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Kuru

A country, one of the sixteen great countries (Mahājanapada) (D.ii.200; A.i.213 etc.) Frequent references to it are found in the Pāḷi Canon. It is said that Kuru was originally the name of the chieftains (rājakumārā) of the country and that their territory was later named after them.

Buddhaghosa records a tradition (DA.ii.481 f; MA.i.184 etc.) which states that, when Mandhātu returned to Jambudīpa from his sojourn in the four great continents (Mahādīpa) and in the devalokas, there were in his retinue a large number of the people of Uttarakuru. They settled down in Jambudīpa, and their settlement was known as Kururaṭṭha. It had many towns and villages.

The country seems to have had very little political influence in the Buddha’s time, though, in the past, Pañcāla, Kuru, and Kekaka were evidently three of the most powerful kingdoms (See, e.g., J.ii.214). According to the Jātaka stories (e.g., J.v.57, 484; vi.255. Also Mtu.i.34; ii.419), the kingdom of Kuru was three hundred leagues in extent and its capital, Indapatta, seven leagues in circumference. The ruling dynasty at Indapatta belonged to the Yudhitthila-gotta (J.iii.400; iv.361). Among the kings of the past, Dhanañjaya Koravya is mentioned several times (J.ii.366; iii.400; iv.450; vi.260; etc.) and reference is also made to a king called Koravya (J.iv.361; v.457) whose son was the Bodhisatta Sutasoma. During the Buddha’s time, also, the chieftain of Kuru was called Koravya, and his discussion with the elder Raṭṭhapāla, who was himself the scion of a noble family of the Kurū, is recounted in the Raṭṭhapāla Sutta (M.ii.65 ff). Perhaps at one time the Kuru kingdom extended as far as Uttarapañcāla, for in the Somanassa Jātaka (J.iv.444), Uttarapañcāla is mentioned as a town in the Kuru-raṭṭha, with Reṇu as its king.

Koravya had a park called Migacīra where Raṭṭhapāla took up his residence when he visited his parents (MA.ii.725). The people of Kuru had a reputation for deep wisdom and good health, and this reputation is mentioned (MA.i.184 f; AA.ii.820; they were also probably reputed to be virtuous; see the Kurudhamma Jātaka) as the reason for the Buddha having delivered some of his most profound discourses to the Kurus, for example, the Mahānidāna° and Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna Suttas. Among other discourses delivered in the Kuru country are the Māgaṇḍiya Sutta, the Āneñjasappāya Sutta, the Sammosa Sutta and the Ariyāvāsa Sutta. All these were taught at Kammāsadhamma, which is described as a market town (nigama) of the Kurū, where the Buddha resided from time to time. Another town of the Kurū, which we find mentioned, is Thullakoṭṭhita, the birthplace of Raṭṭhapāla, and here the Buddha stayed during a tour (M.ii.54; ThagA.ii.30). Udena’s queen, Māgaṇḍiyā, came from Kuru (DhA.i.199), and Aggidatta, chaplain to the Kosala king, lived on the boundary between Kuru and Aṅga and Magadha, honoured by the inhabitants of all three kingdoms (DhA.iii.242).

The Kuru country is generally identified as the district around Thānesar, with its capital Indapatta, near the modern Delhi (CAGI.379 f). See also Uttarakuru.

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