Vesali, aka: Vesālī, Vesāli, Veshali, Veśālī; 3 Definition(s)


Vesali 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.

The Sanskrit term Veśālī can be transliterated into English as Vesali or Veshali, using the IAST transliteration scheme (?).

In Buddhism

Theravada (major branch of Buddhism)

A city, capital of the Licchavis. The Buddha first visited it in the fifth year after the Enlightenment, and spent the vassa there (BuA., p. 3). The Commentaries give detailed descriptions of the circumstances of this visit. KhpA.160ff.= SNA.i.278; DhA.iii.436ff.; cp. Mtu.i.253ff

Vesali was inhabited by seven thousand and seven rajas, each of whom had large retinues, many palaces and pleasure parks. There came a shortage in the food supply owing to drought, and people died in large numbers. The smell of decaying bodies attracted evil spirits, and many inhabitants were attacked by intestinal disease. The people complained to the ruling prince, and he convoked a general assembly, where it was decided, after much discussion, to invite the Buddha to their city. As the Buddha was then at Veluvana in Rajagaha, the Licchavi Mahali, friend of Bimbisara and son of the chaplain of Vesali, was sent to Bimbisara with a request that he should persuade the Buddha to go to Vesali. Bimbisara referred him to the Buddha himself, who, after listening to Mahalis story, agreed to go. The Buddha started on the journey with five hundred monks. Bimbisara decorated the route from Rajagaha to the Ganges, a distance of five leagues, and provided all comforts on the way. He accompanied the Buddha, and the Ganges was reached in five days. Boats, decked with great splendour, were ready for the Buddha and his monks, and we are told that Bimbisara followed the Buddha into the water up to his neck. The Buddha was received on the opposite bank by the Licchavis, with even greater honour than Bimbisara had shown him. As soon as the Buddha set foot in the Vajjian territory, there was a thunderstorm and rain fell in torrents. The distance from the Ganges to Vesali was three leagues; as the Buddha approached Vesali, Sakka came to greet him, and, at the sight of the devas, all the evil spirits fled in fear. In the evening the Buddha taught Ananda the Ratana Sutta, and ordered that it should be recited within the three walls of the city, the round of the city being made with the Licchavi princes. This Ananda did during the three watches of the night, and all the pestilences of the citizens disappeared. The Buddha himself recited the Ratana Sutta to the assembled people, and eighty four thousand beings were converted. After repeating this for seven consecutive days, the Buddha left Vesali. (According to the DhA. account the Buddha stayed only seven days in Vesali; KhA. says two weeks). The Licchavis accompanied him to the Ganges with redoubled honours, and, in the river itself, Devas and Nagas vied with each other in paying him honour. On the farther bank, Bimbisara awaited his arrival and conducted him back to Rajagaha. On his return there, the Buddha recited the Sankha Jataka. (See 2.)

It was probably during this visit of the Buddha to Vesali that Suddhodana died.

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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India history and geogprahy

Vesali or Vaishali was a city in present-day Bihar, India, and is now an archaeological site. It is a part of the Tirhut Division. It was the capital city of the Vajjian Confederacy of (Vrijji mahajanapada), considered one of the first examples of a republic around the 6th century BCE. Gautama Buddha preached his last sermon before his death in c. 483 BCE, then in 383 BCE the Second Buddhist council was convened here by King Kalasoka, making it an important place in both Jain and Buddhist religions. It contains one of the best-preserved of the Pillars of Ashoka, topped by a single Asiatic lion.

Source: Wikipedia: India History

Vesālī refers to the captial of Vṛji or Vajji: 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).—The Vajjis, like the Licchavis, are often associated with the city of Vesālī which was not only the capital of the Licchavi clan, but also the metropolis of the entire confederacy. A Buddhist tradition quoted by Rockhill mentions the city of Vesālī as consisting of three districts. These districts were probably at one time the seats of three different clans. The Licchavis had their capital at Vesālī identical with Besārh in the Muzaffarpur district of Bihar.

In the Paramatthajotikā on the Khuddakapāṭha and the Pujāvaliya, a Ceylonese Buddhist work, we find an account of the mythical origin of the Licchavis, the Vajji country and the capital Vesālī. Buddhaghosa’s fanciful story of the origin of the town of Vesālī is also supported by the Jātakaṭṭhakathā to the Ekapaṇṇa Jātaka (Jāt., I, p. 504). It is said in the commentary that at the time of the Buddha the city of Vesālī was encompassed by three walls at a distance of a gāvuta from one another and that at three places there were gates with watch towers and buildings.

Vesālī, at the time of the Buddha, was an opulent, prosperous and populous town. It had 7,707 storied buildings, 7,707 pinnacled buildings, 7,707 ārāmas or pleasure grounds, and 7,707 lotus ponds. A similar account of Vesālī is also found in the Laitavistara. Vesālī was well provided with food, the harvest was good, alms were easy to obtain and one could very well earn his living by gleaneng or through favour. The Buddha’s missionary activities were confined not to Magadha and Kosala alone, but were spread over to Vesālī as well. Many discourses were delivered here either at the mango grove of Ambapālī, in the outskirt of the city or at Kūṭāgārasālā in the Mahāvana, the great forest stretching up to the Himalayas.

Source: Ancient Buddhist Texts: Geography of Early Buddhism
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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