A country inhabited by the Kosalā, to
the north-west of Magadha and next to
It is mentioned second in the list
of sixteen Mahājanapadas (E.g., A.i.213; iv.252, etc.). In the Buddha's time it
was a powerful kingdom ruled over by Pasenadi, who was succeeded by his son
Vidūdabha. By this time Kāsī was under the subjection of Kosala, for we find
that when Bimbisāra, king of Magadha, married
Kosaladevī, daughter of
and sister of Pasenadi, a village in Kāsī was given as part of the dowry
Various Jātakas indicate that the struggle between Kāsi and
Kosala had been very prolonged (See, e.g., J. ii.21f; iii.115f; 211f; v.316,
425). Sometimes the Kāsi king would attack Kosala, capture the king and rule
over the country. At others the Kosala king would invade Kāsi and annex it to
his own territory. Several Kosala kings who succeeded in doing this, are
mentioned by name - e.g., Dabbasena (J.iii.13),
Dīghāvu (J.iii.211f), Vanka
(J.iii.168) and Kamsa; the last being given the special title of "Bāranāsiggāha,"
(J.ii.403; v.112) probably in recognition of the fact that he completed the
conquest of Kāsi. Other kings of Kosala who came in conflict with Benares in one
way or another are mentioned - e.g., Dīghiti (J.iii.211f; Vin.i.342f),
(J.ii.3), and Chatta (J.iii.116).
Sometimes the kings of the two countries
entered into matrimonial alliances (e.g., J. iii.407). With the capture of Kāsi
the power of Kosala increased rapidly, until a struggle between this country and
Magadha became inevitable. Bimbisāra's marriage was probably a political
alliance, but it only served to postpone the evil day. Quite soon after his
death there were many fierce fights between Ajātasattu, his successor, and
Pasenadi, these fights bringing varying fortunes to the combatants. Once
Ajātasattu was captured alive, but Pasenadi spared his life and gave him his
daughter, Vajirā, in marriage and for a time all went well. Later, however,
after his conquest of the Licchavis, Ajātasattu seems to have succeeded in
establishing his sway in Kosala. (See Vincent Smith, op. cit., 32f).
sixth century B.C. the Sākyan territory of
Kapilavatthu was subject to Kosala.
The Sutta Nipāta (vs.405) speaks of the Buddha's birthplace as belonging to the
Kosalans; see also A.i.276, where Kapilavatthu is mentioned as being in Kosala.
Elsewhere (M.ii.124) Pasenadi is reported as saying, "Bhagavā pi Kosalako, aham
At the time of the Buddha
the capital of Kosala. Next in importance was Saketa, which, in ancient days,
had sometimes been the capital (J.iii.270; Mtu.i.348). There was also
on the banks of the Sarayu, which, judging from the Rāmāyana, must once have
been the chief city; but in the sixth century B.C. it was quite unimportant.
The river Sarayu divided Kosala into two
parts, Uttara Kosala and Dakkhina Kosala Law: Geog., p.6).
Other Kosala rivers mentioned in the
books are the Aciravatī (D.i.235) and the
Sundarikā (S.i.167; Sn. p.97; but see
M.i.39, where the river is called Bāhukā).
Among localities spoken of as being in
Icchānangala (A.iii.30, 341; iv.340,
Kesaputta of the Kālāmas (A.i.188),
Nalakapāna (A.v.122; M.i.462),
Sālā (M.i.285, 400; S. v.227),
Sālāvatika (D.i.244), and
The Mtu. adds Dronavastuka (iii.377) and
The Commentaries (E.g., SnA.ii.400f;
DA.i.239f) give a curious explanation of the name Kosalā. It is said that when
nothing could make Mahāpanāda smile, his father offered a big reward for anyone
who could succeed in doing this. People, accordingly, left their work and
flocked to the court, but it, was not until Sakka sent down a celestial actor
that Mahāpanāda showed any signs of being amused. When this happened the men
returned to their various duties, and on their way home, when meeting their
friends, they asked of each other, "Kacci bho kusalam, kacci bho kusalam." The
district where this occurred came to be called Kosalā on account of the
repetition of the word kusala.
The Buddha spent the greater part of his
time in Kosala, either in Sāvatthi or in touring in the various parts of the
country, and many of the Vinaya rules were formulated in Kosala. (See Vinaya
Index, s.v. Kosala). It is said (SA.i.221) that alms were plentiful in Kosala,
though, evidently (J.i.329), famines, due to drought, were not unknown. Yet,
though woodland tracts were numerous (see, e.g., SA.i.225) where monks could
meditate in solitude, the number of monks actually found in Kosala was not large
(VT.i.226). Bāvarī himself was a native of Kosala (Sn.v.976), yet he preferred
to have his hermitage in
After the Buddha's death, his unnaloma
was deposited in a thūpa in Kosala (Bu.xxviii.9). It is said that the measures
used in Kosala were larger than those of Magadha - thus one Kosala pattha was
equal to four Magadha patthas (SnA..ii.476).
Kosala is often mentioned in combination
with Kāsi in the compound Kāsi-Kosala; Pasenadi was king of Kāsi-Kosala (e.g.,
A.v.59) (cf. Ariga-Magadha). See also Pasenadi.
Kosala. A Pacceka Buddha,
mentioned in a list of names. M.iii.70; ApA.i.107.