Vassakara, aka: Vassakāra; 1 Definition(s)


Vassakara means something in Buddhism, Pali. 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)

A brahmin, chief minister of Ajatasattu. He and Sunidha were in charge of the fortifications of Pataligama, built against the Vajji. (Vin.i.228; Ud.viii.6; the Digha account, D.ii.72ff. omits Sunidha. The Vinaya account omits Vassakaras questions to the Buddha; cf. AA.ii.705ff).

At Ajatasattus suggestion, Vassakara visited the Buddha to discover, indirectly, whether, in the Buddhas view, there were any chances of Ajatasattu conquering the Vajjians in battle. The Buddha said that as long as the Vajjians practised the seven conditions of prosperity which he had taught them at Sarandada cetiya, they would prosper rather than decline, and this gave Vassakara the idea that the downfall of the Vajjians could be brought about by diplomacy (upalapana) or disunion (mithubheda). He thereupon conspired with the king (D.A.ii.522ff ) and, by agreement, the latter expelled him on the charge of showing favour to the Vajjians during discussions in the assembly. Vassakara then went to the Vajjian country, and the Licchavis, all unsuspecting, welcomed him and appointed him as the teacher of their children. By means of cunning and questioning the children in secret, he made them quarrel with each other, and these quarrels soon spread to the elders. In three years the Licchavis were completely disunited, and when the assembly drum was beaten, they failed to appear. Vassakara then sent a message to Ajatasattu, who was able to capture Vesali without meeting any resistance.

In the Gopaka Moggallana Sutta (M.iii.8ff), Vassakara is represented as arriving in the middle of a conversation, which Gopaka Moggallana was holding with Ananda, having been sent to inspect the works at Rajagaha, which were in charge of Moggallana. Having asked the subject of conversation, he inquired whether the Buddha himself or the Order had chosen a leader for the Sangha after the Buddhas death. Ananda explains that the Buddha did not do so, that no special leader has been appointed, but that there were monks to whom they showed honour and reverence because of their virtue and insight. Vassakara admits this as good, as does also Upananda, the Senapati, who is present. Vassakara asks Ananda where he lives, and is told, in Veluvana. Vassakara thinks this a good place for the practice of jhana, and tells Ananda of a conversation he once had with the Buddha regarding jhana. Ananda, remarks that all jhanas are not equally praiseworthy, and Vassakara takes his leave.

Buddhaghosa says (MA.ii.854) that Vassakara knew well of Anandas residence at Veluvana, but that as the place was under his special protection, he wished to hear his work praised. Then follows a curious tale. Vassakara once saw Maha Kaccana descending Gijjhakuta and remarked that he was just like a monkey. The Buddha, hearing of this, said that,

(Source): Pali Kanon: Pali Proper Names
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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