Maps of Ancient Buddhist Asia

Tathāgatassa Vassā
The Realised One’s Rains Retreats

The Realised One’s Rains Retreats

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

Some of the modern place names, where they differ, are given here: Isipatana = Sarnath; Rājagaha = Rajgir; Vesālī = Vaishali; Kosambī = Kausambi; Kapilavatthu = Kapilavastu. Nāḷaka is either Nalanda, or is nearby; Āḷavī is unidentified as yet.

This map shows the various places where the Buddha spent his Rain’s Retreats according to the information related in the Introduction to the Commentary on the Buddhavaṁsa, which is also followed by Ven. Medhaṅkara in Jinacarita. Most of them are well known, and appear in the Discourses many times. Of the Retreats we are sure about note that they all were taken in the Middle Lands (Majjhimadesa).

Some of the places we cannot identify. These include the 6th retreat on Mount Maṅkula;ChS: Makula 8th at Bhesakalā Wood in the Bhagga Country; 13th, 18th and 19th on Mount Cāliya.ChS: Cālika Others are only vaguely known, such as Silk-Cotton Wood, Pārileyya and Verañjā, all of which were around Kosambī. The exact position of Āḷavī is also not known, but must have been in the Vajjī Country where there were many yakkha shrines. According to tradition the 7th Rains Retreat was spent in Tāvatiṁsa teaching the Abhidhamma to his Mother, who had been reborn as a Devaputta.

The information given in the Commentary inexplicably omits the last Rain’s Retreat spent by the Buddha, which was at the village of Beluva, within walking distance of Vesālī, as related in the Mahāparinibbānasuttaṁ. A text and translation of the relevant section of the Commentary to Buddhavaṁsa follows (for a later, and more poetic description of the Rains Retreats, see Jinacaritaṁ):


from Madhuratthavilāsinī (Buddhavaṁsatthakathā), Ganthārambakathā:

Paṭhamaṁ Vassaṁ Isipatane Dhammacakkaṁ pavattetvā
After setting the Dhamma Wheel Rolling in Isipatana

aṭṭhārasa Brahmakoṭiyo amatapānaṁ pāyetvā
and making 180,000,000 Brahmās imbibe the immortal ambrosia during the first Rains Retreat

Bārāṇasiṁ upanissāya Isipatane Migadāye vasi;
he dwelt at the Deer Park in Isipatana relying on Bārāṇasī (for alms);

dutiyaṁ Vassaṁ Rājagahaṁ upanissāya Veḷuvane Mahāvihāre;
the second Rains retreat was in the Great Monastery at Bamboo Wood, relying on Rājagaha;

tatiyacatutthāni pi tattheva;
the third and fourth likewise (he was) also there;

pañcamaṁ Vesāliṁ upanissāya Mahāvane Kūṭāgārasālāyaṁ;
the fifth was in the Gabled House Hall in the Great Wood relying on Vesālī;

chaṭṭhaṁ Maṅkulapabbate;
the sixth on Mount Maṅkula;

sattamaṁ Tāvatiṁsabhavane;
the seventh in the realm of the 33 gods (Tāvatiṁsa);

aṭṭhamaṁ Bhaggesu Saṁsumāragiriṁ upanissāya Bhesakaḷāvane;
the eighth in the Bhesakaḷā Wood, relying on the Crocodile Hill amongst the Bhaggas;

navamaṁ Kosambiyaṁ;
the ninth near Kosambī (at Ghositārāma);

dasamaṁ Pārileyyakavanasaṇḍe;
the tenth in the Pārileyyaka grove;

ekādasamaṁ Nāḷāyaṁ brāhmaṇagāme;
the eleventh in the brāhmin village of Nāḷa (in Magadhā);

dvādasamaṁ Verañjāyaṁ;
the twelfth near Verañjā;

terasamaṁ Cāliyapabbate;
the thirteenth on Mount Cāliya;

cuddasamaṁ Jetavanamahāvihāre;
the fourteenth in the Jeta’s Wood great Monastery (near Sāvatthī);

pañcadasamaṁ Kapilavatthumahānagare;
the fifteenth near the great city of Kapilavatthu (at the Nigrodhārāma, near his home town, amongst the Sākiyans);

soḷasamaṁ Āḷavakaṁ dametvā caturāsītipāṇasahassāni amatapānaṁ pāyetvā Āḷaviyaṁ;
having tamed (the yakkha) Āḷavaka and making 84,000 creaturess imbibe the immortal ambrosia, (he spent) the sixteenth at Āḷavī;

sattarasamaṁ Rājagahe yeva;
the seventeenth was surely near Rājagaha (perhaps in Bamboo Wood);

aṭṭhārasamaṁ Cāliyapabbate yeva tathā ekūnavīsatimaṁ;
the eighteenth on mount Cāliya and then also the nineteenth;

vīsatimaṁ pana Vassaṁ Rājagaheyeva vasi;
but the twentieth Rains Retreat he dwelt near to Rājagaha (perhaps in Bamboo Wood);


Tato paṭṭhāya pana Sāvatthiṁ yeva upanissāya
But from there onwards he surely relied on Sāvatthī

Jetavanamahāvihāre ca Pubbārāme ca dhuvaparibhogavasena vasi.
dwelling in the Great Monastery in Jeta’s Wood and the Eastern Monastery because it had constant supplies (of requisites for the large gathering of monks).