Majjhimadesa, Majjhima-desa: 3 definitions


Majjhimadesa means something in Buddhism, Pali, the history of ancient India. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

In Buddhism

Theravada (major branch of Buddhism)

[«previous (M) next»] — Majjhimadesa in Theravada glossary
Source: Pali Kanon: Pali Proper Names

The country of Central India which was the birthplace of Buddhism and the region of its early activities. It extended in the east to the town of Kajangala, beyond which was Mahasala; on the south east to the river Salalavati; on the south west to the town of Satakannika; on the west to the brahmin village of Thuna; on the north to the Usiraddhaja Mountain.

Vin.i.197; J.i.49, 80; Mbv.12; Dvy.21f, extends the eastern boundary to include Pundavardhana, roughly identical with North Bengal. It is interesting to note that in early Brahminical literature (e.g. the Dharmasutra of Baudhayana), Aryavarta, which is practically identical with what came to be called Madhyadesa, is described as lying to the east of the region where the Sarasvati disappears, to the west of the Kalakavana, to the north of Paripatra, and to the south of the Himalaya. This excludes the whole of Magadha (Baudhayana i. 1, 2, 9, etc.).

It is also noteworthy that in the Commentaries the Majjhimadesa is extended to include the whole of Jambudipa, the other continents being Paccantima janapada. The term came also to be used in a generic sense. Thus, in Ceylon (Tambapannidipa) Anuradhapura came to be called the Majjhimadesa (AA.i.165).

The Majjhimadesa was three hundred yojanas in length, two hundred and fifty in breadth, and nine hundred in circumference (DA.i.173). It contained fourteen of the sixteen Mahajanapadas, that is to say all but Gandhara and Kamboja, which belonged to the Uttarapatha.

The people of Majjhimadesa were regarded as wise and virtuous (J.iii.115, 116). It was the birthplace of noble men (purisajaniya) including the Buddhas (DhA.iii.248; AA.i.265), and all kinds of marvellous things happened there (SNA.i.197). The people of Majjhimadesa considered peacocks flesh a luxury. VibhA.10.

context information

Theravāda is a major branch of Buddhism having the the Pali canon (tipitaka) as their canonical literature, which includes the vinaya-pitaka (monastic rules), the sutta-pitaka (Buddhist sermons) and the abhidhamma-pitaka (philosophy and psychology).

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India history and geogprahy

Source: Ancient Buddhist Texts: Geography of Early Buddhism

Majjhimadesa (middle country) or Madhyadeśa refers to a district of ancient India, as recorded in the Pāli Buddhist texts (detailing the geography of ancient India as it was known in to Early Buddhism).—The boundaries of Majjhimadesa (Madhyadeśa) or the Middle country have been referred to and explained in both Brahmanical and Buddhist literature of an early date. Thus as early as the age of the Sūtras, we find, in the Dharmasūtra of Baudhāyana, Āryāvarta or the country of the Aryans (which is practically identical with the country later on known as Madhyadeśa) described as lying to the east of the region where the river Saraswatī disappears, to the West of the Kalakavana or Black Forest (identified with a tract somewhere near Prayāga), 01 to the north of Pāripātra and to the south of the Himalayas.

The Majjhimadesa was 300 yojanas in length, 250 yojanas in breadth, and 900 yojanas in circuit. 07 It is interesting to place side by side the extent of the entire Jambudīpa of which Majjhimadesa was only a part. The Jambudīpa according to the Sumaṅgalavilāsinī (II, p. 623) was 10,000 yojanas in extent, whereas Aparagoyāna was 7,000 yojanas.

Of the sixteen Mahājanapadas that existed in India during the days of the Buddha, as many as fourteen may be said to have been included in the Majjhimadesa. They are:

  1. Kāsī,
  2. Kosala,
  3. Aṅga,
  4. Magadha,
  5. Vajji,
  6. Malla,
  7. Cetiya (Cedī),
  8. Vaṃsa (Vatsa),
  9. Kuru,
  10. Pañchāla,
  11. Maccha (Matsya),
  12. Sūrasena,
  13. Assaka
  14. Avanti.

Gandhāra and Kamboj, the two remaining countries, may be said to have been located in Uttarāpatha or the Northern division.

India history book cover
context information

The history of India traces the identification of countries, villages, towns and other regions of India, as well as royal dynasties, rulers, tribes, local festivities and traditions and regional languages. Ancient India enjoyed religious freedom and encourages the path of Dharma, a concept common to Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism.

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Languages of India and abroad

Pali-English dictionary

[«previous (M) next»] — Majjhimadesa in Pali glossary
Source: BuddhaSasana: Concise Pali-English Dictionary

majjhimadesa : (m.) the middle country including the Ganges basin.

Pali book cover
context information

Pali is the language of the Tipiṭaka, which is the sacred canon of Theravāda Buddhism and contains much of the Buddha’s speech. Closeley related to Sanskrit, both languages are used interchangeably between religions.

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