Geography of Early Buddhism

Chapter V: Prācya or the Eastern Country


[68] The Prācya country lay to the east of Madhyadeśa, but as the eastern boundary of the Madhyadeśa changed from time to time, the western boundary of the Prācya country consequently diminished. According to Vaśiṣṭha, Baudhāyana, Manu, and the Kurmavibhāga, the Prācya country lay to the east of Prayāga. But according to the Kāvyamīmāṁsā, it was to the east of Benares (’Vārāṇasyāḥ parataḥ Pūrvadeśaḥ’), while according to the Commentary on the Vātsyāyana Sūtra, it lay to the east of Aṅga. According to the Buddhist tradition recorded in the Mahāvagga and Divyāvadāna, the western boundary of the Pūrvadeśa shrinked still more; and extended to Kajaṅgala (Mahāvagga) or Puṇḍravardhana (Dvd.). According to Yuan Chwang as well the western boundary of the Eastern country extended up to Puṇdravardhana.

Janapadas, Puras, etc.


The Samantapāsādikā (pp. 96–97) tells us that Asoka requested by King Devānampiyatissa of Ceylon sent a branch of the Bodhi-tree to Ceylon. It is said that Asoka from Pāṭaliputta taking with him the branch, crossed the Ganges by boat, and then traversing the Vinjhāṭavī, reached Tāmalitti, a great seaport town of the time. It was from this port that the branch of the Bodhi-tree was taken to Ceylon on a sea-going vessel.

Tāmalitti is modern Tamluk. It was formerly on the mouth of the Ganges. It is now situated on the western bank of the Rūpnārāyaṇa, formed by the united stream of the Silai (Sīlāwatī) and Dalkisor (Dvārikeśvarī) in the district of Midnapore.

Tāmalitti (Malitthiyaka) is also referred to in the Ceylonese Chronicles (Dv., p. 28; Mv., p. 93).


In the Mahāvaṁsa we find a reference to the kingdom of Vaṅga and of its King Sīhabāhu. Sīhabāhu’s son Vijaya transplanted a new kingdom in Laṅkā or Ceylon.

In the Milindapañho (p. 359) we read of sailors going on boats to Vaṅga. The Vaṅga tribe is also mentioned in the Mahāvagga of the Aṅguttara Nikāya (I, p. 213). There is a doubtful mention of the Vaṅga tribe in the Aitareya Brāhmaṇa. But it is probable that the name Upasena Vaṅgāntaputta had something to do with the Vaṅga kingdom.

In the Dīpavaṁsa (p. 54) the reference is to Vaṅga, i.e., the Vaṅga tribe or people and not Vaṅga.

Vaṅga is, however, identical with modern Eastern Bengal. It did not stand as a name for the entire province as it does now.


[69] Vardhamānapura is referred to in the Dīpavaṁsa, p. 82. It is the Vardhamāna or Vardhamāna bhūkti of later inscriptions, and is identical with modern Burdwan.


According to the Mahāvagga, Kajaṅgala formed the western boundary of the Pūrvadeśa. It is the Kachu-wen-ki-lo of Yuan Chwang and is to be located somewhere in the Rājmahal district. It is the Kayaṅgala of the Commentary on the Rāmapālacarita.