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PāṠaliputra


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(Pāli, Pāṭaliputta).

Modern-day Patna, originally built by Ajātaśatru and later the capital of the ancient Indian state of Magadha. Its key central location in north central India led rulers of successive dynasties to base their administrative capital here, from the Mauryans and the Guptas down to the Pālas. In the Buddha's day it was a village known as Pāṭaligāma. He visited it shortly before his death and prophesied it would be great but would face destruction either by fire, water, or civil war. Two important councils were held here, the first at the death of the Buddha and the second in the reign of Aśoka (see Council of Pāṭaliputra I, II). The city prospered under the Mauryas and a Greek ambassador Megasthenes resided there and left a detailed account of its splendour. The city also became a flourishing Buddhist centre boasting a number of important monasteries. Known to the Greeks as Pālibothra, it remained the capital throughout most of the Gupta dynasty (4–6th centuries bce). The city was largely in ruins when visited by Hsüan Tsang, and suffered further damage at the hands of Muslim raiders in the 12th century. Though parts of the city have been excavated, much of it still lies buried beneath modern Patna.

Subjects: Buddhism.


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