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City of Kāñcī (Kachipuram), Drāvida, India

“Kāñcī. An important south-eastern Indian city (present-day Kachipuram), the capital of the ancient Dravidian state of Drāvida. *Buddhism is thought to have reached this area by the 3rd century BCE due to its close connections with *Sri Lanka, and over the following centuries flourished in this renowned centre of learning. Several great Buddhist scholars are associated with Kāñcī, including *Buddha-ghoṣa and *Buddhadatta. At a later date, Kāñcī seems to have had a degree of importance in the development of *tantric Buddhism, with some scholars suggesting that it is the true identity of the legendary land of *Oddiyāna. Buddhism maintained a presence in this area and Sri Lankan sponsored temples were built here as late as the 14th century CE.” (PDoB)

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City of Campā, Aṅga on Ganges, India

“Campā. The ancient capital of *Aṅga, located on the confluence of the Campā and Ganges rivers. The town functioned as an important trade-centre. The *Buddha is said to have made a number of visits to Campā and several early sermons (*sutta) are connected with this city.” (PDoB)

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City of Ayodhyā (Ayojjhā) on Ganges, Uttar Pradesh, Kośala, India

“Ayodhyā (or Ayojjhā). A city located on the Ganges in Uttar Pradesh, one-time capital of southern *Kośala, visited on two occasions by the *Buddha. It is also thought by Hindus to have been the birthplace of the god Rāma.” (PDoB)

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City of Anurādhapura, Sri Lanka

“Anurādhapura. City of *Sri Lanka located in the northern part of the country which, from around the 4th century BCE, was the capital of the island. According to legend the city was founded by King Pandukābhaya. It is the site of important historical monasteries such as the *Mahāvihāra, the *Abhayagiri, and the *Jetavana. It is here that the branch of the original *Bodhi Tree brought to the island by *Sanghamitta was planted to become what now is popularly believed to be the oldest tree in the world. In the 10th century CE, because of repeated attacks from *India, the capital was moved to Polonaruva. Ordinations of south-east Asians were still being carried out in the 13th and 14th centuries, but the city was abandoned as a monastic site after its destruction by the Portuguese. It probably remained a pilgrimage centre for some time but was not reclaimed from the jungle until the 19th century.” (PDoB)

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City of Vaishali, India – Vaiśālī (Pāli, Vesālī).

“Vaiśālī (Pāli, Vesālī). The capital of the *Lic-chavi republic at the time of the *Buddha, it was famed as a city of great beauty. It was frequently visited by the Buddha on his travels and a number of his discourses were delivered there. It was also the site of the Second Council (see COUNCIL OF VAIŚĀLĪ) held about 100 years after the Buddha’s passing. Even by the 8th century, most of the city lay in ruins. Modern excavations have revealed that Vaiśālī was located about 25 miles north-east of Patna, at Besarh.” (PDoB)

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Ambapālī Great Arhat

“Ambapālī. A beautiful and wealthy courtesan of *Vaiśālī who became a follower of the *Buddha. She was named after the mango fruit (Pāli, amba) because she was reputed to have been found at the foot of a mango tree. It is narrated in the *Mahāparinibbāna Sutta that Ambapālī invited the Buddha to dine at her house on his last visit to Vaiśāli before his death. He accepted the invitation, declining a similar one from the local princes. Ambapālī donated to the *Saṃgha a residence constructed in her garden. She had a son who became an elder in the Order (Saṃgha) and she herself eventually renounced the world, gained insight into impermanence (anitya) through contemplating the ageing of her own body, and became an *Arhat.” (PDoB)

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City of Kapilavastu, Nepal

“Kapilavastu. The capital of the *Śākya polity located in present-day *Nepal, and childhood home of the *Buddha *Śākyamuni. Despite its importance for Buddhism, it was not a great cultic centre for later Buddhists and was virtually abandoned by the time the Chinese pilgrim-monk *Hsüan-tsang, visited it. The location of Kapilavastu has proven elusive, though many archaeologists believe the remains found in the 20th century at Tilaurakot can be identified as the site, though others favour the nearby town of Piprahwa.” (PDoB)

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Rāhula Great Arhat – Buddha’s Son

“Rāhula. The only child of the Buddha, born shortly before the Buddha took his decision to renounce the world. The boy was named Rāhula, which means ‘fetter’, because the Buddha perceived his son’s birth as a tie that could bind him to family life and, according to some sources, therefore left home on the very same day. After his enlightenment (bodhi), the Buddha returned to his home town of *Kapilavastu and on departing was followed by Rāhula, who had been sent by his mother to ‘ask for his inheritance’. At the request of the Buddha, Rāhula was then admitted to the *Samgha by *Śāriputra. Following a protest by the boy’s grandfather *Śuddhodana, the Buddha agreed to the introduction of a rule thereafter requiring parental consent to the ordination of novices (śrāmaṇera). The Buddha preached several sermons to his son, and after hearing one of these, the Cūla-Rāhulovāda Sutta, he became an *Arhat.” (PDoB)

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Śāriputra Great Arhat

“Śāriputra(Pāli, Sāriputta). The chief Arhat disciple of the *Buddha. A lifelong friend of *Mahā-maudgalyana, the two renounced the world on the same day and first became disciples of the sceptic *Sañjaya Belatthiputta. Thereafter both converted to *Buddhism, and on the day of their *ordination the Buddha declared them to be his two chief disciples. Both soon became *Arhats. The Buddha declared Śāriputra to be a perfect disciple and second only to himself in transcendent knowledge (*prajñā). Śāriputra frequently preached with the Buddha’s approval, and for his contribution to the propagation of the faith was rewarded with the title ‘General of the *Dharma’ (Pāli, Dhammasenāpati). He had special expertise in analytical philosophy and is regarded as the originator of the Abhi-dharma tradition. śāriputra was renowned for his exemplary qualities of compassion, (karuṇā), patience, and humility. He was older than the Buddha and when he died a few months before him, the Buddha pronounced a eulogy.” (PDoB)

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Ānanda Great Arhat

“Ānanda. One of the *Buddha’s chief Arhat disciples and his first cousin, his father being a brother of *Śuddhodana, the Buddha’s father. It appears that he entered the Order (*Samgha) in the second year of the Buddha’s ministry and was ordained by the Buddha himself. According to the *Pāli accounts, after twenty years in which he did not have the same personal attendant all the time, the Buddha made known his wish for a permanent one. All the great disciples offered their services, but ānanda, not initially seeking the position, was eventually selected by the Buddha. He agreed to serve the teacher, provided a series of conditions were fulfilled. On one hand ānanda requested not to receive any extra benefits as a result of his position, such as choice clothes or food, separate lodgings, or the inclusion in the invitations accepted by the Buddha. On the other hand, he asked to be allowed to accept invitations on behalf of the Buddha, to bring to the Buddha those who came to see him from afar, to place before the Buddha all his perplexities, while the Buddha was to repeat to him any doctrine taught in his absence.

Ānanda was highly regarded by his colleagues who often consulted him and it is said that sometimes the monks, having heard a sermon from the Buddha, would ask Ānanda to give them a more detailed exposition since he had a reputation of being able to explain the doctrine clearly. Ānanda’s championship of the cause of *women is also well known. In particular, he is especially recognized for his role in the establishment of an order of *nuns. Ānanda was also revered for his powerful memory. For this reason, when the First Council was called in *Rajagṛha (see COUNCIL OF RĀJAGṚHA), following the Buddha’s *death, he was chosen by *Mahākāśyapa, president of the Council, to recite all of the sermons preached by the Buddha, thus establishing the canonical record known as the *Sūtra Piṭaka, or ‘Basket of Discourses’. Ānanda lived to be very old, spending his last years teaching and preaching. The details of his death are not reported in the *Pāli Canon.

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Council of Rājagṛha – The First Buddhist Tripitaka Council

“Council of Rājagṛha. The Council of *Rājagṛha, often called the ‘First Council’, is reported to have been held at Rājagṛha in the year of the *Buddha’s death with the objective of establishing the canon or at least two of its three divisions or ‘baskets’ (pi-taka). These include the collection of the Buddha’s discourses or sermons (sūtra/sutta) and the material relating to the organization and history of the order (Vinaya). A senior *monk, Kaśyapa, was charged with supervising the convocation made up of 500 *Arhats. He called upon *Ānanda (who gained *enlightenment during the proceedings of the council) to recite the Buddha’ discourses, and *Upāli to recite the rules of the Vinaya. Their utterances were accepted as accurate and decreed as constituting the content of the orthodox canon from that time on. It may be noted that the word translated as ‘council’ in this context is the Pāli word saṅgīti, which in fact means a ‘communal recitation’ of the kind that took place here. The early Buddhist ‘councils’, accordingly, should not be thought of as similar to their early Christian counterparts, which were usually convened to settle dogma. Modern research has cast serious doubts on the historicity of the traditional account of the First Council. In particular it is clear from internal evidence that the canon did not receive its final form until many years later, so it could not have been fixed at the early date the report claims. Most probably this claim was a device to retrospectively legitimize certain later literature as canonical.” (PDoB)

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Upāli Great Arhat

“Upāli. An eminent Arhat disciple of the Buddha famed for his knowledge of monastic law and discipline (Vinaya). A member of the barber clan in the Buddha’s home town of *Kapilavastu, Upāli sought *ordination when the Buddha first returned to see his family after gaining enlightenment (*bodhi). As a *monk he devoted himself to the study of the monastic rules and held numerous discussions with the Buddha over problematic cases. These questions and answers are recorded in the *Parivāra section of the *Vinaya Piṭaka. In the *First Council held at *Rājagṛha, Upāli was called upon to recite the Vinaya, which, according to tradition (almost certainly erroneously), was fixed at that time.” (PDoB)

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