Maps of Ancient Buddhist Asia

Tathāgatassa Pure Caritaṁ
The Realised One’s Early Career

The Realised One’s Early Career

The map shown above is approx. 550 km from East to West and 400 km from North to South

There is a video of an hour-long talk I gave using this map as a basis to explain more about the Buddha’s movements before and after his Awakening.
It can be seen on YouTube

Some of the modern place names, where they differ, are given here: Uruvelā = Bodhgaya; Bārāṇasī = Varanasi; Isipatana = Sarnath; Rājagaha = Rajgir; Vesālī = Vaishali; Kapilavatthu = Kapilavastu.

What follows is based on the account in the Mahākhandhaka section of the Vinaya Mahāvagga, and the traditional histories such as the Jātaka Nidānakathā, and the Jinavaṁsa:

After Awakening at the foot of the Bodhi tree in Uruvelā the Buddha spent the following 7 weeks in a number of locations in the same area. He then travelled to Isipatana, where his former companions, the group of five (pañcavaggiya) ascetics were staying. The walking tour appears to have taken around a week, as he arrived on the Full Moon night of Āsāḷha.

That night he preached his first recorded discourse, and thereby set the Dhamma-Wheel rolling, at the end of which Aññāta Koṇḍañña became the first person to attain Path and Fruit in the present Sāsana. In the next few days he and his four companions all became Worthy Ones (Arahanta). The Buddha spent the first Vassāna in the Deer-Park at Isipatana, and in a short time converted first Yasa, and then 50 of his friends, who also all became Worthy Ones.

At the end of the Rain’s Retreat the Buddha walked back to Uruvelā, where he converted the three Kassapa brothers and their 1,000 disciples. From there he travelled to the Magadhan capital Rājagaha, where he was presented with his first monastery, the Bamboo Wood (Veḷuvana) by King Bimbisāra.

Five months had passed since leaving Isipatana and it was now Springtime. Kāḷudāyī arrived from Kapilavatthu, and invited the Buddha to return to his home town. There he converted his former Wife, his Father, and ordained his Son, and other family members, including Nanda and Ānanda.

After these conversions he returned once again to Rājagaha, and while he was there the rich merchant Anāthapiṇḍika arrived and invited him to Sāvatthī, where he bought and presented him with the Jeta’s Wood monastery. At this point the early histories break off, perhaps because the Sāsana was safely established by this time. Although we know a lot about the Buddha’s ministry, the chronology is not picked up again until the Mahāparinibbānasutta opens about one year before the Final Emancipation at Kusinārā.