Geography of Early Buddhism

Chapter III: Aparāntaka or Western India


[56] According to the Brahmanical tradition recorded in the Kāvyamīmāṁsa (p. 93), the country lying to the west of Devasabhā (a city on a mountain not yet identified) was called the Paścātdeśa or the western Country (Devasabhāyāḥ parataḥ paścātdeśaḥ, tatra Devasabha-Surāṣṭra-Daseraka-Travaṇa-Bhrigukaccha-Kacchīya-Ānarta-Arvuda-Brāhmaṇavāha-Yavana-prabhritayo Janapadāḥ).

Devasabhā is also referred to in the Arthaśāstra (Sanskrit text, p. 78) as producing red sandal.

According to the Buddhist tradition recorded in the Sāsanavaṁsa (p. 11), Aparāntaka is, however, the region lying to the west of the Upper Irawady.

According to Sir R. G. Bhandarkar, Aparānta was the Northern Konkan, whose capital was Surpāraka (mod. Sopārā); while according to Bhagavānlal Indraji the western sea-board of India was called Aparāntaka or Aparāntika.

Yuan Chwang, the celebrated Chinese Buddhist traveller, seems, on the whole, to be more definite on this point. According to his account, the western Country seems to comprise ’Sindh, western Rajputana, Cutch, Gujarat and a portion of the adjoining coast on the lower course of the Narmadā, three states – Sindh, Gurjara and Valabhi’ (CAGI., Notes, p. 690).

The Dīpavaṁsa (p. 54) and the Mahāvaṁsa (Ch. XII) state that Yona Dhammarakkhita, a Buddhist missionary, was sent to Aparāntaka for the spread of Buddhism there.

Janapadas, Nigamas, Puras, Gāmas, etc.


Asitamasā is referred to in the Barhut inscriptions (Barua and Sinha, p. 32). Cunningham locates it somewhere on the bank of the Tamasā or Ton river.

The Vāmna Purāṇa mentions Asinīla and Tāmasa among the countries of western India.


In the Sussondi Jātaka (Jāt., III, pp. 187 ff.) we read of the minstrel Sagga’s journey from Benares to Bharukaccha. It was a seaport town from which ships used to sail for different countries.

In one of the Jātakas it is stated that some merchants once sailed from Bharukaccha to Suvaṇṇabhūmi (identified with Lower Burma).

In the Divyāvadāna (pp. 544–586) there is a very interesting story accounting for the name of the city. It is said that Rudrāyaṇa, King of Roruka (may be identical with Alor, an old city of Sindh), in Sauvīra was killed by his son Sikhaṇḍi. As a punishment of this crime, the realm of Sikhaṇḍī, the parricide king, was destroyed by a heavy shower of sands. [57] Three pious men only survived – two ministers and a Buddhist monk – who went out in search of a new land. Bhiru, one of the two ministers at last found one and established a new city there which came to he named after him – Bhiruka or Bhirukaccha whence came the name Bharukaccha.

Bhrigukaccha is, however, the Sanskrit rendering which means ’high coast land’ and the city is exactly situated on a high coast land.

According to Brahmanical tradition, the city was so called because it was founded by the sage Bhrigu (Imp. Gaz. of India, IX, p. 30).

Bhrigukaccha is mentioned in the Kūrmavibhāga and Bhuvanakoṣa; and it is identical with Barygaza of Ptolemy (pp. 38 and 152) and the Periplus of the Erythrean Sea (pp. 40 and 287). It is modern Broach in Kathiawar.


Cikula is mentioned in the Barhut inscriptions (Barua and Sinha, p. 14). The location of the place unknown. One of the Nasik Cave inscriptions (Lüder’s list, No. 1133) mentions Cikhala Padra as a village. Cikula, Cekula=Ceula, probably Caul near Bombay (Ep. Ind., II, p. 42).


we are told in the Mahāvaṁsa (Ch. XII) that Mahādhammarakkhita was sent to spread the gospel of the Buddha in the Mahāraṭṭha.

According to the Sāsanavaṁsa (pp. 12, 13), it is, however, Mahānagararaṭṭha or Siam.

Mahāraṭṭha is the present Maraṭha country, the country watered by the Upper Godāvarī and that lying between that river and the Krishnā.


Nāsika is mentioned in the Barhut inscriptions (p. 16). It is Nāsika or Naisika of the Purāṇas and Janasthāna of the Rāmāyaṇa.

According to the Brahmāṇḍa Purāṇa, it was situated on the Narmada.

Janasthāna, as it appears from the Ramayanic description, was within the reach of Panchvatī on the Godāvarī.

Janasthāna came to be known as Nāsika from the circumstance that here Surpanakhā’s nose was out off by Lakshmaṇa.

Nāsika is modern Nasik which is about 75 miles to the north west of Bombay. During the reign of the Sātavāhana kings of Andhra, Nāsika was a stronghold of the Bhadrayaniya School of Buddhists (Lüder’s list, Nos. 1122–1149).


Vijaya, son of King Sīhavāhu of Lāḷaraṭṭha in western India, was driven out of the kingdom of his father. He with his 700 men was thrown into the sea in boats. Their wives also shared the same fate. Vijaya with his followers landed in the Naggadīpa and the women in the Mahilādīpa. Vijaya with his men again sailed from Naggadīpa and reached Suppāraka and thence went to Sīhaladīpa (Mv., p. 60).

It is interesting to note that Yuan Chwang speaks of a kingdom in the north-west India. [58] ruled over by women. Is it possible to identity the Strīrājya of Yuan Chwang with the Mahilādīpaka of the Mahāvaṁsa?


In the Divyāvadāna (pp. 544 foll.) we read that Pāṭaliputta and Roruka were two important cities. It is said that King Rudrāyana of Roruka was a contemporary of King Bimbisāra of Magadha and they became intimate friends. There was then a brisk trade between Rājagaha and Roruka. It is said merchants from Rājagaha went to Roruka for trade.


It is mentioned in the Barhut inscriptions (p. 32). The location of the place is unknown.

The Serivānija Jātaka (Fausboll, Jātaka, No. 3) mentions a kingdom by the name of Seriva. The city of Andhapura, could be reached by the merchants from Seriva by crossing the river Telvāha.

It seems that Seriyāputa was, like Suppāraka and Bharukaccha, an important port on the western coast of lndia.


In the Āditta Jātaka (Jāt., Vol. III, p. 470) mention is made of the kingdom of Sovīra of which the capital was Roruka.

Sovīra, has been identified by Cunningham with Eder, a district in the provinces of Gujerat at the head of the Gulf of Cambay.

The name Sindhu-Sauvīra suggests that Sovīra was situated between the Indus and the Jhelum.


Suppāraka was a seaport town (Dh.C., II, p. 210). Suppāraka Sanskrit Surpāraka, and is mentioned in the Dīpavaṁsa (p. 55) and Mahāvaṁsa, (p. 60) as well. It is identical with Supārā or Sopāra, in the district of Thānā, 37 miles north of Bombay and about 4 miles north-west of Bassein.


According to the Sarabhaṅga Jātaka (Jāt., V, p. 133) a stream called Sātodikā flowed along the borders of the Suraṭṭha country which is represented by Sanskrit Surāshtra, the Su-la-cha of Yuan Chwang. According to the Chinese pilgrim, its capital lay at the foot of Mt. Yuh-shan-ta (Pkr. Ujjanta, Skr. Urjayat of Radradāman’s, and Skandagupta’s inscriptions, and is identical with modern Junāgad, the ancient Girinagara, i.e., Girnār). Surattha comprises modern Kathiawad and other portions of Gujerat.

Sīhapura and Lāḷaraṭṭha:

Lāḷaraṭṭha is mentioned in the Dīpavaṁsa (p. 54) and Mahāvaṁsa (p. 60) as a kingdom ruled over by a King name Sīhavāhu.

Lāḷaraṭṭha is Sanskrit Lātarāṣṭra and is evidently identical with the old Lāta kingdom of Gujerat, the Larike of Ptolemy (p. 38), the capital city of which is stated in the Dīpavaṁsa (p. 54) to have been Sīhapura.

Seas, Rivers, waterfalls, etc.


[59] Khurāmāla, a sea. Merchants who set sail from Bharukaccha had to go through the Khuramāla sea. Here, it is stated, fishes with bodies like men, and sharp razor-like spouts, dive in and out of the water (Suppāraka Jātaka, Jāt., Vol. IV).


A river in the Suraṭṭha country (Jāt, Vol. III, p. 463).

Vaḷabhā-mukha Sea:

Here the water is sucked away and rises on every side, and the water thus sucked away on all sides rises in sheer precipices leaving what looks like a great pit (Jāt., IV, p. 141).

Nalamāla Sea:

It had the aspect of an expanse of reeds or a grove of bamboos (Jāt, IV, p. 140).

Nīlavaṇṇa-Kusamala Sea:

It had the appearance of a field of corn (Jāt, IV, p. 140).



The Hiṅgula pabbata is in the Himavantapadesa (Jāt., V, p. 415). Hinglāj is situated at the extremity of the range of mountains in Beluchisthan called by the name of Hiṅgulā, about 20 miles or a day’s journey from the sea-coast, on the bank of the Aghor or Hiṅgulā or Hingol river near its mouth (GD., p. 75).