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A hall in the Mahāvana near Vesāli. The Buddha stayed there on several occasions, and in the books are found records of various eminent persons who visited him there and of his conversations with them. Among such visitors are mentioned several Licchavi chiefs, Mahāli OṭṭhaddhaNandakaSunakkhattaBhaddiya,⁴ Sāḷha, and Abhaya,⁵ all attended by numerous retinues; their general (senāpati), Sīha, who went with five hundred chariots, having only decided after much hesitation to see the Buddha;⁶ the Nigaṇṭha Saccaka, whom the Buddha won only after much argumentation, as described in the Cūḷa° and the Mahā-Saccaka Suttas;⁷ the householder Ugga of Vesāli, acclaimed by the Buddha for the possession of eight eminent qualities;⁸ the lay disciple Vāseṭṭha,⁹ the two goddesses, daughters of Pajjunna, both known as Kokanadā;¹⁰ and the brahmin Piṅgiyāni.¹¹

The Licchavis waited on the Buddha and ministered to him during his stay in the Kūṭāgārasālā, and it is said that they were of various hues: some blue, others yellow, etc. And Piṅgiyānī, seeing the Buddha shining in their midst, surpassing them all, once uttered the Buddha’s praises in verse, winning, as reward from the Licchavī, five hundred upper garments, all of which, be, in turn, presented to the Buddha.¹² On one occasion, when the Buddha was teaching the monks regarding the six spheres of sense contact, Māra arranged an earthquake to break the monks’ concentration, but failed to achieve his aim.¹³ Several Jātaka stories were related by the Buddha in the Kūṭāgārasālā: the Siṅgāla Jātaka,¹⁴ the Bālovāda Jātaka,¹⁵ the Bāhiya Jātaka,¹⁶ and the Ekapaṇṇa Jātaka.¹⁷ It was here that the Buddha finally agreed to grant the request of the five hundred Sakyan women, led by Mahāpajāpatī Gotamī, that they might be ordained as nuns. They had followed the Buddha hither from Kapilavatthu.¹⁸ The Buddha gave Pajāpati Gotamī, at her special request, a summary of his doctrine.¹⁹ It was also at the Kūṭāgārasālā that the Buddha uttered his prophecy as to the ultimate downfall of the Licchavis.²⁰

It was customary for the Buddha, when staying at the Kūṭāgārasālā, to spend the noonday siesta in the woods outside the Mahāvana, at the foot of a tree; visitors coming at that time would, if their desire to see him was insistent,²¹ seek him there or be conducted to him. Sometimes he would express his desire to see no one during such a retreat, except the monk who brought him his food.

On one occasion the retreat lasted a fortnight, and on his return he found that a large number of monks had committed suicide as a result of a discourse he had taught them before his retreat on the repulsiveness of the body. He then caused the monks to be assembled, and asked them to concentrate on mindfulness of breathing.²² Sometimes the Buddha would walk from the Kūṭāgārasālā to places of interest in the neighbourhood — e.g., the Sārandada-cetiya,²³ and the Cāpāla-cetiya.²⁴ It was from the Cāpāla-cetiya, during one of these walks that he gazed for the last time on Vesāli. He then returned to the Kūṭāgārasālā, where he announced that his death would take place within three months.²⁵

According to Buddhaghosa,²⁶ there was a monastery (saṅghārāma) built for the monks in the Mahāvana. Part of it consisted of a storeyed house, with a hall below surrounded only by pillars. These pillars held the gabled room which formed the main part of the Buddha’s perfumed chamber (Gandhakuṭi) there. The hall lay from north to south and faced east,²⁷ and from this hall the whole monastery came to be known as the Kūṭāgārasālā. There was a sick ward attached to the monastery, where the Buddha would often visit the patients and talk with them.²⁸

The books also contain the names of others who stayed at the Kūṭāgārasālā when the Buddha was in residence — e.g., Ānanda, who was visited there by the Licchavī Abhaya and Paṇḍitakumāra;²⁹ Anuruddha, who lived there in a forest-hut;³⁰ Nāgita, the Buddha’s former attendant, and Nāgita’s nephew the novice Sīha;³¹ also Cāla, Upacāla, Kakkaṭa, Kalimbha, Nikaṭa, and Kaṭissaha, all of whom left the Kūṭāgārasālā and retired to the Gosiṅgasālavanadāya, when the visits of the Licchavī to the Buddha became disturbing to their solitude.³²

In later times Yasa Kākandakaputta is mentioned as having stayed there.³³

Eighteen thousand monks under Mahā-Buddharakkhita went from the monastery in Mahāvana in Vesāli to the foundation ceremony of the Mahā Thūpa.³⁴

According to the Northern books,³⁵ the Kūṭāgārasālā was on the banks of the lake Markatā (Markatahradatīre).


¹ D.i.150 ff; S.i.230 f; iii.68 f; A.v.86 f; several visits of Mahāli are mentioned; for details see Mahāli. BuA. p.3 mentions that the Buddha spent his sixth rainy season in the Kūṭāgārasālā.

² S.v.389. ³ M.ii.252. A.ii.190 f. A.ii.200. A iii.38 f; iv.79, 179 ff.

M.i.227 ff; 237 ff; the Licchavi Dummukha is also mentioned, M.i.234, as having been present when Saccaka argued with the Buddha.

A.iii.49; iv.208 f; S.iv.109. A.iv.258 f.

¹⁰ S.i.29 f. ¹¹ A.iii.237 f. ¹² A.iii.239 f. ¹³ S.i.112. ¹⁴ J.ii.5. ¹⁵ J.ii.262.

¹⁶ J.i.420. ¹⁷ J.i.504. ¹⁸ A.iv.274 f; Vin.ii.253 f; J.ii.392. ¹⁹ A.iv.280.

²⁰ S.ii.267 f. ²¹ See, e.g., D.i.151; A.iii.75. ²² S.v.320 f. ²³ A.iii.167.

²⁴ S.v.258; A.iv.308 f. ²⁵ D.ii.119 f; S.v.258 ff. ²⁶ DA.i.310; MA.i.450.

²⁷ DA.i.311. ²⁸ E.g., S.iv.210 f; A.iii.142. ²⁹ A.i.220. ³⁰ S.iii.116; iv.380.

³¹ D.i.151. ³² A.v.133 f. ³³ Sp.i.34; Mhv.iv.12; Dpv.v.29.

³⁴ Mhv.xxix.33. ³⁵ Dvy.136, 200; AvS.8; Mtu.i.300.

Finding Footnote References

Mahāli Sutta: Majjhimanikāya, M.i.152

References in the notes are to the Pāḷi texts of the PTS. In the translations, these are usually printed in the headers near the spine, or in square brackets in the body of the text, thus it would be i 153 in the spine, or [152] in the text where page 152 of the Pāḷi begins. References to the Commentaries are usually suffixed with A for Aṭṭhakathā (DA, MA, SNA, etc.), but references to the Jātaka Commentary are given as J, not JA, which would normally be used, as that is reserved for the Journal Asiatic.