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Assaka

1. Assaka.– A king mentioned in the Nimi Jātaka, in a list of kings, such as Dujīpa, Sāgara, Sela, etc., who, in spite of all their great sacrifices, were not able to go beyond the world of hungry ghosts (peta). J.vi.99.

2. Assaka.– King of Potanagara in the Assaka country, soon after the Buddha’s death. He was the father of Sujāta and had two wives. He bequeathed his kingdom to the son of the younger wife (VvA.259‑60).

See also Aruṇa (2).

3. Assaka.– The country of Assaka is one of the sixteen Mahājanapada mentioned in the Aṅguttaranikāya (A.i.213; iv.252, 256, 260). It does not, however; occur in the list of twelve countries given in the Janavasabha Sutta. The Assakas are said to have had settlements on the Godāvarī, and Bāvarī’s hermitage (Sn.v.977) was in their territory, in close proximity to the Aḷaka or Mulaka (the district round Paithan) (Law, Early Geography, 21).

The country is mentioned with Avanti (J.v.317) in the same way as Aṅga with Magadha, and its position in the list between Sūrasena and Avanti makes it probable that when the list was drawn up, its position was immediately to the north-west of Avanti. It is probable, in that case, that the Godāvarī settlement, in the Dakkhināpatha, was a later colony.

In the Assaka Jātaka (J.ii.155) mention is made of a king Assaka whose realm was in the kingdom of Kāsī. It is significant, in this connection, that the capital of Assaka, variously called Potana (e.g., D.ii.235; J.iii.3) or Potali (e.g., J.ii.155), is not mentioned in the reference to the Godāvarī.

According to the Cūḷakāliṅga Jātaka (J.iii.3‑5), at one time the King of Assaka (Arum) accepted the challenge of King Kāliṅga of Dantapura to war, and defeated him. Later Assaka married Kāliṅga’s daughter and the relations between the two countries were amicable. In the Hāthigumphā Inscription of Khāravela it is related that Khāravela, regardless of King Sātakarnī, sent a large army to the west (pachime disaṃ) to strike terror into Assaka (or Asika) nagara. Law (op.cit., p.21) thinks that the Assaka of the Cūḷa Kāliṅga Jātaka, the Asikanagara of the Hāthigumphā Inscription and the Assaka of the Suttanipāta are one and the same place. This would probably be correct if Potana and Potali were regarded as two different cities, capitals of two different settlements having the same name.

Sanskrit authors speak of both Asmakā and Asvakā. It is not possible to say whether these represent two distinct tribes or whether they are variant names for the same people. Asaṅga mentions Asmaka in his Sūtrālankāra as a territory on the basin of the Indus. This would make it identical with the Assakenus of Greek writers, that is to the east of the Sarasvati, about twenty-five miles from the sea on the Swat valley. Pānini mentions the Asmakas (iv.173). The Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa and the Brhat Saṇhitā place Assaka to the north-west. The Assaka capital, Potana, it has been suggested, is the Paudanya of the Mahābhārata (i.77, 47). In the Commentary to Kautilya’s Arthasāsta, Bhattasvāmi identifies Asmaka with Mahārāstra (Law, op.cit., 22).

Soon after the Buddha’s death, a King Assaka was the ruler of Potali, and he and his son Sūjata were converted by Mahā-Kaccānā (VvA.259‑67).

In the time of King Reṇu, the Assaka king of Potana was Brahmadatta (D.ii.236).

In the Buddha’s time the Assaka king is described as an Andhakarājā. He took a thousand for the plot of land sold for Bāvarī’s hermitage (SnA.ii.581).

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