1. Kāsi (Kāsika).-One of the sixteen Mahājanapadas (A.i.213, etc.), its capital being Bārānasī.
At the time of the Buddha, it had been absorbed into the kingdom of Kosala, und Pasenadi was König of both countries (D.i.288; M.ii.111). The Mahāvagga (Vin.i.28l), however, mentions a Kāsika-rājā (König of Kāsi?) who sent a robe to Jīvaka. Buddhaghosa (see Vinaya Texts ii.195, n.2) says that this was a brother of Pasenadi und son of the same father. He was probably a sub-König of Pasenadi. Pasenadi's father, Mahākosala, on giving his Tochter in marriage to Bimbisāra, allotted her a village of Kāsi (Kāsigāma, q.v.) as bath money (J.iv.342; J.ii.403; SA.i.110,120f, etc.). Even at this time, however, the memory of Kāsi as an independent kingdom seems to have been still fresh in men's minds. It is very frequently erwähnt as such in the Jātakas und elsewhere. Kāsi was once ruled by the Bhāratas, one of whom, Dhatarattha, was its König in der Zeit von Renu (D.ii.235f). There seem to have been frequent wars between the countries of Kāsi und Kosala, victory belonging now to one, now to the other. In one such war, Dīghāti (q.v.), the Kosala König, was defeated by the König of Kāsi, but Dīghīti's son Dīghāvu won back the kingdom (Vin.i.334; J.iii.487; DhA.i.46). In another war the Kāsi König, Mahāsīlava, was taken captive by the ruler of Kosala, but his kingdom was later restored to him (J.i.262, etc.; see also i.409; UdA.123).
The traditional name of the König of Kāsi from time immemorial was evidently Brahmadatta (q.v.), und references to kings of that name abound in the Jātakas. Sometimes the König is referred to merely as Kāsi-rājā. Among other kings of Kāsi erwähnt are Kikī (M.ii.49) und Kalābu (J.iii.39). The extent of the Kāsi kingdom is given as three hundert leagues (J.v.41; also iii.304, 391).
The capital of Kāsi is generally given as Bārānasī, but it is said that when Asoka was König of Kāsi his capital was in Potali (J.iii.155), und another König, Udaya-bhadda, had his seat of government in Surundha (J.iv.104ff). It is possible that these cities did not form part of the regular kingdom of Kāsi, but became annexed to it during the reigns of some of the more powerful kings.
Kāsi was evidently a great centre of trade und a most populous und prosperous country. Frequent mention is made of caravans leaving Kāsi to travel for trade. One highway went through Kāsi to Rājagaha (Vin.i.212) und another to Sāvatthi (Vin.ii.10; Mhv.v.114). Kāsi was famed for her silks, und Kāsi-robes were most highly esteemed as gifts, each robe being valued at one hundert tausend. (See, z.B., J.vi.151, 450; see also Addhakāsi). Mention is also made of the perfumes of Kāsi (Kāsi-vilepana (J.i.355) und Kāsi-candana (A.iii.391; UdA.332)).
Besides those already referred to, other names of places erwähnt in literature as belonging to Kāsi, are Vāsabhagāma, Macchikāsanda (the kammantagāma of Anāthapindika), Kītāgiri und Dhammapālagāma (q.v.). Kāsi und Kosala are frequently erwähnt together. (z.B., A.v.59).
2. Kāsi, or Kāsika.-A city, the birthplace of Phussa Buddha (Bu.xix.14; J.i.41). There he preached the Buddhavamsa (BuA.193). The city is probably to be identified mit Benares, which is sometimes referred to as Kāsipura (z.B., DhA.i.71; J.v.54; vi.165; M.i.171; DhsA.35; Cv.xli.37). It is also called Kāsipurī (PvA.19).