A country often mentioned in the Nikāyas
and in later literature as a mythical region. A detailed description of it is
given in the Ātānātiya Sutta. (D.iii.199ff; here Uttarakuru is spoken of as a
city, pura; see also Uttarakuru in Hopkins: Epic Mythology, especially p.186).
The men who live there own no property nor have they wives of their own; they do
not have to work for their living. The corn ripens by itself and sweet-scented
rice is found boiling on hot oven-stoves. The inhabitants go about riding on
cows, on men and women, on maids and youths. Their king rides on an elephant, on
a horse, on celestial cars and in state palanquins. Their cities are built in
the air, and among those mentioned are Ātānātā, Kusinātā, Nātapuriyā,
Parakusinātā, Kapīvanta, Janogha, Navanavatiya, Ambara-Ambaravatiya and
Ālakamandā, the last being the chief city.
The king of Uttarakuru is Kuvera, also
called Vessavana, because the name of his citadel (? rājadhāni) is Visāna. His
proclamations are made known by Tatolā, Tattalā, Tatotalā, Ojasi, Tejasi,
Tetojasi, Sūra, Rāja, Arittha and Nemi. Mention is also made of a lake named
Dharanī and a hall named Bhagalavati where the Yakkhas, as the inhabitants of
Uttarakuru are called, hold their assemblies.
The country is always spoken of as being
to the north of Jambudīpa. It is eight thousand leagues in extent and is
surrounded by the sea (DA.ii.623; BuA.113). Sometimes it is spoken of (E.g.,
A.i.227; v.59; SnA.ii.443) as one of the four Mahādīpā - the others being
Jambudīpa - each being surrounded by five hundred
minor islands. These four make up a Cakkavāla, with Mount Meru in their midst, a
flat-world system. A cakkavattī's rule extends over all these four continents
(D.ii.173; DA.ii.623) and his chief queen comes either from the race of King
Madda or from Uttarakuru; in the latter case she appears before him of her own
accord, urged on by her good fortune (DA.ii.626; KhpA.173).
The trees in Uttarakuru bear perpetual
fruit and foliage, and it also possesses a Kapparukkha which lasts for a whole
kappa (A.i.264; MA.ii.948). There are no houses in Uttarakuru, the inhabitants
sleep on the earth and are called, therefore, bhūmisayā (ThagA.iii.187-8).
The men of Uttarakuru surpass even the
gods of Tāvatimsa in four things:
- they have no greed (amamā) (the people of
Uttarakuru are acchandikā, VibhA.461),
- no private property (apariggahā),
have a definite term of life (niyatāyukā) (one thousand years, after which they
are born in heaven, says Buddhaghosa, AA.ii.806)
- and they possess great elegance
They are, however, inferior to the men of Jambudīpa in courage, mindfulness
and in the religious life (A.iv.396; Kvu.99).
Several instances are given of the
Buddha having gone to Uttarakuru for alms. Having obtained his food there, he
would go to the Anotatta lake, bathe in its waters and, after the meal, spend
the afternoon on its banks (See, e.g., Vin.i.27-8; DhsA.16; DhA.iii.222). The
power of going to Uttarakuru for alms is not restricted to the Buddha;
Buddhas and various ascetics are mentioned as having visited Uttarakuru on their
begging rounds (See, e.g., J. v.316; vi.100; MA.i.340; SnA.ii.420). It is
considered a mark of great iddhi-power to be able to do this (E.g., Rohita,
Jotika's wife was a woman of Uttarakuru;
she was brought to Jotika by the gods. She brought with her a single pint pot of
rice and three crystals. The rice-pot was never exhausted; whenever a meal was
desired, the rice was put in a boiler and the boiler set over the crystals; the
heat of the crystals went out as soon as the rice was cooked. The same thing
happened with curries (DhA.iv.209ff). Food never ran short in Uttarakuru; once
when there was a famine in Verañjā and the
Buddha and his monks were finding it
difficult to get alms, we find Moggallāna suggesting that they should go to Uttarakuru for alms (Vin.iii.7). The clothes worn by the inhabitants resembled
divine robes (See, e.g., PvA.76).
It was natural for the men of Uttarakuru
not to transgress virtue, they had pakati-sīla (Vsm.i.15).
Uttarakuru is probably identical with
the Kuru country mentioned in the Rg-Veda (See Vedic Index).
2. Uttuakuru. A garden laid out by
Parakkamabāhu I. (Cv.lxxix.11).