Rajagaha, Rājagaha: 7 definitions


Rajagaha 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)

Source: Pali Kanon: Pali Proper Names

A city, the capital of Magadha. There seem to have been two distinct towns; the older one, a hill fortress, more properly called Giribbaja, was very ancient and is said (VvA. p.82; but cp. D.ii.235, where seven cities are attributed to his foundation) to have been laid out by Mahagovinda, a skilled architect. The later town, at the foot of the hills, was evidently built by Bimbisara.

Hiouen Thsang says (Beal, ii.145) that the old capital occupied by Bimbisara was called Kusagra. It was afflicted by frequent fires, and Bimbisara, on the advice of his ministers, abandoned it and built the new city on the site of the old cemetery. The building of this city was hastened on by a threatened invasion by the king of Vesali. The city was called Rajagaha because Bimbisara was the first person to occupy it. Both Hiouen Thsang and Fa Hsien (Giles: 49) record another tradition which ascribed the foundation of the new city to Ajatasattu.

Pargiter (Ancient Ind. Historical Tradition, p.149) suggests that the old city was called Kusagrapura, after Kusagra, an early king of Magadha. In the Ramayana (i. 7, 32) the city is called Vasumati. The Mahabharata gives other names - Barhadrathapura (ii.24, 44), Varaha, Vrsabha, Rsigiri, Caityaka (see PHAI.,p.70).

It was also called Bimbisarapuri and Magadhapura (SNA.ii.584).

But both names were used indiscriminately (E.g., S.N. vs. 405), though Giribbaja seems, as a name, to have been restricted to verse passages. The place was called Giribbaja (mountain stronghold) because it was surrounded by five hills - Pandava, Gijjhakuta, Vebhara, Isigili and Vepulla* - and Rajagaha, because it was the seat of many kings, such as Mandhata and Mahagovinda (SNA.ii.413). It would appear, from the names given of the kings, that the city was a very ancient royal capital. In the Vidhurapandita Jataka (J.vi.271), Rajagaha is called the capital of Anga. This evidently refers to a time when Anga had subjugated Magadha.

* SNA.ii.382; it is said (M.iii.68) that these hills, with the exception of Isigili, were once known by other names e.g., Vankaka for Vepulla (S.ii.191). The Samyutta (i.206) mentions another peak near Rajagaha - Indakuta. See also Kalasila.

The Commentaries (E.g., SNA. loc. cit) explain that the city was inhabited only in the time of Buddhas and Cakkavatti kings; at other times it was the abode of Yakkhas who used it as a pleasure resort in spring. The country to the north of the hills was known as Dakkhinagiri (SA.i.188).

Rajagaha was closely associated with the Buddhas work. He visited it soon after the Renunciation, journeying there on foot from the River Anoma, a distance of thirty leagues (J.i.66). Bimbisara saw him begging in the street, and, having discovered his identity and the purpose of his quest,

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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General definition (in Buddhism)

Source: Wisdom Library: Buddhism

Rājagaha (राजगह) is the name of an ancient city found by the son of Samuddadatta: an ancient king from the Solar dynasty (sūryavaṃśa) and a descendant of Mahāsaṃmata, according to the Mahābuddhavaṃsa or Maha Buddhavamsa (the great chronicle of Buddhas) Anudīpanī chapter 1, compiled by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw. Nāgadeva and his descendants in that city were twenty-five. The last of these twenty-five kings was named Samuddadatta. His son reigned back in Rājagaha. He and his descendants in that city were twenty-five.

Source: Buddhist Door: GlossaryRajagaha in Pali, Rajagrha in Sanskrit. The capital of the ancient kingdom of Magadha in India, which was the centres of culture at the time of Shakyamuni. The first Bodhi mandala of Buddhism called Bamboo Grove Park was built by the elder Kalanda and King Bimblisara of Magadha in Rajagaha.Source: eBooks@Adelaide: A Record of Buddhistic Kingdoms

1. The city of “Royal Palaces;” “the residence of the Magadha kings from Bimbisara to Asoka, the first metropolis of Buddhism, at the foot of the Gridhrakuta mountains. Here the first synod assembled within a year after Sakyamuni’s death. Its ruins are still extant at the village of Rajghir, sixteen miles S.W. of Behar, and form an object of pilgrimage to the Jains (E. H., p. 100).” It is called New Rajagriha to distinguish it from Kusagarapura, a few miles from it, the old residence of the kings. Eitel says it was built by Bimbisara, while Fa-hien ascribes it to Ajatasatru. I suppose the son finished what the father had begun.

2. New Rajagriha,7—the new city which was built by king Ajatasatru. There were two monasteries in it. Three hundred paces outside the west gate, king Ajatasatru, having obtained one portion of the relics of Buddha, built (over them) a tope, high, large, grand, and beautiful.

Source: WikiPedia: Buddhism

The city of Rajgir (ancient Rājagṛha; Pali: Rājagaha) was the first capital of the kingdom of Magadha, a state that would eventually evolve into the Mauryan Empire. This area is also notable in Jainism and Buddhism as one of the favorite places for Lord Mahavira and Gautama Buddha and the well known “Atanatiya” conference was held at Vulture’s Peak mountain. New Rajgir is defined by another, larger, embankment outside the northern entrance of the valley and next to the modern town. It was here that Gautama Buddha spent several months meditating, and preaching at Gridhra-kuta, ('Hill of the Vultures'). He also delivered some of his famous sermons and initiated king Bimbisara of Magadha and countless others to Buddhism. On one of the hills is the Saptparni cave where the First Buddhist Council was held under the leadership of Maha Kassapa.

India history and geography

Source: archive.org: Geography in Ancient Indian inscriptions

Rājagaha or Rājagṛha.—Hathīgumpha Inscription of Khāravela mentions the city Rājagaha, modern Rajgir, about fourteen miles south-west of the town of Bihar Sharif in the Bihar sub-division of Patna district. It is a little over forty miles, as the crow flies south-east of Patna and about six miles south of ancient site of Nalanda. The antiquity of Rajagāha is borne out by literature and corroborated bythe archaeological sources. Pali and Prakrit literature speaks of its power, prosperity and magnificence in the life-time of Buddha and Mahavira. They also inform us that Magadha had a long rivalry with Aṅga and Vaiśālī and consequently her capital Rājagṛha had been formerly subjugated by the Aṅgas.

Out of various names, Vasumatī, Magadhapura, Bārhadrathapura and Rājagṛha etc., Gīrivraja seems to be the earliest name of Rajgir, keeping in view the site of the old city encircled by five hills, which are now crowded with Jain temples, built of old material. The Buddhist tradition claims that Aśoka erected a stūpa and a pillar with elephant capital, but in none of the excavations so far undertaken, any distinctive Mauryan ruins have been discovered.

In the beginning of the fifih century, Fa-Hien found the valley of Rajgir quite desolate and even two centuries later when Hiuen-tsang visited it. the conditions were not much different. Majumdar,on the basis of Hiuen-tsang, thinks that the old city had two separate divisions, the Palace city, and the Mountain city. For detailed accounts of Son-bhandara cave and Vaibhara Hill videthe article of Śānti Mukhopādhyāya (IHQ, XXXVII, 105) and forother details, see The Antiquarian Remains In Bihar, D. R. Patil, 432ff.

Source: Ancient Buddhist Texts: Geography of Early Buddhism

Rājagaha is the name of the ancient capital of Magadha, one of the sixteen Mahājanapadas of the Majjhimadesa (Middle Country) of ancient India, as recorded in the Pāli Buddhist texts (detailing the geography of ancient India as it was known in to Early Buddhism).—In the Dhammapadaṭṭhakathā it is related that once the Buddha while staying at Rājagaha informed King Bimbisāra of Magadha that he would pay a visit to Vesālī. Bimbisāra prepared a road for the Buddha, and caused the ground from Rājagaha to the Ganges, a distance of 5 leagues to be made smooth, and erected a rest house at the end of each league.

From the Mahāvastu we know also of Buddha’s journey from Rājagriha to Vesālī. We are told that King Bimbisāra had the road all the way from Rājagaha to the Ganges decorated with flags and garlands, and that the Licchavis too had decorated the road from the Ganges to Vesālī.

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 mythology, zoology, 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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