1. Isipatana.An open space near
Benares, the site of the famous Migadāya or Deer Park. It was eighteen leagues
from Uruvelā, and when Gotama gave up his austere penances his friends, the
Pañcavaggiya monks, left him and went to Isipatana (J.i.68). After his
Enlightenment the Buddha, leaving Uruvela, joined them in Isipatana, and it was
there that he preached his first sermon, the
Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, on the
full-moon day of Āsālha. Vin.i.10f.; on this occasion 80 kotis of Brahmas and
innumerable gods attained the comprehension of the Truth (Mil..30); (130 kotis
saysMil.350). The Lal. (528) gives details of the stages of this journey. The
Buddha, having no money with which to pay the ferryman, crossed the Ganges
through the air. When Bimbisāra heard of this, he abolished the toll for
There, also, the Buddha spent his first
rainy season (BuA., p.3).
All the Buddhas preach their first
sermon at the Migadāya in Isipatana; it is one of the four avijahitatthānāni
(unchanging spots), the others being the bodhi-pallanka, the spot at the gate of
Sankassa, where the Buddha first touches the earth on his return from
and the site of the bed in the Gandhakuti in
Jetavana (BuA.247; DA.ii.424).
Isipatana is mentioned by the Buddha as
one of the four places of pilgrimage which his devout followers should visit
Isipatana was so-called because sages,
on their way through the air (from the Himalayas), alight here or start from
here on their aerial flight (isayo ettha nipatanti uppatanti cāti-Isipatanam).
The Migadāya was so-called because deer
were allowed to roam about there unmolested.
Pacceka Buddhas, having spent seven days
in contemplation in the Gandhamādana, bathe in the Anotatta Lake and come to the
habitations of men through the air, in search of alms. They descend to earth at
Isipatana (MA.i.387; AA.i.347 adds that sages also held the uposatha at
Sometimes the Pacceka Buddhas come to
Isipatana from Nandamūlaka-pabbhāra (MA.ii.1019; PsA.437-8).
Several other incidents connected with
the Buddha, besides the preaching of the first sermon, are mentioned as having
taken place in Isipatana. Here it was that one day at dawn
Yasa came to the
Buddha and became an arahant (Vin.i.15f). It was at Isipatana, too, that the
rule was passed prohibiting the use of sandals made of talipot leaves
(Vin.i.189). On another occasion when the Buddha was staying at Isipatana,
having gone there from Rājagaha, he instituted rules forbidding the use of
certain kinds of flesh, including human flesh (Vin.i.216ff.; the rule regarding
human flesh was necessary because Suppiyā made broth out of her own flesh for a
sick monk). Twice, while the Buddha was at Isipatana, Māra visited him but had
to go away discomfited (S.i.105f).
Besides the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta
mentioned above, several other suttas were preached by the Buddha while staying
at Isipatana, among them
- the Pañca Sutta (S.iii.66f),
- the Rathakāra or Pacetana
- the two Pāsa Suttas (S.i.105f),
- the Samaya Sutta
- the Katuviya Sutta (A.i.279f.),
- a discourse on the Metteyyapañha
of the Parāyana (A.iii.399f), and
- the Dhammadinna Sutta (S.v.406f), preached to
the distinguished layman Dhammadinna, who came to see the Buddha.
Some of the most eminent members of the
Sangha seem to have resided at Isipatana from time to time; among recorded
conversations at Isipatana are several between Sāriputta and
(S.ii.112f;iii.167f;iv.162f; 384ff), and one between Mahākotthita and
Mention is made, too, of a discourse in
which several monks staying at Isipatana tried to help Channa in his
According to the Mahāvamsa, there was a
large community of monks at Isipatana in the second century B.C. For, we are
told that at the foundation ceremony of the Mahā Thūpa in Anurādhapura, twelve
thousand monks were present from Isipatana led by the Elder Dhammasena
Hiouen Thsang (Beal.: Records of the
Western World, ii.45ff ) found, at Isipatana, fifteen hundred monks studying the
Hīnayāna. In the enclosure of the Sanghārāma was a vihāra about two hundred feet
high, strongly built, its roof surmounted by a golden figure of the mango. In
the centre of the vihāra was a life-size statue of the Buddha turning the wheel
of the Law. To the south-west were the remains of a stone stupa built by
The Divy. (389-94) mentions Asoka as intimating to Upagupta his desire to visit
the places connected with the Buddha's activities, and to erect thupas there.
Thus he visited Lumbinī, Bodhimūla, Isipatana, Migadāya and Kusinagara; this is
confirmed by Asoka's lithic records, e.g. Rock Edict, viii.
In front of it was a stone pillar to
mark the spot where the Buddha preached his first sermon. Near by was another
stupa on the site where the Pañcavaggiyas spent their time in meditation before
the Buddha's arrival, and another where five hundred Pacceka Buddhas entered
Nibbāna. Close to it was another building where the future Buddha Metteyya
received assurance of his becoming a Buddha.
Hiouen Thsang quotes the Nigrodhamiga
Jātaka (J.i.145ff) to account for the origin of the Migadāya. According to him
the Deer Park was the forest gifted by the king of Benares of the Jātaka, where
the deer might wander unmolested.
According to the Udapāna Jātaka
(J.ii.354ff ) there was a very ancient well near Isipatana which, in the
Buddha's time, was used by the monks living there.
In past ages Isipatana sometimes
retained its own name, E.g., in the time of Phussa Buddha (Bu.xix.18),
Dhammadassī (BuA.182) and Kassapa (BuA.218). Kassapa was born there (ibid.,
But more often Isipatana was known by
different names (for these names see under those of the different Buddhas). Thus
in Vipassī's time it was known as Khema-uyyāna. It is the custom for all Buddhas
to go through the air to Isipatana to preach their first sermon. Gotama,
however, walked all the way, eighteen leagues, because he knew that by so doing
he would meet Upaka, the Ajivaka, to whom he could be of service (DA.ii.471).
Isipatana is identified with the modern
Saranath, six miles from Benares. Cunningham (Arch. Reports, i. p. 107) found
the Migadāya represented by a fine wood, covering an area of about half a mile,
extending from the great tomb of Dhammek on the north to the Chaukundi mound on
2. Isipatana. A monastery built
by Parakkamabāhu I. in the suburb Rājavesibhujanga, of Pulatthipura.
Cv.lxxviii.79; but see lxxiii.151-5 and Cv. Trs.ii.18, n.3.