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Gandhāra

1. Gandhāra.– A Pacceka Buddha mentioned in a nominal list. M.iii.69; ApA.i.106.

2. Gandhāra.– One of the sixteen great nations (mahājanapadā) (A.i.213; iv.252, etc; in the Niddesa and Mahāvastu lists Gandhāra is omitted and others substituted). Its capital was Takkasilā, famous for its university; its king in the time of the Buddha was Pukkusāti. There were friendly missions between him and Bimbisāra of Magadha. Merchants and visitors from one country to another were lodged and fed at the expense of the country’s king, and no tariffs were levied on their merchandise. There was constant exchange of goods and valuables, and on one occasion Bimbisāra, wishing to send his friend a gift of particular value, despatched to him a letter containing news of the appearance in the world of the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Saṅgha. When Pukkusāti read the letter he decided to become a follower of the Buddha, and ordained himself as a monk; then, leaving his kingdom, he travelled all the way to Sāvatthi to see the Buddha (MA.ii.979 ff). This conversion of Gandhāra’s king, however, does not seem to have had the effect of converting the rest of its people to the Buddha’s faith. The memory of Pukkusāti was evidently soon forgotten, for we find Moggaliputta Tissa, at the conclusion of the Third Council, sending the Thera Majjhantika to convert Gandhāra (Mhv.xii.3 ff).

According to Buddhaghosa’s account, Pukkusāti’s kingdom was over one hundred leagues in extent (MA.ii.988), and the distance from Takkasilā to Sāvatthi was one hundred and ninety-two leagues (MA.ii.987; from Bārāṇasī it was one hundred and twenty leagues, vīsamyo-janasata; J.i.395; ii.47). There was evidently a well-known caravan route linking the two countries, although Gandhāra was regarded as a foreign country (paccantima janapada). (MA.ii.982; there was also constant trade between Gandhāra and Videha, J.iii.365 ff. It would appear from the Mahā Niddesa i.154 that Takkasilā was a regular centre of trade).

At the time of Majjhantika’s visit, the people of Gandhāra were being harassed by the Nāga-king Aravāḷa, and the chronicles contain details of his conversion by the monk. The Nāga-king, together with his retinue, the yakkha Paṇḍaka and his wife Hāritā, became devout followers of the Buddha. Majjhantika taught the Āsīvisopama Sutta, and many thousands joined the Order. (Mhv.xii.9 ff; Smp.i.64 f; Dpv.viii.4).

Gandhāra appears to have included Kasmīra, the two countries being always mentioned together as Kasmīra-Gandhāra. They occupied the sites of the modern districts of Peshawar and Rawalpindi in the northern Punjab (PHAI. p.93). In the time of Asoka the country formed part of his empire, and is mentioned as such in Rock Edict V. Before that it was subject to the Achaemenid kings. Gandhāra was always famous for its red woollen shawls (kambala) (SNA.ii.487; J.vi.501).

Another king of Takkasilā besides Pukkusāti is mentioned — namely, Naggaji, who was a contemporary of Nimi, king of Videha. (J.iii.377; cf. Ait. Brāhmana vii.34; Sat. Brāhmana viii.1, 4, 10; see also Gandhārarājā).

One of the eye-teeth of the Buddha was deposited in Gandhāra (Bu.xxviii.6; D.ii.167).

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