, 1922), p. 399. ] "sovereigns who conquered surrounding kingdoms and brought them under their authority, and established a paramount position over more or less extensive regions around their own kingdom." As the earth-vanquisher and the chakravartin prototype he is exactly like Dionysus who, "at the head of an army, marched to every part of the world".

He also resembles Dionysus uniquely and exclusively by many of his peace-time achievements. The Atharvaveda (VIII. 10. 24) gives him, as V. M. Apte2 [ The Vedic Age, p. 460. ] writes, "the credit of introducing the art of ploughing". Pusalker3 [ Ibid., p. 271. ] sums up many of his constructive activities: "He levelled the whole earth, clearing it of ups and downs, and encouraged cultivation, cattle-breeding, commerce and building of cities and villages."

Here we may recall Diodorus's phrase on Dionysus: "cities are called by his name in the vernacular dialects." Apropos of Hiuentsang's travels (c. 640 A.D.) in India, A. Cunningham4 [The Ancient Geography of India, edited with an Introduction and Notes by S. Majumdar (Calcutta, 1924), p. 385.] writes of the town which the Chinese scholar mentioned as Pehoa: "The place derives its name from the famous Prithu-Chakra-vartti, who is said to have been the first person that obtained the title Raja." Then Cunningham refers to the legendary events after the death of Prithu's father Vena: "On his death Prithu performed the Sraddha, or funeral ceremonies, and for twelve days after the cremation he sat on the bank of the Sarasvati offering water to all comers. The place was therefore called Prithudaka or Prithu's pool, from daka or udaka water; and the city which he afterwards built on the spot was called by the same name. The shrine of Prithudaka has a place in the Kurukshetra Mahatmya, and is still visited." S. Majumdar5 [Ibid., p. 702. ] adds by way of annotation on Prthudaka: "Referred to in the Kavyamimamsa (p. 93) as the boundary between Northern and Central India." Jaya Chandra Narang1 ["Structure of India in Relation to Language and History," The Cultural Heritage of India (Calcutta, 1958), p. 47.] goes as far back as Patanjali in referring to this town: "Uttarapatha is defined ...... as the country to the north of Prithudaka, i.e., the modern Pihowa on the Sarasvati.... "

Nor is this the sole Dionysian item of geography to be noted. In the Hathigumpha inscription of Kharavela (second half of the 1st century B.C.) we read of the claim of this king of Kalinga to have devastated Pithuda, the capital of a king of the Masulipatam region in the Madras State. Kharavela's Pithuda seems to be the same as Pitundra, metropolis of the Masoloi according to the geographer Ptolemy (c. 140 A.D.). And both the names appear to resolve only into the Sanskrit Prithuda.

Now we may turn to the religious aspect of Prithu to match that of Dionysus. Although king, he carried on profound religious practices, as the Matsya Purana2 [X.] informs us. And his pursuit of the earth, we may remember, was due to his anger at the neglect of Vedic rites and proper service. In the Rigveda he figures in one hymn (X. 148.5) as a rishi. There is, further, the suggestion from the compilers of the Vedic Index; (II, p. 16) that, as D. R. Patil3 [Op. cit., p. 163.] puts it, "Prithu of the Rigveda was probably a vegetation deity." This brings him very close indeed to Dionysus as well as to Soma. And his connection with the vegetable world emerges too from the story of his pursuit of the earth. When the earth surrenders herself to his demands, there takes place "the milching of the earth". This act seems to have many levels of significance. On the most apparent, the idea which is prominent is rightly said by Patil4 [Ibid. ] to be "that the king must provide for his people means for sustenance especially through the vegetable world." But there is also here a relation to the Soma-concept. For the "milching" involves the preparation of a [illegible] as drink from earth-products. And this drink assumes directly the aspect of Soma when we observe the circumstances under which the Vayu Purana mentions the deposition of Prithu's father Vena: Vena was deposed because he "held ideas against the performances of sacrifices and in his reign the gods did not partake of Soma at all".1 [Ibid., p. 24. ] And Prithu is declared, on his consecration as king, to have restored the Vedic sacrifices: he thus released, as it were, the rapture-wine from the earth for the gods. Thus one of the most Dionysian characteristics can be combined with Prithu.

When we look at the Rigvedic Vena we see in a still more Dionysian light the pertinence of the Puranic story of his depriving the gods of Soma. Vena in the Rigveda is not only called (X. 93.14) a "generous patron", the original bounty which in the Puranas is pictured as becoming perverted: he is also a form of the Vedic wine-god of delight, Soma, the true religious analogue of Dionysus. In one hymn (I. 83.4, 5), where the birth of Light from the lower life and from its crookedness is spoken of, we have the expression: yatah suryo vratapa vena ajani, "the Sun was born as the protector of the Law and the Blissful One",2 [Sri Aurobindo, On the Veda (Pondicherry, 1956), p. 276.] Vena is the word for "the Blissful One" and the Blissful One is that power or personality of the Supreme which is Bhaga and which is the creative enjoyer, the one who takes the delight of all that is created, the one to whom all creation is bhojanam, meaning both enjoyment and food. Bhaga is Soma, and Soma gets directly implied to be Vena when the Rigveda (IV. 58.4) speaks of three kinds of clarity (ghritam): "One Indra produced, one Surya, one the gods fashioned by natural development out of Vena." Sri Aurobindo,3 [Ibid., p. 120.] after giving this translation, comments: "Indra is the Master of the thought-mind, Surya of the supramental  light, Vena is Soma, the master of mental delight of existence, creator of the sense-mind."

Thus Prithu Vainya gets steeped in a Soma-connotation. And Megasthenes was encouraged to catch it in a Dionysian shape from his Indian informants all the more by the very sound of this hero's patronymic "Vainya". Just as the Indian hill-fortress Varana becomes Aornos to Alexander's army and just as the Indian god-name "Varuna" is answered by the Greek "Ouranos", so too "Vainya" must have sounded to the Greek ear like the Greek "Oinos" (wine), "Oine" (vine), "Oeneos" (vintner). We may recollect that Dionysus, because of his art of crushing grapes in the winepress, came to be termed "Lenaios". The Greeks may have understood Prithu to have been designated as "Vainya" for the same art.

While we are about Prithu and his father we may allude to the myth that Dionysus was bred in the thigh of his father Zeus and delivered from it to the world. The common myth concerning Prithu's birth is that he was born from the churning of Vene's left arm. But Ronald M. Huntington1 ["The Legend of Prithu", Purana, vol. II, 1-2, July 1960, p. 190, fn. 8.)] has drawn attention to traditional sources which, instead of "left arm", read "thigh".

And this Puranic myth has yet another point worth marking. The expression "churning" is applicable only to a liquid, and the churned Vena assumes the look of an earth-nectar turned unproductive and needing to be revived -- once more the idea of perverted Soma.

But, if the Vena of the Puranas reveals the sense of the Rigvedic Soma becoming perverted, then Prithu the saviour who is churned out of him grows the same Soma set right again: he is Soma once more delight and immortality, Soma restored to divinity.

Thus Prithu subsumes all that Soma brings of equivalence to Dionysus. Not only does he take into himself the godhead of wine, but also his status as the first consecrated king of earth merges in the kingship which for the first time came into being among the gods.

Even with Dionysus as Shiva, Prithu has a rapport. The Smriti (IX. 44) calls the earth Prithu's wife (bharya). So, if in the story of his pursuit of her she is given the form of a cow, he as her husband becomes by implication a bull. And the bull, ever since the Rigveda, has been a symbol of generation, inward or outward, spiritual or physical. Hence Prithu joins up on one side to the bull-form that went with the worship of Dionysus and on the other to the bull-vehicle that is Shiva's. And since Shiva with his phallus-emblem was a fertility god like Dionysus, Prithu by his connection with the vegetable world and even more as a vegetable deity gets assimilated with equal ease to both. The Greeks would find little difficulty in making their Dionysus a composite of Shiva and Prithu.

The Sanskrit for the Name "Dionysus"

Our special formula of Dionysus = Prithu and our broad one of Dionysus = Shiva = Prithu would receive the finishing touch if in regard to Shiva and Prithu we could light upon an Indian equivalent of the name "Dionysus". This name as a whole has had various explanations: the terminal component has been taken as "Nusos" (Thracian for "son") or "Nusa" tree or "Nysa" (proper name of a mountain or a nurse). The only thing certain is the initial component "Dio" from "Dios" (God).

Now, it is well-known that the Indian "Deva" for the Greek "Dios" is particularly linked with Shiva: e.g. "Mahadeva" Great God. It is also evident from the story in Puranas and the Mahabharata that the concept of King as Divinity derives from the consecration of Prithu is the first king to be considered Deva: the appellation Bhudeva ("Earth-God") which is common in Indian literature for a king may be traced to the legend of his anointment. So we have for both Shiva and Prithu an Indian equivalent to the initial component of "Dionysus". The terminal component can find too its Indian equivalent with regard to them if we remember how first the companion of Alexander related the cult of Dionysus to India. They did so on reaching the town in the Hindu Kush, which they called Nysa after the name heard by them on its occupants' lips. They enthusiastically conjectured that Dionysus had given this town its name in honour of his nurse or of his mountain.1 [Arrian, Anabasis, V. 1; Indica, I. 1. ] Naturally then they would expect the God worshipped there to be their own Dionysus and their expectations must have been amply fulfilled when they may have found this God, who was Shiva, called Deva: what could the Deva of Nysa be save Dionysus? Megasthenes, on longer stay in India, particularly in Magadha, heard of a king whose various achievements and functions answered to what the Greeks' own tradition had said about Dionysus, and this king was known not only as the first in an important sense but also as Deva: further, he had some associations in common with the Deva of Nysa. Would it be any wonder if he too got called Dionysus?

The appropriateness of the dubbing must have been confirmed for Megasthenes by a phrase he may have come across about this king. Since the God-head is said to have entered Prithu and Prithu to have become the first consecrated monarch by that divine Presence, one can imagine the informants of the Greek ambassador using for Prithu the apt phrase Raja daivyena sahasa, "King with God-force". This phrase could very well be to Greek ears the Indian way of saying "Raja Dionysus". It is a phrase easily for Prithu against a Puranic-cum-Vedic background. In the Puranas Prithu, with the Godhead in him, turned Truthwards the Earth-cow whose sacrificial and productive "milk" had been confined by irreligious powers. In the Rigveda (X.108.6) we have actually the expression sahasa daivyena about the heavenly Sarama who comes pressing upon the dark powers named the Panis to let the hidden Cows go upward to the Truth.

Some Final Considerations

Looked at from every angle, Prithu emerges as the Indian original of the Greeks' Dionysus in a multiple manner impossible to either Svayambhuva or Vaivasvata. Even the role of Dionysus as law-giver, which affirms Dionysus to Vaivasvata, is implicit in Prithu's role as champion of Vedic rites and fosterer of trade and sovereign over a vast number of peoples and builder of cities. And though Vaivasvata is the father of the human ages and thereby looks plausible for the part of history-starter which Dionysus plays in the Greek account, the history he starts is joined with Prithu in an important and organic way. The period at whose head stands Vaivasvata differs from all preceding periods in that, unlike them, it had cities and villages, knew agriculture, trade, pasture and cattle-breeding. And it knew all these things because of Prithu: Prithu has given a special distinguishing character to the Vaivasvata epoch and made the period, in which the Puranic dynasties from that Manu flourished, what it historically is.1 [Cf. Vayu Purana, 62. 170-74; also Patil, Op. Cit., p. 71.] Vaivasvata is thus significantly assimilated into Prithu.

Svayambhuva himself, the sheer first of all earth-kings in the Puranas, is assimilated in a certain sense. The Matsya Purana (X),2 [The Sacred Books of the Hindus, p. 31. ] after describing how Prithu chased and conquered the earth which was fleeing from him like a cow, says: "The land promised to obey the behests of the king. Then the king, after making Svayambhuva Manu as his calf, milked the earth in the form of the cow with his own hands. The earth then produced different kinds of grain which support mankind." The strange psycho-symbolic phrase about Svayambhuva renders that prime king a living portion of the Prithu-history, a power serving organically the achievement of the first consecrated monarch.

A last consideration, rounding off the rich many-sided equation of Prithu to Dionysus, is a legend connected with Magadha. We have argued that the 153 or 154 kings of Megasthenes trace the line upward from Sandrocottus, rather than from Alexander, to Dionysus and that they pertain to just the province of Magadha as their tail-end. It would be most appropriate if to balance Sandrocottus at the lower extreme as king of Magadha the list went back with whatever intermediate breaks, to an original Magadhan monarch. The equation of Prithu to Dionysus makes Dionysus such a monarch, for the Brahma Purana,3 [B.C. Law, Tribes in Ancient India (Poona, 1943), p. 95.] which in the midst of later accretions is held4 [The Cambridge Htstory of India, p. 300.] to have very ancient matter enshrined in it, bears a legend in which "the first great Samrat or Emperor of Magadha" is Prithu.

The Kings from Dionysus to Sandrocottus

Now we may legitimately start counting after Prithu the 153 or 154 kings and see whether our Dionysus-theory of him leads us to a Chandragupta and which of the two possible Chandraguptus becomes our terminus.

As the Puranas are the main Indian source for the dynastic lists we have to make use of their detailed account. But in their present versions they are not uniform in these lists, though the variations are within certain limits. What we should try to reach is the primal Puranic list by means of collation. Pargiter, in his Ancient Indian Historical Tradition has set up a table of collated genealogical lines from the time of Vaivasvata to that of the Bharata War. His Puranic Texts of the Dynasties of the Kali Age collates the members of the eight dynasties which the Puranas set ruling in Magadha. As for the line from Prithu to Vaivasvata, the collated picture in outline is in Pusalker's remark in The Vedic Age:1 [Vayu Purana, II. 22, 23, 25, 26, 39, 41; Matsya Purana, XI.] "Fifth in descent from Prithu was Daksha, whose daughter's grandson, Manu Vaivasvata, saved humanity from the deluge ...... "

If Daksha is the 5th descendant from Prithu, Vaivasvata's number is 8 because he is 3rd in descent frim Daksha. The details of the picture may be filled in from the Puranas, with Daksha's daughter Aditi substituted by her husband Kasyapa. Of course, Prithu himself stands unnumbered outside the picture at the upper end just as a Chandragupta will have to stand at the lower: 153 or 154 kings have to be in "the intermediate period" between these two.

Prithu Vainya

1. Antardhana (or Antardhi)
2. Havirdhana
3. Prachinabarhisha
4. Prachetas
5. Daksha
6. Kasyapa
7. Vivasvata
8. Manu Vaivasvata

But how shall we count after Vaivasvata? He had 10 sons founding 10 families ruling over various sections of the country.1 [The Vedic Age, p. 271.] Are we to count whatever members of all these families are found, on collation, in the Puranas? In reference to the Solar and Lunar lines into which the Puranas branch off Vaivasvata's progeny, Mankad2 [Op. cit., p. 4. ] who has mistakenly attempted tracing from Vaivasvata the entire number of kings given by Megasthenes has yet some very perspicacious observations to guide the counting. He says that we have to proceed in two instalments. First we must come down from the time of Vaivasvata to that of the Bharata War and afterwards go on to the time of Alexander. But, in order to make the two movements a single whole, we must remember that Sandrocottus, the king before whom the Greek number completed itself and whose Indian counterpart we have to reach, was a Magadhan king. Therefore, we must move from Vaivasvata in such a way as to get along the Magadhan branch.

The Magadhan branch, in all the Puranas, is always put in direct continuation of the Lunar line. So we have to ignore the Solar line coming down to the Bharata War and continuing further for about 30 kings. But the Lunar line has several branches and we have to ignore all except the one which carries us to the kings of Magadha before and during and after the Bharata War. The king of Magadha who died in the Bharata War was Sahadeva, the son of Jarasandha. So, prior to taking up the main theme of the Puranic lists, the kings of Magadha subsequent to the War, we have to count along a course which leads from Vaivasvata to Sahadeva: we must not bring in any king occurring along another course.

With the correct procedure established, we have next to look at Pargiter's list3 [ Ancient Indian Historical Tradition, pp. 144-49.] of the appropriate kings down to Sahadeva. In this list, one name is put by him within brackets: it is Bharadvaja. The bracketing is done because Bharadvaja, as Pargiter relates on page 159 of his book, never sat on the throne; an adopted son of Bharata, he consecrated his own sun Vitatha as Bharata's successor after the latter had died. So we must omit Bharadvaja if we are to take the actual kings. Then, with Manu Vaivasvata as number 8 and his daughter Ila replaced by her husband Budha, we get the following table:

8. Manu
9. Budha
10. Pururavas
11. Ayu
12. Nahusha
13. Yayati
14. Puru
15. Janamejaya I
16. Prachinvant
17. Pravira
18. Manasyu
19. Abhayada
20. Sudhanvan-Dhundu
21. Bahugava
22. Samyati
23. Ahamyati
24. Raudrasva
25. Richeyu
26. Matinara
27. Tamsu
28. Dushyanta
29. Bharata
30, Vitatha
31. Bhuvamanya
32. Brihatkshatra
33. Suhotra
34. Hastin
35. Ajamidha
36. Riksha
37. Samvarana
38. Kuru
39. Sudhanvan
40. Suhotra
41. Chyavana
42. Krita  
43. Vasu
44. Brihadratha
45. Kusagra
46. Rishabha
47. Pushpavant
48. Satyahita
49. Sudhanvan
50. Urja
51. Sambhava
52. Jarasandha
53. Sahadeva

Coming to the Magadhan kings after the Bharata War, we have 8 dynasties whose member have been enumerated one after another and who therefore can be counted. We shall follow Pargiter's collection of the relevant Puranic texts. About the Barhadrathas he1 [The Puranic Texts of the Dynasties of the Kali Age (London, 1913), p. 13. ] tells us: "There were 32 kings altogether, 10 before the battle and 22 after." We have already mentioned the earlier 10, from Brihadratha to Sahadeva. About the Pradyotas we learn2 [Ibid., p. 19, line 10; p. 68. ] that they were 5. About the Sisunagas we are told:3 [Ibid., pp. 20, 65.] "All the authorities say that there were 10 kings." The Nandas are given1 [ Ibid., p. 25, line 7; p. 26, line 7; p. 69. ] as 9: a father and 8 sons. Of the Mauryas "the best attested number is 10",2 [ Ibid., pp. 27, 70. ] The Sungas have the same number: 10.3 [ Ibid., pp. 33, 70. ] The Kanvas count 4.4 [ Ibid., p. 71. ] On the Andhras, Pargiter5 [ Ibid., pp. 36, 72. ] writes; "The Vayu, Brahmanda, Bhagavata and Visnu all say there were 30 kings... and 30 is no doubt the correct number." Let us put the "best attested" counts in a table:

Barhadrathas / 22
Pradyotas / 5
Sisunagas / 10
Nandas / 9
Mauryas / 10
Sungas / 10
Kanvas / 4
Andhras / 30

At two places we shall have a king named Chandragupta to answer to Sandrocottus. First, immediately after the Nandas. The number of this Chandragupta, founder of the Mauryas, is after (22 + 5 + 10 + 9=) 46. But 46 added to the previous 53 yields only 99 whereas the number preceding him should be 153 or 154. So Chandragupta Maurya is ruled out.

The next Chandragupta will come after the Andhras to found the dynasty of the Imperial Guptas. The sum-total of kings at the end of the Andhras that is, at the end of all the 8 countable dynasties said to have ruled over Magadha, is (22 + 5 + 10 + 9 + 10 + 4 + 30 = ) 100. If we add these 100 kings to the 53 before them we obtain 153-- exactly one of the two king- numbers from Megasthenes for "the intermediate period" between Dionysus and Sandrocottus.

Even the other number -- 154 -- becornes both apt and intelligible on a back-view of Pargiter's table. For 153 is reached on omission of Bharadvaja who never sat on the throne. But if we include him because he was next after Bharata and just before Vitatha we shall get 154 dynastic names, Thus both the numbers from Megasthenes get aligned to the Puranas with an astonishing accuracy.

It seems impossible to doubt that Prithu Vainya at the commencement and Chandragupta I of the Imperial Guptas at the termination are what the Indian informants of Megasthenes intended when they spoke of a king-series from Dionysus to Sandrocottus. Through Megasthenes the Puranic chronology of the rise of the Imperial Guptas in c. 325 or 324 B.C. appears to be completely vindicated.

Some Possible Objections Answered

However, a few objections may be raised. One may say: "The Puranas designate the Pradyotas as kings of Magadha, but modern research is disposed to put them on the throne of Avanti. Also, modern research has not struck upon any definite evidence to regard the Andhra Satavahanas as Magadhan kings. If we knock the two dynasties out, there will never be 153 or 154 kings before Chandragupta I along the Magadhan line backward to Prithu.

The answer is very simple: "To begin with, modern research is not yet unanimous: scholars like V. Smith 1 [The Early History of India (London, 1934), Chapters II and VIII. Vide also Anand Swarup Gupta, "The problem of Interpretation of the Puranas," Purana, Vol. VI, No, 1, January, 1965, p. 68, fn. 37, on the question of the Pradyotas.] do not agree with the majority opinion. But even if this opinion happens to be correct, our argument stands. For, we are unconcerned at the movement with the issue of the Puranas' correctness in this matter: we are concerned with nothing else than what the Puranas record and what we are supposing their pundits to have conveyed to the Greek ambassador in the time of Sandrocottus. The issue really is: 'Does the Puranic list, right or wrong, correspond numerically to that of Megasthenes? The correspondence is very striking."

One may also object: According to Pargiter's careful analysis,2 [Ancient Indian Historical Tradition, pp. 144-49.] the scheme of genealogy from Vaivasvata to Sahadeva, inclusive of both, comprises 94 generations. To take only (53-7 =) 46 king-names, as you do, misrepresents the state of affairs. You should really count 94 kings and, adding the 7 more up to Prithu, get 101 names before the Bharata War. Then the total number will be (101 +100 =) 201 instead of 153. This will throw the Puranas out of tune with Megasthenes and invalidate your whole procedure and proving."

Here also the main point is overlooked. We do not affirm that only 46 kings existed from Vaivasvata to the Bharata War along the line we have to choose as the sole legitimate one. Nor do the Puranas make such an affirmation: Pargiter1 [Ibid., p. 89. ] has shown that they do not really claim to be exhaustive about any line. But our concern is simply with the number of names actually offered and with the problem: "Does it agree or not with the Greek account?" Pargiter's analysis of the generations makes no odds. A most notable agreement is there. Both our procedure and proving remain untouched.

The only objection truly worth weighing arises from Arrian's concluding remark: "The Indians also tell us that Dionysus was earlier than Heracles by fifteen generations." In the context of the king-series, Heracles is evidently meant to have been either fifteenth in the list or contemporaneous with whoever else was fifteenth. But we know who Heracles was, from Arrian's own slightly earlier statement (Indica, I, viii): "Heracles ...who is currently reported to have come as a stranger into the country is said to have been in reality a native of India. This Heracles is held in especial honour by the Sourasenoi, an Indian tribe who possess two large cities, Methora and Cleisobora, and through whose country flows a navigable river called the Jobares. But the dress which this Heracles wore, Megasthenes tells us, resembled that of the Theban Heracles, as the Indians themselves admit. It is further said he had a numerous progeny of male children born to him in India (for, like his Theban namesake, he married many wives) but that he had only one daughter. The name of this child was Pandaia, and the land in which she was born and with the sovereignty of which Heracles entrusted her was called after her name Pandaia." Sufficient clues have been seen by scholars1 [Pusalker, Studies in the Epics and Puranas. p. 64.] in this account to identify Heracles. D. R. Bhandarkar equates him with Krishna Vasudeva (plus Krishna's brother Balarama) and the Sourasenoi with the Surasenas or Satvatas. Lassen, McCrindle and Hopkins state that Methora and Cleisobora are respectively Mathura and Krishnapura on the Jamuna (Jobares). The story about Pandaia is a confused reference to Krishna's close personal association with the Pandavas in the Bharata War and to his family-tie to them by the marriage of his sister to the Pandava Arjuna. But if Heracles is Krishna, how, in any sense, can he be 15th after Dionysus or Prithu? He cannot be even 15th from Vaivasvata, for he was a contemporary of Sahadeva. In fact, Pargiter, when followed not along the Lunar line leading to Sahadeva but along another line of the Lunar family which leads to Krishna, shows him to be the 53rd name, though the 94th generation, if Vaivasvata is the 1st name and generation. This would make him (53 + 7 = ) 60 in name-number after Prithu and (94 + 7 = ) 101 in generation after him. Hence the account of Megasthenes cannot be equated here to the Puranic results and the rift threatens to invalidate our conclusions, by means of Puranic comparison, in favour of Chandragupta I.

One may put up the defence that the rift may be due to a slip by the copyists of Megasthenes, like the egregious yet obvious error of a much smaller time-gap between Dionysus and Sandracottus than between Dionysus and Alexander. Such a slip need not prejudice the highly impressive correspondence already traced. But, of course, it would be better if the discrepancy could be explained away. And actually there is a way out of the difficulty. It lies in inquiring: "Can Krishna be put, in some sense or other, immediately after the 14th name in our Puranic list so that he may be the 15th after Prithu? If he can, we may legitimately suggest that Megasthenes has made a mix-up without truly falsifying the Puranic information.

When we examine our Puranic list we find that 14th after Prithu is Puru, the son of Yayati. But Puru is not the only son: we have named him alone because through him we arrive ultimately at the Magadhan line. Pusalker,1 [The Vedic Age, p. 274. ] drawing upon the Puranas and the Mahabharata, tells us, as also does Pargiter by his tables: "Yayati had five sons. Devayani bore two, Yadu and Turvasu, and Sarmishtha three, Anu, Druhyu, and Puru." All these sons are 14th after Prithu. Pusalker continues: "Yadu, the eldest son of Yayati, founded the Yadavas, the first Lunar dynasty to rise into prominence." The greatest and almost the last Yadava was Krishna.2 [Ibid., pp. 298-99.] Now, the term "Yadava" means in general a member of Yadu's family but its first and immediate meaning is "son of Yadu." If Krishna the Yadava is understood as son of "Yadu", then, since Yadu is 14th after Prithu, Krishna is 15th. And he is 15th not only as a name: those who are next in succession to Yadu -- his "sons", as they are called -- are 15th in generation no less than in name-number, and therefore Prithu would be exactly 15 generations earlier than Krishna who according to us, substituted one of these sons in Megasthenes's understanding.

The precise generation-number 15 into which Krishna as "Yadava" could fit is too suggestive to be without relevance to our problems of Dionysus's having been "fifteen generations earlier than Heracles". Besides, the very name of the son, through whom the line which nearly ended with Krishna came into being is somewhat allied in sound to Krishna's own: it is Kroshtri.

Thus every objection can be met. And we may hold, in conclusion, that Megasthenes, on his own evidence, was not a contemporary of Chandragupta Maurya. He is historically on the side of the Puranic chronology in so far as it leads to the accession of Chandragupta I in c. 325 or 324 B.C. His chronological information came from Indians who in c. 302 B.C. -- the date of his arrival at the court of Sandrocottus -- were setting up their time-scheme with the end of Prithu's semi-legendary reign at one extreme and at the other the rise of the Imperial Guptas in their own day.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

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Part 1 of 2

Identifications in the Region of Kapilavastu
(With a Map.) by Major W. Yost, I.M.S.
The Journal of The Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland
P. 553-581

Several times... I endeavoured to read through the ‘Narrative of Fâ-Hien;’ but though interested with the graphic details of much of the work, its columns bristled so constantly—now with his phonetic representations of Sanskrit words, and now with his substitution for them of their meanings in Chinese characters...

The Chinese narrative runs on without any break. It was Klaproth who divided Rémusat’s translation into forty chapters...

In transliterating the names of Chinese characters I have generally followed the spelling of Morrison rather than the Pekinese, which is now in vogue. We cannot tell exactly what the pronunciation of them was, about fifteen hundred years ago, in the time of Fâ-Hien; but the southern mandarin must be a shade nearer to it than that of Peking at the present day. In transliterating the Indian names I have for the most part followed Dr. Eitel, with such modification as seemed good and in harmony with growing usage....

There are few predecessors in the field of Chinese literature into whose labours translators of the present century can enter. This will be received, I hope, as a sufficient apology for the minuteness and length of some of the notes....The books which I have consulted for these notes have been many, besides Chinese works. My principal help has been the full and masterly handbook of Eitel, mentioned already, and often referred to as E.H. Spence Hardy’s ‘Eastern Monachism’ (E.M.) and ‘Manual of Buddhism’ (M.B.) have been constantly in hand, as well as Rhys Davids’ Buddhism, published by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, his Hibbert Lectures, and his Buddhist Suttas in the Sacred Books of the East, and other writings....

I think there are many things in the vast field of Buddhist literature which still require to be carefully handled. How far, for instance, are we entitled to regard the present Sûtras as genuine and sufficiently accurate copies of those which were accepted by the Councils before our Christian era? Can anything be done to trace the rise of the legends and marvels of Sakyamuni’s history, which were current so early (as it seems to us) as the time of Fâ-hien, and which startle us so frequently by similarities between them and narratives in our Gospels? Dr. Hermann Oldenberg, certainly a great authority on Buddhistic subjects, says that ‘a biography of Buddha has not come down to us from ancient times, from the age of the Pali texts; and, we can safely say, no such biography existed then’ (‘Buddha—His Life, His Doctrine, His Order,’ as translated by Hoey, p. 78). He has also (in the same work, pp. 99, 416, 417) come to the conclusion that the hitherto unchallenged tradition that the Buddha was ‘a king’s son’ must be given up. The name ‘king’s son’ (in Chinese 太子), always used of the Buddha, certainly requires to be understood in the highest sense...

Dr. Rhys Davids has kindly read the proofs of the Translation and Notes, and I most certainly thank him for doing so, for his many valuable corrections in the Notes, and for other suggestions which I have received from him....

The accompanying Sketch-Map, taken in connexion with the notes on the different places in the Narrative, will give the reader a sufficiently accurate knowledge of Fâ-hien’s route.

There is no difficulty in laying it down after he crossed the Indus from east to west into the Punjâb, all the principal places, at which he touched or rested, having been determined by Cunningham and other Indian geographers and archæologists. Most of the places from Chʽang-an to Bannu have also been identified....

The point at which Fâ-hien recrossed the Indus into Udyâna on the west of it is unknown. Takshaśilâ, which he visited, was no doubt on the west of the river, and has been incorrectly accepted as the Taxila of Arrian in the Punjâb. It should be written Takshasira...

Nothing of great importance is known about Fâ-hien in addition to what may be gathered from his own record of his travels...

[H]is father devoted him to the service of the Buddhist society, and had him entered as a Śrâmaṇera, still keeping him at home in the family...

When he was ten years old, his father died;... When his mother also died... after her burial he returned to the monastery...

When he had finished his novitiate and taken on him the obligations of the full Buddhist orders... he undertook his journey to India in search of complete copies of the Vinaya-piṭaka. What follows this is merely an account of his travels in India and return to China by sea, condensed from his own narrative, with the addition of some marvellous incidents that happened to him, on his visit to the Vulture Peak near Râjagṛiha....

Much of what Fâ-hien tells his readers of Buddhist miracles and legends is indeed unreliable and grotesque; but we have from him the truth as to what he saw and heard.

-- A Record of Buddhistic Kingdoms, Being an Account by the Chinese Monk Fa-Hien Of His Travels in India and Ceylon (A.D. 399–414) In Search of the Buddhist Books of Discipline, Translated and Annotated with a Corean Recension of the Chinese Text, by James Legge

The Chinese treatise known as the Hsi-yu-chi (or Si-yu- ki) is one of the classical Buddhist books of China, Korea, and Japan. It is preserved in the libraries attached to many of the large monasteries of these countries and it is occasionally found for sale in bookshops. The copies offered for sale are reprints of the work as it exists in some monastery, and they are generally made to the order of patrons of learning or Buddhism. These reprints are more or less inaccurate or imperfect, and one of them gives as the complete work only two of the twelve chuan which constitute the treatise....

On the title-page of the Hsi-yu-chi it is represented as having been "translated" by Yuan-chuang and "redacted" or "compiled" by Pien-chi ([x]). But we are not to take the word for translate here in its literal sense, and all that it can be understood to convey is that the information given in the book was obtained by Yuan-chuang from foreign sources. One writer tells us that Yuan-chuang supplied the materials to Pien-chi who wrought these up into a literary treatise. Another states that Yuan-chuang communicated at intervals the facts to be recorded to Pien-chi who afterwards wove these into a connected narrative.

This Pien-chi was one of the learned Brethren appointed by T'ai Tsung to assist Yuan-chung in the work of translating the Indian books which Yuan-chuang had brought with him. It was the special duty of Pien-chi to give literary form to the translations. He was a monk of the Hui-chang ([x]) Monastery and apparently in favour at the court of the Emperor. But he became mixed up in an intrigue with one of T'ai Tsung's daughters and we cannot imagine a man of his bad character being on very intimate terms with the pilgrim. As to the Hsi-yu-chi we may doubt whether he really had much to do with its formation, and perhaps the utmost that can be claimed for him is that he may have strung together Yuan-chuang's descriptions into a connected narrative. The literary compositions of Yuan-chuang to be found in other places seem to justify us in regarding him as fully competent to write the treatise before us without any help from others...Some of the notes and comments may have been added by Pien-chi but several are evidently by a later hand....

The Hsi-yu-chi exists in several editions which present considerable variations both in the text and in the supplementary notes and explanations.
For the purposes of the present Commentary copies of four editions have been used. The first of these editions is that known to scholars as the Han-shan ([x]) Hsi-yu-chi, which was brought out at private expense. This is substantially a modern Soochow reprint of the copy in one of the collections of Buddhist books appointed and decreed for Buddhist monasteries in the time of the Ming dynasty. It agrees generally with the copy in the Japanese collection of Buddhist books in the Library of the India Office, and it or a similar Ming copy seems to be the only edition of the work hitherto known to western students. The second is the edition of which a copy is preserved in the library of a large Buddhist monastery near Foochow. This represents an older form of the work, perhaps that of the Sung collection made in A.D. 1103, and it is in all respects superior to the common Ming text. The third is an old Japanese edition which has many typographical and other errors and also presents a text differing much from other editions. It is apparently a reprint of a Sung text, and is interesting in several respects, but it seems to have many faults and it is badly printed. The fourth is the edition given in the critical reprint which was recently produced in the revised collection of Buddhist books brought out in Japan. This edition is based on the text recognized in Korea and it supplies the various readings of the Sung, Yuan, and Ming editions. Some of these variations are merely different ways of writing a character but many of them give valuable corrections for the Korean text which is often at fault....

The family from which Yuan-chuang sprang is said to have been descended from the semi-mythical Huang-Ti through the great Emperor Shun, and to have originally borne the territorial designation of Shun, viz. Kuei ([x])...

The father of our pilgrim, by name Hui ([x]), was a man of high character. He was a handsome tall man of stately manners, learned and intelligent, and a Confucianist of the strict old-fashioned kind. True to his principles he took office at the proper time, and still true to them he gave up office and withdrew into seclusion when anarchy supplanted order. He then retired to the village Ch'en-pao-ku ([x]') at a short distance south-east from the town of Kou-shih ([x]). This town was in the Lo-chow, now Ho-nan, Prefecture of Honan, and not far from the site of the modern Yen-shih ([x]) Hsien. Yuan-chuang is sometimes called a Kou-shih man and it was probably in his father's home near this town that he was born in the year 600.

The family of Ch'en Hui was apparently a large one and Yuan-chuang was the youngest of four sons. Together with his brothers he received his early education from his father, not, of course, without the help of other teachers. We find Yuan-chuang described as a rather precocious child shewing cleverness and wisdom in his very early years. He became a boy of quick wit and good memory, a lover of learning with intelligence to make a practical use of his learning. It was noted that he cared little for the sports and gaieties which had over-powering charms for other lads and that he liked to dwell much apart. As a Confucianist he learned the Classical work on Filial Piety and the other canonical treatises of the orthodox system.

But the second son of the family entered the Buddhist church and Yuan-chuang, smitten with the love of the strange religion, followed his brother to the various monasteries at which the latter sojourned. Then he resolved also to become a Buddhist monk, and proceeded to study the sacred books of the religion with all the fervour of a youthful proselyte. When he arrived at the age of twenty he was ordained, but he continued to wander about visiting various monasteries in different parts of the country. Under the guidance of the learned Doctors in Buddhism in these establishments he studied some of the great works of their religion, and soon became famous in China as a very learned and eloquent young monk. But he could not remain in China for he longed vehemently to visit the holy land of his religion, to see its far-famed shrines, and all the visible evidences of the Buddha's ministrations. He had learned, moreover, to be dissatisfied with the Chinese translations of the sacred books, and he was desirous to procure these books in their original language, and to learn the true meaning of their abstruse doctrines from orthodox pundits in India. After making enquiries and preparations he left the capital Ch'ang-an ([x]), the modern Hsi-an ([x])-foo, in the year 629, and set out secretly on his long pilgrimage. The course of his wanderings and what he saw and heard and did are set forth in the Life and Records.

After sixteen year's absence Yuan-chuang returned to China and arrived at Ch'ang-an in the beginning of 645, the nineteenth year of the reign of T'ang T'ai Tsung. And never in the history of China did Buddhist monk receive such a joyous ovation as that with which our pilgrim was welcomed. The Emperor and his Court, the officials and merchants, and all the people made holiday. The streets were crowded with eager men and women who expressed their joy by gay banners and festive music. Nature, too, at least so it was fondly deemed, sympathised with her children that day and bade the pilgrim welcome. Not with thunders and lightnings did she greet him, but a solemn gladness filled the air and a happy flush was on the face of the sky. The pilgrim's old pine tree also by nods and waves whispered its glad recognition. This tree, on which Yuan-chuang patted a sad adieu when setting out, had, obedient to his request, bent its head westward and kept it so while the pilgrim travelled in that direction. But when his face was turned to the east and the homeward journey was begun the old pine true to its friend also turned and bowed with all its weight of leaves and branches towards the east. This was at once the first sign of welcome and the first intimation of the pilgrim having set out on his journey home. Now he had arrived whole and well, and had become a many days' wonder. He had been where no other had ever been, he had seen and heard what no other had ever seen and heard. Alone he had crossed trackless wastes tenanted only by fierce ghost-demons. Bravely he had climbed fabled mountains high beyond conjecture, rugged and barren, ever chilled by icy wind and cold with eternal snow. He had been to the edge of the world and had seen where all things end. Now he was safely back to his native land, and with so great a quantity of precious treasures. There were 657 sacred books of Buddhism, some of which were full of mystical charms able to put to flight the invisible powers of mischief. All these books were in strange Indian language and writing, and were made of trimmed leaves of palm or of birch-bark strung together in layers. Then there were lovely images of the Buddha and his saints in gold, and silver, and crystal, and sandalwood. There were also many curious pictures and, above all, 150 relics, true relics of the Buddha. All these relics were borne on twenty horses and escorted into the city with great pomp and ceremony.

The Emperor T'ai Tsung forgave the pilgrim for going abroad without permission, made his acquaintance and became his intimate friend. He received Yuan-chuang in an inner chamber of the palace, and there listened with unwearied interest from day to day to his stories about unknown lands and the wonders Buddha and his great disciples had wrought in them...On his petition the Emperor appointed several distinguished lay scholars and several learned monks to assist in the labour of translating, editing, and copying. In the meantime at the request of his Sovereign Yuan-chuang compiled the Records of his travels, the Hsi-yu-chi. The first draft of this work was presented to the Emperor in 646, but the book as we have it now was not actually completed until 648. It was apparently copied and circulated in Ms in its early form during the author's life and for some time after. When the Hsi-yu-chi was finished Yuan-chuang gave himself up to the task of translating, a task which was to him one of love and duty combined.... In the year 664 on the 6th day of the second month he underwent the great change. He had known that the change was coming, and had made ready for his departure. He had no fears and no regrets: content with the work of his life and joyous in the hope of hereafter he passed hence into Paradise. There he waits with Maitreya until in the fullness of time the latter comes into this world. With him Yuan-chuang hoped to come back to a new life here and to do again the Buddha's work for the good of others.

In personal appearance Yuan-chuang, like his father, was a tall handsome man with beautiful eyes and a good complexion. He had a serious but benevolent expression and a sedate and rather stately manner. His character as revealed to us in his Life and other books is interesting and attractive. He had a rare combination of moral and intellectual qualities and traits common to Chinese set off by a strongly marked individuality. We find him tender and affectionate to his parents and brothers, clinging to them in his youth and lovingly mindful of them in his old age. He was zealous and enthusiastic, painstaking and persevering, but without any sense of humour and without any inventive genius. His capacity for work was very great and his craving for knowledge and love of learning were an absorbing passion. Too prone at times to follow authority and accept ready-made conclusions he was yet self possessed and independent....

As a Buddhist monk Yuan-chuang was very rigorous in keeping the rules of his order and strict in all the observances of his religion. But his creed was broad, his piety never became ascetic, and he was by nature tolerant. There were lengths, however, to which he could not go, and even his powerful friend the Emperor T'ai Tsung could not induce him to translate Lao-tzu's "Tao-Te-Ching" into Sanskrit or recognize Lao-tzu as in rank above the Buddha.... He was brave to a marvel, and faced without fear the unknown perils of the visible world and the unimagined terrors of unseen beings....His faith was simple and almost unquestioning, and he had an aptitude for belief which has been called credulity. But his was not that credulity which lightly believes the impossible and accepts any statement merely because it is on record and suits the convictions or prejudices of the individual. Yuan-chuang always wanted to have his own personal testimony, the witness of his own senses or at least his personal experience. It is true his faith helped his unbelief, and it was too easy to convince him where a Buddhist miracle was concerned. A hole in the ground without any natural history, a stain on a rock without any explanation apparent, any object held sacred by the old religion of the fathers, and any marvel professing to be substantiated by the narrator, was generally sufficient to drive away his doubts and bring comforting belief. But partly because our pilgrim was thus too ready to believe, though partly also for other reasons, he did not make the best use of his opportunities. He was not a good observer, a careful investigator, or a satisfactory recorder, and consequently he left very much untold which he would have done well to tell....

[T]he Buddhism to which Yuan-chuang adhered, the system which he studied, revered, and propagated, differed very much from the religion taught by Gautama Buddha. That knew little or nothing of Yoga and powerful magical formulae used with solemn invocations. It was not on Prajnaparamita and the abstract subtleties of a vague and fruitless philosophy, nor on dream-lands of delight beyond the tomb, nor on P'usas like Kuan-shi-yin who supplant the Buddhas, that the great founder of the religion preached and discoursed to his disciples. But Yuan-chuang apparently saw no inconsistency in believing in these while holding to the simple original system...

After Yuan-chuang's death great and marvellous things were said of him. His body, it was believed, did not see corruption and he appeared to some of his disciples in visions of the night. In his lifetime he had been called a "Present Sakyamuni", and when he was gone his followers raised him to the rank of a founder of Schools or Sects in Buddhism. In one treatise we find the establishment of three of these schools ascribed to him, and in another work he is given as the founder in China of a fourth school. This last is said to have been originated in India at Nalanda by Silabhadra one of the great Buddhist monks there with whom Yuan-chuang studied.

In some Buddhist temples we find images of our pilgrim to which a minor degree of worship is occasionally offered. These images usually represent the pilgrim seated clothed in his monk's robes and capped, with his right hand raised and holding his alms-bowl in his left.


There is only one Preface in the A, B, and C editions of the "Hsi-yu-chi", but the D edition gives two Prefaces. The second of these is common to all, while the first is apparently only in D and the Corean edition. This latter was apparently unknown to native editors and it was unknown to the foreign translators. This Preface is the work of Ching Po ([x]), a scholar, author, and official of the reigns of T'ang Kao Tsu and T'ai Tsung. Ching Po was well read in the history of his country and was in his lifetime an authority on subjects connected therewith. He was the chief compiler and redactor of the "Chin Shu ([x]), an important treatise which bears on its title-page the name of T'ang T'ai Tsung as author. Ching Po's name is also associated with other historical works, and notably with two which give an official account of the rise of the T'ang dynasty and of the great events which marked the early years of T'ai Tsung. It is plain from this Preface that its author was an intimate friend of Yuan-chuang whose name he does not think it necessary to mention. He seems to have known or regarded Yuan-chuang as the sole author of the "Hsi-yu-chi", writing of him thus: — "he thought it no toil to reduce to order the notes which he had written down". Ching Po must have written this Preface before 649, as in that year he was sent away from the capital to a provincial appointment and died on the way. The praises which he gives Yuan-chuang and their common master, the Emperor, are very liberal, and he knew them both well.

The second Preface, which is in all editions except the Corean, is generally represented as having been written by one Chang Yueh ([x]). It has been translated fairly well by Julien, who has added numerous notes to explain the text and justify his renderings. He must have studied the Preface with great care and spent very many hours in his attempt to elucidate its obscurities. Yet it does not seem to have occurred to him to learn who Chang Yueh was and when he lived.

Now the Chang Yueh who bore the titles found at the head of the Preface above the name was born in 667 and died in 730, thus living in the reigns of Kao Tsung, Chung Tsung, Jui Tsung, and Hsuan Tsung. He is known in Chinese literature and history as a scholar, author, and official of good character and abilities. His Poems and Essays, especially the latter, have always been regarded as models of style, but they are not well known at present. In 689 Chang Yueh became qualified for the public service, and soon afterwards he obtained an appointment at the court of the Empress Wu Hou. But he did not prove acceptable to that ambitious, cruel and vindictive sovereign, and in 703 he was sent away to the Ling-nan Tao (the modern Kuangtung). Soon afterwards, however, he was recalled and again appointed to office at the capital. He served Hsuan Huang (Ming Huang) with acceptance, rising to high position and being ennobled as Yen kuo kung ([x]).

Now if, bearing in mind the facts of Chang Yueh's birth and career, we read with attention the Preface which bears his name we cannot fail to see that it could not have been composed by that official....according to the Chinese authorities and their translators Julien and Professor G. Schlegel, it was a schoolboy who composed this wonderful Preface, this "piece that offers a good specimen characterized by these pompous and empty praises, and presents, therefore the greatest difficulties, not only has a translator from the West, but still has every letter Chinese who would only know the ideas and the language of the school of Confucius." We may pronounce this impossible as the piece is evidently the work of a ripe scholar well read not only in Confucianism but also in Buddhism. Moreover the writer was apparently not only a contemporary but also a very intimate friend of Yuan-chuang.

In the A and C editions and in the old texts Chang Yueh's name does not appear on the title-page to this Preface. It is said to have been added by the editors of the Ming period when revising the Canon. Formerly there stood at the head of the Preface only the titles and rank of its author. We must now find a man who bore these titles in the Kao Tsung period, 650 to 683, and who was at the same time a scholar and author of distinction and a friend of the pilgrim. And precisely such a man we find in Yu Chih-ning ([x]), one of the brilliant scholars and statesmen who shed a glory on the reigns of the early T'ang sovereigns.
Yu was a good and faithful servant to T'ai Tsung who held him in high esteem and took his counsel even when it was not very palatable. On the death of T'ai Tsung his son and successor Kao Tsung retained Yu in favour at Court and rewarded him with well-earned honours. In 656 the Emperor appointed Yu along with some other high officials to help in the redaction of the translations which Yuan-chuang was then making from the Sanskrit books. Now about this time Yu, as we know from a letter addressed to him by Hui-li and from other sources, bore the titles which appear at the head of the Preface. He was also an Immortal of the Academy, a Wen-kuan Hsuo-shi ([x]). He was one of the scholars who had been appointed to compile the "Sui Shu" or Records of the Sui dynasty and his miscellaneous writings from forty chuan. Yu was probably a fellow-labourer with Yuan-chuang until the year 660. At that date the concubine of many charms had become all-powerful in the palace and she was the unscrupulous foe of all who even seemed to block her progress. Among these was Yu, who, accordingly, was this year sent away into official exile and apparently never returned.

We need have little hesitation then in setting down Yu Chih-ning as the author of this Preface. It was undoubtedly written while Yuan-chuang was alive, and no one except an intimate friend of Yuan-chuang could have learned all the circumstances about him, his genealogy and his intimacy with the sovereign mentioned or alluded to in the Preface. We need not suppose that this elegant composition was designed by its author to serve as a Preface to the Hsi- yu-chi. It was probably written as an independent eulogy of Yuan-chuang setting forth his praises as a man of old family, a record-beating traveller, a zealous Buddhist monk of great learning and extraordinary abilities, and a propagator of Buddhism by translations from the Sanskrit.

This Preface, according to all the translators, tells us that the pilgrim acting under Imperial orders translated 657 Sanskrit books, that is, all the Sanskrit books which he had brought home with him from the Western Lands. No one seems to have pointed out that this was an utterly impossible feat, and that Yuan-chuang did not attempt to do anything of the kind. The number of Sanskrit texts which he translated was seventy four, and these seventy four treatises (pu) made in all 1335 chuan. To accomplish this within seventeen years was a very great work for a delicate man with various calls on his time.

The translations made by Yuan-chuang are generally represented on the title-page as having been made by Imperial order and the title-page of the Hsi-yu-chi has the same intimation. We know also from the Life that it was at the special request of the Emperor T'ai Tsung that Yuan-chuang composed the latter treatise. So we should probably understand the passage in the Preface with which we are now concerned as intended to convey the following information. The pilgrim received Imperial orders to translate the 657 Sanskrit treatises, and to make the Ta-T'ang-Hsi-yu-chi in twelve chuan, giving his personal observation of the strange manners and customs of remote and isolated regions, their products and social arrangements, and the places to which the Chinese Calendar and the civilising influences of China reached.

-- On Yuan Chwang's Travels in India, 629-645 A.D., by Thomas Watters M.R.A.S.


"Do the Chinese pilgrims know two cities named Kapilavastu?

Certain discords and bearings in the itineraries of the pilgrims are discussed in the Prefatory Note to Antiquities in the Tarai, Nepal1 [Arch. Survey India, 1901, vol. xxvi. ] and from them it is inferred there were two cities named Kapilavastu; one the city visited by Fa-hsien, now represented by the ruins at Piprahava; the other that described by Yuan Chwang, of which the “royal precincts” are found in Tilaura Kot, some ten miles to the north-west of Piprahava. Palta Devi is held to mark the site of the town either of the Buddha Krakucandra or of the Buddha Konagamana;2 [Prefatory Note ( = P.N.), pp. 10, 13, 16. ] or Sisania Pande may represent the town of Konagamana.3 [P.N., pp. 10, 11, 13. ] Gutihava is believed to represent the site of the famous Nyagrodha grove.4 [P.N., pp. 12, 16. ]

Elsewhere it is observed that the old Kapilavastu was probably at Tilaura Kot, but the Piprahava stupa may be on the site of a new Kapilavastu, built after the earlier city at Tilaura was destroyed by Vidudabha.5 [Buddhist India, p. 18, note. ]

From the discussion of the bearings and distances, and the positions of certain remains, I attempt in this article to prove that the pilgrims knew but one city of Kapilavastu, comprising Tilaura Kot and ruins to the south of it; that Krakucandra’s town corresponds to the remains at Sisanihava (Sisania Pande), and Konagamana’s town to those at Gutihava (Gutiva); that the Banyan grove adjoined the south side of the city Nyagrodhika, the Piprahava remains, and that the Arrow-well was situated near Birdpur in the Basti district.

In attempting to fix precisely the positions of Kapilavastu and the towns of the two Buddhas there are difficulties: the values of the yojanas of the pilgrims are disputed; it is not easy to decide offhand whether ‘city’ or ‘capital’ in the texts refers to the “royal precincts” of Kapilavastu, to the capital Kapilavastu, to Kona, to Krakucandra’s town, or to the city in the Nyagrodha grove; and consequently when we find ‘capital’ or ‘city’ it requires very careful study to determine where certain distances begin or end. By ‘capital’ it is generally assumed that a reference is made to the capital Kapilavastu, but I am convinced this assumption is very frequently not correct.

If we con their accounts in the belief that the Kapilavastu and the three other towns are in each instance identical, considerable help is obtained in fixing at each town the position of the monuments. The description of one pilgrim may be fuller, more exact, or perhaps vary a little, yet not infrequently the two narratives are required for a clearer comprehension.

Southwards to Krakucandra’s town Yuan Chwang gives 50 li, reckoned from the “royal precincts” which he calls ‘city,’ meaning the “palace city” of Kapilavastu. Another distance, 40 li, is given, which fixes the approximate spot where Suddhodana met Gautama Buddha on his first return to his father’s district. The “30 li north-east” from Krakucandra’s to Konagamana’s town I consider an error for 30 li north-west.

I calculate Yuan Chwang’s yojana at 5-288, and Fa-hsien’s at 7-05 English miles.1 [J.R.A.S., 1903, pp. 80, 91. ] Round Kapilavastu Yuan Chwang’s ' distances are after all recorded in the one measure he always employs, and not as I suspected formerly in the earlier yojana adopted by Fa-hsien.1 [J.R.A.S., 1903, pp. 102, 103. ]

“The country shown in Mr. Mukherji’s map2 [Antiquities, p. 1. ] is for the most part open .... and the positions of all ancient remains on the surface of any importance are known.”3 [P.N., p. 10. ]

Tilaura Kot.

Here were situated the “royal precincts” (1), whose walls, 14 or 15 li in circuit (= 1-9 miles), were as stated by Yuan Chwang “all built of brick.” At the spots examined Mukherji found brick walls on all four sides of Tilaura Kot. The walls are from 10'-12' thick, and the bricks measure 12 -1/4" x 8" x 2". The excavations so far undertaken are insufficient for us to fix the sites of all the buildings enumerated by the pilgrims. The fort is only “about a mile in circuit,” but “a triangular patch of ruins exists to the north outside the walls which is not included in Mr. Mukherji’s measurements, and would add considerably to the circuit if included.” With the unmeasured patch “the circuit measures little under two miles”;4 [Pioneer, February 1st, 1904. The Pioneer (Allahabad newspaper) of 1st, 6th, and 19th February, 1904, contains three articles contributed by Prince Khadga Samser, of Nepal, on the Kapilavastu and other Tarai remains. ] another estimate also makes the circuit “to be about two miles.”5 [P.N., p. 12. ] “The brick fort was protected by a deep ditch on all sides, as also by a second mud wall and a second but wider ditch.”6 [Antiquities, pp. 19, 22. ]

The relative positions and distances from one another of the places which I identify with Kapilavastu, Kona, and the town of Krakucandra, and the bearings to certain other remains, lead me to agree with the statement respecting Tilaura Kot “that there is no other place in the whole region which, can possibly be identified with the 'royal precincts.’”1 [P.N., p. 12. ]

The site of the sleeping palace of Mahamaya in Yuan Chwang’s description is apparently the same as the site of the palace of Suddhodana in Fa-hsien’s. The two palaces of Yuan Chwang’s account were probably contained in one building (2).

Yuan Chwang informs us that a stupa (3) commemorated the spot where Asita (Kaladevala) cast the horoscope of prince Gautama. It is not perfectly clear whether the stupa was inside or outside the palace gate. It was situated “to the north-east of the palace of the spiritual conception,” and Yuan Chwang adds Asita “came and stood before the door.” In the Lalita Vistara Asita is admitted within the gate.2 [Biblio. Indica, Calcutta trans., p. 140. ] Fa-hsien, however, does not allude to Asita until he speaks of the monuments outside the gates of the capital. From this we should possibly infer that Asita was shown the child outside a gateway in a wall around the palace site. Legge notes that only the spot was shown to Fa-hsien, but Beal, Giles, and Laidlay make out from their texts that a stupa existed. The place was shown to Asoka.

Outside the walls of Tilaura Kot Yuan Chwang saw (4) two Deva temples and a monastery; the latter is noted by Fa-hsien as “congregation of priests.” If these monuments formed one group a probable position is the three mounds, one semicircular, lying together outside the upper gate in the west wall of the fort.3 [Antiquities, p. 22. ] There are also two “stupa-like ” mounds and a tank in Derva village, and farther north another mound 650' from the fort. These three mounds are near the south-west corner of Tilaura Kot.4 [Antiquities, pp. 22, 53, pl. ii. ]

At the south-west corner of the fort, between the two moats in front of the gate in the west wall, there is a mound (5) which Mukherji marks, in his plate ii, hut does not describe. This mound may be the stupa which indicates the spot where the elephant blocked the “south gate of the city” or citadel,1 [Beal, ii, p. 16. ] and Nanda drew the elephant on one side or “carried it seven paces.”2 [Rockhill: Life of the Buddha, p. 19. ] Gautama afterwards tossed the elephant with his foot, and it fell on the other side of the “city moat.”3 [Beal, ii, p. 17. ] Yuan Chwang has nothing about the elephant being tossed over a wall, far less seven walls and seven ditches of some accounts. Fa-hsien was shown this spot, but has neither walls nor moats. The elephant fell “two miles away in the outskirts,”4 [Lalita Vistara, pp. 204, 208. ] that is, on reckoning the finger-breadth by Yuan Chwang’s scale, half a yojana from the spot where it was killed, or 2-65 English miles from the gate of the citadel. This is very little short of the distance from the south-west gate of Tilaura Kot to the tank at Lahari Kudan.

Lahari Kudan.

Yuan Chwang notes that a stupa—this was built by believing brahmans and householders, and was reverenced by bhiksus5 [Rockhill, op. cit., p. 19. ] —and three temples stood within, while a fourth temple, this containing a representation of one of the four signs, it seems that of a sick man, stood without the south gate of the capital.

The four signs are accounted for in this way. The brahmans predicted that Gautama would see four signs or visions which would cause him to become an ascetic.6 [Hardy: Manual of Buddhism, p. 154. ] The visions appeared while he was going his rounds outside Kapilavastu,7 [ Beal, ii, p. 18. ] and again while, he was on his way to the Nyagrodha grove,8 [Digha; Hardy, op. cit., p. 157; Bigandet, Life of Gaudama, 1866 ed,, p. 49; Lalita Vistara, p. 257. ] or in it.9 [Rockhill, op. cit., p. 22. ] At the east gate of the capital Kapilavastu he saw the form of an old man, at the south gate of a sick man, at the west gate of a dead man, at the north gate of a mendicant.1 [Laidlay’s Fahian, p. 196. ] Yuan Chwang notes the signs in this order,2 [Also Bigandet, op. cit., p. 44; Rockhill, op. cit., p. 22. ] but he does not explain at which gate each of the forms appeared. Fa-hsien says there were (?) stupas to mark the sites, one apparently at the east, south, and north gates.3 [Beal, i, p. xlix; in Laidlay’s version at the east and south gates; in Legge’s only at the east gate, ‘on seeing the sick man,’ perhaps when Gautama was driving towards the Nyagrodha grove. ]

Yuan Chwang does not give the relative positions of the different monuments at the south gate, but he notices the stupa first and the temple outside the gate last. It is likely from this that the three temples in the capital lay between the stupa and the temple outside the south gate. If so the stupa would occupy the northernmost and the fourth temple the southernmost place in the series.

Ranged north to south on the east side of Lahari Kudan village are four mounds,4 [Antiquities, pp. 32, 53; Pioneer, Feb. 6th, 1904.] which I think represent the sites of the stupa and the four temples. Three of the mounds lie on the west, and the fourth on the south side of a tank which I identify with the hastigarta.

(1) The northernmost mound (6), says Mukherji, appears “to be a stupa of solid brick-work, still about 30' high, of which the superficies was covered with plasters, and concrete, as is still visible on the top.” From three sides bricks have been removed. This surely must be the stupa near the spot where “the elephant falling on the ground caused a deep and wide ditch.”5 [ Antiquities, p. 32; Beal, ii, p. 17. ]

(2) The mound about 40' high, situated just south of the stupa, is the site of a building with “two divisions,” around which there was formerly a brick wall on the four sides.6 [Antiquities, p. 32; Pioneer, Feb. 6th, 1904. ] On the summit of the mound and again at 20' from the ground level there are traces of more brick walls. Here we had I believe the (7, 8) two temples which Yuan Chwang places by the side of the hastigarta (9). That next the stupa contained a representation of Prince Gautama, and the other a likeness of Yasodhara and Rahula.1 [Beal, ii, p. 17. ] This temple perhaps was built on the site of one of Suddhodana’s three palaces, Ranma, Suramma, and Subha.2 [Beal, ii, p. 17; Bigandet, op. cit., pp. 47, 50; Hardy, op. cit., p. 154. ] Gautama’s palace was surrounded by high walls and a moat.3 [Lalita Vistara, p. 260. ] From an arched doorway in the palace a stairway led down to the courtyard where Gautama mounted Kanthaka that night he left Yasodhara and Tahula, and abandoned his home.4 [Bigandet, op. cit., p. 56; Hardy, op. cit., p. 162. ]

(3) A small mound “only 4 feet high,” other dimensions not given, lies 250' south of the palace mound just described. Probably this (10) was the site of the schoolroom which was also shown to Asoka. “The walls of a room are traceable.”5 [Antiquities, p. 33. ] The tank by the side of the stupa and the two mounds is probably the hastigarta.

(4) The southernmost mound “nearly 11 feet high,” distance south of the four foot high mound is not given, “appears to be a structure of solid brick-work.” It has a line of ancient platform on its south side. This mound (11), on which stands a modern octagonal temple sacred to Nagesvara Mahadeva, probably conceals the remains of the temple which lay without the south gate, and contained a representation of a sick man. Fa-hsien means, I think, by “where Nan tho and others struck the elephant” (Laidlay) that he saw a stupa at the south gate of the citadel, Tilaura Kot, and, according to the other texts where there are the additional words, “tossed it,” “hurled it,” or “threw it,” that he saw another at the hastigarta, and, see Laidlay’s and Giles’ translations, that there was a temple outside the south gate of the capital at Lahari Kudan.  

South-East Angle and East Gate of Kapilavastu.

From the outer moat at the south-east corner of Tilaura Kot a division, which Mukherji suggests is the Rohini stream, is shown on his map to extend southwards to a point almost midway between Taulihava and Bardeva, a village half a mile south-west of Taulihava. South of Taulihava its course is not outlined, but it "joins a river in British territory.”1 [Antiquities, p. 22. ] This moat probably defined the eastern side of the capital.

From a spot one-half to one mile to the south-east of Bardeva—at this distance south-east because the remains at Bardeva must be included in the capital—the Tilaura Kot-Bardeva moat probably gave off a side branch which led westward to the south gate of the capital at Lahari Kudan to supply the hastigarta and the moat round the palace in which Gautama lived by the side of the hastigarta.

Inasmuch as Taulihava is to the east side of the Tilaura-Bardeva moat, the ancient mound in Taulihava village lies outside, or just on the eastern boundary of Kapilavastu, probably a little to the eastward of the spot where the east, the principal gate, was situated. Bardeva village, situated as it is in the angle formed by the Tilaura-Bardeva moat and the suggested course of the Lahari Kudan-Bardeva moat, must stand in what was the south-east quarter or angle of the capital. There are no ruins to the immediate south of the line Lahari Kudan-Bardeva.

“In the south-east angle of the city”2 [Beal, ii, p. 18; Watters, On Yuan Chwang , ii, p. 2. ] — here ‘city' does not seem to be Gautama’s palace enclosure—there was a temple (12) containing an equestrian representation of Prince Gautama, to mark where he left the city “by the eastern gate.”3 [Beal, i, p. xlix. ] A small mound, apparently without others near it, is situated about a furlong south of Bardeva.4 [Antiquities, p. 33. ] This mound, which contains the ruins of a temple, is perhaps the site.

Ancient remains extend from Taulihava northwards to Samai Mayi, and south-west to Bardeva. The ancient mound of bricks in Taulihava village, that on which is the temple of Taulisvara Mahadeva, built about twenty years ago, is, I suspect, the ruins of the temple of the old man (13) which the pilgrims saw outside the east gate. Here there are pieces of ancient sculpture, the carved jambs of a door, dressed stones, and much brick rubble.

Neither Fa-ihsien nor Yuan Chwang notices the Shrine of Kanthaka’s Staying. It was apparently in this locality, but perhaps a good way east of the temple outside the east gate.

Krakucandra’s Town (14).

The bearings and distances given by Yuan Chwang appear to me to make it impossible to identify this town with any other than the remains at Sisanihava.1 [Dr. Hoey (J.R.A.S., 1906, p. 434) proposes to identify Krakucandra’s town (Na-pi-ka of Fa-hsien) with remains near Nibi, about four miles south of the point where the Banganga enters the Basti district. The places on the way to Rummindei are not indicated. ]

After describing what he saw at the “palace city” of Kapilavastu and at the south and east gates in the capital adjoining its south side, Yuan Chwang, without giving the distance from the south gate of Kapilavastu at Lahari Kudan, then takes us outside the Kapilavastu capital to Krakucandra’s town or Sisanihava, and from this position gives us a summary description of what he found in the immediate outskirts of Kapilavastu, and of the memorials which interested him. His account, apparently not free from error as we have it, is somewhat meagre in detail and not lucid.

The distance, he says, to this “old town” or “old city,” Krakucandra’s, is 50 li or so, an approximate estimate, south of the ‘city,’ that is, I consider, of the “palace city,” the royal precincts of Kapilavastu. Some may be inclined to believe that the 50 li and 40 li1 [Beal, ii, p. 22. The map (P.N., p. 10) showing Yuan Chwang’s route from Kapilavastu to Rummindei is unsatisfactory in that no notice is taken of this distance. ] are both reckoned from the south side of the capital Kapilavastu to Krakucandra’s town. Such an interpretation involves, it will be found, our changing south, in “50 li south,” to south-east. This change, I think, is quite unnecessary, and not likely to be right. But let us inquire if this be possible.

On measuring 50 li, 6-6 miles, in a southerly direction from Lahari Sudan, from Bardeva, or from Taulihava, no mounds are known, whereas at 40 li, 5-28 miles, south-east from Lahari Kudan, and also at this distance nearly south-east from Taulihava and Bardeva, we find the village Sisanihava, where there are extensive remains of an ancient town, comprising on the north side of Sisanihava a long mound resembling that lying just south of Rummindei, and also remains which extend half a mile south of Sisanihava.2 [Pioneer, Feb. 6th, 1904; Antiquities, pp. 33, 50, 56. ] The bearing to Sisanihava, as shown on Mukherji’s map, from the south-east quarter of Kapilavastu at Bardeva is a little east of south.3 [The position of ‘Sisania’ on Mukherji’s map requires to be altered a little to the west, and perhaps also a little to the north, that is, it lies about a mile, or perhaps more, to the north-west of the spot shown. I suppose I am right in saying so, because it is remarked (P.N., p. 10) Sisanihava is “some four or five miles in a north-westerly direction” from Piprahava, and (Pioneer, February 6th, 1904) the distance is a little above 3 miles E.S.E. from Gutihava to Kuva, a village 1-1/2 miles north of Sisanihava (Sisania). ] But Bardeva or Taulihava can scarcely be the point from which Yuan Chwang reckons his 40 li, for neither is quite on the southern limit of Kapilavastu. In this respect Lahari Kudan would be a preferable starting-point for the 40 li. The objection to reckoning the 40 li from the south side of Kapilavastu to Sisanihava is that the subsequent bearings and distances to Rummindei do not suit. They do, however, if the 40 li are reckoned from Sisanihava.

In Yuan Chwang’s account of Krakucandra’s town three stupas are mentioned; one, probably inside the city of Krakucandra, to commemorate Krakucandra’s birth (15); a second, to the south of this ‘city’ at the spot where this Buddha met his father (16); a third, to the south-east of this ‘city,’ Krakucandra’s relic stupa, and near it an inscribed Asoka pillar (17). Fa-hsien notices two of the three stupas and makes it clear they were to be seen at this town. The birthplace stupa was perhaps not pointed out to Fa-hsien.

The mounds on the south side of Sisanihava village have not been minutely examined. It is therefore impossible to tell where to look for the stupas and Asoka pillar, to which Yuan Chwang does not give the distance from the city. The stupa and pillar beside it may have been some miles distant. There is a stupa at Bharaulia,1 [J.R.A.S., 1898, p. 578. ] but this seems to be too far away, and it probably commemorates another event.

Fa-hsien places Kona to the westward of Kapilavastu. Krakucandra’s town could not well be to the south-west of Kona (Yuan Chwang gives north-east to Kona from Krakucandra’s town), for then Krakucandra’s town would not be situated, if this were so, to the ‘south’ of Kapilavastu, and it would be impossible with the distances and bearings given by Yuan Chwang to span the distance from Krakucandra’s town to Rummindei.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

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Part 2 of 2

Kanakamuni’s or Konagamana’s Town, or Kona (18).

Yuan Chwang calls Kona “an old capital (or great city),” 'city,’ and ‘town.’ Fa-hsien has ‘city.’ They agree in placing Kona to the northward of Krakucandra’s town. According to Fa-hsien, Kona lay to the westward of Kapilavastu, for he proceeded eastward2 [ ‘Eastward’ in Beal; ‘east’ or ‘easterly’ in the other translations. That these bearings probably correspond to north-east see J.R.A.S., 1903, p. 100, and arguments in this article. ] from Kona to the “city of Kapilavastu,” by which we must understand, as I contend, to the “royal precincts” of Yuan Chwang’s description. If we trust one statement alone of Yuan Chwang—he has two which appear to contradict it—Kona was distant about 30 li “to the north-east of the town of Krakuchchhanda Buddha,”1 [Beal, ii, p. 19. ] which was situated 50 li to the ‘south’ of the 'city,’ that is, of the royal precincts of Kapilavastu, and south of the capital. Kona thus lay, according to this account, at an unrecorded distance to the south-east of Kapilavastu.

It follows from what the pilgrims say that Fa-hsien places Kona to the north-west (he says ‘north’), whereas Yuan Chwang places it to the north-east of Krakucandra’s town. Which pilgrim are we to follow? When all the hearings, distances, and remarks of the pilgrims have been critically examined we must decide in favour of Fa-hsien that Kona lay to the westward of Kapilavastu.

Mukherji marched with his camp twice from Piprahava to Tilaura, and once from Tilaura to Rummindei,2 [Antiquities, p. 1. ] and passed three times near to, or at the most not more than one and a half to two and a quarter miles from, the position where Kona should be found if it was situated just under four miles, 30 li, north-east of Sisanihava, but he did not see, at least does not describe, remains of any kind. If Sisanihava represents Krakucandra’s town I presume there are no remains of adequate importance north-east of Sisanihava which could possibly be identified with Kona. Were there any near the distance I give Mukherji was likely to have heard of them. And Prince Khadga Samser does not mention any. Are we then to conclude that the entire record “30 li north-east” is a blunder? It is possible that the 30 li north-east should be changed to 30 li north-west, or that no change is required, for “30 li north-east” has possibly by an oversight been given as the distance from Krakucandra’s town to Kona instead of from Kona to the “royal precincts.” Each of these theories is capable of support.

It is certain 40 li3 [Beal, ii, p. 22. ] in a southerly direction is the distance from some 'city,’ probably from its south gate, but which city is meant is not made clear by the pilgrim. With the exception of Lahari Kudan any spot on the line Lahari Kudan—Bardeva is less than 40 li, 5-28 miles, from Sisanihava. Now, if we allow that Lahari Kudan, on account of its remains, is the south gate of the capital Kapilavastu, and that Sisanihava, as the distance from Lahari Kudun to it is exactly 40 li, about 5-25 miles, is Krakucandra’s town, then 50 li, 6-6 miles, the other distance ‘south’ of the ‘city’ Kapilavastu to Krakucandra’s town (Sisanihava), cannot be reckoned from any point on the outskirts of Kapilavastu between Lahari Kudan and Bardeva. The 50 li would have to be calculated from a spot well to the north of Bardeva, whereas Yuan Chwang usually gives the distance from one town to the next between the nearest points. If calculated from the south side of Kapilavastu the 50 li must necessarily begin from some point to the west of the south gate of the capital, and 50 li 'south’ would then be meant for 50 li south-east. But it will be remembered by those who have studied the pilgrim’s account he does not place any memorials from which he could have reckoned the 50 li in a position to the westward of the south gate of the capital Kapilavastu. In 50 li south, say for south-east, we may have the distance from some city, perhaps from Kona, as Fa-hsien places Kona to the westward, to Krakucandra’s town (Sisanihava). The 50 li ‘south,’ perhaps south-east, and 40 li, also perhaps south-east, just discussed with Sisanihava as the southern terminus of the two distances, make it possible that ‘50 li’ to Sisanihava was reckoned from the neighbourhood of Gutihava, where there are a pillar, stupa, and other remains. But if so it is to be observed that ‘south’ would have to be altered to south-east. This is not desirable.

I shall now assume that the “30 li north-east” is correct, and is somehow connected with Kona, but is misplaced in the text. As Fa-hsien places Kona to the westward of Kapilavastu, is “30 li north-east,” if interpreted as the distance from Kona to the “royal precincts,” in harmony with the pilgrims’ accounts?

Yuan Chwang records “40 li north-east” from the north side of Kona to the ploughing stupa (19).1 [Beal, ii, p. 19. ] To my thinking there is no ambiguity as to the ‘city’ from which the pilgrim reckons the 40 li. It is Kona. The deductions from this distance, and particularly from this bearing, require notice. Fa-hsien writes: “A few li to the north-east of the city is the royal field where the prince, sitting under a tree, watched a ploughing match.”2 [Beal, i, p. xlix. This quotation is taken from that part of Fa-hsien’s narrative which treats, as we know from Yuan Chwang, of the monuments in the Nyagrodha grove. In using it here in my argument I may be wrong. But I have some justification, for Fa-hsien’s reference to Asita does not occur until he leaves the palace city of Kapilavastu and describes the monuments a long way to the south in the capital, or town to the south of the palace city. Gautama was taken when five months of age to the ‘field’ (twice mentioned in Hardy, Man Buddh., p. 153). This apparently is the same as the “royal field” in Fa-hsien. Gautama also when a young man watched men ploughing (Rockhill, op. cit., p. 22). ] His nurses took the infant Gautama not far I think from the “royal precincts” of Kapilavastu—corresponding to the “inner city” or “palace city” in Yuan Chwang’s description of Kusagarapura3 [Beal, ii, p. 150. ] —or ‘city’ in this part of Fa-hsien’s account of Kapilavastu. Indeed, I believe they took the child no more than 10 li or so from the palace, or 40 li north-east from Kona to the “royal field” less “30 li north-east,” the latter the distance, if this is misplaced in the text, from Kona to the palace. How 10 li is equivalent to 7-5 li of Fa-hsien’s measure, and represents the “a few li” which he gives from the ‘city’ to the “royal field.” If we have to reckon the 40 li (this would be 30 li in Fa-hsien’s scale) from Suddhodana’s palace in Tilaura Kot, it is improbable Fa-hsien would have expressed this by “a few li.” He expresses a distance of about 30 li in other words, “less than one yojana.”

Because the bearing to the “royal field” or ploughing stupa is north-east—north-east of the palace city of Kapilavastu according to Fa-hsien, and north-east the whole way from Kona to the stupa according to Yuan Chwang—Yuan Chwang when recording the 40 li north-east from Kona must have had clearly in his mind that Kona lay to the south-west of the “royal precincts” of Kapilavastu, and to the westward of Kapilavastu, where Fa-hsien places Kona. It now seems tolerably certain that Yuan Chwang’s 'north-east’ from the town of Krakucandra to Kona is either a mistake for north-west, or “30 li north-east” is misplaced in the text and records the distance from Kona to the “royal precincts.” If the latter supposition be correct, Yuan Chwang has not given the distance from Krakucandra’s town to Kona, or, if the former be correct, that from Kona to the “royal precincts.”

Again, according to Beal’s translation, the stupas of the slaughtered Sakyas (20) were seen to the north-west of Kona.1 [Beal, ii, p. 20. ] But Watter’s has ‘north-east.’2 [Op. cit., ii, p. 8. ] If this bearing is not a misprint, Kona of course lay at an unrecorded distance to the south-west and to the west side of Kapilavastu. Yuan Chwang’s reference seems most likely to be to the Sagarahava stupas on the sides of the Sagarahava tank two miles north of Tilaura Kot.

Sagarahava with its tank and stupas is perhaps the site of the ‘Sows tank’ and the Udambara arama of the Parivrajakas where Vidudabha had his captives trampled by elephants and mangled by harrows, and afterwards thrown into a pit. The place was visited by Ananda the day after Vidudabha left for Sravasti.3 [Rockhill, op. cit., p. 120; J.R.A.S., 1898, p. 558. Yuan Chwang says that Vidudabha, after his subjugation of the Sakyas, took 500 of their maidens for his harem. They also were mutilated and cast into a pit near Sravasti city (Beal, ii, p. 11). ]

Now, as “40 li north-east” to the ploughing stupa is to a spot “a few li” north-east of the palace in Tilaura Kot, the distance from Kona to the palace must be somewhat short of 40 li, that is, of one yojana of Yuan Chwang. This agrees with Fa-hsien’s “less than one yojana” eastward or north-east from Kona to the “city of Kapilavastu,” or the palace. South-west exactly four miles (30 li Yuan Chwang north-east = 3-9 miles) we find Gutihava. Mukherji says the distance from Gutihava to Tilaura Kot is “about 4 miles.”1 [Antiquities, p. 49.] If, therefore, Gutihava can otherwise be identified as a part of Kona, Yuan Chwang’s 30 li north-east, if misplaced, should no doubt be calculated from near Gutihava to the “royal precincts.” A place must be found for the 30 li north-east, if the bearing must not be altered, and no other than the line from Gutihava to Tilaura Kot suits so well. In addition to there being no remains, it would seem 30 li north-east of Sisanihava, to correspond to the site of Kona, and as Fa-hsien certainly, and Yuan Chwang too, as we have learned from two possibly of his statements, places Kona to the westward of Kapilavastu, we have two distances which give support to the probability that Kona stood near Gutihava, namely 30 li north-east, if misplaced in the text, 4 miles, from Gutihava to Tilaura, and also 50 li, 6-6 miles, ‘south,’ possibly intended for south-east, if the 50 li are calculated from the southernmost limit of the capital Kapilavastu, which is the distance from Gutihava, the approximate position of Kopa, to Sisanihava.

Gautama, watched ploughers at work at Karsaka (= ploughing), a town in which for a time he was chief magistrate.2 [J.R.A.S., 1898, p. 549. ] This may be the place referred to by the pilgrims. There are ruins “about two furlongs west of Ahirauli,”3 [Antiquities, p. 28. ] a village one and a half miles north-east of Tilaura Kot (40 li north-east less 30 li north-east = 10 li = 1-32 miles). Except at Sagarahava, Bikuli, and Ahirauli, “no ruins have been found in any other villages” in this region.4 [Antiquities, p. 28. ] Bikuli is out of the question; it is “three miles east and a little north” of Sagarahava. Sagarahava seems to be too far from Tilaura Kot, and is not in the right direction; Sagarahava is “about 2 miles north,”5 [Antiquities, p. 25. ] whereas the stupa apparently stood about one and a half miles north-east of Tilaura Kot. The ruins near Ahirauli very probably include the stupa; this position agrees best with the bearing, and with what the distance to it from Tilaura Kot seems to be. "We should note that Fa-hsien is unwontedly particular in giving the exact bearing north-east to the “royal field,” as if he were cautioning us against mistaking the Sagarahava stupas for the site. Asoka was shown the place.

The conclusion I come to from the previous discussion of the bearings and distances is that it is safest to take the 50 li ‘south’ to Krakucandra’s town as the distance to some spot between south-south-west and south-south-east of Kapilavastu. If we go beyond these limits to search for Krakucandra’s town and suppose 'south’ is here southwest, so that the ‘north-east’ to Kona may remain unaltered, we find ourselves in difficulties: if Krakucandra’s town be supposed to lie somewhere to the south-west of the Kona of Fa-hsien it becomes necessary to change ‘south’ in Yuan Chwang to south-west, with the result that the subsequent distances and bearings given by Yuan Chwang do not suffice to cover the ground from Krakucandra’s town to Rummindei, whereas with the bearing ‘south’ Sisanihava corresponds admirably in position with Krakucandra’s town. The distance from Kona to the “royal precincts” was no doubt about 30 li of Yuan Chwang’s reckoning, the same as the 30 li north-west (north-east in the texts) from Krakucandra’s town to Kona, probably to its south-east corner. Fa-hsien makes the corresponding distances each “less than one yojana.” Yuan Chwang certainly appears to contradict himself with regard to the position of Kona, which Fa-hsien places to the westward of Kapilavastu. Although 40 li from the ‘city’ to the Kyagrodha grove agrees with the distance from Lahari Kudan to Sisanihava, I am convinced this distance must be reckoned from Sisanihava (Krakucandra’s town) and not from the south gate of the capital Kapilavastu at Lahari Kudan. As the subsequent distances and bearings to Rummindei prove, the Nyagrodha grove, to which the 40 li is the distance, was situated a long way from Krakucandra’s town. The remains near Ahirauli probably include the ploughing stupa which was distant “a few li” to the north-east of Tilaura Kot and 40 li to the north-east of the north side of Kona. The stupas near Sagarahava, two miles north of Tilaura Kot, are very probably the stupas of the slaughtered Sakyas spoken of by Yuan Chwang, who gives the bearing to them without any distance as ‘north-east’ (so in Watters), which in some texts is ‘north-west.’

Yuan Chwang notices three Asoka pillars in the Kapilavastu district—at Lumbinl, at Krakucandra’s town, and at Kona. The Lumbini pillar has been discovered at Rummindei; the upper inscribed portion of another, evidently from Kona, exists at Niglihava; and in Gutihava village there is an uninscribed lower part of a pillar which stands on its original foundation. It is tempting to regard the Gutihava and Niglihava pillars as one, but that this is so is not certain. The Niglihava pillar if joined to the Gutihava pillar and to the three pieces in this village would form a pillar over 28' 9-1/2" high.1 [The height ( Pioneer, Feb. 6th, 1904) of the Gutihava pillar is 10' 2" and of the pieces 2' 3" and (Antiquities, p. 32) 1' 7" high. Total, 14'. The measurement of one piece is not given. The Niglihava pillar is about 14' 9-1/2" long (Antiquities, p. 30). ] The Gutihava pillar stands south-west of the supa, whereas the Kona pillar was 20' high and stood “in front ” (? east side) of the stupa, and the inscription on the Niglihava pillar does not bear out what Yuan Chwang says of the Kona pillar. The colour and stone of the Gutihava, Niglihava, and Rummindei pillars do not appear to differ.2 [Antiquities, pp. 31, 34. ]

Perhaps Yuan Chwang was misinformed of the purport of the inscription on the Kona pillar, and 20' high may be a mistake for 30', the height of the pillar at Krakucandra’s town, which was probably ordered by Asoka at the same time on one of his visits.

Not far to the north-east of Kona stood the stupa where Konagamana met his father (21), and “farther north” than this was the relic stupa of Konagamana, with the Asoka pillar we have been discussing in front of it (22). To the north of the Gutihava pillar and stupa there is a mound which Mukherji describes:—“On the north of the village [Gutihava] is an ancient ditch, and about 200 feet south of the Stupa is an ancient tank. About two furlongs north [‘north-east’] of Gutiva is a [‘very’] large mound, on the east and south of which are two tanks.”1 [Antiquities, pp. 32, 55. ] Mukherji searched at Gutihava for stupas to the ‘north-west’ of the pillar in this village, but could not find another.2 [Antiquities, p. 55. ]

It is thus seen that there is a mound which may be the remains of a large stupa “farther north” than the stupa in Gutihava. Yuan Chwang has, I suspect, in his description put the pillar in front of the wrong stupa. The Gutihava stupa and the mound northwards of it appear to be the two stupas of which he speaks, and if so the city of Kona was situated to the south-west side of the village Gutihava. To the southwards of Gutihava, so far as I know, there is no trace of the stupa where Konagamana was born (23), or of the “new preaching hall,” Santhagara (24), which stood to the south of Kona city. According to Yuan Chwang it was at this ‘hall’ Vidudabha was slighted by the Sakyas, which occasioned his attacking the city of Kona when he came to the throne. As I understand it the fighting occurred round the hall; he “occupied this place” and the fields close by.3 [ Beal, ii, p. 21. ] The four stupas of the champions (25) who scattered Vidudabha’s army lay to the south-west of the “place of massacre,” the battlefield. Probably they lay somewhere to the southwards of Kona. They were not found at Sagarahava,4 [Antiquities, p. 55. ] which is far to the northward of the supposed position of Kona, whereas the four champions opposed Vidudabha, as I understand Yuan Chwang, to the southwards of Kona.

The City in the Nyagrodha Grove.

When Gautama, after becoming Buddha, was approaching the kingdom of Kapilavastu, Suddhodana “proceeded 40 li beyond the city, and there drew up his chariot to await his arrival.”1 [Beal, ii, p. 22. ] Here “the city” should, I think, be “this city,” the town of Krakucandra, where Yuan Chwang is describing the surroundings of Kapilavastu, and is meaning to give the distance from Krakucandra’s town to the stupa which commemorated  the spot in the Nyagrodha grove where they met for the first time. The grove lay 2 or 3 li to the south of a city of which Yuan Chwang has not given the name, but which we recognize corresponds to the ruins of the city at Piprahava. Yuan Chwang does not mention the distance from this city to the stupa.

There are several accounts of the meeting.2 [Hardy, op. cit., p. 205; Bigandet, op. cit., p. 162; Rockhill, op. cit., p. 52. Yuan Chwang’s is to this effect:—The king and ministers, having reverenced him (Gautama Buddha), again returned to the kingdom (? city), and they (Gautama and disciples) located themselves in this Nyagrodha grove by the side of the samgharama. And not far from it (monastery) is a stupa; this is the stupa where Tathagata sat beneath a great tree with his face to the east, and received from his aunt (Prajapati) a golden-tissued garment. A little farther on is another stupa; this is the place where Tathagata converted eight king’s (? kings’) sons and 500 Sakyas.

Fa-hsien adds some monuments which are not noticed by the later pilgrim.

‘Kingdom’ is a slip for ‘city.’ The grove was formed by Nigrodha, a Sakka.3 [ Hardy, op. cit., p. 205. ] It was prepared for the Buddha’s reception by Suddhodana,3 [ Hardy, op. cit., p. 205. ] who presented it to him along with the Nyagrodha monastery, which was built after the plan of the Jetavana monastery at Sravastl. The presentation was made the day after the Buddha arrived and took up his abode with his disciples in the grove by the side of the city and the Rohini (Rohita) river,1 [Rockhill, op. cit., pp. 51-53. ] which separated the kingdom of Kapilavastu from that of the Kolis.2 [Theragatha, quoted Oldenberg, Buddha, p. 412. ]

The city in the grove had gates, walls, monuments, watch-towers, a palace, several monasteries, and a festival hall or pavilion.3 [Hardy, op. cit., pp. 156, 207, 208, 210. ] It appears to have been called Nyagrodhika.4 [Divyavadana, p. 67; J.R.A.S., 1898, p. 549. ] "We hear of the Buddha begging in the streets of this city, “where he was accustomed to ride in his chariot,”5 [Hardy, op. cit., p. 208. ] and of the conversion here of eight kings’ sons,6 [Beal, ii, p. 22. ] the names of whom vary,7 [Hardy, op. cit., pp. 210-212; Bigandet, op. cit., pp. 170, 171; Rockhill, op. cit., pp. 53-57; Watters, op. cit., p. 12. ] and do not always include the Buddha’s own son Rahula, who was of the number.8 [ Hardy, op. cit., p. 210. ] The majority of these conversions are said to have occurred at Anupiya, a village in the country of the Mallas on the road to Pataliputra.

When “a battle was about to take place”9 [Hardy, op. cit., p. 318. ] between the Kapilavastu and Koli people respecting irrigation from the Rohini river, the Buddha settled the dispute and afterwards admitted to his Order the 500 Sakyas, 250 men from each tribe.10 [ Bigandet, op. cit., p. 194; Hardy, op. cit., p. 319. ] Fa-hsien also refers to this incident, and adds “while the earth shook and moved in six different ways.”11 [Legge’s Fa-hien, p. 66. ] The words within inverted commas explain each other; the Buddhists attribute earthquakes to many causes, one when a great war is imminent.12 [Laidlay’s translation, p. 207, 8th cause. For other causes see Bigandet, op. cit., p. 282. There should therefore be one stupa for this incident, not two as in all the translations but Legge’s. ]

Prajapati on three different occasions headed a deputation of 500 Sakya women, the wives of the 500 Sakyas just mentioned, to the Buddha while in the grove, to seek admission to the Order, but their request was denied.1 [Hardy, op. cit., pp. 320, 321. ] It was probably at one of these times that Prajapati presented the monk’s robe.

There were two, if not three, monasteries in or near the city of Nyagrodhika; one built by Suddhodana,2 [J.R.A.S., 1898, p. 542. ] another by those converted to Buddhism,3 [Watters, op. cit., ii, p. 12. ] and perhaps a third situated close to the banks of the Rohini.4 [Bigandet, op. cit., p. 230. ] Perhaps these accounts refer to one monastery.

The monuments enumerated by Yuan Chwang in the grove to the south of this city are:—

1. Stupa where Gautama Buddha met Suddhodana (26).

2. Stupa where Gautama contended in archery (27).

3. Stupa where Prajapati presented robe (28).

4. Stupa of 500 Sakyas converted (29).

5. Nyagrodha monastery (30). To the list Fa-hsien adds,

6. Hall where the Buddha preached to the Devas (31).5 [See also Rockhill, op. cit., p. 52. ]

Fa-hsien mentions the first four. These I take to be the mounds shown in Antiquities, pl. xxvii, fig. 4, and described at p. 46, and noticed J.R.A.S., 1898, pp. 578, 581.

No. 1 is, I think, the stupa in Ganvaria village (p. 43), from which the distance to Sisanihava (Krakucandra’s town) is given by Yuan Chwang as 40 li; No. 2, the circular mound at the south-west corner of fig. 4, if a stupa may be that from which the distance to the 'arrow-well’ is 30 li south-east; Nos. 3, 4, and perhaps 2 also, may have stood on the ground south of the south-east corner of fig. 4, which is described (p. 46) as covered with “scattered rubbles and bricks” for 300 feet; No. 5 may be the cells at the north-east corner of fig. 4, or possibly the same as the site of Nos. 3 and 4. The central mound in fig. 4 is possibly the hall, noticed alone by Fa-hsien of the two pilgrims, where the Buddha preached to the Devas, and the ‘pavilion’ where young Gautama was examined in the arts and sciences by his relatives.1 [Hardy, op. cit., p. 156. ]

Inside the east gate of the city, on the left of the road, there was a stupa, its site in the Piprahava ruins has not been discovered as yet, to indicate where Gautama practised archery and other accomplishments (32). The site was apparently pointed out to Asoka as that where Gautama was taught riding, driving, and as that of his gymnasium. Outside this gate stood the temple of Isvara Deva (33), perhaps the temple whose foundations are seen 80' north of the (34) Piprahava stupa.2 [Antiquities, p. 44, pi. xxvii, fig. 1. ] Suddhodana, following a custom of his tribe,3 [Rockhill, op. cit., p. 17. ] presented Gautama, then two days of age, to the deity in the temple. The temple was named Sakyavardhana, and its guardian deity, a yaksa, bore the same name. Afterwards, it would appear, the image of this yaksa was replaced by one of Isvara Deva. The temple was pointed out to Asoka. To the east of this, and 88' from the Piprahava stupa, are the ruins of a monastery, the name of which is not known.

The Piprahava vase inscription, as interpreted by Dr. Fleet,4 [J.R.A.S., 1906, p. 149. ] convinces me that the Piprahava stupa (34) must be the stupa noticed by Fa-hsien alone, “where King Vaidurya [Vidudabha] slew the seed of Sakya, and they all in dying became Srotapannas.” The story is told that one day Vidudabha entered the Nyagrodha grove, and the people of Nyagrodhika came out to drive him away. Vidudabha vowed vengeance, and declared: “My first act will be to put these Cakyas to death.”5 [Rockhill, op. cit., pp. 74-79, 116-120. ] He fulfilled his threat with cruel tortures. There is a stupa (35) at Bharaulia6 [ J.R.A.S., 1898, p. 578. ] which may mark the tree under which the Buddha sat when Vidudabha was approaching the city in the grove, and where for a while the Buddha diverted him from his purpose to attack the city.1 [J.R.A.S., 1906, p. 171; Avadana Kalpalata, J. Bud. Text Soc,, 1896, p. 5. A similar place was shown to Yuan Chwang 4 li S.E. from Sravasti, where Vidudabha “on seeing Buddha dispersed his soldiers” (Beal, ii, p. 11). A stupa marked the spot when Fa-hsien visited it (Beal, i, p. xlviii). ]

It is from the Piprahava stupa, I think, that Fa-hsien calculates his 50 li, 8-8 miles, to Rummindei. If we follow the sequence in Fa-hsien’s narrative, it is impossible that the “50 li” was calculated from any site at the capital Kapilavastu. The distance from Taulihava to Rummindei direct is 13-1/4 miles, whereas the distance from the Piprahava stupa to Rummindei on Mukherji’s map is 8-1/3 miles. It is just possible that there was a ploughing stupa “several le” (Fa-hsien) to the north-east of the Piprahava stupa, to indicate where Gautama when a young man, according to some accounts, watched ploughers at work, 2 [Rockhill, op. cit.. p. 22. ] and that the 50 li should be calculated from it. But I think Fa-hsien’s ploughing stupa, the reference to which is delayed, as is his reference to Asita, is the one noticed by Yuan Chwang. But if this is unlikely, I would point out that there is a mound north-east of the Piprahava stupa, on the west side of the Sisva reservoir, and another on the east side of the reservoir.3 [ Antiquities, pp. 43, 46; J.R.A.S., 1898, p. 581. ]

The two Rivers Rohini.

The Lesser Rohini, alias Rohita or Rohitaka. It is likely the Rohini is represented in part of its course by the Sisva (36), which flows southwards between Rummindei and Tilaura Kot, and passes half a mile or so to the east side of Piprahava. The Lesser Rohini must have been a narrow and shallow stream. It is repeatedly described as small.4 [Bigandet, op. cit., pp. 11, 193. ] In Chinese texts, the names Luhita or Luhitaka, for Rohita and Rohitaka, and in the Tibetan accounts Rohita, correspond to the Rohini,5 [J.R.A.S., 1898, p. 547; Rockhill, op. cit., p. 20. ] which flowed between the city of Kapilavastu and the city of Koli,1 [Oldenberg, Buddha, p. 412 (quoting Theragatha); Hardy, op. cit., p. 317; Bigandet, op. cit., p. 11. ] which it was the custom of the inhabitants of both cities to dam to irrigate their fields, which contained little water in times of drought,2 [Hardy, op. cit., p. 318. ] and which could have all its water diverted by a large tree falling across it.3 [Rockhill, op. cit., p. 20; J.R.A.S., 1898, p. 548. ] The Nyagrodha monastery was close to or actually on its bank,4 [Bigandet, op. cit., p. 230; J.R.A.S., 1898, p. 548. ] and at this river Suddhodana waited for Gautama Buddha’s return from Magadha.

The Greater Rohini, which joins the Rapti at the west end of the city of Gorakhpur, is sometimes mistaken for the Rohini just described,5 [Oldenberg, Buddha, p. 96; Hardy, op. cit., p. 318; P.N., p. 18. ] but this is a broad and deep river, “not fordable even in summer for 25 miles above Gorakhpur,” and “in the north its banks are steep and well marked.”6 [Gazetteer, N.W.P., vol. vi, 1881, pp. 294, 295. ] It is scarcely conceivable that it could ever have been diverted by a fallen tree, or that its water fed by melted snow in Summer could run short and lead to dispute.

Arrow Well.

The arrow-well (37) was distant 30 li of Yuan Chwang, 4 miles, south-east of the stupa on the left of the road outside the south gate of the city in the Nyagrodha grove. Fa-hsien makes the distance to it 30 li south-east, about 5-28 miles; Yuan Chwang gives 80 to 90 li north-east, from 10-6 to 11-9 miles, by road from the well to Rummindei. The direct distance from Birdpur to Rummindei (38) is about 12 miles. The well, I think, perhaps lies somewhere near Rasulpur, which is 2-1/4 miles north-east by east from Birdpur. I do not know if there are ruins near Rasulpur. There are several mounds to the south-east of Piprahava, in the Dulha Grant.7 [P.N., p. 18. ] The distance is not given. They are probably too near Piprahava to be identified with the site of the arrow-well, at which we are told the small stupa was built by brahmans and householders.1 [Rockhill, op. cit., p. 19. ]

The Lalita Vistara2 [p. 203. ] gives 10 krosa (=2-1/2 yojanas of Yuan Chwang = 13-2 miles) from a palace in Kapilavastu, probably Gautama’s at Lahari Kudan, to the well.

The City of Devadaha or Koli.

The founding of the city of Devadaha is described in the Burmese legend.3 [Bigandet, op. cit., p. 12. ] The city was situated in the vicinity of a “sheet of water,” and became the capital of the Kolis. The Buddha’s maternal grandfather resided in it, and hither Maya repaired when about to be delivered of Gautama. It is probable the village of Lummini of which Asoka remitted the land tax on account of it being the birthplace of the Buddha is the same city. In one romance we hear of the “city of Devadaho and Lumbini,” apparently as names of one city.4 [Beal, Romantic Legend, p. ] Devadaha was not far from Kapilavastu, for the ladies of Devadaha used to present flowers to the Buddha in the Nyagrodha grove, and we have seen that it was close to the Rohini, now the Sisva, or more probably, one of the former beds of this river.

“About a mile north of Parana village is a very high ground extending east to west for about two furlongs and about a furlong north to south. It represents undoubtedly the site of an ancient town.”5 [Antiquities, p. 34. ] This (39) I propose to identify with Devadaha and the village of Lummini of the Rummindei pillar inscription of Asoka. On the north side of the ruins of the ancient city there is a “long tank, now dry,” which I think was the sheet of water by the side of which the city was built. The sacred site of Rummindei lies on the north side of this dry tank.

The capital of the Koliyas of Ramagrama, where a stupa of the Buddha relics existed, was apparently known to some by the name Koli;1 [J.R.A.S., 1898, p. 566. ] and here also was a tank.2 [ Beal, ii, p. 26. ] The Chinese pilgrims place this other city some miles from Rummindei.


There is one stupa (40) of which we might have expected the pilgrims to tell us something. It stands 600' south-east of the east gate of Tilaura Kot. From its size, and the number of times it has been repaired, it must have commemorated an important event. Unfortunately it has been rifled ages ago.3 [Antiquities, pp. 21, 22, pls. ii, iv. ] Possibly this was the stupa, erected at Kapilavastu to receive the share of the Buddha’s relics.



1. “Royal precincts,” citadel, of Kapilavastu.

2. Palaces of Suddhodana and Mahamaya.

3. Asita stupa.

4. Monastery and two Deva temples, by the side of “royal precincts.”

5. Stupa where elephant blocked south gate of citadel.

6. Stupa where elephant fell in capital.

7, 8. Two temples on site of Gautama’s palace.

9. Hastigarta, or fallen elephant ditch.

10. Site of schoolroom of Prince Gautama.

11. Temple of 'sick man’ outside south gate of capital.

12. Temple of representation of Gautama on white horse.

13. Temple of ‘old man’ outside east gate of capital.

Krakucandra’s Town.

14. Krakucandra’s Town.

15. Stupa of Krakucandra’s birth.

16. Stupa where Krakucandra met his father.

17. Asoka pillar and Krakucandra’s relic stupa.


Konagamana’s Town.

18. Konagamana’s Town.

19. Ploughing stupa, at Karsaka, 40 li north-east.

20. Sagarahava tank and stupas of slaughtered Sakyas.

21. Stupa where Konagamana met his father.

22. Asoka pillar and relic stupa of Konagamana.

23. Stupa where Konagamana was born.

24. New preaching hall.

25. Four stupas of champions.

City in Nyagrodha Grove (Nigrodhika).

26. Stupa, where Gautama Buddha met Suddhodana, in Ganvaria village.

27. Stupa where Gautama contended in archery.

28. Stupa where Prajapati presented robe.

29. Stupa of 500 Sakyas converted.

30. Nyagrodha monastery.

31. Hall where Gautama Buddha preached to Devas.

32. Stupa where Gautama practised archery.

33. Temple of Isvara Deva.

34. Piprahava vase stupa, where Vaidurya slew the Sakyas.

35. Bharaulia stupa, ? where Gautama Buddha sat under a tree.

36. Sisva river, the Rohini or Rohitaka of Buddhist books.

37. Arrow-well, approximate position.


38. Asoka pillar at Rummindei.

39. Site of city of Devadaha, Koli, or Lummini village.

40. ? Kapilavastu stupa of the Buddha’s relics.  
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