One of the four great monarchies in the time of the Buddha, the other three being Magadha, Kosala, and Vaṃsa (or Vatsa). Avanti is also mentioned among the sixteen Mahājanapadā.¹ Its capital was Ujjenī. However, according to another account,² Māhissati is mentioned as having been, at least for some time, the capital of Avanti. It is quite likely that ancient Avanti was divided into two parts, the northern part having its capital at Ujjenī and the southern part (also called Avantidakkhiṇāpatha) at Māhissati (Māhismatī).³ This theory is supported by the fact that in the Mahābhārata,⁴ Avanti and Māhismatī are referred to as two different countries.
In the Buddha’s time, the King of Avanti was Pajjota, a man of violent temper,⁵ and therefore known as Caṇḍa Pajjota. He wished to conquer the neighbouring kingdom of Kosambī, of which Udena was king, but his plans did not work out as he had anticipated. Instead, his daughter Vāsuladattā became Udena’s wife and the two countries continued to be on friendly terms.⁶
The kingdom of Assaka is invariably mentioned in connection with Avanti. Even in the Buddha’s life-
It is said that when Pajjota heard of the Buddha’s advent to the world, he sent his chaplain’s son, Kaccāna, with seven others, to invite him to Avanti.
Having listened to the Buddha’s teaching, the messengers became Arahants, and when Kaccāna conveyed to the Buddha the king’s invitation to Avanti, he was asked by the Buddha to return and represent him. Kaccāna returned to Avanti and converted Pajjota to the faith of the Buddha.⁷ Henceforward Mahā-
The religion thus introduced, however, does not seem to have spread to any extent until much later; for we find Mahā-
Robes could be accepted on behalf of a monk who has left the district, and the ten days’ rule with regard to such a gift will not begin until the robes have actually reached the monk’s hands (this, evidently, because of difficulty of access).¹¹
By the time of the Vesāli Council, however, Avanti had become one of the important centres of the orthodox school, for we find Yasa Kākandakaputta sending messengers to Avanti to call representatives to the Council, and we are told that eighty-
Among other localities in Avanti (besides those mentioned above) were Ghanaselapabbata, Makkarakata, and Veḷugāma, and, in Jaina works, we find mention also of Sudarsanapura.¹³
Even in the Buddha’s day there were rumours of the King of Avanti making preparations to attack Magadha, but we are not told that he ever did so.¹⁴ Subsequently, however, before the time of Candagupta, Avanti became incorporated with Magadha. Before Asoka became King of Magadha he was the Magadha Viceroy of Avanti and ruled in Ujjeni, and it was in Ujjeni that Mahinda and Saṅghamittā were born and grew up.¹⁵ However, the country seems to have retained its name at least as late as the second century A.D., as may be seen from Rudradāman’s Inscription at Junagadh.¹⁶
Avanti is now identified with the country north of the Vindhaya Mountains and north-
In the Milindapañha¹⁸ Avanti is mentioned as one of the three mandalas or great divisions of Jambudīpa, the other two being Pācīna and Dakkhiṇāpatha.
According to a late tradition recorded in the Buddhavaṃsa,¹⁹ the Buddha’s mat (nisīdana) and rug were deposited, after his death, in Avanti.
It has sometimes been suggested that Avanti was the home of modern Pāḷi.²⁰ It has further been suggested that the Avanti school of monks — founded by Mahā-
Avanti was one of the parts into which the earth was divided by King Reṇu, with the help of his Great Steward, Mahā-
2. Avanti.– King of Ujjeni in a past age. During his reign the Bodhisatta was born, under the name of Citta, in a Caṇḍāla village outside Ujjeni. His story is related in the Citta-