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Ancient Kapilavastu

Ancient Kapilavastu: The Capital City of the Sakya Kingdom

The Ancient Kapilavastu or the present day Kapilavastu district of Nepal is situated on the foothills of the Siwalik range and is 29km west of Lumbini. The kingdom is believed to have received its name from the great sage Kapila, who practiced penance here and suggested the exiled prince and princesses of Kosala kingdom to settle at present day Tilaurakot. Later, these royal offspring of Kosala kingdom were known as the Sakyas and their kingdom as Kapilavastu.Prince Siddhartha spent his early 29 years of worldly life as a prince here in the Ancient Kapilavastu.

Kapilavastu lies on the bank of Bhagirathi (Banganga) River. Tilaurakot is close to the Siwalik Hills to the north. Ambattha Sutta of Dighanikaya (one of the Baskets of discourses of Tripitaka) locates Kapilavastu on the slope of (near) Himalayas. According to the celebrated Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsang, Lumbini lies about 30km east of Kapilavastu which exactly fits in the present context as Lumbini is situated 29km east of Tilaurakot.

Historical references, travel accounts of the well-known pilgrims and travelers, holy Buddhist scriptures and archaeological excavations carried out by various archaeologists and scholars including P. C. Mukherji, D. Mitra, T. N. Mishra and B. K. Rijal have identified the present day Tilaurakot as the ancient capital city of the Sakyas.

Early life of Prince Sidhartha

Queen Mayadevi passed away after seven days of the birth of Prince Siddhartha. His stepmother Prajapati Gautami with much love, affection and care brought up the young prince in the Ancient Kapilvastu, the capital city of Sakya kingdom. Prajapati Gautami was also the mother of two children; Princess Sundari Nanda and Prince Nanda but she raised Prince Siddhartha as her own child. Prince Siddhartha even could not remember queen Mayadevi, his own mother.

This newly born prince merited divine natal signs, which indicated that the new born child would bring about deliverance to this mundane world. King Suddhodhan invited ascetics and hermits (Rishis) from the Himalayas on the birth of Prince Siddhartha and asked to read the signs. One of such great ascetics Asita proclaimed that Prince Siddhartha would become a holy man and universal teacher if he ever came across human sufferings. The anxious king lavished all possible privileges and luxurious life upon the prince to dissuade him from becoming a monk. In order to immerse the prince in the world of indulgence and to keep away from the human sufferings and any unpleasant thing the king had provided three different palaces- Subha, Ramma and Suramma; one for winter, one for summer and one for rainy season. At the age of 16, Prince Siddhartha was married to Princess Yashodhara. The king had made available every possible comfort and luxury to the newly married royal couple. His cousin Devadutta, another suitor of Yashodahara, nurtured a serious grievance against Prince Siddhartha and made several dangerous attempts to harm him later. The couple did not have any child for a long time until the birth of Rahul, their only child.