A city near the Himalaya, capital of the Sákiyans (q.v.). It was founded by the sons of Okkáka, on the site of the hermitage of the sage Kapila - see Kapila (3) (J.i.15, 49, 50, 54, 64, etc.; see also Divy 548, and Buddhacarita I.v.2). Near the city was the Lumbinívana (q.v.) where the Buddha was born, and which became one of the four places of pilgrimage for the Buddhists. Close to Kapilavatthu flowed the river Rohiní, which formed the boundary between the kingdoms of the Sákyans and the Koliyans (DhA.iii.254). In the sixth century B.C. Kapilavatthu was the centre of a republic, at the head of which was Suddhodana. The administration and judicial business of the city and all other matters of importance were discussed and decided in the Santhágárasálá (D.i.91; J.iv.145). It was here that Vidúdabha was received by the Sákyans (J.iv.146f). The walls of the city were eighteen cubits high (J.i.63; according to Mtu.ii.75 it had seven walls). From Kapilavatthu to the river Anomá, along the road taken by Gotama, when he left his home, was a distance of thirty yojanas (J.i.64). The city was sixty leagues from Rájagaha, and the Buddha took two months covering this distance when he visited his ancestral home, in the first year after his Enlightenment. On this journey the Buddha was accompanied by twenty thousand monks, and Káludáyí went on ahead as harbinger. The Buddha and his company lived in the Nigrodháráma near the city and, in the midst of his kinsmen, as he did at the foot of the Gandamba, the Buddha performed the Yamakapátiháriya to convince them of his powers. (J.i.87ff; this journey to Kapilavatthu was one of the scenes depicted in the relic-chamber of the Mahá-Thúpa, Mhv.xxx.81).

On this occasion he preached the Vessantara Játaka. The next day the Buddha went begging in the city to the great horror of his father, who, on being explained that such was the custom of all Buddhas, became a sotápanna and invited the Buddha and his monks to the palace. After the meal the Buddha preached to the women of the palace who, with the exception of Ráhulamátá, had all come to hear him. At the end of the sermon, Suddhodana became a sakadágámí and Mahá-Pajápatí a sotápanna. The Buddha visited Ráhulamátá in her dwelling and preached to her the Candakinnara Játaka. The next day Nanda was ordained, and seven days later Ráhula (also Vin.i.82). As a result of the latter's ordination, a rule was passed by the Buddha, at Suddhodana's request, that no one should be ordained without the sanction of his parents, if they were alive. On the eighth day was preached the Mahádhammapála Játaka, and the king became an anágámí. The Buddha returned soon after to Rájagaha, stopping on the way at Anupiyá, where the conversions of Ananda, Devadatta, Bhagu, Anuruddha, and Kimbila took place.

During the visit to Kapilavatthu, eighty thousand Sákyans from eighty thousand families had joined the Buddhist Order (Vin.ii.180; DhA.i.112; iv.124, etc.). According to the Buddhavamsa Commentary (BuA.4; Bu. p.5f), it was during this visit that, at the request of Sáriputta, the Buddha preached the Buddhavamsa. It is not possible to ascertain how many visits in all were paid by the Buddha to his native city, but it may be gathered from various references that he went there several times; two visits, in addition to the first already mentioned, were considered particularly memorable. On one of these he arrived in Kapilavatthu to prevent the Sákyans and the Koliyans, both his kinsmen, from fighting each other over the question of their sharing the water of the Rohiní; he appeared before them as they were preparing to slay each other, and convinced them of the futility of their wrath. On this occasion were preached the following Játakas: the Phandana, the Daddabha, the Latukika, the Rukkhadhamma, and the Vattaka - also the Attadanda Sutta. Delighted by the intervention of the Buddha, the two tribes each gave him two hundred and fifty youths to enter his Order and, with these, he went on his alms rounds alternately to Kapilavatthu and to the capital of the Koliyans (J.v.412ff; the Sammodamána Játaka also seems to have been preached in reference to this quarrel, J.i.208). On this occasion he seems to have resided, not at the Nigrodháráma, but in the Mahávana.

The second visit of note was that paid by the Buddha when Vidúdabha (q.v), chagrined by the insult of the Sákyans, invaded Kapilavatthu in order to take his revenge. Three times Vidúdabha came with his forces, and three times he found the Buddha seated on the outskirts of Kapilavatthu, under a tree which gave him scarcely any shade; near by was a shady banyan-tree, in Vidúdabha's realm; on being invited by Vidúdabha to partake of its shade, the Buddha replied, "Let be, O king; the shade of my kindred keeps me cool." Thus three times Vidúdabha had to retire, his purpose unaccomplished; but the fourth time the Buddha, seeing the fate of the Sákyans, did not interfere (J.iv.152).

The Buddha certainly paid other visits besides these to Kapilavatthu. On one such visit he preached the Kanha Játaka (J.iv.6ff). Various Sákyans went to see him both at the Nigrodháráma and at the Mahávana, among them being Mahánáma (S.v.369f; A.iii.284f; iv.220f; v.320f), Nandiya (S.v.403f; 397f; A.v.334f), Vappa (A.ii.196; M.i.91), and perhaps Sárakáni (S.v.372).

During one visit the Buddha was entrusted with the consecration of a new mote-hall, built by the Sákyans; he preached far into the night in the new building, and, when weary, asked Moggallána to carry on while he slept. We are told that the Sákyans decorated the town with lights for a yojana round, and stopped all noise while the Buddha was in the mote-hall (MA.ii.575). On this occasion was preached the Sekha Sutta (M.i.353ff).

The books record a visit paid by the Brahmá Sahampati to the Buddha in the Mahávana at Kapilavatthu. (This appears, from the context, to have been quite close to the Nigrodháráma.)

The Buddha, worried by the noisy behavior of some monks who had recently been admitted into the Order, was wondering how he could impress on them the nature of their calling. Sahampati visited him and, being thus encouraged, the Buddha returned to Nigrodháráma and there performed a miracle before the monks; seeing them impressed, he talked to them on the holy life (S.iii.91f; Ud.25).

A curious incident is related in connection with a visit paid by the Buddha to Kapilavatthu, when he went there after his rounds among the Kosalans. Mahánáma was asked to find a place of lodging for the night; he searched all through the town without success, and at length the Buddha was compelled to spend the night in the hermitage of Bharandu, the Káláman (A.i.276f). On another occasion we hear of the Buddha convalescing at Kapilavatthu after an illness (A.i.219).

Not all the Sákyans of Kapilavatthu believed in their kinsman's great powers, even after the Buddha's performance of various miracles. We find, for instance, Dandapání meeting the Buddha in the Mahávana and, leaning on his staff, questioning him as to his tenets and his gospel. We are told that in answer to the Buddha's explanations, Dandapání shook his head, waggled his tongue, and went away, still leaning on his staff, his brow puckered into three wrinkles (M.i.108f.; this was the occasion for the preaching of the Madhupindika Sutta).

Others were more convinced and patronised the Order - e.g., Kála-Khemaka and Ghatáya, who built cells for monks in the Nigrodháráma (M.iii.109. As a result of noticing these cells, the Buddha preached the Mahasuńńáta Sutta).

It is said that the Buddha ordained ten thousand householders of Kapilavatthu with the "ehi-bhikkhu-pabbajá." (Sp.i.241)

Mahánáma (q.v.) was the Buddha's most frequent visitor; to him was preached the Cúladukkhakkhandha Sutta (M.i.91f).

The Dakkhiná-vibhanga Sutta was preached as the result of a visit to the Buddha by Mahá-Pajápatí-Gotamí. Apart from those already mentioned, another Sákyan lady lived in Kapilavatthu, Káligodhá by name, and she was the only kinsman, with the exception of the Buddha's father and wife, to be specially visited by the Buddha (S.v.396).

The inhabitants of Kapilavatthu are called Kapilavatthavá (E.g., S.iv.182).

From Kapilavatthu lay a direct road to Vesálí (Vin.ii.253), and through Kapilavatthu passed the road taken by Bávarí's disciples from Alaka to Sávatthi (Sn.p.194).

From the Mahávana, outside Kapilavatthu, the forest extended up to the Himalaya, and on the other side of the city it reached as far as the sea (MA.i.449, UdA.184; Sp.ii.393).

It is significant that, in spite of the accounts given of the greatness of Kapilavatthu, it was not mentioned by Ananda among the great cities, in one of which, in his opinion, the Buddha could more fittingly have died than in Kusinárá (D.ii.146). After the Buddha's death, a portion of the relics was claimed by the Sákyans of Kapilavatthu, and a shrine to hold them was erected in the city (D.ii.167; Bu.xxviii.2). Here was deposited the rug (paccattharana) used by the Buddha (Bu.xxviii.8).

In the northern books the city was called Kapilavastu, Kapilapura, and Kapilávhayapura (E.g. Lal. p.243, 28; The Buddha-carita, I.v.2 calls it Kapilasyavastu). According to the Dulva (Rockhill, p.11), the city was on the banks of the Bhagírathí.

The identification of Kapilavatthu is not yet beyond the realm of conjecture. Hiouen Thsang (Beal ii.,p.13f) visited the city and found it like a wilderness. The Asoka inscriptions of the Lumbiní pillar and the Niglíva pillar are helpful in determining the site. Some identify the modern village of Pipráwá - famous for the vases found there - with Kapilavatthu (E.g., Fleet, J.R.A.S.1906, p.180; CAGI.711f). Others, including Rhys Davids, say there were two cities, one ancient and the other modern, founded after Vidúdabha's conquest, and the ancient one they call Tilaura Kot. But the theory of two Kapilavatthu is rejected by some scholars. J.R.A.S.1906, pp.453, 563. See also the article by Mukherji on Kapilavastu in ERE.

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