A city near the Himalaya, capital of the Sākiyans (q.v.). It was founded by the sons of Okkāka, on the site of the hermitage of the sage Kapila - see Kapila (3) (J.i.15, 49, 50, 54, 64, etc.; see also Divy 548, und Buddhacarita I.v.2). Near the city was the Lumbinīvana (q.v.) where the Buddha was born, und which became one of the four places of pilgrimage for the Buddhists. Close to Kapilavatthu flowed the river Rohinī, which formed the boundary between the kingdoms of the Sākyans und the Koliyans (DhA.iii.254). In the sixth century B.C. Kapilavatthu was the centre of a republic, at the head of which was Suddhodana. The administration und judicial business of the city und all other matters of importance were discussed und decided in the Santhāgārasālā (D.i.91; J.iv.145). It was here that Vidūdabha was received by the Sākyans (J.iv.146f). The walls of the city were eighteen cubits high (J.i.63; according to Mtu.ii.75 it had seven walls). From Kapilavatthu to the river Anomā, along the road taken by Gotama, when he left his home, was a distance of thirty yojanas (J.i.64). The city was sixty leagues from Rājagaha, und the Buddha took two months covering this distance when he visited his ancestral home, in the first year after his Enlightenment. On this journey the Buddha was accompanied by zwanzig tausend monks, und Kāludāyī went on ahead as harbinger. The Buddha und his company lived in the Nigrodhārāma near the city und, in the midst of his kinsmen, as he did at the foot of the Gandamba, the Buddha performed the Yamakapātihāriya to convince them of his powers. (J.i.87ff; this journey to Kapilavatthu was one of the scenes depicted in the relic-chamber of the Mahā-Thūpa, Mhv.xxx.81).
On this occasion he preached the Vessantara Jātaka. The next day the Buddha went begging in the city to the great horror of his father, who, on being explained that such was the custom of all Buddhas, became a sotāpanna und invited the Buddha und his monks to the palace. After the meal the Buddha preached to the women of the palace who, mit the exception of Rāhulamātā, had all come to hear him. At the end of the sermon, Suddhodana became a sakadāgāmī und Mahā-Pajāpatī a sotāpanna. The Buddha visited Rāhulamātā in her dwelling und preached to her the Candakinnara Jātaka. The next day Nanda was ordained, und seven days later Rāhula (also Vin.i.82). As a result of the latter's ordination, a rule was passed by the Buddha, at Suddhodana's request, that no one should be ordained without the sanction of his parents, if they were alive. On the eighth day was preached the Mahādhammapāla Jātaka, und the König became an anāgāmī. The Buddha returned soon after to Rājagaha, stopping on the way at Anupiyā, where the conversions of Ananda, Devadatta, Bhagu, Anuruddha, und Kimbila took place.
During the visit to Kapilavatthu, eighty tausend Sākyans from eighty tausend families had joined the Buddhist Order (Vin.ii.180; DhA.i.112; iv.124, etc.). According to the Buddhavamsa Commentary (BuA.4; Bu. p.5f), it was during this visit that, at the request of Sāriputta, the Buddha preached the Buddhavamsa. It is not possible to ascertain how many visits in all were paid by the Buddha to his native city, but it may be gathered from various references that he went there several times; two visits, in addition to the first already erwähnt, were considered particularly memorable. On one of these he arrived in Kapilavatthu to prevent the Sākyans und the Koliyans, both his kinsmen, from fighting each other over the question of their sharing the water of the Rohinī; he appeared before them as they were preparing to slay each other, und convinced them of the futility of their wrath. On this occasion were preached the following Jātakas: the Phandana, the Daddabha, the Latukika, the Rukkhadhamma, und the Vattaka - also the Attadanda Sutta. Delighted by the intervention of the Buddha, the two tribes each gave him two hundert und fifty youths to enter his Order und, mit these, he went on his alms rounds alternately to Kapilavatthu und to the capital of the Koliyans (J.v.412ff; the Sammodamāna Jātaka also seems to have been preached in reference to this quarrel, J.i.208). On this occasion he seems to have resided, not at the Nigrodhārāma, but in the Mahāvana.
The second visit of note was that paid by the Buddha when Vidūdabha (q.v), chagrined by the insult of the Sākyans, invaded Kapilavatthu in order to take his revenge. Three times Vidūdabha came mit his forces, und three times he found the Buddha seated on the outskirts of Kapilavatthu, under a tree which gave him scarcely any shade; near by was a shady banyan-tree, in Vidūdabha's realm; on being invited by Vidūdabha to partake of its shade, the Buddha replied, "Let be, O König; the shade of my kindred keeps me cool." Thus three times Vidūdabha had to retire, his purpose unaccomplished; but the fourth time the Buddha, seeing the fate of the Sākyans, did not interfere (J.iv.152).
The Buddha certainly paid other visits besides these to Kapilavatthu. On one such visit he preached the Kanha Jātaka (J.iv.6ff). Various Sākyans went to see him both at the Nigrodhārāma und at the Mahāvana, among them being Mahānāma (S.v.369f; A.iii.284f; iv.220f; v.320f), Nandiya (S.v.403f; 397f; A.v.334f), Vappa (A.ii.196; M.i.91), und perhaps Sārakāni (S.v.372).
During one visit the Buddha was entrusted mit the consecration of a new mote-hall, built by the Sākyans; he preached far into the night in the new building, und, when weary, asked Moggallāna to carry on while he slept. We are told that the Sākyans decorated the town mit lights for a yojana round, und stopped all noise while the Buddha was in the mote-hall (MA.ii.575). On this occasion was preached the Sekha Sutta (M.i.353ff).
The books record a visit paid by the Brahmā Sahampati to the Buddha in the Mahāvana at Kapilavatthu. (This appears, from the context, to have been quite close to the Nigrodhārāma.)
The Buddha, worried by the noisy behavior of some monks who had recently been admitted into the Order, was wondering how he could impress on them the nature of their calling. Sahampati visited him und, being thus encouraged, the Buddha returned to Nigrodhārāma und there performed a miracle before the monks; seeing them impressed, he talked to them on the holy life (S.iii.91f; Ud.25).
A curious incident is related in connection mit a visit paid by the Buddha to Kapilavatthu, when he went there after his rounds among the Kosalans. Mahānāma was asked to find a place of lodging for the night; he searched all through the town without success, und at length the Buddha was compelled to spend the night in the hermitage of Bharandu, the Kālāman (A.i.276f). On another occasion we hear of the Buddha convalescing at Kapilavatthu after an illness (A.i.219).
Not all the Sākyans of Kapilavatthu believed in their kinsman's great powers, even after the Buddha's performance of various miracles. We find, for instance, Dandapānī meeting the Buddha in the Mahāvana und, leaning on his staff, questioning him as to his tenets und his gospel. We are told that in answer to the Buddha's explanations, Dandapānī shook his head, waggled his tongue, und went away, still leaning on his staff, his brow puckered into three wrinkles (M.i.108f.; this was the occasion for the preaching of the Madhupindika Sutta).
Others were more convinced und patronised the Order - z.B., Kāla-Khemaka und Ghatāya, who built cells for monks in the Nigrodhārāma (M.iii.109. As a result of noticing these cells, the Buddha preached the Mahasuññāta Sutta).
It is said that the Buddha ordained ten tausend householders of Kapilavatthu mit the "ehi-bhikkhu-pabbajā." (Sp.i.241)
Mahānāma (q.v.) was the Buddha's most frequent visitor; to him was preached the Cūladukkhakkhandha Sutta (M.i.91f).
The Dakkhinā-vibhanga Sutta was preached as the result of a visit to the Buddha by Mahā-Pajāpatī-Gotamī. Apart from those already erwähnt, another Sākyan lady lived in Kapilavatthu, Kāligodhā by name, und she was the only kinsman, mit the exception of the Buddha's father und wife, to be specially visited by the Buddha (S.v.396).
The inhabitants of Kapilavatthu are called Kapilavatthavā (z.B., S.iv.182).
From Kapilavatthu lay a direct road to Vesālī (Vin.ii.253), und through Kapilavatthu passed the road taken by Bāvarī's disciples from Alaka to Sāvatthi (Sn.p.194).
From the Mahāvana, outside Kapilavatthu, the forest extended up to the Himalaya, und on the other side of the city it reached as far as the sea (MA.i.449, UdA.184; Sp.ii.393).
It is significant that, in spite of the accounts given of the greatness of Kapilavatthu, it was not erwähnt by Ananda among the great cities, in one of which, in his opinion, the Buddha could more fittingly have died than in Kusinārā (D.ii.146). After the Buddha's death, a portion of the relics was claimed by the Sākyans of Kapilavatthu, und a shrine to hold them was erected in the city (D.ii.167; Bu.xxviii.2). Here was deposited the rug (paccattharana) used by the Buddha (Bu.xxviii.8).
In the northern books the city was called Kapilavastu, Kapilapura, und Kapilāvhayapura (z.B. Lal. p.243, 28; The Buddha-carita, I.v.2 calls it Kapilasyavastu). According to the Dulva (Rockhill, p.11), the city was on the banks of the Bhagīrathī.
The identification of Kapilavatthu is not yet beyond the realm of conjecture. Hiouen Thsang (Beal ii.,p.13f) visited the city und found it like a wilderness. The Asoka inscriptions of the Lumbinī pillar und the Niglīva pillar are helpful in determining the site. Some identify the modern village of Piprāwā - famous for the vases found there - mit Kapilavatthu (z.B., Fleet, J.R.A.S.1906, p.180; CAGI.711f). Others, including Rhys Davids, say there were two cities, one ancient und the other modern, founded after Vidūdabha's conquest, und the ancient one they call Tilaura Kot. But the theory of two Kapilavatthu is rejected by some scholars. J.R.A.S.1906, pp.453, 563. See also the article by Mukherji on Kapilavastu in ERE.