The capital of the Vatsas or Vamsas (J.iv.28;
vi.236). In the time of the Buddha its king was
Parantapa, and after him reigned his son
Udena. (MA.ii.740f; DhA.i.164f). Kosambī was
evidently a city of great importance at the time of the Buddha for we find
Ananda mentioning it as one of the places
suitable for the Buddha's Parinibbāna
(D.ii.146,169). It was also the most important halt for traffic coming to
Kosala and Magadha from
the south and the west. (See, e.g., Vin.i.277).
The city was thirty leagues by river from Benares.
(Thus we are told that the fish which swallowed
Bakkula travelled thirty leagues through the
Yamunā, from Kosambī to Benares, AA.i.170; PsA.491). The usual route from
Rājagaha to Kosambī was up the river (this was
the route taken by Ananda when he went with five hundred others to inflict the
higher punishment on Channa, Vin.ii.290), though
there seems to have been a land route passing through
Anupiya and Kosambī to
Rājagaha. (See Vin.ii.184f). In the Sutta
Nipāta (vv.1010-13) the whole route is given from
Mahissati to Rājagaha, passing through Kosambī, the halting-places mentioned
- Bhoganagara and
Near Kosambī, by the river, was Udena's park,
the Udakavana, where
Ananda and Pindola-Bhāradvāja
preached to the women of Udena's palace on two different occasions (Vin.ii.290f;
SnA.ii.514; J. iv.375). The Buddha is mentioned as having once stayed in the
Simsapāvana in Kosambī (S.v.437).
Mahā Kaccāna lived in a woodland near
Kosambī after the holding of the First Council (PvA.141).
Already in the Buddha's time there were four establishments of the Order in
Kosambī - the Kukkutārāma, the
Pāvārika-ambavana (these being given by
three of the most eminent citizens of Kosambī, named respectively,
and Pāvārika), and the
Badarikārāma. The Buddha visited Kosambī on
several occasions, stopping at one or other of these residences, and several
discourses delivered during these visits are recorded in the books. (Thomas, op.
cit., 115, n.2, doubts the authenticity of the stories connected with the
Buddha's visits to Kosambī, holding that these stories are of later invention).
The Buddha spent his ninth rainy season at Kosambī, and it was on his way
there on this occasion that he made a detour to
Kammāssadamma and was offered in marriage
Māgandiyā, daughter of the brahmin
Māgandiya. The circumstances are narrated in
connection with the Māgandiya Sutta.
Māgandiyā took the Buddha's refusal as an insult to herself, and, after her
marriage to King Udena, tried in various ways to take revenge on the Buddha, and
also on Udena's wife Sāmavatī, who had been the
Buddha's follower. (DhA.i.199ff; iii.193ff; iv.1ff; Ud.vii.10).
A great schism once arose among the monks in Kosambī. Some monks charged one
of their colleagues with having committed an offence, but he refused to
acknowledge the charge and, being himself learned in the
Vinaya, argued his case and pleaded that
the charge be dismissed. The rules were complicated; on the one hand, the monk
had broken a rule and was treated as an offender, but on the other, he should
not have been so treated if he could not see that he had done wrong. The monk
was eventually excommunicated, and this brought about a great dissension. When
the matter was reported to the Buddha, he admonished the partisans of both sides
and urged them to give up their differences, but they paid no heed, and even
blows were exchanged. The people of Kosambī, becoming angry at the monks'
behaviour, the quarrel grew apace. The Buddha once more counselled concord,
relating to the monks the story of King Dīghiti
of Kosala, but his efforts at reconciliation were of no
avail, one of the monks actually asking him to leave them to settle their
differences without his interference. In disgust the Buddha left Kosambī and,
journeying through Bālakalonakāragāma
and the Pācīnavamsadaya, retired
alone to keep retreat in the Pārileyyaka
forest. In the meantime the monks of both parties repented, partly owing to the
pressure exerted by their lay followers in Kosambī, and, coming to the Buddha at
Sāvatthi, they asked his pardon and settled their dispute. (Vin.i.337-57;
J.iii.486ff (cp.iii.211ff); DhA.i.44ff; SA.ii.222f; the story of the Buddha
going into the forest is given in Ud.iv.5. and in S. iii.94, but the reason given
in these texts is that he found Kosambī uncomfortable owing to the vast number
of monks, lay people and heretics. But see UdA.248f, and SA.ii.222f).
The Commentaries give two reasons for the name Kosambī. The more favoured is
(E.g., UdA.248; SnA.300; MA.i.535. Epic tradition ascribes the foundation of
Kosambī to a Cedi prince, while the origin of the Vatsa people is traced to a
king of Kāsī, see PHAI.83, 84) that the city was so called because it was
founded in or near the site of the hermitage once occupied by the sage Kusumba (v.l.
Kusumbha). Another explanation is (e.g., MA i.539; PsA.413) that large and
stately margossa-trees (Kosammarukkhā) grew in great numbers in and around the
Bakkula was the son of a banker in Kosambī.
(MA.ii.929; AA.i.170). In the Buddha's time there lived near the ferry at
Kosambī a powerful Nāga-king, the reincarnation of a former ship's captain. The
Nāga was converted by Sāgata, who thereby won
great fame. (AA.i.179; but see J. i.360, where the incident is given as happening
Rujā was born in a banker's family in Kosambī (J.vi.237f). Citta-pandita was
also born there (J.iv.392). A king, by name Kosambaka,
once ruled there.
During the time of the Vajjian heresy, when
the Vajjian monks of Vesāli wished to
excommunicate Yasa Kākandakaputta, he went by air
to Kosambī, and from there sent messengers to the orthodox monks in the
different centres (Vin.ii.298; Mhv.iv.17).
It was at Kosambī that the Buddha promulgated a rule forbidding the use of
intoxicants by monks (Vin.ii.307).
Kosambī is mentioned in the Samyutta Nikāya (S.iv.179; but see AA.i.170;
MA.ii.929; PsA.491, all of which indicate that the city was on the Yamunā) as
being "Gangāya nadiyā tīre." This is either an error, or here the name Gangā
refers not to the Ganges but to the Yamunī. Kosambī is identified with the two
villages of Kosam on the Jumna, about ninety miles west of Allahabad.
(CAGI.448f; Vincent Smith places it further south,